Wicklow reservoir searched in murder inquiry
Bag found two days before remains discovered
Members of the Garda water unit recover items including a rucksack from the reservoir near Roundwood, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Garry O’Neill
Gardaí investigating the suspected murder of Elaine O’Hara have sealed off a section of the Vartry reservoir near Roundwood in Co Wicklow as a crime scene after a bag of items linked to her was found there.
While members of the Garda water unit could be seen taking items from the drained waterway yesterday afternoon, The Irish Times understands a bag containing clothes and other personal items belonging to the 37-year-old from Killiney, south Dublin, was found last week.
The bag was discovered by a man who works on the reservoir but gardaí had no idea where it had come from or to whom it was linked at the time. It had been in the water for a long period.
When the partial skeletal remains were found last Friday on Killakee mountain, Rathfarnham, south Co Dublin, gardaí investigating it had no idea the discoveries in neighbouring counties two days apart were linked.
However, DNA and dental record cross-checking of the bones established they were those of Ms O’Hara and it was at that point the bag found in the Wicklow reservoir was linked to her.
Gardaí yesterday went back to the spot where the bag was found and thoroughly searched it.
They found a large number of items, including a haversack, key fobs and assorted items of clothing. While it is unclear if any of these is linked to Ms O’Hara they were packed into evidence bags and will be forensically analysed in an effort to establish their evidential value, if any.
Gardaí described a number of the items found in the bag last Wednesday as “of particular interest”.
The stretch of water near Roundwood and the location where the remains were found will both be searched again today as the investigation into Ms O’Hara’s death intensifies.
The dead woman’s family declined to comment when contacted by The Irish Times yesterday.
Cause of death
Efforts to establish a cause of death have been frustrated by the decomposition of the remains and also by the fact most of the skeleton was not found, apparently taken away by wild animals over the past 12 months.
Gardaí believe no effort was made to bury the body and that it was hidden away in undergrowth to rot in the elements and sink into the soft soil in the area.
They are working on the theory Ms O’Hara was murdered.