By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — A ruthless and calculating serial killer is operating in Ireland and is behind the disappearance of a number of the women who have gone missing around the country in the last 20 years, a former top murder squad detective has claimed.
"This guy is picking and choosing his victims," retired Detective Inspector Gerry O’Carroll, 54, told RTE.
One of his victims could be American student Annie McCarrick, 26, who vanished after apparently setting off to visit the Wicklow Mountains on March 26, 1993. Her father, John, is a retired New York policeman.
The veteran detective said he had warned his own daughters to be careful until the man is caught.
"He has a killing field somewhere I believe," O’Carroll said. "He has a modus operandi. None of the victims have drawn attention to themselves. This is amazing."
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O’Carroll said there had been extensive house-to-house inquires as part of very thorough investigations of each of the disappearances.
"Not a scintilla of evidence, no shouts, no screams. It would have to give you cause to suspect that there is a very devious and clever killer operating," he said.
Operation TRACE, a special team of gardai set up by Commissioner Pat Byrne, has been investigating the cases of six women who have vanished since 1993.
In all cases the women have disappeared without trace and no body has been found.
O’Carroll, who is now head of security with a private firm, stressed how difficult it was to trap a serial killer.
"They call them organized as distinct from a disorganized killer who kills on a whim," he said.