A large search operation has begun in Co Kildare in relation into the disappearance of 18-year-old Deirdre Jacob who went missing in 1998 as she walked home to Newbridge, Co Kildare.
The search operation will cover an secluded wooded area in the east of the county, near the Co Wicklow border and about 15kms from Newbridge in an area known as Taggartstown, and is an area that was searched before.
Inspector John Fitzgerald from Kildare Garda stop said the renewed followed new evidence occurred gathered during a review of the case which involved suspicious activity in the woodland area the evening of Ms Jacob’s disappearance.
It is understood a observe had come forward stating he saw someone acting suspiciously in a wooded area shortly after Ms Jacob disappeared.
A Garda command centre has been set up in a field nearby to the wood.
Drones are being used to map the three acre area to be searched. Inspector Fitzgerald said the search of the woodland would take approximately three weeks and include 10 to 15 gardaí each day.
Forensic archaeologist Dr Niamh McCullagh has been called in to assist with the search. An excavator will also be on site for the duration of the search.
Inspector Fitzgerald warned against raising expectations and said the search only in relation to the disappearance of Ms Jacob for present.
“It is important that we manage expectations and not get ahead of ourselves. There was uncommon activity seen here. We are conducting a search to see if any evidence is here. We have got a lot of meaningful assistance from the public to date,” Inspector Fitzgerald said.
He additional that by the passage of time, people remember things and the person who had come forward that led to the search had done so with “applicable information which was more applicable than we initially thought.”
The disappearance of Ms Jacob is one of a spate of suspected murders of women in the area in the 1990s.
Eight women disappeared between 1993 and 1998 in an area approximately corresponding with the borders of Leinster.
Gardaí have reason to believe at the minimum some of the women were abducted and murdered by the same person.
The search is being described by Garda headquarters as relating to the “investigation into the disappearance of women in Leinster”. It is expected to be a complicate, lengthy and costly operation given the rural character of the site.
Convicted rapist Larry Murphy has long been a speculate for the murder of several of the women, including Ms Jacob.
He was released in 2010 having served 10 years of a 15 year sentence for kidnapping, raping and attempting to murder a young woman in the Wicklow Mountains in 2000.
A former cellmate of Murphy’s has alleged to gardaí that the Wicklow man confessed to murdering Ms Jacob to him.
In 2018, Ms Jacob’s disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation following a review by the Serious Crime Review Team in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The Garda has submitted a file on her murder to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but the DPP has however to recommend charges.
The 18-year-old was training to be a teacher in London and was on a visit home when she went missing. To date, investigating gardaí have followed more than 3,000 separate lines of inquiry.
Gardaí are also understood to be investigating new leads regarding the disappearance of another of the missing women, 25-year-old Jo Jo Dullard. She was last seen in Moone, Co Kildare in November 1995. Her disappearance was officially upgraded to a murder inquiry earlier this year.
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