July 12, 2024

Remains of mother murdered over 30 years ago exhumed from local graveyard

THE remains of a mother-of-two who was brutally murdered more than 30 years ago were exhumed from a graveyard in Co Kilkenny this morning.

The dramatic development came as detectives gather the final pieces of evidence in their investigation into the murder of Marie Tierney (picture, supplied by the Garda Press Office, above).

The graveside exhumation began at Conahy graveyard at 6am and Ms Tierney’s remains were examined onsite. It is hoped new scientific developments will allow officers gather evidence that will finally lead to a breakthrough in the case.

New witnesses have also come forward during the cold case investigation, which started in November 2017, when gardaí made a fresh appeal for information.

The exhumation of bodies involves a complex application process, and is only allowed in extremely rare circumstances.

Investigating gardaí had to apply to Kilkenny County Council for a licence to undertake the process. A Ministerial Order was also required. It was granted by the Department of Justice.

A forensic anthropologist, State pathologist, gardaí from the Technical Bureau and a forensic scientist from Forensic Ireland Limited all attended this morning’s exhumation. The exhumed body must be reburied or cremated within 48 hours.

More than 300 lines of inquiry have been examined and 200 people have been interviewed as part of the investigation into Ms Tierney’s murder.

House-to-house inquiries have taken place in a number of areas including the Bleach Road, Conahy, the Ballyragget Road, Lovers’ Lane and Old Newpark and Newpark.

Inspector Liam Connolly is heading the investigation and is continuing to liaise with the Tierney and Bourke families. Ms Tierney’s maiden name was Bourke.

Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes said every necessary resource has been deployed in the investigation. “It is incumbent on us that we put a huge effort into solving this murder for Marie’s family. I have no doubt that we will have a successful outcome,” he said.

Ms Tierney was reported missing by her husband Jim Tierney on October 22, 1984. He told gardaí that she left her home at Clinstown, Jenkinstown, at approximately 10.30pm on October 2t, 1984 in the family car. The car was located at Newpark Fen the next day.

On December 21, 1984 her body was spotted in a ditch by a man who had been walking on the Bleach Road on the outskirts of Kilkenny City. She had been violently strangled.

Marie’s siblings, Brenda Fay and John Bourke, have pleaded with her killer “to do the right thing” and “hand yourself in”.

“We strongly believe that her murderer is alive. You know who you are and we are asking you to please come forward. Hand yourself in for the sake of her children, her grandchildren and all her family. We need justice for Marie,” they said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Kilkenny Garda station on 056 – 7775000 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800-666111.


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