A 23-year-old school teacher jogging along a popular walkway was violently murdered in broad daylight in what authorities are calling “a random attack,”According to published reports.
Ashling Murphy, the victim, was attacked along the Grand Canal in Tullamore in County Offaly. It is located about an hour west from Dublin. She was said to have been beaten to death by authorities. Irish Central Report.
Police said that strangulation was the cause of death after an autopsy. Irish Independent report.
Before the gruesome assault, the primary school teacher had been running on a path known as Fiona’s Way, created in memory of a 25-year-old woman Fiona Pender, who was seven months pregnant when she disappeared in August 1996, and has never been found, According to The Irish Examiner,
Once the COVID pandemic struck, many exercise enthusiasts made use of the same pathway as walkers and runners.
Two women who witnessed part of the attack, but were unable to give a description and called for help, police said, according to The Irish Times. Murphy was declared dead after emergency personnel arrived. A man was later taken into custody. The Irish Times reported.
The man initially thought to be a suspect was brought in for questioning and was released after he had been “mistakenly identified,” police said, according to the Independent. The Independent reported that evidence sent to Forensic Ireland did not prove a link to the man.
According to the Irish News, a spokesperson for police said that they were speaking on behalf of the Irish Police. “This male has been eliminated from Garda inquiries and is no longer a suspect.”
The man fled to safety after his release. His name and image were widely shared on social media. The man’s lawyer, Donal Farrell told the Irish Independent that since the incident his life has been “unbearable.”
“It is a terrible tragedy what happened to this lady, what happened to her and her family, but this man has been vilified on social media,”Farrell spoke to the news outlet.
According to The Independent, police have identified a suspect who is being treated at a hospital. They are planning to question him soon. Multiple news outlets have published an image of a Falcon Storm mountain bike in green and yellow with straight handlebars. They believe this may be part of their investigation.
Friday morning’s police issued another urgent appeal to anyone with any information.
On a Thursday, Supt Eamonn Culey of Tullamore Garda Station made a vow Press conference that “no stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice.”
Murphy was also an accomplished musician who played traditional music and often performed alongside her sister at the local Tullamore Tradfest. Murphy’s father, Raymond, also a musician, told the Mirror that his youngest daughter, “was just a special girl.” He called her “a little angel…a brilliant girl in every sense of the word.”
The family that lives outside Tullamore town, is well-respected and well-known in the community and abroad. An outpouring of grief has come from Ireland, the U.K., and as far away as Australia.
Floral tributes have been placed at the scene of the killing and outside the Durrow National School where Murphy taught young children. She had been working at her school “just an hour” before she was murdered, police said.
Thousands are expected to attend rallies and vigils across Ireland and the U.K. over the weekend, including in Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, Derry, and London.
Many are comparing Murphy’s death to the rape and murder of marketing executive Sarah Everard, 33, who was killed by a Metropolitan police officer, Wayne Couzens, as she walked home in March 2021. Couzens was sentenced to life in prison, The Guardian reported.
A vigil will take place at the Camden Town London Irish Centre on Saturday, at 4 p.m.
Many officials expressed condolences for the senseless crime and their concern.
Helen McEntee, Ireland’s minister for justice, tweeted. “My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends, and with her community,”McEntee added. “The gardaí will investigate this awful crime and ensure justice is done.”
Michelle O’Neill, Stormont’s deputy first minister, said on Twitter,
“The whole country is shocked and devastated at the horrific murder of … Ashling Murphy while going for a run. Her family, friends, colleagues, and the children she taught are in our thoughts this morning,”Stormont stated. “Violence against women and girls must be stopped.”
“It’s frightening that news has emerged of another woman who has been brutally murdered here on our island,” said Nichola Mallon, the SDLP’s deputy leader and Stormont’s minister for infrastructure. “This is why women right across our island don’t feel safe.”
Police want witnesses and anyone with information to call Tullamore Gardai on 05793 2600.