Northern Ireland news

Gardaí to investigate if alleged killer of missing student may be connected to disappearances in 1990s

IT student, Jastine Valdez, had not been seen since she left her home in Enniskerry in Co Wicklow on Saturday afternoon

GARDAÍ are expected to investigate if the alleged killer of a student missing in Dublin may be connected to a series of infamous disappearances in the 1990s.

Mark Hennessy (40) is the main suspect behind the abduction and murder of Jastine Valdez, an accountancy student originally from the Philippines.

But officers are understood to be looking at any previous or historical sexual assaults or attacks on women to establish if Hennessy may be linked to the unsolved crimes.

Ms Valdez was last seen being bundled into a Nissan Qashqai SUV near her home in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, on Saturday evening.

A blood-soaked note found in the car is believed to have pointed Gardaí to the location of her body. It is understood Hennessy had written the words 'Puck's Castle' and 'sorry' in the letter.

It led Gardai to the Puck's Castle area of Rathmichael in south Co Dublin where the 24-year-old Filipino's remains were discovered hidden in thick gorse on Monday.

Her purse and a sock were found in separate locations at the site, indicating her body may have been dragged before being concealed.

Investigators believe Hennessy, a married father-of-two, kidnapped Ms Valdez at random. A post-mortem examination showed she had been strangled.

He was shot dead by gardaí on Sunday night after reportedly lunging at officers with a knife. But just before his death, he is understood to have phoned his wife and told her: "I've done something awful".

Gardaí are satisfied the remains found are those of Ms Valdez. A post mortem was due to be carried out on her body yesterday with reports she may have been strangled.

Hennessy had convictions for public order and drugs offences and was due in court next month to face a drink-driving charge.

It is understood they will also compare his DNA as part of a wider inquiry to see if he is linked to any previous or historical sexual assaults or attacks on women.

It has been reported that detectives will re-examine the infamous Vanishing Triangle cases of the 1990s, where a series of young women disappeared without trace from the Leinster area, to see if there is any connection to Hennessy.

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