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Saturday 3 December 2016

Gardaí probing disappearance of teen Ciara Breen 18 years ago arrest man

Ciara Breen
Ciara Breen
Ciara Breen is missing from her home at Dundalk, Co. Louth, since the 13th February 1997.

GardaÍ investigating the disappearance of Ciara Breen in Dundalk believe that two men may have been involved in her murder.

A man in his 50s was yesterday arrested in connection with the probe to find Ciara. She was last seen at her home at Bachelor's Walk in the town in the early hours of February 13, 1997, when she was 17-year-old.

The man has since been released and a file has been sent to the DPP.

The Irish Independent understands the arrest is the result of a major breakthrough in the case last year, when two witnesses came forward with new information.

Gardaí also received two anonymous letters in November and December, which they described as "very significant".

A security source said that officers have believed for "quite some time" that Ciara was the victim of foul play and compared it to the case of Offaly woman Fiona Pender, who has been missing since 1996.

Ms Pender, a 25-year-old hairdresser, was pregnant when she was last seen alive in Tullamore on August 23, 1996. There is no connection between the two cases.

"The case of Ciara Breen is not unlike that of Fiona Pender, who we believe was murdered by someone she knew and who then disposed of the remains. The investigation has uncovered a considerable amount of new evidence which may help solve this crime," a source told the Irish Independent.

Ciara's mother, Bernadette, has previously made a heartfelt plea for information, saying she had "just one little girl".

The investigation has spanned three separate decades and involved over 200 lines of enquiry. Almost 130 people have been interviewed by gardaí.

A case review conducted by the Garda Cold Case Unit a number of years ago found that the person or persons involved were most likely from the Dundalk area.

Ciara Breen was a trainee hairdresser when she went missing in 1997.

The evening before her disappearance she had tea with her mother in a local café.

They went home and watched TV before going to bed around 12.25am. However, when Bernadette went to check on her daughter at 1.50am she wasn't in her room. It wasn't unusual for Ciara to slip out like that in the middle of the night and her mother sat up waiting for her to return.

When she hadn't returned by the following morning, her mother called the gardaí.

Investigators believe that the teenager went to meet someone on the night that she disappeared and that person is now a suspect in a potential murder investigation.

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