Body found in Limerick confirmed as that of convicted fraudster

David Hurley and Col

Reporter:

David Hurley and Col

The farmhouse near Askeaton where the bodies were found
GARDAI this Wednesday confirmed that the body of a woman found at a rural farmhouse near Askeaton on Monday was that of convicted fraudster, Julia Holmes.

GARDAI this Wednesday confirmed that the body of a woman found at a rural farmhouse near Askeaton on Monday was that of convicted fraudster, Julia Holmes.

Efforts to formally identify the body of a man - believed to be that of her partner Thomas Ruttle - are continuing after a post mortem examination proved inconclusive.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Tom O’Connor who is leading the investigation says enquiries into the discovery of the two bodies are continuing across several countries - including Britain, the United States and Northern Ireland.

Resources “nearly on a par” with those of a murder investigation have been deployed with gardai from several national units, including the technical bureau and crime and security division, assisting local personnel.

It is understood that Ms Holmes’ identity was confirmed through fingerprints and dental records.

The results of further toxicology and pathology tests conducted on the bodies are awaited with gardai stressing that no cause of death has been established.

Several items, which were removed from the farmhouse this week, are also being forensically examined as a priority.

Supt O’Connor says “considerable advances” have been made in the investigation and that several lines of enquiry - internationally, nationally and locally - are being followed.

He confirmed that one aspect of the investigation is to establish the last movements of both Ms Holmes and her partner.

It had been reported they were last seen on March 14 but gardai say there were a number of interactions - online and in person - after that date.

The grim discovery was made on Monday morning after gardai were alerted by a gang of suspected burglars who broke onto the house at Boolaglass, between Askeaton and Rathkeale.

After finding the bodies in an upstairs bedroom, they fled the scene and, fearing they would be linked with the deaths, contacted gardai in Newcastle West.

While a firearm was found close to the bodies, initial post mortem investigations have found no evidence that the couple died as a result of gunshot wounds. Gardai are now looking at other possible causes of death, including poisoning.

However, a garda source said their minds were “completely open” as to how the couple died and that “intensive” investigations were ongoing.

Following a preliminary post mortem at the scene, the bodies were removed to Limerick University Hospital where they are expected to remain for some weeks. No funeral arrangements have been made yet.