herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

Hunt for tomb raider continues despite arrest over theft

The entrance to the crypt
The entrance to the crypt

Gardai are still hunting for the person responsible for the desecration of the crypt at a Dublin church after a man arrested over the incident was released without charge.

Senior sources said the man, aged in his 20s, is no longer considered a suspect in the theft of a skull and the head of an 800-year-old mummy at St Michan's Church.

"Investigations established the man arrested on Thursday is not the same individual that was seen on CCTV," a senior source said.

"The investigation is still very much active and ongoing," the source added.

The arrest happened two days after the mummified head of a crusader and another skull which had been taken from the tomb at St Michan's Church were returned.

They were discovered together in a bag on the grounds of the northside church last Tuesday after apparently being left back at the location overnight.

The lone suspect was caught on CCTV walking along the quays with the head and another skull in a shopping bag at around 11.30pm on Saturday, February 23.

The man responsible gained entry to the crypt by using an iron bar to break through a steel door and a metal gate, and detectives believe he had visited the church in the past.

Substantial damage was caused to the tourist attraction and the head of an 800-year-old mummy was stolen. The remains of a 400-year-old nun also suffered damage.

A skull which had been placed on a coffin in the tomb had also been taken.

"After the crime, the suspect is seen wandering around and then walking on Ormond Quay into the direction of the city centre," a source said.

Graffiti was discovered scrawled on the inside of a coffin but was proving "difficult to decipher".

"You are talking here about seemingly random letters sketched or carved into a piece of wood.

"It is very difficult to make out any meaning at all," the source added.

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