A man who killed a woman 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 jogging just outside Tullamore when she was fatally attacked on Wednesday afternoon.
The victim, who was in her mid-20s, was well known in Tullamore because she worked as a primary school teacher. She was also involved in the arts and had performed in public for many years. The victim was from just outside Tullamore.
A man in his 40s was in custody on Wednesday night at Tullamore Garda station. 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 but is not originally from the area.
One line of inquiry is that there was no known link between the attacker and the victim and that the fatal assault was random. However, Garda sources stressed the investigation was in its very early stages.
The Irish Times understands 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 immediately.
The area has become very popular with joggers and walkers, especially since the pandemic began. The apparent nature 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 immediately and paramedics and gardaí arrived quickly, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The area was sealed off and the victim’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 station 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 the school where she worked this morning.
Gardaí were appealing 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.