Superintendent Eamonn Curley speaking on the bank of the Grand Canal in Tullamore this morning
MURDERED teacher Ashling Murphy was still alive when gardai arrived at the scene of her horrific assault in Tullamore yesterday.
Superintendent Eamonn Curley said gardai attended an incident on the bank of the Grand Canal at Cappincur near the Co Offaly town on Wednesday shortly after 4pm.
“At the scene gardai discovered a young woman with serious injuries. Medical attention was provided but despite the best efforts of the medical team who attended this young lady passed away. The injuries we believe at this time are consistent with an assault,” Supt Curley, Tullamore Garda Station, said in a statement read near the crime scene this morning.
The location of the fatal assault remains sealed off and is on a popular local walking route between a canal bridge and a lockhouse on the canal at Boland's Lock, about a kilometre from the town centre.
“This area here where the crime occurred is popular among Tullamore residents and is widely used for recreational purposes,” said Supt Curley.
He formally named the victim as Ashling Murphy, saying she was a 23-year-old local lady from the Blueball area of Tullamore.
“Ashling was a schoolteacher in Durrow National School. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling's family at this time, and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues, and the children she taught who are without their teacher today. Personnel from our family liaison unit are providing ongoing support to the family.”
He added: “Immediately following the discovery of this crime a full-scale murder investigation was launched. The scene was sealed off and remains so and the Garda Technical Bureau are conducting a detailed forensic examination of the scene. The services of the State Pathologist have been provided and the results of a post mortem examination are awaited.”
An incident room has been established at the garda station in Tullamore and over 50 gardai have been assigned to the investigation, including personnel from the national specialist units, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“No stone will be left unturned in bringing this perpetrator of this crime to justice. At this stage there is no information that the victim and her killer were known to each other.
“From inquiries we've carried out we believe this crime was committed by one male who acted alone. As part of our investigation to date we arrested a 40-year-old male and this person is currently detained at Tullamore Garda Station.
“I would like to add that we continue to retain an open mind in this investigation and I would like to appeal to the public for assistance in that regard.”
He thanked the public for their assistance so far but appealed for anyone who was on the Grand Canal Way on Wednesday between 3pm and 5pm to come forward.
“We'd like to speak to you. We are appealing to witnesses who may have seen any person who was behaving unusual in that area,” he said.
“Any information you have, however insignificant you think it may be, we need to hear from you. Were you on the Grand Canal Way between 3pm and 5pm yesterday? Have you any information about this crime?”
He said all information will be treated in the strictest confidence and said the thoughts and prayers of the gardai are with Ashling's family at this time.
The man detained yesterday is a Romanian national who has been living in Tullamore for a number of years and he is known to the gardai.
He was questioned until about midnight last night and questioning was resuming this morning.
It is believed that two women who were walking together on the canal bank came upon the crime and alerted a nearby resident and contact was made with the gardai.
Based on information given by those witnesses, gardai arrested the suspect who lives nearby.
Tullamore Garda Station can be contacted on 057 9327600 or information can be given to any garda station. The garda confidential line is 1800 666111.
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