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Body of murder victim (68) lay undiscovered for almost three years

Police have launched a murder investigation after the body of 68-year-old Marie Conlon was found at a flat at Larkspur Rise, off the Suffolk Road in west Belfast. Police remained at the scene yesterday. Photo by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

The family of a 68-year-old woman, whose body lay undiscovered in her home for almost three years after she was believed murdered, were last night said to be "distraught" with grief.

Police said Marie Conlon - who was not married and had no children - is believed to have been killed in January 2015, however her remains were only discovered at her west Belfast home last Friday by police who forced entry to her flat at Larkspur Rise, off the Suffolk Road.

Police were called to the scene when concerns for the pensioner's welfare were raised.

Officers who gained entry to the flat found her remains in bed and it was "apparent that she had lain undiscovered for some time" - a total of two years and nine months.

Despite the discovery last Friday, October 6, police only revealed on Thursday that a murder investigation had been launched.

Police said a post mortem examination was carried out and the results suggested that the death "may have been suspicious" however added that "further testing is due to take place".

A 23-year-old man, who was last night being questioned by police about the woman' murder, was also being held on suspicion of theft and fraud charges.

Asked if they were assisting with the police investigation, a spokesman for the Department for Communities - which is responsible for the benefits, pensions and welfare system - said: "The Department does not comment on ongoing police investigations".

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Dickson said: "Authorities were alerted on Friday after concerns were raised about the welfare of 68-year-old Marie Conlon.

"Officers forced entry to her Larkspur Rise home and discovered her deceased in bed. It was apparent that she had lain undiscovered for some time".

DCI Dickson added: "Detectives investigating the circumstances of the death have established the last known sighting of Ms Conlon was in January 2015. It is our belief, supported by the medical evidence, that her death may have occurred at around this time.

"We have launched a murder investigation and a 23 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including murder. He was detained in the west Belfast area yesterday and remains in custody at present".

Sinn Féin councillor Séanna Walsh, who knows the woman's family, said they are "distraught" about what had happened.

"The family are devastated. They are shocked. They are grieving," he said.

"She was a quiet woman, she kept herself to herself".

He added: "One of the tragedies of modern living is that in areas like this you don't have the same sense of connectedness you would have had if she had have lived in the estate.

"This type of accommodation is very transitory, there's people coming and going all the time. I just find it tragic, the whole episode.

"It's terrible".

SDLP councillor Brian Heading said the community had been left "saddened" by what had happened.

"We don't look out for our neighbours," he said.

"We don't give two thoughts. This is something that people need to think about. We should be looking out for one another ."

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