Rose's killer ransacked her home in hunt for cash
The killer of Limerick pensioner Rose Hanrahan (78) failed to find a significant cash sum she had collected for Christmas - despite ransacking her home.
The revelation came as a senior garda source confirmed that it was now believed Mrs Hanrahan's murderer had raided her home in the belief that money was kept there.
Gardai are now trying to determine if the widow had been under surveillance before her murder - and if the killer knew that she had cash in her home.
Mrs Hanrahan is understood to have had a four-figure sum, which she planned to spend on shopping, meals, gifts and church offerings over the Christmas period.
The widow had put the cash in a hiding place in her kitchen-utility room but the raider failed to find it, despite tearing her house apart.
Detectives suspect the burglar mistakenly thought the house in New Road, Thomondgate, was empty when it was broken into late last Thursday evening or early Friday morning.
However, the raider panicked when they were surprised by Mrs Hanrahan - and strangled the frail pensioner.
The theory now being examined by detectives is that the thief or thieves mistakenly thought the pensioner had left her house when they broke in through a back window, facing the River Shannon.
Mrs Hanrahan was a regular shopper and also attended Mass at St Munchin's Church.
While gardai have refused to comment on the cause of Mrs Hanrahan's death for operational reasons, it is believed she was tied up and strangled.
Her body was discovered lying in the hallway by her sister Evelyn Kenny on Friday afternoon.
The brutality of her killing has led gardai to suspect that the panicked intruder was determined to protect their identity - and that they may have been ransacking the house without a mask on.
Detectives are now trying to trace the movements of known burglars in the Limerick area last Thursday and Friday.
A garda source confirmed that forensics and CCTV were now expected to play a critical role in the investigation. Hundreds of hours of CCTV footage is being studied by gardai.
Anyone with information is asked to contact investigating Mayorstone gardai on (061) 456980 or (1800) 666111.