July 19, 2024

CRIME SPECIAL: Larry Murphy and Ireland’s missing women

In recent weeks it was reported that two detectives who secured critical testimony of a prisoner who implicated Larry Murphy in the murder of Deirdre Jacob have been interviewed by Gardai.

Retired sergeants Alan Bailey and Noel Mooney have provided witness statements about their interaction with the prisoner to the garda team investigating the case.

A file on the murder is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions and is thought to be at an advanced stage, sources said.

However, the disappearance of Deirdre is not the only unsolved case as the families of seven other women face another Christmas  without knowing what happened to their loved ones.

Mr Bailey spent 13 years as National Coordinator for the specialist Garda taskforce Operation Trace which was created following the disappearances of six Irish women.

These women, aged between 18 and 38, went missing between 1993 and 1998. Subsequently, the search was expanded to include two more women (see graphic).

To date none of these women have been located and there have been no convictions made.

Operation Trace was set up in the hope of finding some connection between the six cases, something they were unable to do.

After  several years, the taskforce came to the conclusion that there was no serial killer involved as some had suspected.

“In the end we could name viable, independent suspects in five of the cases,” said Mr Bailey told the Wicklow Voice newspaper in 2014.

Convicted rapist Murphy has been reported to be a person of interest in more than one case.

“It is dangerous to name him as a ‘suspect’, ” Mr Bailey said. “If we say that Larry Murphy did this or that then people tend to exclude other possibilities.

“We cannot afford to take a narrow-minded view like that. We have to think that maybe he is a person of interest in an investigation but that’s not to say that he is the guilty person.”

Mr Bailey noted that the notoriety of the crime he was convicted of has singled him out as a person to fear.

“The problem is that we don’t have the normal crime scene that we can depend on and we have alibi evidence for these suspects.”

Mr Bailey explained that the fates of the missing women are “undoubtedly, known to persons other than the culprits but who, through either their evidence or their silence, to this day continue to hamper the investigations.”

But Mr Bailey believes that those who do often do so out of either fear or love and knows that these are emotions that can change over time.

“The influence exerted on another either through fear or love can wane over the years. What seemed so right years earlier can, in the cool light of day not stand up to scrutiny,” he explained.

Some believe that Wicklow’s lakes might hold the key to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Deirdre Jacob in 1998.

Searches took place in 2012 and 2013 around the Wicklow countryside and in an isolated lake in an effort to locate the missing teen’s body.

The searches were prompted when a convicted murderer informed Gardaí that Murphy had confessed to killing the then 18-year-old during a drinking session in Arbour Hill prison.

The prisoner, who is serving a life sentence for murder, claimed that Murphy admitted to killing Deirdre before dumping her body in a lake.

The confession is said to have taken place in 2010 shortly before Murphy finished serving 10 of his 15-year sentence for the rape and attempted murder of a businesswoman in 2000.

According to the inmate, Murphy spoke of how he had scattered toys on the backseat of his car in order to make his victim feel more comfortable talking to him.

The prisoner also claimed that Murphy knocked Deirdre out and dragged her into the vehicle after he had asked her for directions.

He then purportedly drove up into the Wicklow mountains and when she put up a struggle, he reached for a hammer and killed her before dumping her body in a lake.

The claims made by Murphy’s fellow inmate were taken extremely seriously by investigating Gardaí.

Search teams, garda divers and detectives from the Garda Cold Case Unit scoured areas, including a lake, in the west of the county over the course of several weeks in 2012 and 2013.

Murphy has been a person of interest in the disappearance of Deirdre for some time.

She was last seen on the afternoon of July 28, 1998 as she walked towards her home in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

She had walked into the town from her home in Roseberry and gone to the post office, the bank and to visit her grandmother before heading home again.

Murphy, a professional carpenter, had been doing work from Deirdre’s grandmother in her sweetshop.

Deirdre visited the shop, where Murphy was working, just hours before she went missing. Murphy was also very familiar with the area when Deirdre lived and disappeared.

He had worked in the stables just a half a mile from Deirdre’s home. He had also visited Newbridge in the weeks before her disappearance planning to do some work on a local pub. He returned to the village two months after her disappearance to carry out this work.

Earlier this year, on 21st anniversary of Deirdre’s disappearance, her father renewed the family’s appeal for information.

“We are always hopeful that anyone who might have any information, even after all these years, might let Gardaí know about it so we can find Deirdre,” said Michael Jacob.

“Nobody need fear getting into trouble if they held onto information or didn’t pass it on earlier. Information can also be passed on anonymously.”

When asked whether he believes his daughter is alive or not, he replied, “You always have hope.”

Deirdre is not the only woman whose disappearance that has been linked to Murphy.

Josephine Dullard, known as Jo Jo, has been missing since 11.30pm on November 9, 1995.

Jo Jo, who was 21 when she disappeared, had phoned her friend from a phonebox in Moone, Co Kildare and told her that she was hitching a lift to her home in Callan, Co Kilkenny.

This was the last anybody heard from her and when she did not reach her home, her parents reported Jo Jo as missing.

Gardaí received reports from the first two drivers who gave Jo Jo a lift that night – one from Naas to Kilcullen and the next from Kilcullen to Moone.

When Murphy kidnapped a young businesswoman in 2000, the crime he was convicted for and imprisoned for ten years, he drove her to a field near the spot where Jo Jo was last seen.

Jo Jo’s older sister, Mary Phelan, is reported to have said that she does not believe he was involved in her sister’s disappearance.

However, she was quoted as saying his early release was a “disgrace” adding that “he should never have seen the daylight again”.

Murphy has also been linked with missing American student Annie McCarrick who has not been seen since she left Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen, Co Dublin in March 1993. Although, it has been revealed this week that a member of the Provisional IRA whom she reportedly met at the pub is a person of interest in the ongoing case.

Murphy insists that he knows nothing about the disappearance of any of these women.

If you have any information that may assist in locating any missing persons, contact your local Garda station or the National Missing Persons Helpline on 1890 442 552.

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