Ashling Murphy murder: DNA samples from new suspect to be cross-checked – The Irish Times

General

Gardaí investigating the murder of are set to cross-check DNA samples taken from the crime scene and a mountain bike found close by with those taken from a man being treated in hospital in Dublin for a number of injuries.

A comparison of the samples from the scene and mountain bike with those from the new suspect are expected to either help exclude the man from the Garda’s inquiries or result in the murder investigation becoming more focused on him.

He has been spoken to very briefly by gardaí but it is unclear when he will be more formally interviewed.

The forensic evidence, including DNA and finger prints, taken from the Falcon Storm mountain bike found near where the 23-year-old national school teacher was killed, and CCTV images of it being cycled around the area on the day of the murder, look set to prove crucial in the case.

The funeral of Ashling Murphy will take place in Co Offaly on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann/PA Wire

The new suspect has lived at addresses in Dublin and Offaly and has a partner and children.

Gardaí have spoken to a number of his relatives and other people he knows and they appear very surprised that suspicion has fallen on him for the fatal attack on Wednesday.

‘Fight off’

Gardai believe Ms Murphy, who was still alive when paramedics arrived, tried to fight off her attacker.

As a result, they believe samples taken from her hands, nails and her clothing may prove crucial in linking the killer to the scene, as well as the further DNA and finger print evidence taken from the mountain bike and the murder scene.

Gardaí are working on the theory that the killer was in the area on the bike in the hours before he murdered Ms Murphy but then abandoned the bike as he fled the scene on foot after he was disturbed by two women jogging in the area who came upon him assaulting Ms Murphy on the tow path.

The killer also threatened these women.

Gardaí are also investigating reports that a man on a bike followed another woman on the same stretch of canal, near Digby Bridge about 3km outside Tullamore, in the hours before Ms Murphy was murdered.

‘Searches’

An Garda Síochána are appealing for any information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks.

While detectives were waiting for the new suspect to be deemed physically and mentally well enough to be interviewed, several scenes are being searched and forensically examined in Dublin and Offaly.

A house in south Dublin and another property in a Co Offaly village were sealed-off late last week and major search operations, including excavation, were ongoing at those sites on Sunday.

A large number of items have been taken from both addresses and those living there have been taken to alternative accommodation while the searches are underway.

Garda sources stressed the houses had been sealed-off as potential crime scenes because the suspect may have left forensic evidence or physical evidence, at the houses.

The people currently living at the houses are not under suspicion.

One line of inquiry is that the suspect may have been at both properties for periods in the days after Ms Murphy was killed.

A car has also been seized in Dublin and was undergoing an examination to determine if the suspect was carried in the vehicle.

Gardai believe the suspect was in that car, while injured, at some point in the days after the fatal attack on the school teachers on the Grand Canal towpath just outside Tullamore at 4pm last Wednesday.

However, as is the case with the properties being searched, the car has been seized because the suspect may have been in it rather than because its owner is suspected of any wrongdoing.

‘Interview’

The suspect gardaí are waiting to interview has been in hospital since last Thursday, having presented at St James’s Hospital with a family member with a variety of wounds.

The man is understood to have a mix of injuries, some of which are believed to have been self-inflicted and others that were not.

He became a person of interest because of his links to the region around Tullamore and because of the nature of his injuries, which were unexplained.

Floral tributes and candles are left after a vigil outside the London Irish Centre in Camden in memory of murdered primary school teacher 23-year-old Ashling Murphy, who was found dead on Wednesday afternoon after going for a run on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly in the Republic of Ireland. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

When gardaí were made aware of his presence at the hospital and the unexplained nature of his injuries, they went to the hospital and began making checks.

A man arrested last Wednesday evening at a house in Tullamore has since been released without charge and Garda Headquarters issued a statement saying he had been exonerated of any involvement in the attack on Ms Murphy and have been completely ruled out of the investigation.

(39) extended his sympathy to the grieving Murphy family and described the two days he spent in custody being questioned about the killing as terrifying

“I was telling the truth from the start,” Mr Floricel said, adding that he told the officers that “as long as you keep me in here the real killer is outside somewhere”.

A woman detained last Wednesday because she allegedly refused to allow the arrested man’s home to be sealed off has been released.