herald

Sunday 19 January 2020

Family given hope as gardai carry out review of Jo Jo case

Missing Jo Jo Dullard. Photo: Crimestoppers Trust/PA Wire
Missing Jo Jo Dullard. Photo: Crimestoppers Trust/PA Wire
Jo Jo's sister Kathleen Bergin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Garda cold case detectives are carrying out a fresh review into the disappearance of Jo Jo Dullard in the hope of uncovering new lines of inquiry.

The Kilkenny woman has been missing for more than 24 years and was last seen attempting to hitch a lift home from the village of Moone, Co Kildare.

Jo Jo Dullard was 21 when she disappeared on November 9, 1995, but despite extensive investigations she has not been found.

Senior investigators have now said that a fresh review into her disappearance is taking place, which will look at the evidence gathered from the first day.

Detective Chief Superintendent Walter O'Sullivan, of the Serious Crime Review Team, told the Herald that interviews carried out previously will also be reviewed.

The Dullard family has said that the fresh review gives them hope and members have appealed for those with information to come forward.

Kathleen Bergin, the sister of Jo Jo, told the Herald: "We had meetings before this and we wanted the gardai to review the case.

"We met in March of this year and we have been formally told they will be reviewing the case.

"They are getting their information together and we have met [Garda Commissioner] Drew Harris. I just want to make sure they have enough manpower and resources.

"They will go more in-depth into it this time.

Nightmare

"It gives us hope and someone has information.

"Someone has information and we need them to come forward and help us. We can't do it without them.

"People might not want to go to a garda station but if gardai go to them... it's 24 years and circumstances change for people. There are people who know what happened.

"I would ask people to keep an open mind. We need them to come forward. Someone made a choice to take Jo Jo and she had her whole future ahead of her.

"People can end this nightmare for us. We just want to bring her home. It's the decent thing to do.

"The biggest gift they could give us is to tell us what happened to Jo Jo."

Ms Bergin was speaking at the seventh annual National Missing Persons' Day at Kings Inn, Dublin.

The high-profile missing case has baffled gardai and became part of Operation Trace, which was set up in October 1998 by then garda commissioner Pat Byrne. It was hoped that Operation Trace would bring fresh minds to inquiries and try to establish whether there was a common link between several other disappearances in the Leinster area.

During the event for Missing Persons' Day, Ms Bergin told the large crowd: "This has left a devastating effect on our family. Time moves on but the pain and anguish never leaves.

"Looking out at you all here today I know we all suffer the same nightmare. The trauma the family goes through is unbelievable and is the cruellest form of torture that can be inflicted."

The event was attended by dozens of families of missing people as well as gardai involved in the investigations, Mr Harris and Junior Minister David Stanton.

RTE's Barry Cummins, who hosted the event, said the venue had changed in recent years with the numbers attending growing every year.

He said that on the same day last year there were 870 people who were considered long-term missing and that number had grown to 890 this year.

Several families of those missing also spoke, including Nell Maughan, whose son William and his girlfriend Anastasija Varslavane (21) were last seen in Gormanston, Co Meath, on April 14, 2015.

"A heavy burden is weighing us down. We are in limbo. It is like we are stuck since William went missing," Ms Maughan said.

"Unless you've experienced this you cannot understand it," she added.

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