herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Did Murphy kill here?

THIS is the shack which was the focus of a major garda search by detectives from Operation Trace - the investigation into six missing young Leinster women.

The shed is around 800 metres from where Murphy was caught moments before he strangled a young woman he had repeatedly raped and imprisoned in the boot of his car.

Today search teams were continuing to comb the area for clues to link Murphy to up three of the missing women.

Evidence detectives are looking at includes:

- The hut lies at the end of an 800-metre path from where Murphy brutally raped and assaulted a terrified victim twelve years ago.

- The area is also located just a few miles from the rapist's family home at Woodside, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow.

- The hut, 21 foot wide by 10 foot deep with an eight-foot-deep shooting gallery out front, is not locked – and has been used by hunters and clay pigeons enthusiasts for years.

Gardai do not believe that Murphy – who is now based in continental Europe – built the hut. Located in the townsland of Kilranelagh, it is understood that the hut was built 20 years ago for clay pigeon shooting.

Up until 20 years ago, it was well maintained with running water, electricity, a stove and a toilet.It's situated at the end of a dirt track into forestry beside which Murphy was caught in 2000 trying to rape the woman he had abducted earlier in Carlow. Garda searches are continuing today at the scene, with up to 20 officers involved and specialist X-ray equipment expected to be used.

Searches are expected to end today and sources concede that it is “unlikely” that clues will turn up about some of the missing women that Murphy is suspected of murdering.

Murphy is the chief suspect in the disappearances of Annie McCarrick (26), Jo Jo Dullard (21) and Deirdre Jacob (18).

Baffling

The searches are part of Operation Trace – a garda investigation into these baffling cases. The new probe was sparked by a report compiled by a UK forensic scientist who gave an interview to a Sunday newspaper last year.

The scientist visited the area where two hunters spotted Murphy holding his victim in his car in 2000.

Murphy saw the two hunters and fled, enabling the two men to rescue the victim.

It is understood that the scientist walked the land in west Wicklow and happened across the hunting lodge close to where Murphy was interrupted attacking his victim.

His investigations have now resulted in a search of the area.

A source said: “Every bit of information has to be acted on and that is what is happening here. We would expect the searches to conclude this evening.”

Yesterday, a JCB was brought in to remove a slab of concrete from the ground in the vicinity of the hut to establish if anything was located underneath it.

However nothing of significance was found.

As the searches continue, Larry Murphy remains in Europe where his movements are known to gardai.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast of Baltinglass', Murphy was sentenced to 15 years in prison and released in August, 2010.

Murphy has not been back in Ireland since last June when he spent a month here to collect a new passport after his passport was stolen in Barcelona.

When contacted by the Herald, the owners of the private land where the searches are taking place refused to comment.

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