Gardaí believe two men who were murdered and mutilated in Sligo in recent days were killed by a man they met on an online dating app.
Officers are also investigating if there was a homophobic element to the crimes and if they are linked to the stabbing attack of another man in the town last weekend which saw the victim lose an eye.
A man in his early 20s remains in custody following his arrest on Tuesday night in Sligo.
However, gardaí are keeping an open mind regarding the investigation and are appealing for anyone who was approached by someone suspicious in recent days to come forward, no matter how minor the interaction may have been.
Chief Superintendent Aidan Glacken assured potential witnesses of discretion and compassion when coming forward.
“I have a dedicated diversity team here. We need to hear from you, we are here to listen to you and we are here to support you,” he said during a brief press conference on Wednesday morning.
The second murder victim has been named as Michael Snee (59) who was murdered in his home on Connaughton Road on Tuesday.
Gardaí found his remains, which had been mutilated, when they responded to a 999 call on Tuesday night.
The man in custody was arrested about 1km away shortly afterwards following a massive Garda operation which included members of the Armed Support Unit.
Twenty four hours previously, the body of Aidan Moffitt (42) was discovered in his home in Cartron, 2km outside Sligo town.
Both men suffered similar wounds although gardaí say the wounds inflicted on the second victim were not as extreme.
Both victims were single men who lived alone.
"Michael and Aidan were well known and respected in this community. They were assaulted and murdered in their own homes. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this time and indeed their friends and the wider community in Sligo," Chief Supt Glacken said.
"Family Liaison Officers have been provided to both Michael and Aidan's families and An Garda Síochána continue to provide ongoing support to the families."
“A postmortem was carried out on Mr Moffitt, yesterday at University Hospital Sligo by State Pathologist Dr Sally Ann Collis. A postmortem will be carried out on Mr Snee later today.”
Gardaí are declining to release the results of the postmortems “for operational reasons”
The Chief Supt said investigators are examining if there is “any hate related motive to these murders” but said this aspect would ultimately be a matter for the courts.
“Gardaí are also investigating whether Michael and Aidan met their attacker online, he said, reiterating a public warning issued on Tuesday about the risks involved.
“Meeting people online is a normal activity. Meeting people online should be a safe activity. But as with any online activity everybody should be aware of personal safety advice, which we have provided on the Garda website.
“We continue to explore all the circumstances of these cases and are examining another recent incident which occurred in the Sligo area."
Chief Supt Glacken appealed to “anyone with any information on these crimes to contact us at Sligo Garda station. No matter how insignificant you think it may be, we need to hear from you.
“Please contact us at Sligo Garda Station at the dedicated Incident Room phone number 071 9157088, the Garda Confidential Line phone number 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.
“I would like to reassure the public that all any information received will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
Mr Moffitt worked in the property sector and was a peace commissioner for his local area. He served on a voluntary basis on a number of local communities and was very active with his party.
He ran a company called Hazelfort which was involving in the selling of homes in Sligo and was a graduate of UCD and the Institute of Technology in Sligo.
Close friend and fellow Fine Gael activist Blaine Gaffney said he was an “all-round good guy”.
Mr Snee was described by one local as a quiet man who was always happy to help when needed.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said she had spoken to the Garda Commissioner about the “atrocious crimes” in Sligo.
She said Drew Harris had assured her every effort would be made to find those responsible and bring them to justice. She urged anyone with information to come forward.
“I would also like to express my deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Aidan Moffitt, and to the friends and family of the man who was also killed last night. They are in our thoughts today.”
Ms McEntee also noted it had been a difficult week for the LGBT community with a number of distressing incidents.
“These are incidents that we thought were behind us. And again, I just want to reassure people that any crimes that are motivated by hate or by prejudice or by discrimination, will not be tolerated and will carry higher sentences. I hope to introduce the hate crime bill in a matter of weeks to respond.”