Family devastated as 'bubbly' Natalie (23) strangled to death
The heartbroken relatives of a young woman strangled to death have described her as the heart and soul of the family.
Detectives were last night questioning a 33-year-old man in connection with the death of Natalie McGuinness (23) at an address on Mail Coach Road, Sligo, yesterday morning.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, an aunt of Natalie's said the family were "heartbroken" and appealed for space to grieve.
"All I can say is that we are devastated. She was a loving girl who was the heart and soul of any family gathering," she said.
"She was incredibly good- natured. We all thought the world of her. We will miss her endlessly. We just want some privacy now to grieve."
The suspect was arrested yesterday evening after being treated at Sligo Regional Hospital for self-inflicted knife injuries and after being tasered by gardaí, who had responded to an emergency call from the ambulance services.
Sources say it is suspected the man strangled Natalie before stabbing himself in the head.
"The suspect was armed with a knife and was threatening ambulance staff when gardaí arrived at the scene," a source said.
"There was a lot of blood in the house - but it turned out that this was from his own self-inflicted wounds after he stabbed himself in the head.
"He was treated for these minor injuries in hospital."
Local councillor and close family friend Michael Clarke said the family were absolutely devastated by the news.
"They are just distraught," he said. "They are a well-known, well-respected and hard-working family.
"I have known Natalie since she was young. She was always smiling and was a bright, bubbly girl who was loved by all and was full of life.
"Her family are absolutely devastated, as is the whole community. It doesn't bear thinking about how this bright, hard-working young woman was torn away from her loving family.
"My thoughts and prayers are with her father, John Joe, and her mother, Catherine, and the rest of her family. They are a massive family and no doubt the pain will be felt throughout."
Mr Clarke said the family had only become aware of the tragedy late yesterday afternoon.
"Unfortunately, she died when she was on the way to the hospital," he said.
"She had only just moved to Sligo recently to take up a position in Aldi."
The scene of the alleged murder remained sealed off last night, with a garda forensics unit carrying out technical examinations of the area.
A friend of the suspect's family, who did not wish to be named, said the 33-year-old had been in trouble with the law since he was a youth.
"He was always in trouble, for both minor incidents and serious ones. But his family are genuinely nice people."
Sources say a major line in the investigation is whether the man, who was treated for head injuries, was intoxicated when the incident happened.
The suspect, who is originally from Boyle, Co Roscommon, has 21 previous convictions ranging from criminal damage, obstruction and numerous other public order offences.
His most serious conviction dates from 2008, when he was given a two-year suspended sentence for assaulting gardaí.