83 year old widower Edward (Eddie) Fitzmaurice had lived and worked in the small town of Bellaghy, Charlestown, Co. Mayo for over 40 years before he was assaulted and left to die by unknown assailants over the 1998 May Bank Holiday. Despite numerous appeals for information, 23 years have now passed but his murder remains unsolved.
Eddie was living alone in an apartment above his drapery shop at the time of his murder. He was described as a quiet but popular member of the Bellaghy community. His wife, Rita, had died a number of years earlier, and 3 of his 4 children were living in Britain.
It is believed Eddie was bound, gagged and assaulted at some point between 8.20pm on Friday, 1st May and Saturday morning, 2nd May. Sadly, his body lay undiscovered until a neighbour gained access to the apartment at 6.45pm on 5th May 1998.
Gardaí believe Eddie was assaulted in an attempt to rob him of £13,000 (about €16500) in life savings. His assailants tied him to a chair and, while attempting to free himself, he fell to the floor where he eventually succumbed to hypothermia.
In 2005, 7 people were arrested in connection with Eddie’s murder. Gardaí did not reveal any details about their identities and no charges were ever brought.
This is still an active case and Crimestoppers have offered a reward for information leading to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators. Anyone with information can contact the Serious Crime Review Team using the below details.
On the evening of 23rd December 1991, Patricia Doherty left her home in Tallaght, Dublin to do some last minute Christmas shopping. The following June, her body was found buried in a bog in the Dublin Mountains. No one has ever been arrested for her murder and, 28 years later, her murder remains unsolved.
Originally from Kerry, Patricia was living in Allenton Lawns in Tallaght with her husband and two children when she disappeared. She left her home on the evening of the 23rd December to travel to the nearby Square Shopping Centre, located about 3km from her home, to buy Santa hats for her children. This is the last time she was seen alive.
Her husband reported her missing to Gardaí on Christmas Day. Patricia worked as a prison officer in Mountjoy Prison and her husband thought she had gone to work when he did see her on Christmas Eve. The alarm was only raised that evening when Patricia did not arrive at her mother’s house as they had previously arranged.
It was only by chance that Patricia’s body was found on the 21st June, 1992. A period of dry weather caused the peat bank, exposing her shallow grave off the Kilakee Road in the Dublin Mountains. Patricia had been strangled and raped. She was identified by dental records and the rings she was wearing. Her house key was found nearby and she was still wearing her coat. Gardaí believe she was buried around the time she went missing in December of the previous year.
Gardaí have never publicly named a suspect or given any indication of a motive for her murder.
Patricia’s body was found less then a mile away from where Antoinette Smith’s body was discovered buried 4 years earlier. Antoinette’s murderer has also never been arrested. I will cover Antoinette’s case in more detail in a later blog post, but it’s hard not to wonder if these two cases are related. Gardaí have never made any comment about a link between the two cases but considering the two women were a similar age, looked similar, were both strangled and were discovered buried extremely close to each other it would feel like a strange coincidence if they were not related.
One source has floated the idea that Graham Dwyer may have been involved with Patricia’s murder. In 2015, Dwyer was found guilty of the murder of Elaine O’Hara whose body was found near Kilakee in the Dublin Mountains in 2013. Elaine went missing in August of 2012. Originally from Cork, Dwyer moved to Dublin in the early 1990’s and would have been 19 at the time of Patricia’s murder. However, Dwyer seemed fascinated with stabbing a woman to death which does not match the cause of death in Patricia’s murder. Also, if Patricia’s murder is linked to the murder of Antoinette Smith, this would rule out Dwyer as a suspect as Antoinette was murdered before he moved to Dublin.
Another possible theory is that Patricia encountered or crossed someone in her job as a prison officer. However, she had only worked in Mountjoy Prison for 6 months before her disappearance. Before this she trained in Portlaoise Prison so she could possibly have crossed someone there but surely some evidence of this would have been found.
If you have any information relating to the murder of Patricia Doherty please contact the Serious Crime Review Team using the below contact details.
Marie Kilmartin disappeared from Portlaoise in December of 1993. There are conflicting reports regarding the exact date of her disappearance, with different sources listing the 15th, 16th or 17th December. She was missing for 6 months before her body was found in a bog on the Laois/Offaly border. She had been strangled. Although Gardaí have made a number of arrests, her killer has still not been charged.
Marie was originally from Balinasloe, Co. Galway but was living in Beladd on the Stradbally Road in Portlaoise. When she was about 20 years old, she gave birth to a daughter who was adopted by Marie’s family members. Her daughter, Áine, was 13 when Marie disappeared but did not discover she was adopted until she was 20. She even attended Marie’s funeral after her mother’s body was discovered, but remained unaware of her true relationship to Marie until years later.
Marie worked in a nearby old people’s home and, on the day of her disappearance, she had attended a Christmas Party at the home. She returned to her own home after the party and had plans to meet a friend around 6pm that evening. When the friend came to Marie’s house that evening she saw Marie’s shopping on a chair on the kitchen but Marie was not at home.
Neighbours reported that Marie had been very upset after speaking to someone on the phone on the day before she disappeared. Following investigations, Gardaí confirmed that the call was made to Marie around 4.3opm from a public phone box on the Dublin Road in Portlaoise. The call lasted about 2 and a half minutes. No other calls were made from the phone box for 20 minutes before and 10 minutes after the call to Marie.
Marie’s number was ex-directory which leads Gardaí to believe she knew the caller. A witness who was in the area at the time remembered seeing a man in the phone box who she described as 5’8″ tall and about 30 years old. Despite numerous appeals, this man has never come forward and has never been identified.
No trace of Marie was found for many months until a prison officer who was cutting turf happened upon her body. It was extremely lucky that Marie’s body was found as her body was weighed down by a six inch concrete block on her chest, and a pram and parts of a gas heater were also used to conceal her body. Water levels in the bog had recently dropped, allowing her body to be discovered. She was fully dressed in the clothing she had been wearing at the Christmas party on the day she disappeared.
A postmortem revealed she had been strangled and there was no evidence of sexual assault.
Two men were questioned in June, 1994 but were released without charge. In 2008, Gardaí arrested two men and a woman, aged in their 40s and 60s, in connection with Marie’s murder. They were questioned for 24 hours each before being released without charge.
In August 2019, at the Central Criminal Court, a detective made an application to transfer six interviews Gardaí conducted with the chief suspect in the case from VCR to DVD. The application was approved.
It is now expected that Marie’s murder will be investigated by the Gardaí’s serious crime review team.
Anybody with any information relating to the disappearance and murder of Marie Kilmartin is asked to contact Portlaoise Gardaí at 057-8674100 or Crimestoppers on 1800-250025.
On the morning of the Tuesday, June 16th 2009 the body of an unidentified male was discovered on Rosses Point beach. He was wearing a pair of swimming trunks under his underpants with a navy t-shirt tucked into them. The rest of his clothes were folded nearby but there was no sign of a wallet or any forms of identification.
It was discovered that the body belonged to a man who had been staying at the Sligo City Hotel under the name ‘Peter Bergmann’. CCTV first captured Bergmann on Friday, 12th June boarding a bus travelling from the Ulster Bus Depot in Derry to the Sligo bus station two hours away. When he arrived he took a taxi to the Sligo City Hotel where he booked a room for three nights. The taxi driver initially brought him to another guest house which did not have availability. He gave his address as ‘Ainstettersn 15, Wien 4472, Vienna, Austria’ which later turned out to be made up. He had a black shoulder bag and a black holdall with him at that time.
Bergmann stood at 5’10” and was of slender build. He had blue eyes and appeared to be in his late 50s or 60s. He was described as having a thick German accent.
On Saturday, 16th June, Bergmann was seen leaving the hotel to purchase eight 82 cent stamps and airmail stickers from the General Post Office. The next day he caught a taxi and asked for recommendations for a quiet beach where he could swim. The taxi driver brought him to Rosses Point, as well as informing him that buses run hourly to the beach, before returning him to the bus station in Sligo.
When Bergmann checked out of the hotel next day he walked along Wine Street before stopping at Quayside Shopping Centre for a few minutes. He then continued to Sligo bus station where he ordered a drink and sandwich. On leaving the hotel he had three bags with him; the two bags he had on arrival and the purple bag he was seen with on CCTV. By the time he arrived at the bus station the black holdall was missing. According to witnesses, while eating he looked at or wrote on a piece of paper from his pocket before tearing the paper in half and disposing of it. Around 2pm he boarded a bus for Rosses Point and multiple people later saw him on the beach with his bag over his shoulder.
The last sighting of Bergmann was at 11.50pm when a woman saw him walking along the water’s edge with a plastic bag in his hand. His body was found the next morning. Following the discovery of Bergmann’s body, Gardai started an investigation into his death. During this investigation they discovered that Bergmann left the Sligo City Hotel multiple times with a purple plastic bag which looked to be full of something. Each time he returned the bag was out of sight. It’s theorised that Bergmann was disposing of his belongings around Sligo but no evidence of this was ever captured on CCTV.
Despite being found washed up on Rosses Point, Bergmann’s autopsy found that he actually died of a heart attack. It was also found that he had terminal prostate cancer which has spread to his bones, chest and lungs and would have left in considerable pain. Despite this no drugs were found in his system, although a standard toxicology report does not test for banned substances. There was evidence of previous heart attacks and one of his kidneys had been removed.
Theories I think it is obvious that Bergmann killed himself, most likely in response to his impending death from terminal cancer. However there are still numerous questions outstanding regarding his death.
The thing that intrigues me most is his purchase of eight 82 cent stamps. At the time of his death an 82 cent stamp was the price to send a letter to Europe. Did his family and friends know of his plan to take his own life and did he write to them to let them know where he would end up? Is this why no one has ever reported him missing or come to claim his body? If this is the case, it still makes me wonder why he went to such great lengths to conceal his identity.
When Bergmann’s body was discovered the labels had been cut from clothes, although some brand names remained. A couple of items were from C&A, a store which is predominantly located in Germany and Austria. There is also the evidence that he was meticulously disposing of his personal belongings around Sligo. Although he was captured leaving the hotel with items multiple times, he was never once seen actually disposing of anything. Was this intentional or pure luck?
Despite the attention to detail given to concealing his identity and disposing of his belongings, it also seems like Bergmann didn’t have a fully formed plan when he arrived in Sligo. He arrived with no accommodation booked and the two locations he was brought to by taxi were within walking distance of the bus station. He also asked for recommendations for quiet beaches as if he had done no research in advance.
At times it seemed like he wanted to leave a trail, like getting a taxi to accommodations which he could have walked to. He also greeted numerous people while walking on Rosses Point the evening before he died. Was this intentional to ensure people remembered him or did he think that he concealed his identity enough that he had nothing to lose?
Officially, hotel staff should have requested ID when Bergmann checked in to the hotel, this was not done. What would he have done in this situation? Did he have a fake ID ready in case he was asked to produce it?
Another infuriating mystery is whether it was pure coincidence that Bergmann suffered a heart attack while swimming at Rosses Point or whether he ingested something to cause this. Was his original plan to swim out to sea and drown, only for the heart attack to take him first?
I also wonder how he arrived in Ireland in the first place. There is no evidence of any Peter Bergmann on any incoming passenger manifests so it’s unclear how, or when, he arrived here.
There’s also the question as to why he picked Ireland as his final destination. Did he have some link to the country or was it just a completely random pick?
10 years have passed since Bergmann’s passing so it seems unlikely that any of these questions will be answered easily. Hopefully someone is looking for him and will be able to get the closure they deserve eventually.
Charles Self was stabbed to death in his home in Monkstown on the 21st January 1982. Despite repeated appeals for information, Gardaí are no closer to finding his killer.
Charles was born in England on Valentine’s Day 1949. Following the death of his mother, he was mainly raised by his Aunt in Glasgow. He had been working as a set-designer for the BBC when, in 1978, Alpho O’Reilly, head of design for RTÉ, persuaded him to move to Ireland to work for RTÉ. In an unrelated case, Alpho would later disappear himself in 1996 but I’ll go into more detail on that at another time.
Charles was well-known on the homosexual scene in Dublin at a time when it was extremely difficult to be gay. For context, homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised in Ireland for another 11 years.
On the evening of his murder, Charles spent about 30 minutes in The Bailey Bar. He then went to the South William Public House and stayed here until about 10.30pm. From here he met 5 friends in the now closed Bartley Dunne bar on Stephen’s Street Lower. Bartley Dunne was a known gay bar and Charles regularly socialised here.
When Bartley Dunne’s closed at 11.30pm, Charles left the bar heading along D’Olier Street onto Burgh Quay where he entered the Hotpot Café. The walk would have taken about 15 minutes. He ordered food at the Hotspot Café and spent about 30 minutes eating at the counter and chatting to the other customers.
After leaving the Hotpot Café he went to the public toilets on the corner of Burgh Quay and O’Connell Bridge. These toilets were reportedly a notorious gay hookup spot. According to witnesses, Charles spoke to two men here who were never identified and Gardaí are appealing for information on them. The first man was described as skinny, wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans, and was around 25 years old. The second man is described as pudgy with long blonde hair and wearing a black jacket with a white stripe down the sleeve.
Around 12.20am Charles and a young man took a taxi from Eden Quay back to Charles’ flat at Annesley Mews, off Brighton Avenue in Monkstown. During a reconstruction aired on RTÉ, the man with Charles was described as being very quiet, while another source says the two were ‘amorous’ in the taxi. This man was described as in his 20’s and with blonde hair. He was smartly dressed and wearing a two piece suit.
Around 8.50am on the following morning Charles was found stabbed to death at the bottom of the stairs in his flat. His body was found by Berty Tyrer, a friend who had stayed the night while Charles’ regular housemate was in London. Berty regularly crashed at Charles’ house and had stayed on this particular night as it had been snowing and this prevented him from getting to his own home in Wicklow. When Berty tried to call the Gardaí he was unable to get a dial tone and had to run to a neighbour’s to raise the alarm.
Charles had been stabbed 14 times and suffered 3 slash wounds to his throat. The torn cord from his roommate’s dressing gown was also wound tightly around his neck. The rest of the cord was tied to a chair. Gardaí reported that the assault on Charles started in the kitchen of the apartment before moving into the sitting room and ending in the hallway. The scene was described as chaotic, with the stereo still playing and records strewn across the room. The murder itself has been described by Gardaí as ‘brutal and frenzied’. 6 of the stab wounds, which were inflicted with an 8 inch kitchen knife, were so vicious that they went completely through his body.
The location of Charles’ body meant it was impossible to open the front door to the apartment. This led Gardaí to believe that the killer may have fled through a small window in the kitchen. However the window was also only 2ft wide and opened inwards making it almost impossible for someone to come in or out of, especially without disturbing the dishes on the counter. Furniture was also placed over some of the bloodstains leading Gardaí to believe the scene may have been staged.
Despite the ferociousness of the murder, Berty slept through the entire thing. He did say he was woken by someone entering his room at 2.30am before they apologised and closing the door. Although Berty only saw the man briefly he described him as having curly dark hair, while the man in the taxi with Charles was described as having straight blonde hair. Berty reported hearing no other noises that night. A neighbour in a nearby building did hear screaming during the night and another neighbour who lived across the courtyard reported hearing a stone bench being dragged through the courtyard at 4am. When she looked out she saw a man climbing over the wall into a nearby garden and noticed that the door to Charles’ home was ajar.
Gardaí received much criticism of their investigation into Charles’ murder. As mentioned above, homosexuality was still illegal at the time and the Gardaí were notoriously homophobic. Many gay men were questioned as part of the investigation and many of those questioned were not openly gay or had any logical connection to the murder. Gardaí seemed convinced that a ‘rent boy’ was responsible for the murder.
It is feared that, as Gardaí were so unwelcoming to members of the LGBT community at the time of the murder, key witnesses may have been afraid to come forward for fear of harassment. Gardaí hope that someone with information may still come forward especially as their relationship with the LGBT community has greatly improved.
The most obvious killer is the man who returned home with Charles, although Gardaí have never publicly named him as a suspect. Did something go wrong when they got to the house? Stabbing Charles 14 times, and so brutally that the knife went completely through his body, seems like overkill. It also points to a murderer who was extremely angry at the time of the killing and indicates a personal element also. Since Charles was also found with a torn ligament around his neck, and the other part of the ligament on a chair, it could indicate that the killer attempted to torture Charles in some way.
However the one thing I can’t get past is Berty sleeping through the violent struggle occurring downstairs. One newspaper explained this away by saying that Berty was in his 60s and was possibly hard of hearing but surely if someone entering his room was enough to wake him, then a violent murder taking place just downstairs would be more than enough to rouse him. The fact that Charles’ body was also found inside the front door, preventing it from being opened and with no other feasible exit, makes me extremely suspicious of Berty who remained in the house. However Gardaí never seemed to consider him a suspect and even asked him to draw a sketch of the man in the house. I haven’t found any sources stating whether Berty was gay or not, but if not this could explain why Gardaí didn’t see him as a suspect Maybe they were so determined to focus on the LGBT community that they ignored a potential suspect closer to home.
Of course there could be a much simpler explanation. Maybe Berty did hear the commotion downstairs but, fearing for his life, he stayed in his room so as to avoid getting killed himself. When he found Charles dead he was so ashamed that he didn’t intervene that he found it easier to pretend he slept through the whole event, eventually taking this secret to the grave.
Whatever happened that night, it’s been 37 years and Gardaí are still trying to discover who murdered Charles Self and what their motivation was. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gardaí at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station on 016665000.
On the 6th July 1907, the Irish Crown Jewels were discovered missing from their safe in Dublin Castle. The jewels, which are not linked to monarchy and instead belonged to the Order of Saint Patrick, consisted of a jewelled star and a diamond badge. Five gold encrusted collars belonging to knights of the Order were also stolen.
The Irish Crown Jewels
The Irish Crown Jewels belonged to the Order of Saint Patrick which was established in 1783 by George III during his reign as King of Ireland. The Order was to be the Irish equivalent of the English Order of the Garter or the Scottish Order of the Thistle. The Irish Crown Jewels were worn by the Sovereign at the investiture of new Knights as members of the Order, and by the Grand Master on other formal ceremonial occasions. The jewels were discovered missing four days before a visit by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra during which it was planned to swear in The 2nd Baron Castletown into the Order.
The Crown Jewels consisted of 394 jewels, most of which were taken from the jewellery of Queen Charlotte. The jewelled star was decorated with Brazilian diamonds and featured an emerald shamrock and ruby cross on a blue enamel background. The motto of the Order, ‘Quis Separabit MDCCLXXXIII’ was engraved in rose diamonds on the back.
The diamond badge featured an emerald shamrock on a ruby cross with a blue enamel circle. The Order’s motto was also engraved in rose diamonds on the badge and this was enclosed by a wreath of emerald shamrock’s. A crowned harp made from diamonds was placed on top of the badge.
Since 1903 the jewels had been stored in a safe in a strong room of the Office of Arms which was located in Bedford Tower at Dublin Castle. The office was under the authority of the Ulster King of Arms, Sir Arthur Vicars, and was responsible for the care of all state insignia. Vicars and his staff held seven keys to the building, while Vicars also held the two keys to the safe containing the Crown Jewels.
The Crown Jewels were discovered missing on the 6th July, 1907 and were last seen on the 11th June when Vicars showed them to a visitor to the office. After the 11th June there were a number of security breaches in the building as both the building and strong room door were left open. The building cleaner also found an intruder in the room on one occasion. Vicars was known to get drunk while on overnight duty and once woke up to find the jewels around his neck. It is unknown if this was a prank or a trial of the actual theft. On another occasion Lord Haddo, the son of Lord Lieutenant, The 7th Earl of Aberdeen, stole the jewels and returned them to Vicars by post.
Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) conducted an investigation and offered a reward of £1000. According to a leaflet distributed by the DMP, they believed that the thief used a fake key to gain access to the safe and steal the jewels since the safe lock had not been forced. Assistance was also received from Detective Chief Inspector John Kane of Scotland Yard. According to rumours, his report names the thief but this was suppressed by the Royal Irish Constabulary and never released.
Vicars publicly accused Francis Shackleton, brother of explorer Ernest Shackleton, of the theft. Although Shackleton was in financial difficulty and had the opportunity to make a copy of the safe key, he was not in Ireland at the time of the theft. The theory was that Shackleton planned everything but had an associate, Captain Richard Gorges, complete the theft. Both Shackleton and Gorges were homosexual, which was illegal at the time, and it is theorised that they were not investigated to avoid a greater scandal.
Theories were also put forward that the jewels were stolen by a republican or unionist group and Lord Haddo, who previously stole the jewels as a prank, was also accused. However no trace of the jewels has ever been found and no one has ever claimed responsibility for the theft.
Dean Roche (31) has been missing from Kilkenny, Ireland since the 22nd March 2015. Although his friends and family have searched tirelessly for Dean since he disappeared, they are no closer to finding him.
Dean was 31 when he disappeared. He was the middle child in a family of 3 brothers and was also the father of a son, Jamie. Dean was a known heroin addict and also had convictions for petty crime. When last seen he was wearing a black zip up tracksuit top and bottoms with white runners. Dean has been described as being 5’ 8’’ tall, of slight build, with green eyes and short brown hair. Sadly, Dean’s Mum has passed away since Dean disappeared having never learned what happened to her son.
Around 7pm on that evening of 22nd March, Dean left the home he shared with his Mum in Hebron Park and travelled by taxi to nearby Ballyfoyle to purchase a car. The journey should have taken about 15 minutes at most and Dean told his Mum that he’d be back in 30 minutes.
He purchased the car from a private seller for €200, although his Mum believed he may have had up to €900 in cash on him. The car was later found crashed half a mile from where he bought it. Dean reportedly spoke to a number of locals in the area following the crash but there is conflicting information regarding the time of his last sighting. According to the official Gardaí website: ‘Witnesses in Newpark, Ballyfoyle area describe seeing Dean at 9pm that evening. That is the last confirmed sighting of Dean … his last known sighting was at approximately 9.15pm when he left through the side of a house which led into a nearby field.’
However it has also been reported that around 8.15pm Dean approached a house in the area and spoke to the woman who lived there. She stated that he was disorientated and distressed and told her he needed help. She entered the house to get a phone to call for help but when she returned Dean had gone. She then saw a silver car speed past her gate and someone shouting ‘Get in the fucking car’ before the car sped off again.
Extensive searches have been conducted in the area by the Gardaí, including by the dog and water rescue units, and the Army. The Garda website states that a hat which possibly belonged to Dean was found. A pair of runners were also found but no trace of Dean’s DNA was found on these. Gardaí have stated that they believe Dean’s body is no longer in the area. Dean’s phone and bank accounts have not been used since his disappearance.
Ballyfoyle is on the outskirts of Kilkenny. It is a rural area consisting mainly of farms and some woodland. There are some quarries in the surrounding areas but there are none near the area from which Dean disappeared. On the date Dean went missing sunset was at 6.45pm so it would have been dark by the time he purchased the car. The weather was dry and clear.
As stated above, Dean had struggled with heroin. He successfully purchased the car as planned but apparently crashed it almost immediately. While Dean purchased the car for €200 it was believed he had as much as €900 in cash on him. Why was he carrying so much cash? Did he plan to meet someone after buying the car with the intention of purchasing drugs or maybe to clear a debt he owed? That could explain the silver car that a resident of the area saw and heard.
What caused him to crash the car so soon? I’ve often wondered if Dean was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash or if it was just an unfortunate accident. I also wonder did he hit his head in the crash which caused him to become disorientated. This could have caused him to wander off and succumb to the elements. However this seems unlikely since Gardaí have indicated that they don’t believe Dean is still in the area.
Let’s also ignore the drug angle for a second and give Dean the benefit of the doubt. Could he have encountered the driver of the silver car earlier in the evening? Maybe they were involved in the car accident somehow and came after Dean in a fit of road rage.
Regardless of what happened, Dean’s family have now spent over 4 years searching for answers and are no closer to finding out where Dean is.
Anyone with any information relating to Dean is asked to contact Kilkenny Garda Station on 056 7775000, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.
Conor and Sheila Dwyer have been missing from Fermoy, Co. Cork since 1991. In the 28 years that have passed since, no trace of the missing couple has been found.
The Dwyers lived and worked in Fermoy. Conor worked as a plumber, handyman and part-time hackney driver while Sheila was a homemaker. At the time of his disappearance Conor was working as a chauffeur for German millionaire businessman Fritz Wolf who was holidaying in Castlelyons, 10 minutes from Fermoy. They had two sons who were living in England at the time of their disappearance. After years of making ends meet the couple were looking forward to starting retired life.
When they disappeared Conor was 63. He was described as 5ft 8in in height, weighing 11 stone and had dark hair, parted to the right. When last seen he was wearing dark rimmed glasses, a checked sports jacket and a navy trench coat. Sheila Dwyer was 61. She was described as 5ft 4in with fair hair. She was last seen wearing light woollen coat with white leather walking shoes.
The couple were last seen attending a funeral in St Patrick’s Church, Fermoy on the morning of 30th April 1991. The church was located only 100m from their home on Chapel Hill. Sheila spoke to her sister on the phone the following day and, when her sister could not get in touch with her again, she went to the couple’s house. When she couldn’t gain access she raised the alarm to Gardaí. Some sources state that this report was made on May 19 or May 22.
When Gardaí accessed the house they found nothing amiss. All of the couple’s personal belongings, including clothes and passports, were found in the house. £1000 (about €2100) was also found in a biscuit tin in the house. The only things missing were the couple and their car, a white Toyota Cressida with the registration plate 5797 ZT. While there were many reported sightings of the couple, their bank accounts were never accessed
The River Blackwater runs through Fermoy and Gardaí completed exhaustive searches of the water, as well as of the surrounding countryside, but no trace of the couple or their car have been found. They also alerted Interpol and checked ferry records for the relevant time period in case the couple had travelled to England to visit their sons. However no car matching the couple’s Toyota Cressida or its registration plate was seen leaving Ireland.
There have been a number of reported sightings of the couple from Ireland and abroad but Gardaí have been able to substantiate any of these.
A local lady thought she saw the Dwyers stopped at traffic lights in Fermoy soon after their disappearance. There have also been sightings in Waterford and Dublin.
After seeing the case featured on Crimecall in 1993, Mary O’Dowd realised she may have seen the couple in Lourdes Airport in June 1991. Ms O’Dowd was unaware of the disappearance at the time but remembered the couple as the male seemed suspicious. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms O’Dowd said: ‘A garda and the missing lady’s sister came to speak to me and asked about the clothing the people I saw had on. I told them and it turned out these were the items of clothing missing from the house in Fermoy.’
Another possible sighting was reported in Munich in 1993. This was of particular interest to Gardaí as Conor Dwyer had been working for German businessman, Fritz Wolf, at the time of his disappearance. However both Bavarian police and Interpol were unable to confirm the sighting. All sources state that Conor was working for Fritz Wolf at the time of his disappearance. I’ve always wondering if this meant that he was actively employed by Fritz Wolf, or if that was his last employment. If he was actively working for Mr Wolf at the time of his disappearance, why did his employer not raise the alarm?
In 2000, new intelligence led Gardaí to search a lime quarry at Aherla, about 45 minutes from Fermoy, but yet again no trace of the couple was found.
Rumours began to spread quickly about Conor Dwyer following the disappearance.
It isn’t stated in any official source but there are rumours that Conor disappeared for a number of years in the 1980s. There is little information on this disappearance, beyond the fact that he disappeared. It is unknown how long he disappeared for, what the circumstances were and why or when he returned.
After the couple disappeared there was a rumour that the case was in fact a murder/suicide or a suicide pact. If Conor’s previous disappearance was a result of a depressive episode, this way be the basis for this rumour.
There were also rumours that Conor had become involved in a drug-running business. Gardaí have never publicly named or suspects or given details of any possible theories or motives behind the disappearance.
William Fennessy disappearance
William (Billy) Fennessy, also disappeared from Fermoy almost exactly a year before the Dwyers disappeared. He was of similar age to the Dwyers and his car was also missing. Many wondered if there was a link between the two disappearances but sadly Fennessy’s body and car were recovered from the River Blackwater in 2012.
The most difficult part of this case is that nobody knows for sure when Conor and Sheila disappeared. Sheila last spoke to her sister on the 1st May and the alarm was raised about 3 weeks later. By all account Sheila and her sister spoke regularly but it’s unclear how much time passed between that last call and when Sheila’s sister tried to contact her next.
If the rumour that Conor was involved in drugs was true, surely some evidence of this would have been found. There is also nothing to indicate that the couple were the victim of an assault or break in.
I think the most obvious explanation is that the couple went for a drive somewhere and unfortunately crashed into the River Blackwater. The river is extremely deep at points and it’s easy for a car to remain submerged for years. Simply look at the case of William Fennessy above whose car remained hidden in the river for 22 years. However if the couple’s car did crash into the river the question still remains as to whether the car entered the water accidentally or purposely.