Category: Archive

Gárdaí question army sergeant about McCarrick disappearance

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

and Harry Keaney

A former Irish army sergeant, and father of five, is being questioned by gárdaí about the 1993 disappearance in Ireland of Long Island student Annie McCarrick.

The army sergeant is one of two men a special gárda team investigating the disappearance of a number of women in the Leinster area are now holding in connection with the rape and murder of a young Kildare woman 20 years ago.

McCarrick, 26, the only child of John and Nancy McCarrick, was a student in Ireland. She graduated from Maynooth College in 1990 and in 1993 began living in a flat in the Dublin suburb of Sandymount..

On March 26, 1993, she had been baking pies in the kitchen of her apartment for a restaurant where she worked. That afternoon, she had a load of laundry in her washer and hand washables in the sink; it appeared she may have left the flat in a hurry or with the expectation she would not be gone long. There has been speculation that she was lured outside.

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Her money, passport and other person belongings were untouched.

There were also reports that she had taken a Dublin city bus and was last seen in Johnnie Fox’s pub in the Dublin mountains. But, six years and four months later, what really happened to her remains a mystery.

McCarrick’s father, John, a former policeman, employed a private detective, Brian McCarthy, in an effort to solve his daughter’s disappearance and also visited Ireland a number of times to liaise with the gárdaí.

A year after her disappearance, John McCarrick traveled to Dublin to offer a $150,000 reward for information that would solve the mystery of what happened to his daughter. He also appeared on that occasion on RTE’s "Late Late Show" and appealed for information on his daughter.

There has been speculation that a serial killer may have been responsible for at least some of the disappearances over the last 20 years.

The two Kildare men, one aged 51, the other in his 60s, are being questioned specifically about the death of Phyllis Murphy, 23, a factory worker, who vanished after being last seen waiting for a bus on Dec. 22, 1979.

The men’s identities have not been released.

Murphy’s naked body was found on Jan. 18, 1980 in a shallow grave in a pine wood in the Wicklow Mountains. She had been raped and strangled.

The latest development follows DNA testing techniques being used on blood samples taken from about 50 suspects after the murder. Gárdaí are also checking alibi evidence of suspects.

A new Kildare-based unit commanded by Assistant Commissioner Tony Hickey — called Operation TRACE — was set up last year to reevaluate the files. It is modeled on "cold-case" teams, which were pioneered by U.S. police to take a fresh look at unsolved serious crimes.

The team initially began looking at the cases of six women who have vanished since 1993, but Gárdá Commissioner Pat Byrne did not rule out extending the investigation to earlier cases.

"We are not ruling out anything," he said last year, "There have been suggestions of a serial killers and at this stage we have absolutely no evidence to suggest a serial killer or killers is involved — but that it not something we are ruling out either."

It is believed that one of the men held is being questioned about at least three of these cases in addition to the Murphy murder.

These are McCarrick, student teacher Deirdre Jacob, 18, from Newbridge, who was last seen on July 28, 1998 when she was walking home, and Jo Jo Dullard, 21, who was hitch hiking home to Callan, Co. Kilkenny, on Nov. 9 1995 when she went missing.

The other missing women on Operation TRACE’s caseload include Fiona Pender, 25, who was seven months pregnant when she went missing from her home outside Tullamore, Co. Offaly, in August 1996; Ciara Breen, 18, of Dundalk, who was last seen in the town on Feb. 12, 1997, and Fiona Sinnott, 19, of Lady’s Island, Wexford, who hasn’t been seen since she left a pub on Feb. 8, 1998.

In all six cases the women vanished without trace and none of their bodies have been found, so there would be no DNA evidence to assist gárdaí in their inquiries.

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