Victim in ‘gruesome’ Wicklow Mountains murder case named
Neighbours of Patricia O’Connor in Rathfarnham describe her as ‘lovely person’
Gardaí conducting house to house enquiries in Mountain View Park, Rathfarnham, the home of Patricia O’Connor. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin.
Supt Pat Ward and senior gardaí and Defence Forces personnel in the Wicklow Mountains where the search is continuing for body parts. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins.
The person gardaí believe was murdered before her remains were scattered in the Wicklow Mountains has been named as Dublin woman Patricia O’Connor.
Investigators believe Ms O’Connor was beaten to death with a blunt instrument before her body was dismembered.
Gardaí have arrested a man (32) in connection with the death. It is understood the man handed himself in at a Wexford Garda station yesterday.
Ms O’Connor, who was in her late 50s or early 60s, was a mother-of-two and grandmother who lived in south Dublin and worked as a chef at Mount Carmel Hospital in Churchtown.
She had not been reported missing prior to her remains been found.
Gardaí and an army search team have found remains at eight locations along an isolated 20km stretch of road which runs through the mountains. It is understood most if not all of her remains have been located with gardaí believing a power tool was used to dismember the body.
Garda sources said a very unusual feature in the case is that some of the body parts were cut into very small parts. The circumstances of killing and the search were so gruesome they shocked even veteran Garda investigators.
Ms O’Connor and the suspect were known to each other and gardaí believe the killing was a spur of the moment incident.
An address in Rathmines in Dublin has become a place of interest to gardaí gathering evidence in the case.
From Mountain View Park in Rathfarnham, Ms O’Connor was described on Wednesday night by neighbours as a “lovely person”.
It is believed the grandmother was not living in the Rathfarnham address, but visited the family home very regularly.
One resident on the street, who lived opposite the O’Connors, said they were a normal family.
“We’d know everyone around here, we’d all be very familiar with each other,” she said. “She hadn’t lived in the house for about 10 years so I wouldn’t be as familiar with her. It’s a small street, usually full of kids playing, but it’s quiet out today. It’s just a shocking thing to happen.”
Throughout Wednesday, gardaí called in to various residents on the street looking to see if any neighbours had information about the family.
Another neighbour, a father of a young family who lived directly across the road from ther home, said the house was always lively and full of children playing in the garden.
“They were a normal family. She had plenty of grandchildren. I wouldn’t have been as familiar with her now, but I was shocked when I heard everything.”
Gardaí believe Ms O’Connor was killed about two weeks ago and her body dismembered in a panicked bid to conceal the murder. The arrested man is co-operating with the inquiry and has provided key information to detectives.
It is believed the woman was killed and likely dismembered in Dublin before the body parts were driven to or towards Wexford.
Detectives believe the killer was looking for a spot to dispose of the remains in the Wexford area but then deviated from that plan.
Instead, the killer drove back towards Dublin and the body parts were disposed of in the Wicklow mountains where the first traces of the woman’s remains were found by hillwalkers last Saturday.
The suspect is understood to have returned to Wexford but presented himself to gardaí after a number of days of intense media coverage of the matter.
His arrest came shortly after a woman’s head and hands were found in plastic bags. A section of a torso had earlier been found but it was apparently not large enough to determine if it was that of a woman.
Supt Pat Ward of Bray Garda station ruled out the possibility that the case involved two dismembered bodies.
“This has been a very complex investigation for us and very unusual in the manner of the investigation,” he said of the inquiry. “With each find we have made significant progress and now have new information and have developed a more complete picture.
“It may be a little gruesome in what I have to say and I’m conscious of the fact that the body found is of a loved one, but I have to say that what we have found today are limbs and significant parts of the torso.