Tuesday 19 March 2019

'No one here can get over what's happened to her'

Rizza and Katrina Mamuric at the vigil for Jastine
Rizza and Katrina Mamuric at the vigil for Jastine

Jastine Valdez had only been living in Ireland for around three years, but her parents had settled in Enniskerry before that, according to a close family friend.

The Herald has learned that the tragic student had grown up with family in the Philippines and had not been keen to live in Ireland at first, partly because of the weather.

Her mother worked as a housekeeper and her father was a gardener locally.

A family friend said she was a quite "sickly" girl.

"She grew up with her grandparents, because her mother and father lived here for a long time," she said.


"She's just a tiny girl and very shy," added the woman who has known the family for years, but only met Jastine once.

"It's very sad, it's devastating, it's tragic," she added.

Despite being settled in Wicklow, the family are understood to have been quiet and kept themselves to themselves but were "very kind-hearted".

Jastine had been adjusting to living in Ireland.

Her classmates at Institute of Technology Tallaght are expected to meet at the college today as they try to come to terms with the grief.

Enniskerry parish priest Fr Bernard Kennedy said the area had been buzzing with people on Saturday when Jastine was abducted.

He said the randomness of the incident had locals uneasy and upset.

"Our hearts are with the family at this awful time," he said. "The random nature of the event is kind of shocking." Only weeks ago student Justine Valdez had enjoyed a meal in a Chinese restaurant with her family.

Jastine (24), originally from the Philippines, had lived for the last three years in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

And while many young women her age would have been taking their first steps to a life of freedom, the IT Tallaght accountancy student remained devoted to her parents, with whom she lived.

"I recognised Jastine as soon as I saw her photo in the newspaper," said a waitress at a Japanese restaurant in Bray, a short drive from Enniskerry.

"I remember serving her. She was with her family and looked very happy. I was very sad to hear what happened."

Jastine had enjoyed the experience of a night at Lings Asian Restaurant in the seaside town, so much that she'd taken a photo of herself there - the photo issued by gardai in their search for her.

Speaking at a vigil for Jastine in Bray last night, a schoolmate from the Philippines, who also now lives in Ireland, said she remembered her well.

"We used to live in the same hometown and we know the family really well," Katrina Mamuric said.

"From our hometown, I think it's just her family and our family really, back in the Philippines.

"She was a very lovely girl, she was very loving, caring, just genuinely very nice.

"I can't say anything bad about her. We would hang out every now and then. It's been really long, we've known each other since we were kids.

"She was looking forward to moving to Ireland. She was looking forward to having a better life in Ireland, she wanted her future to be brighter."

Around 200 people turned up at a vigil for Jastine at the Church of St Fergal in Bray.

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