Callinan: Gardaí keeping open mind on death of Elaine O'Hara
Gardaí are keeping an open mind on the possibility of links between the disappearance of Elaine O’Hara and other disappearances as part of Operation Trace, according to Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.
However, the Garda commissioner cautioned against linking Ms O'Hara's disappearance with any other historic cases investigated under the operation and the search for women missing in the Leinster area since the 1990s.
A murder inquiry is expected to be confirmed as gardaí piece together several locations linked to the her death, whose body was found in a mountain forest.
A key fob belonging to Elaine O’Hara was found in the Vartry reservoir near Roundwood, Co Wicklow, after a caretaker at the site spotted belongings when water levels dropped.
Searches in the silt and mud recovered a pair of handcuffs and a rucksack but it has not been confirmed if they are linked to Ms O’Hara or her disappearance.
The 36-year-old went missing on August 22 last year.
Mr Callinan said: “Our priority is of course to find the remainder of those remains and indeed to bring the investigation to a conclusion."
“It is the case that in this particular area it brings back all the entities involved in Operation Trace,” he said.
“For the moment it’s far to early to speculate on the precise nature of how Elaine met her demise and I would caution against speculation.
“We will do our utmost to get to the bottom of this matter and I have no doubt we will in time with the public’s assistance.”
The commissioner said a lot of scenes were being searched in connection with the woman’s death and that he hoped anyone with information would come forward.
A number of locations have been linked to her final movements since her body was discovered in undergrowth by a woman walking her dog in the Killakee of Rathfarnham in the foothills of the Dublin mountains last Friday.
Gardaí are trying to establish if someone dumped her belongings in the reservoir and how long they have been there.
Ms O’Hara’s final movements and the location of her abandoned car are also key to the inquiry.
She was seen leaving Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, where she lived, at approximately 5.05pm on August 22.
It is understood her phone records and computer history have been checked to establish if she made arrangements to meet someone that night.
There is also a report that she was at a footbridge over a railway line at Shanganagh Park, Shankill, Co Dublin.
Ms O’Hara’s car, a Green Fiat Punto with 05-D registration, was found at Shanganagh cemetery, Shankill, two days after she disappeared.
Initially it was thought she might have been there visiting her mother’s grave.
The last confirmed sighting of her was at Ballinclea Heights in Killiney, the family home.
Her skeletal remains, including jaw bone and teeth and leg bones, were found in the forest last Friday and underwent DNA and forensic analysis over the weekend.
Ms O’Hara’s family were contacted about the discovery before the identity had been confirmed and they were then notified of her death.
Belongings had been recovered from the drying-out reservoir two days earlier in an apparent coincidence.
Further searches, including by Garda divers, have taken place at the site near Roundwood over the last few days and further inspections are due.
The distance from Stepaside to Killiney, where Ms O’Hara was last seen, is about 10km (six miles) while it is approximately another 4km (2.5 miles) to the Shanganagh area.
The site in the Killakee area where her skeletal remains were found is about 20km (12.5 miles) from where her car was discovered and the reservoir near Roundwood where some of her belongings were found is a further 40km (25 miles) to the south.
The commissioner has urged people to take care when communicating with others over the internet.
“It is important that people are careful about who they communicate with and the advice I would give would be the advice any police officer would give – that is, to know who you are dealing with, know the circumstances surrounding the business you are dealing with and just to exercise reasonable caution and care as in every other facet of life,” he said.
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