Burglars ransacking farmhouse found decomposing bodies and fled

Sad: Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56)
Sad: Julia Holmes (63) and her partner Thomas Ruttle (56)

BURGLARS who were ransacking a farmhouse discovered the decomposing bodies of a couple who were dead for two months.

The thieves fled from the rural home near Askeaton, Co Limerick, and alerted gardai after making the find yesterday morning, the Irish Independent reports. 

It is believed the bodies of grandmother Julia Holmes (63), who has been investigated by the PSNI and FBI, and Thomas Ruttle (56) may have been in the rural home since March.

Notes found in the kitchen of the home and dated in mid-March were signed by both of the deceased and had instructions on what to do with their remains.

The cause of death has not been established yet. Further testing is required and this could take a number of days.

Mr Ruttle's legally held firearm was found alongside the two bodies in the bedroom of the home.

The thieves who found the bodies are well known in the Limerick area and alerted gardai fearing they would be blamed for the deaths. They contacted officers in Newcastle West Garda Station and are said to be deeply traumatised by what they discovered.

Mr Ruttle, who grew up in the house which was left to him by his late mother, was a local farmer.

Ms Holmes, who is originally from Ballynahinch, Co Down, and had over 20 convictions, was being sought by the PSNI for fraud offences.

In west Limerick, it is claimed that the dead woman also ran up debts totalling €75,000 to local builders for work carried out on Mr Ruttle's house.


Ms Holmes recently set up a company called Irish Bee Sensation, which won a gold award at the prestigious Irish Food Awards in the pure Irish honey section.

It is understood that the dead man had been a part-time farmer and mechanic who previously worked at the Aughinish Alumina plant in Foynes.

Dr Marie Cassidy conducted a post-mortem examination which ended close to 8pm yesterday.

Gardai are not looking for anyone else in connection with the gruesome discovery and have described it as a "tragic incident".

Supt Tom O'Connor, of Newcastle West Garda Station, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are trying to ascertain what happened. It appears the bodies have been there for some time.

"There appears to be a firearm at the scene, but we have to rule out a number of callers to the house in the past few weeks," he added.

Reverend Dr Keith Scott, of the Church of Ireland in Askeaton, prayed over the two bodies. He said that both deceased were members of the Church of Ireland. He said the couple were both planning to settle down together.

"It's a terrible tragedy, and all of the family are very deeply shocked, terribly shaken and upset."

He described Mr Ruttle as "just a local guy working around the area".