Fears brutal killer of OAP Rose is now hiding out in Europe
Interpol and Europol are now assisting gardai in efforts to locate the chief suspect in the brutal murder of widow Rose Hanrahan (78), amid fears he is now in hiding in France or Italy.
The man, who is an Eastern European national, has been linked to the Thomondgate home of Mrs Hanrahan by forensic tests.
Gardai are now working with their European colleagues in a bid to track down the man, as Limerick today marks one month since the shocking Christmas killing.
Detectives believe the man fled Ireland within 24 hours of the December 15 murder, which happened after a burglary went tragically wrong.
Mrs Hanrahan was found by shocked relatives after she had been tied up and then strangled.
Her home had been ransacked.
The suspect is understood to have taken a ferry to France on Saturday morning, December 16.
The man, who has convictions for sexual offences in Eastern Europe, subsequently vanished from CCTV coverage.
However, Interpol and Europol are now helping gardai liaise with police forces in countries where it is believed the man may have fled.
He has links to both Romania and Albania but detectives suspect he has not gone there amid fears of being recognised.
Instead, the prime theory being considered by detectives is that the man is hoping to "stay lost" in a large French or Italian city, possibly under an assumed identity.
He may also be using links to ex-pat gangs in those countries for support as he attempts to avoid police detection.
Gardai want to confirm the man's location and then obtain a DNA sample, which will be used to cross-reference with forensic samples obtained from Mrs Hanrahan's home.
Key forensic data obtained at the murder scene does not match any samples on the existing DNA database in Ireland.
However, the suspect is not on the Irish database, having never been convicted of a major crime here.
Limerick gardai, under Superintendent Derek Smart, have been overwhelmed with assistance from the Limerick public, which was horrified by the brutality of the killing.
Even Limerick criminals have assisted gardai in their attempts to determine who was responsible.
The killer failed to locate a significant sum of cash which Mrs Hanrahan had in the house. She had hidden the cash, understood to be a four-figure sum, in a secret storage area she had in her kitchen/utility room.
It is suspected the widow may have been under surveillance, or the burglar somehow obtained information that she had cash in the house.
CCTV footage indicates that Mrs Hanrahan may have been stalked and then followed to her home, with the burglar hoping to get her ATM card.
Gardai believe the killer displayed all the hallmarks of someone who had broken into homes before. There had been a spate of break-ins at properties across Limerick city and county over recent weeks.
Some bear uncanny similarities to how the killer gained access to Mrs Hanrahan's home - through a smashed back window or door while the property was thought to be empty.
Limerick mayor Sean Lynch, a former garda, said he remains convinced the killer will be apprehended.
"With DNA profiling there is no way out for these people - they will be caught," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact investigating Mayorstone gardai on (061) 456980 or (1800) 666111.