Republic of Ireland news

Search of Kildare woodland in missing woman case finds ‘nothing of evidential value'

Gardai have appealed for information
James Ward, PA

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Deirdre Jacob found “nothing of evidential value” in a search of the woodland where she went missing, Gardaí have said.

A fresh search of an isolated part of Co Kildare was undertaken as part of the investigation into the murders of Ms Jacob and JoJo Dollard.

It followed reports of “unusual activity” in the area on the evening Ms Jacob vanished.

In a statement, Gardaí said: “The search of a site of a wooded area of interest in Co Kildare has now been completed.

“Nothing of evidential value to these investigations was recovered.

“An Garda Síochána continues to keep the families involved updated on the progress of these investigations.

“While the search has been completed, Gardaí remain at the scene to complete necessary site works on these private lands.”

Gardaí said they have no further comment to make at this time.

The area of woodland is in Taggartstown, close to the Co Wicklow border.

Ms Jacob, who was 18 when she disappeared in July 1998, was one of at least six women who went missing in the area during the 1990s.

The search of more than three acres of land began some two weeks ago.

Inspector John Fitzgerald, who led the search operation, said at the outset that a review of the evidence had identified the woodland as “an area of interest”, which may be relevant to the inquiry.

Mr Fitzgerald said the information about the unusual activity was reported some time ago, but, following a review of the murder investigation, it was deemed more relevant than initially thought.

“There was unusual activity noticed in the woodland in and around the time Deirdre went missing, and, based on that, we felt it prudent to commence a further search of the area,” he said.

“The area has been under review for some time. We have carried out a cursory search some time ago and then the recommendation was to commence a search in October as it is the best chance of success based on the fact that it’s thick land.

“There’s is a lot undergrowth and the time of year gave us the best opportunity to gather any evidence that may be here.”

He said Ms Jacob’s family were aware the searches were taking place.

He also said that, while the disappearance of Ms Dollard is a separate investigation, the team were “mindful” that the location where she was last seen is nearby.

He also said it was important to “manage expectations” and “not get ahead of ourselves”.

“Any development is significant but it is a big step for us to take this ground and search it. If evidence is found, it will be assessed and the senior investigating officer will decide where to go from there,” Mr Fitzgerald added.

During the course of the search the remnants of a previously undiscovered historical settlement were identified and the National Monuments Service has been notified.

Ms Jacob’s disappearance was reclassified as a murder investigation following new information received by Gardai three years ago.

She was last seen near her home in Roseberry, Newbridge, at approximately 3pm on Tuesday July 28 1998.

Ms Dollard was 21 when she went missing from Moone in Co Kildare on November 9 1995.

She had been travelling home to Co Kilkenny from Dublin, but decided to hitch a lift after she missed the last bus.

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