Deirdre Jacob case: No evidence found in search operation, Gardaí say

Three-week search of wooded area at Taggartstown on Co Wicklow border has ended

Gardaí pictured searching a wooded area at Taggartstown, near Kilcullen, Co Kildare. Photograph: Collins

Gardaí pictured searching a wooded area at Taggartstown, near Kilcullen, Co Kildare. Photograph: Collins

 

A three-week search operation in Co Kildare for the remains of Deirdre Jacob, who went missing in 1998, has ended without any new evidence being located.

The search began on October 11th and covered an isolated wooded area in the east of the county, near the Co Wicklow border, and about 15km from Newbridge in an area known as Taggartstown. The area was searched previously.

Gardaí hoped to find evidence relating to Ms Jacob’s suspected murder and possibly the disappearances of up to eight other women who went missing in the Leinster area in the 1990s.

The site was targeted for search after gardaí reviewed a witness statement taken during the original investigation from a man who saw suspicious activity in the area.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, the Garda said the latest search has now been completed and that “nothing of evidential value” was recovered.

Gardaí remain at the scene to repair the site, which is private property, following the search operation.

“An Garda Síochána continues to keep the families involved updated on the progress of these investigations,” it said in a statement.

While no evidence relating to the disappearance of Ms Jacob was found, gardaí did uncover the remnants of a previously undiscovered historical settlement, believed to date to about 500BC.

The National Monuments Service has been notified about the find.

The Garda, in a statement said, the family of Ms Jacob, “are not wishing to speak with the media at this time and are requesting privacy”.

Murder

Ms Jacob went missing in 1998 as she was walking home in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

In 2018, Ms Jacob’s disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation following a review by the Serious Crime Review Team in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The Garda has submitted a file on her murder to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but the DPP has yet to recommend charges.

The disappearance of Ms Jacob is one of a number of suspected murders of women in the area in the 1990s.

Eight women disappeared between 1993 and 1998 in an area roughly corresponding with the borders of Leinster. Gardaí have reason to believe that at least some of the women were abducted and murdered by the same person.

Convicted rapist Larry Murphy has long been a suspect for the murder of several of the women, including Ms Jacob.

He was released in 2010 having served 10 years of a 15-year sentence for kidnapping, raping and attempting to murder a young woman in the Wicklow mountains in 2000.

A former cellmate of Murphy’s has alleged to gardaí that the Wicklow man confessed to him that he murdered Ms Jacob.

Ms Jacob was training to be a teacher in London and was on a visit home when she went missing. To date, investigating gardaí have followed more than 3,000 separate lines of inquiry.

New leads

Gardaí are also understood to be investigating new leads regarding the disappearance of another of the missing women, 25-year-old Jo Jo Dullard.

She was last seen in Moone, Co Kildare, in November 1995. Her disappearance was officially upgraded to a murder inquiry earlier this year.

Eva Brennan was 39 when she went missing from the Rathdown Park area of Terenure on Sunday, July 25th, 1993, having visited her family home for lunch. Though she suffered from depression, her family do not believe this was related to her disappearance.

Imelda Keenan was 22 when she disappeared on January 3rd, 1994. She was last seen at William Street bridge in Waterford city. Her family renewed the appeal for information about her for what would have been her 50th birthday in March.

Fiona Pender disappeared 25 years ago on August 23rd, 1996. She was last seen at 6am that morning at her flat in Church Street, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Ms Pender (25) was seven months pregnant at the time. She had returned to live in Ireland from London in November of the previous year.

Ciara Breen was 17 when she went missing from her home in Bachelors Walk, Dundalk, Co Louth, on February 13th, 1997. A search of Balmer’s Bog outside the town in 2015 revealed no signs of her disappearance.

Fiona Sinnott was 19 and the mother of an 11-month-old boy when she disappeared on February 8th, 1998. She was last seen leaving Butler’s pub in Broadway near her home in Ballyhitt, Co Wexford. The initial missing person’s inquiry was upgraded to a murder investigation in 2005.