The murdered woman has been named locally as 22-year-old Ashling Murphy, a primary school teacher in Tullamore
A primary school teacher has been beaten to death in a random attack while jogging through a popular Irish walking spot.
Ashling Murphy, a 22-year-old primary school teacher in Tullamore, was killed on Wednesday afternoon along the banks of the Grand Canal.
A man has been arrested in connection with the suspected murder of the young woman in County Offaly, and is to face further questioning.
Police are appealing for witnesses.
Ms Murphy was jogging along the canal bank at Cappincur, known as Fiona’s Way, at around 4pm on Wednesday when she was brutally attacked.
The route is named in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender.
Police investigating the murder have said ‘no stone will be left unturned’ in bringing her killer to justice.
According to the Independent.ie, Ms Murphy came from a highly respected family in the local area that is well known in the music scene, and live outside Tullamore.
The newspaper reported that the suspect is a Romanian national in his 40s who has been living locally for around 20 years, saying he has an alcohol problem.
He is being questioned on the suspicion of murder.
It has been reported that two women witnessed part of the attack, and saw the suspect flee the scene. He was arrested shortly after.
‘This area here, where the crime occurred, is popular among Tullamore residents and is widely used for recreational purposes,’ Superintendent Eamonn Curley told reporters on Thursday.
‘The victim of this crime is Ashling Murphy.
‘Ashling was a schoolteacher in Durrow National School. Our prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues and the children she taught who are without their teacher today.
‘Immediately following the discovery of this crime, a full-scale murder investigation was launched.’
Ms Murphy (pictured left and right) died after being attacked while she was jogging along the canal bank at Cappincur, known as Fiona’s Way, at around 4pm on Wednesday. The route is named in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender
Declan Harvey, Fianna Fail councillor for the area, said: ‘I want to extend my sympathies to Ashling’s father, mother and all her extended family.
‘I am devastated. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of it all because it is a place I go all the time. She went there jogging, she does it regularly. I am lost for words.’
Mr Harvey said it is a route that he and his family often walk.
‘Tullamore is probably the safest place in the world, and after yesterday people will be nervous to go down to the canal,’ he added.
‘It’s a lovely area and helps clear your head. It’s a very popular route that everyone takes. People walk their dogs, people with their kids and prams.’
Police officers visited the school where Ms Murphy worked on Thursday morning to speak with staff and offer support.
At around 9.30am, a police water unit arrived at the scene to begin a search of the waterway next to where the attack occurred.
A postmortem is set to be carried out today, and is expected to last for five hours.
Superintendent Eamonn Curley (left) near to the scene in Tullamore, Co Offaly, after a young woman, who has been named locally as Ashling Murphy, was killed on Wednesday evening
Pictured: A map showing where Ms Murphy’s body was found along the Grand Canal way, also known as Fiona’s Way. The route is named in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender, of whom there is a monument to in Tullamore
Justice Minister Helen McEntee tweeted: ‘My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends and with her community.
‘Please, anyone with information, come forward to An Garda Siochana. The Gardai will investigate this awful crime and ensure justice is done.’
Further Education Minister Simon Harris said: ‘A young woman, simply out for a run in the afternoon and brutally killed.
‘Thinking of her and her family and community tonight and their unimaginable pain. We must all act to end violence against women. We all have a responsibility.’
A man in his 40s was arrested in connection with the incident, and is being detained at Tullamore Garda Station.
The Office of the State Pathologist and the Garda Technical Bureau have been notified, and an incident room has been set up at Tullamore Garda Station.
Pictured: Flowers are left at a Garda checkpoint in Tullamore after a young woman, who has been named locally as Ashling Murphy, was killed in Co Offaly. She died after being attacked while she was jogging along the canal bank at Cappincur at around 4pm on Wednesday. Picture date: Thursday January 13, 2022
Superintendent Eamonn Curley speaks to the media near to the scene in Tullamore, Co Offaly
‘This man is in custody but more people who saw elements of the attack, or either the victim or the suspect before or after this terrible crime, are now being urgently sought, as we continue to question the suspect,’ a source told the Independent.ie.
‘We are building a case but the more witnesses we have the better chance we have of getting a swift conclusion to this crime. That is our major focus today, speaking to anyone who saw either the victim or the suspect along the canal either before or after the attack,’ the source added.
The canal path that Ms Murhpy was attacked on is named after Fiona Pender, a missing woman who was last seen at 6am on August 23, 1996, at her Tullamore flat.
Her disappearance has been the subject of an on-going investigation ever since.
Gardai are appealing for information, and asking anyone who was in the Cappincur/Canal walk area of Tullamore before 4pm on Wednesday to make contact with them.
Minister of State Josepha Madigan for Special Education and Inclusion said: ‘A young woman can’t even go for a run along a canal pathway – at four o’clock, in the middle of the day – only to be attacked and murdered.
‘Sincere sympathies to her family. We need to urgently address why we live in a country where this can happen.’