Woman killed with axe named as Elizabeth Piotrowska (57)

Suspect had close personal relationship with deceased woman and her husband

The dead woman has been named locally as Elizabeth Piotrowska (57), a mother of two. She was originally from Poland but had lived in the Clonmore estate in Ardee.

A man has been arrested in Co Louth by gardaí investigating the death and decapitation of a woman with an axe at her home in Ardee.

The victim was named locally as Elizabeth Piotrowska (57), a mother of two children. She was originally from Poland but had lived in the Clonmore estate in the town with her husband, who was at work at the time of the incident, for a number of years.

Ms Piotrowska’s remains were found at about 11.30am when a friend raised the alarm after finding the scene, described as “gruesome” by one source, when he called to collect the deceased to go on an outing.

He was so shocked at the discovery that neighbours heard his loud reaction and came to his assistance.

Gardaí at the house on the Clonmore estate in Ardee, Co Louth, where the body of a woman was found. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Gardaí believe the attacker had left the scene not long before this after killing and then partially dismembering the woman’s body inside.

The suspect (32) engaged a taxi driver to take him to the Drumconrath area about 8km from Ardee. After arriving he made efforts to dump evidence including the clothing that gardaí believe he wore during the attack.

He then went to a house on Bridge Street in Ardee, where he was arrested early in the afternoon before being taken to Drogheda Garda station.

The suspect had a close personal relationship with the dead woman and her husband and gardaí are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident at this stage.

“We have, so far, one person arrested and we’re not looking for anybody else,” said Supt Des McTiernan, who said others were aiding the inquiry.

Ms Piotrowska’s semi-detached home, the house on Bridge Street and another in the Cherrybrook area of Ardee were sealed off by gardaí investigating the death, as was a location in Drumconrath.

Drug user

Gardaí believe the man they arrested is a drug user who has been associating with other drug users in Ardee for some time. The motive for the murder was not clear last night but is believed to have been linked to a personal matter.

Ms Piotrowska was described as a “lovely woman” by neighbours who said she had an adult son and daughter who live in Ireland and Poland respectively.

The scene in Ardee, Co Louth, where the woman’s body was found. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson

The dead woman’s body remained at the house last night pending the completion of examinations by a pathologist and members of the Garda Technical Bureau.

It is expected that thorough searches of the three properties and the area in Drumconrath could take days to be completed.

The results of a postmortem were being awaited last night but Garda sources expected these would see their inquiries upgraded to a full murder investigation.

Meanwhile, gardaí in Co Donegal have started excavating lands in a search for the remains of Deirdre O’Flaherty (46), a doctor who has been missing for a decade and was presumed to have drowned in the sea.

The dig, which is expected to continue for up to five days, was ordered after gardaí received a letter claiming to know where her remains had been buried.

Separately, gardaí believe that a woman in her 50s whose body was found in a ditch in Co Wexford on Monday was not a victim of foul play. A pathologist is to carry out a number of tests on the woman’s remains in an attempt to establish the exact cause of death, which could take several weeks.

Gardaí are liaising with Interpol and police in the UK and Italy as a rucksack recovered near the skeletal remains is believed contain documents belonging to an Italian woman with UK connections.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times