Marie Tierney

Marie Tierney was a 34-year-old loving mother of two who, alongside her husband, ran a local retail petrol station in the small town of Conahy. On October 21st 1982, Marie left her home and disappeared into the night. It wasn’t until two months later, in the run up to Christmas, that what happened her that night emerged.

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On the night of October 21st 1982, Marie told her husband Jim that she was going out to enjoy herself and left the home she shared with her Jim and their two children, aged 13 and 12, at Clinstown, Jenkinstown at approximately 10.30pm. When she did not return, her husband reported her missing the next day.

Marie’s car, a Renault 18 with the registration number 35-HIP, was located at Newpark Fen the same day she was reported missing. Numerous searches were conducted by members of Marie’s family, friends and the local Gardai, however she could not be located. Witness statements put the car in Newpark at approximately 11pm the night of her disappearance.

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Marie Tierney. Source: Garda Press Office

Two months later, on December 21st, a man taking a walk along Bleach Road, on the outskirts of Kilkenny, was trying to gain access to a field to help an injured swan when he came across what he initially thought was a mattress. Upon closer inspection in the dense undergrowth, he discovered the body of Marie Tierney and raised the alarm.

Dr. Jon Harbison, the state pathologist at the time, concluded that Marie had been violently strangled.  

The local Gardai called in the homicide squad from Dublin City to ensure an adequate investigation could ensue and an incident room was set up at Kilkenny Garda station. The Gardai determined that Marie has been killed elsewhere, possibly in a house, most likely on the day she was last seen. Her remains were then transported by a vehicle to the spot where she was later found. This was corroborated by the pathologist’s conclusion that her body had laid there for the two months.

No definite leads came from the investigation, no arrests were made and the case went cold for over 30 years.

In 2017, Kilkenny Gardai re-opened the case. People who were familiar with Marie were re-interviewed and because so much time had past some felt more able to offer information on her life around the time she was murdered. New witnesses have come forward since the re-opening of the case and a suspect has been identified. The Gardai believe that statements from witnesses may be strong circumstantial evidence in the event that a suspect be charged and tried.

Marie’s remains were exhumed at dawn on Wednesday morning of October 31st this year and her body taken to Waterford University Hospital for examination in hopes that advanced scientific developments will allow investigators to gather crucial evidence to enable the prosecution of Marie’s killer.

John Bourke said, that although it was a necessary part of the investigation it was a tough day for the family. They could only hope that it would bring a conclusion, as justice, for Marie.

To note: It is a complex application process to exhume a body in Ireland and is only allowed in the rarest of circumstances. The Gardai have to apply to the Kilkenny County Council for a licence and a Ministerial Order is required from the Department of Justice. The exhumation must be carried out with ‘due care and decency, and in such a manner as not to endanger public health’. An environmental protection officer must be present for the exhumation, alongside others such as a forensic anthropologist, state pathologist, Gardai and a forensic scientist. A special coffin lined with zinc, known as a ‘shell’, is used to transport the remains. The exhumed body must be reburied or cremated within 48 hours.

The team working on the case believe that a series of tests, which were not available in the 80’s, can now be carried out on the body may offer DNA and other forensic evidence to link the killer to her case.

Following the exhumation, a fresh appeal for any members of the public who had seen anyone walking or cycling near Newpark Fenn or who has seen the Renault 18 on the night of Oct 21st 1984 to come forward. Gardai are especially appealing for people who may not have yet made themselves known for any reason during the initial investigations to come forward.

To date, over 200 witness statements have been recorded and over 500 lines of enquiries been investigated. No arrests have been made.

Marie’s brother and sister, John Bourke and Breda Fay, have spoken of the family’s ongoing anguish that their sister’s killer has not yet been caught. They have pleaded publicly to the murdered to do the right thing and hand himself in.

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Marie’s sister Breda Fay and brother-in-law Paddy Fay. Source: RTE Prime Time

Fay spoke on a Prime Time episode on Irish TV channel RTE ‘To imagine your sister, that somebody would murder her. Take her life and then, that her body was dumped in a ditch’. Marie’s Niece Deborah also told Prime Time ‘To be put in a ditch in the thick of winter. She loved her nails and appearance and always maintained herself really well. It was horrific, a horrific ending’.  The Prime Time TV show also filmed the Gardai as they re-opened the case in 2017.

Liam Connolly, the Inspector heading the investigation, continues to liaise with the Tierney and Bourke families and Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes stated ‘It is incumbent on us that we put a huge effort into solving this murder for Marie’s family. I have no doubt that we will have a successful outcome’.

No results have been reported as of yet but no doubt all fingers are crossed for what information may be gleamed from the new forensic testing. With 2018 being a phenomenal year for forensics and DNA, the Golden State Killer’s capture comes to mind, lets hope that this good run of breakthroughs continues and finds its way to all our local cases, including Marie’s.

Jo Jo Dollard

JoJo Dollard – The girl in the phone box

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Josephine Dollard, known as JoJo to her friends and family, was a 5’5, blue eyed, black haired, 21-year-old beautician from Cuffsgrange, Co. Kilkenny. She was the youngest of five children and lost her parents at a very young age, her dad passed away before she was born and her mother when she was 12 years old. JoJo’s sister Kathleen Bergin described JoJo as a tomboy when she was growing up and although having a hard life, JoJo was a lovely polite person.

On 09th November 1995, JoJo was making her way home from Dublin to Callan, Kilkenny. JoJo had travelled to Dublin to sign off from the dole, Ireland’s unemployed benefit scheme, as she had got a job in Graingers’ restaurant in her home town, after previously leaving her beauticians job some time earlier, and was due to start work the next morning.

After missing the direct bus home from Dublin, she took a commuter bus to Naas and began hitching her way home from there. She had been driven to Kilcullen and from there to Moone.

She was last seen making a phone call to her friend, Mary Cullinane, at 11.37pm from a telephone box in the village of Moone, Co. Kildare. She rang her friend to let her know she was having difficulty getting a lift and whilst on that call a car pulled up. A short time later, a woman similar to JoJo’s description was seen leaning in the back door of a dark coloured Toyota Carina type car. The occupants of this car have never been traced.

There was also an unconfirmed sighting of JoJo walking along a road in Castledermot, Co Kildare. Gardai tried to trace a man in his 20s who was seen buying chips near this time in a diner.

It believed that she was abducted between 11.50pm and 12.05am. Gardai urged farmers in the area to search their land.

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At the phone booth in Moone, Co. Kildare

In 1996, JoJo’s sister Mary Phelan and her Husband Martin hired their own private investigator. The investigator pretended to be a tourist looking for directions to gain access to the farmland of a man they believe killed JoJo. He met a man who had a scar on his face which hadn’t healed well due to lack of medical attention. The investigator added that he was after solving 13 murders but ‘Jojo’s I’ll never solve.. I’ll have to bring that one to my grave with me’.

Two female Gardai who were sent to Mary’s house to visit them did not even have it in their files that the chief suspect had a scar. JoJo’s family claim the killer is related to a politician and that this influence has protected him as the Gardai ‘know who it is, but they’re not going to do anything about it now’ and that a senior officer told them that ‘the investigation will go nowhere’.

Shortly after her disappearance, a woman wrote a letter to the family stating that she was an ex-girlfriend of the suspected killer and that he has abused her during their relationship. Her sister Mary brought the letter straight to Baltinglass Garda station which she later regretted as she later stated that ‘I know now they were never going to act on that letter’. She unfortunately did not get a photocopy of the letter before handing it over. JoJo’s sister Mary said that the investigation was a ‘complete mess’. There is also claims that there was a smear campaign ran to destroy her character which resulted in the public and some politicians defender her honour.

Kathleen has campaigned tirelessly for JoJo’s whereabouts and herself and her family worked to get a national monument erected in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle in remembrance of all the missing people. Kathleen stated that the family ‘cling on to hope for JoJo. We want her to be found before all of us pass away’. Unfortunately, Mary died on the morning of 20th April this year, 2018, after being diagnosed with cancer 17 weeks previous.

Despite an extensive investigation by both the Gardai and her family, JoJo has never been found. Although we may never know what happened to JoJo, someone out there does.

Anyone with information should contact the Gardai at 1-800-666-111.

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*Please note, in many sources the surname Dollard and Dullard have been used interchangeably.