Postmortems due on bodies of three killed in Co Kerry suspected murder-suicide

Bodies of man, woman and her son discovered in Lixnaw on Tuesday evening

Gardaí at the scene of a suspected murder suicide at Ballyreehan, Lixnaw, Co Kerry. Photograph: Dominick Walsh

Gardaí at the scene of a suspected murder suicide at Ballyreehan, Lixnaw, Co Kerry. Photograph: Dominick Walsh

 

Gardaí have begun an investigation into what they believe is a double homicide and suicide following the discovery of the bodies of three members of one family in north Kerry on Tuesday night.

The body of a woman was found in a house at Ballyreehan, Lixnaw, on Tuesday evening when a neighbour called shortly after 9pm.

They raised the alarm, and gardaí discovered the body of the woman’s son, aged 23, also in the house. It is understood both had been shot in their beds.

Gardaí began a search and found the body of the woman’s partner in a field, where they also found a shotgun. It is believed the man, who was a beekeeper, shot the woman and her son before taking his own life, but gardaí stress their investigation is still at a very early stage.

The couple were in their early 60s. It is believe the deceased may have been dead for up to 24 hours.

Gardaí are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The scene which was preserved overnight, and a Garda cordon was put in place around the area.

The remains of the three deceased, who were well known locally, are due to undergo a preliminary examination at the scene by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster on Wednesday afternoon. The bodies will then be removed for full postmortems.

Gardaí believe those examinations will show all three died from gunshot wounds; two as a result of homicide and one self-inflicted. The firearm recovered at the scene is also due to undergo ballistics testing.

The three were family members, and all three lived at the house. Although gardaí believe they know the sequence of the deaths, the motive for the apparent double murder and suicide remained unclear.

Gardaí are speaking to neighbours as well as relative and the friends of the three deceased in a bid to piece together their last movements and understand the motive for the shootings.

It is understood the deceased may have been dead for up to 24 hours before their remains were found, though the postmortem results are required for any confirmation.

Lixnaw parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan said the same “numbness” he experienced last night will be felt by the whole community waking up to the news of the deaths of three members of one household.

Fr O’Sullivan attended the scene at the bungalow in Ballyreehan where the bodies of the woman and her son were found. The townland is midway between Lixnaw and Kilflynn villages, around half way between Tralee and Listowel.

Fr O’Sullivan said he visited the scene at 11.15pm and administered the last rites and prayers for the dead.

“There is a feeling of numbness in myself. The community will be in the same frame of numbness. We are all in a sense of shock.”

Fr O’Sullivan, who has been in Lixnaw for only two years, said he had met one member of the family briefly. Covid restrictions had meant that there was not much interaction, but he said it was a very caring parish.

The younger man worked at Liebherr Container Cranes in Killarney for a period, as well as with agricultural contractors in north Kerry, while the older man had worked part time in farming and as a bus driver.

A woman who knew the family well said: “These were lovely people. Quiet people involved with the community. They seemed happy. There was no talk of trouble. They were well-known community people.”

The 10am mass in Lixnaw where prayers were said for the family, was attended by over 20 people. They declined to speak to reporters, and most seemed shocked at the tragedy in their midst.

Kerry Sinn Féin TD Pa Daly said: “Everyone is in shock. No one can make sense of it.”

Local Fine Gael councillor Aoife Thornton said the village of Lixnaw “has been shaken with horror at what’s transpired over the last 12 hours”.

She offered her sympathy to the family members of all those involved.

Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys described the incident as “truly awful tragedy”.

She tweeted: “The shock and devastation being felt by the family and the community is unimaginable. An Garda Síochána is engaging with the local community and will carry out a full investigation.”

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