Killarney woman Miriam Burns (75) was killed in her own home by somebody who then went to great efforts to conceal evidence before leaving her body to lay undiscovered for several days, gardaí believe.
It is also suspected Mrs Burns knew her killer and let the person into her Co Kerry home, with no signs of any break-in discovered at her house.
A man in his 50s arrested on suspicion of murder was still being questioned by gardaí on Thursday, some three days after Mrs Burns was found dead at her home on the Ardshanavooly housing estate.
Ms Burns, a mother of four and a grandmother, was a very popular figure in her locality and there has been shock at her murder. Gardaí believe she was assaulted in her home in the days before her remains were found and died, with her body lay undiscovered for several days.
It is understood when family members were unable to contact her for a prolonged period, neighbours were asked to check on her. Those checks resulted in local gardaí being called and the body of Mrs Burns was found at her home at about 1.15pm on Monday.
The house was sealed off as a crime scene and the remains were left in situ overnight before undergoing a preliminary examination at the scene by a pathologist on Tuesday. A postmortem examination was conducted later Tuesday at University Hospital Kerry by State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster.
Gardaí said the results of the postmortem were not being released “for operational reasons”. However, the results confirmed the initial suspicions of gardaí, that Mrs Burns had fatal injuries consistent with being attacked, rather than having been the victim of an accident or fall in her home.
“An incident room has been established at Killarney Garda station and a murder investigation has commenced under the direction of a senior investigating officer,” the Garda said. “A family liaison officer has been appointed and continues to keep the family informed of the investigation.”
The house where Mrs Burns was found dead has been examined by members of the Garda Technical Bureau. It is understood a number of items, including clothing, were discovered by gardaí during the searches carried out in Killarney. Gardaí are hopeful forensic testing on those items will link the killer to the murder.
The man still being detained on Thursday was being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for a suspect to be questioned for up to 24 hours without charge.
While the suspect was arrested on Tuesday, the 24-hour period for questioning can be paused for periods of rest, including sleeping overnight, and other breaks, such as a suspect undergoing medical treatment.