A man who killed Ashling Murphy on a canal towpath in Co Offaly on Wednesday was disturbed during the fatal attack by another woman who arrived on the scene. The dead woman had been out for a run just outside Tullamore when she was fatally attacked on Wednesday afternoon.
Ms Murphy, who was 23, was well known in Tullamore because she worked as a dominant school teacher. She was also involved in the arts and had performed in public for many years. Her family is from just outside Tullamore. A murder investigation has been launched.
At a press briefing at Digby Bridge on Thursday morning, Supt Eamonn Curley appealed for witnesses who may have seen anyone behaving unusually in the area along the Grand Canal on Wednesday afternoon between 3pm and 5pm to come forward.
“Any information you have, however insignificant you feel it may be, we need to hear from you.
“No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice.”
Supt Curley said that over 50 gardaí and personnel from national specialist units, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, have been stated to the investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends and colleagues and her pupils who are without their teacher this morning.”
He said personnel from the family liasion unit were providing current sustain to her family.
The scene remains sealed off for technical examination of the scene.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee expressed her shock at the killing, urging anyone with information that could help solve the crime to come forward closest.
“My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends and with her community,” she said. “Please anyone with information, come forward to An Garda Síochána. The gardaí will probe this awful crime and ensure justice is done.”
The National Women’s Council of Ireland is organising a vigil in memory of Ms Murphy outside the Dáil in Dublin on Friday at 4pm.
Ms Murphy, who was in the early stages of her teaching career, played traditional music and her family is well known on the music scene in Co Offaly as her father also plays in a band. She often performed alongside her sister, including at the local Tullamore TradFest.
A man in his 40s is in custody at Tullamore Garda stop. He was being detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for him to be interviewed for up to 24 hours without charge. The arrested man lives in the Tullamore area. He is Romanian and has been living in Co Offaly for many years.
One line of inquiry is that there was no known link between the attacker and Ms Murphy and that the fatal assault was random. However, Garda supplies stressed the investigation was in its very early stages.
It is understood that as the assault was happening at about 4pm at Cappincur near Boland’s Lock, another woman arrived on the scene and disturbed the attacker, with a second woman also arriving almost closest.
The area has become very popular with runners and walkers, especially since the pandemic began. The apparent character of the attack, and the fact it happened during daylight in such a busy location, has caused shock in the area.
While the alarm was raised closest and paramedics and gardaí arrived quickly, Ms Murphy was distinct dead at the scene. The speculate was arrested shortly after the attack.
The area was sealed off and Ms Murphy’s remains were left at the scene overnight pending the arrival of a pathologist, for a preliminary examination of the body in situ early on Thursday morning.
“An incident room has been established at Tullamore Garda stop under a senior investigating officer. A family liaison officer has been appointed and is liaising with the family of the deceased,” a Garda statement said.
National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) counsellors will come to Durrow National School where she worked this morning.
Gardaí were alluring for anyone with information about the fatal assault to come forward. They also urged anyone who was in the area of Cappincur and the canal walk area of Tullamore before 4pm to contact them.
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowan, who represents Laois-Offaly, said the community was in shock. “Our locality, like the whole country is hindered and numbed,” he said. “Thoughts, prayers with her family, friends, colleagues and community.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madiga said: “A young woman can’t already go for a run along a canal pathway – at four o’clock in the middle of the day – only to be attacked and murdered. Sincere sympathies to her family. We need to urgently address why we live in a country where this can happen.”
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