Ireland

‘Unanswered questions’ after suspected murder-suicide in Co Kerry

 Garda Superintendent Paul Kennedy speaking outside Lixnaw Garda Station after they were called to a property in north Kerry where they found the bodies of a woman in her 60s and her son, in his 20s, inside and a man in his 60s outside. Picture by Niall Carson, PA Wire
 Garda Superintendent Paul Kennedy speaking outside Lixnaw Garda Station after they were called to a property in north Kerry where they found the bodies of a woman in her 60s and her son, in his 20s, inside and a man in his 60s outside. Picture by Niall Carson, PA Wire

Gardaí investigating the deaths of three family members in a suspected murder-suicide have appealed to the local community in Co Kerry for help, saying there are a lot of “unanswered questions”.

The bodies of the three people, who were found dead with gunshot wounds, have been removed from the scene.

Gardaí have launched a criminal investigation after the bodies were discovered at a property near Lixnaw in the north of the county.

They have not yet established a motive for the deaths.

Officers called at the home yesterday evening and discovered the bodies of a 56-year-old woman and her 24-year-old son inside the property.

In a follow-up search outside the home, gardai found the body of a 63-year-old man at the boundary of the rear yard, also with gunshot wounds.

A firearm was recovered close to his body.

Gardaí investigating the shooting said they have “a lot of unanswered questions” about the incident.

Superintendent Paul Kennedy said gardai were not made aware of any issues with the family.

He described them as a “decent family” who were not previously known to gardaí.

“We have no knowledge of anyone in the days preceding this that would have contacted us directly,” Supt Kennedy said.

“We have a lot of unanswered questions. At the moment, we don’t have motive.

“We are appealing for people to come forward to help determine what happened.”

He said gardai are keeping an open mind in the investigation about what happened in the lead-up to the shooting.

Supt Kennedy added: “At approximately 8.30pm yesterday, gardai in Listowel received a call from a member of the public concerned for the residents of a domestic dwelling at Kilfeighney, Lixnaw.

“Local uniform and plain clothes gardai attended the scene.”

The scene was preserved overnight and the Garda Technical Bureau commenced a forensic examination this afternoon.

State pathologist Dr Margot Bolster visited the scene earlier today.

The bodies of all three people were removed to University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, where state post-mortem examinations will take place.

Gardaí said the result of the post-mortems will determine the course of the investigation, but preliminary findings are that all three died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

“An Garda Síochána is not looking for any other person in relation to this investigation at this time,” Supt Kennedy said.

“A family liaison officer has been appointed to the extended families of the deceased and gardai will support the families during this personal tragedy for them.

“An Garda Síochána appeals for privacy for the family at this time.

“We are also conscious of the severe impact this incident has on the tight-knit community here in Kerry and we are appealing to this community or any other persons who may have any information in relation to the tragic events to contact gardai at Listowel Garda station on 068 50820, the Garda Confidential Number 1800 666.”

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys tweeted: “My deepest sympathies to all impacted by the truly awful tragedy in Lixnaw.

“The shock and devastation being felt by the family and the community is unimaginable.

“An Garda Síochána is engaging with the local community and will carry out a full investigation.”

Parish priest of Lixnaw, Father Anthony O’Sullivan, said the local community is “numb”.

He was called to the scene at the family bungalow shortly before 11pm last night, where he administered the last rites and said a number of prayers.

“There is a great sense of numbness and disbelief that this has happened,” Fr O’Sullivan told Newstalk.

“Personally I feel the same way – numb and failing to comprehend or express how I feel about what has happened.”

He added: “I am here nearly two years and met one of them briefly. It’s a very caring parish with caring people.”

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said: “The community is shocked and deeply saddened at the events that unfolded last night in Lixnaw.

“It’s a very quiet place and a very close-knit community and everyone is devastated at what happened.

“No-one can comprehend, no-one can understand, and we are deeply upset by what happened.

“Unfortunately tragedies like these are becoming more common.

“In a community where everybody knows everybody, the first reaction is how could this happen and why did this happen?

“I think that now is not the time for those questions. I think now is the time to be supportive of the family and their friends of the bereaved people, and that is our job now to support them in their time of need and distress.

“That is what we will be doing.

“They have lived in the area for a long time and we want to support the bereaved people in whatever way we can.”