23-Year-Old Teacher Brutally Beaten to Death in Broad Daylight While Jogging on Popular Walkway
Police have identified a new suspect that is currently being treated at a hospital. They are planning to question him soon.
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.
The victim, Ashling Murphy, was brutally attacked along the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore, in the Irish town in County Offaly, about an hour west of Dublin on Wednesday around 4 p.m. Authorities said she was beaten to death, the Irish Central reported.
An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was strangulation, police said, The Irish Independent reported.
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, The Irish Examiner reported.
The pathway that is regularly used by walkers, runners, and cyclists became a destination for exercise enthusiasts to go once the COVID pandemic hit.
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. Once emergency personnel arrived, Murphy was pronounced dead, and a man was later arrested, 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. Evidence sent to Forensic Science Ireland found no link to the man, the news outlet reported.
A police spokesperson told the Irish News, “This male has been eliminated from Garda inquiries and is no longer a suspect.”
After his release, the man went into hiding for his own safety, since his name and image had been broadcast all over 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 told the news outlet.
Police have identified a new suspect that is currently being treated at a hospital, according to The Independent. They are planning to question him soon. They have also released an image of a green and yellow Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars they believe may be an integral part of their investigation, according to multiple published news outlets.
On Friday morning, police issued another urgent appeal for anyone with information.
Supt Eamonn Curley from Tullamore Garda Station vowed during a Thursday 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.
On Saturday at 4 p.m., a vigil will be held at the London Irish Centre in Camden Town.
Many officials expressed their condolences and concern for this senseless crime.
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 said. “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 said. “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 are asking any witnesses or anyone with information to contact Tullamore Gardai at 05793 27600.
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