Mum-of-three Anne beaten to death with hammer over threat to expose fling
A WOMAN has been beaten to death with a hammer after she threatened to expose a brief fling she had with a man.
The body of Anne Shortall (47) was found in a shed in Co Wicklow, five days after she was reported missing.
The chief suspect, a 38-year-old man, has been arrested by gardai.
It is understood that Ms Shortall had a brief fling with the man and was threatening to expose it and that they argued over money.
The Herald has learned that Ms Shortall was beaten in the Murrough area of Wicklow town. She received blows to the head with a hammer.
“This man just flipped, he felt she was threatening to expose him and he just lost it. Certain buttons were pushed in him,” a source said last night.
Her remains were discovered yesterday hidden under a tarpaulin in the shed at Killoughter, near Ashford, Co Wicklow.
Gardai were alerted and the scene was sealed off. The chief suspect in the murder probe was arrested at 2.30pm.
He was last night being questioned by officers at Wicklow Garda Station.
Members of Ms Shortall’s family were outside the station yesterday waiting for news on their loved one.
Her brother-in-law John Mc-Cabe said they are “devastated” by her violent death.
It is understood that Ms Shortall, who was a mother of three and a grandmother, died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
Gardai are satisfied that the attack happened in the Murrough area of Wicklow town. An area there was closed off yesterday for forensic examination.
A van was seized as part of the investigation.
Ms Shortall was last seen on CCTV in the Leitrim Place area of the town when she got into the van of the chief suspect.
Phone records were subsequently examined and gardai are satisfied there was a line of communication between the dead woman and her suspected assailant up until she disappeared.
She was reported missing to gardai on Saturday and a public appeal was issued by gardai as to her whereabouts.
Numerous searches took place until yesterday.
A senior source revealed last night that gardai had begun an investigation into the suspect over the weekend after discovering that he and the dead woman had “involvement with each other”. Witnesses came forward to say that the two people had been seen in each other’s company on Friday in Wicklow and the focus on him began then.
“He became a person of interest at that stage but obviously everything moved very quickly with the discovery of this unfortunate woman’s body,” the source said.
One line of investigation in the probe is that the suspect had “felt threatened” by Ms Shortall in the weeks before the murder.
State pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy attended the scene shortly after 6.30pm yesterday.
Ms Shortall’s body was last night removed to the mortuary at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown where a post-mortem will be carried out this morning.
Local councillor Pat Kavanagh said the grim discovery has sent shockwaves across the county.
“It’s a blessing for the family that they have some sort of closure. But it’s a terribly tragic event that you wouldn’t wish on any family,” she said.
“I was out this morning with a search party, and the gardai were fantastic in their professionalism. They were so quick in their detection and recovery of the body.”
The last time such a crime occurred in the vicinity was a double-murder in November 1985, said Ms Kavanagh.
Margaret Nolan (64) and her daughter Anne (24) were found in their farmhouse in Ballymurrin. Anne was found badly beaten and strangled in the pantry of the house, while the body of her mother was discovered in the sitting room.
“It’s very disturbing because it’s not a rural area,” a local resident said.
“There are a number of houses around there, particularly at the crossroads at the top of Killoughter lane.”