NewsCrime Desk

Couple made desperate phone call minutes before they vanished

William Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Anna Varslavane (21) have been missing for nearly seven weeks now
William Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Anna Varslavane (21) have been missing for nearly seven weeks now

A vanished couple made a desperate plea for help just minutes before they disappeared, which feeds into the theory they were kidnapped and brutally murdered.

William Maughan (34) and his Latvian girlfriend Anna Varslavane (21) have been missing for nearly seven weeks now, and Gardai have stepped up their investigation into their disappearance. 

Sources in the underworld this weekend said they are believed to have met a violent end at the hands of a County Louth-based drugs gang. 

Willie Maughan (38), was first run over by a car before being killed with a hammer along with his 21-year-old Latvian girlfriend, according to claims made by Sunday World underworld sources.

The gangsters went to great lengths to cover their tracks after the alleged killings, but have since been the target of a major garda operation.

It is believed the couple made a desperate phone call just minutes before they vanished on 14 April. Ms Varslavane is believed to have phoned her partner's mother Helen just before 3pm on the day they disappeared calling for help before the phone went dead. 

One of the woman's sons answered the call and heard cries of 'Help' before the line was cut off. Other voices were audible in the background before the phone went dead, sources have said. 

A leading member of the mob suspected in their disappearance was arrested on Tuesday by Gardaí investigating the murder of Benny Whitehouse in Balbriggan last year.

Whitehouse had fallen foul of the gang leaders, who subjected him to a campaign of intimidation before finally shooting him dead on the street after he had just dropped his daughter to school.

The garda operation into the Whitehouse murder also uncovered a €40,000 stash of heroin hidden in a quarry, which had previously been searched in the hunt for Maughan and Varslavane.

A leading gangster arrested this week had already been remanded in prison on other charges before the courts. The man and his main associate are said to control a network of 200 drug dealers.

The mobsters, who are members of the travelling community, rose to power when they moved to take over the turf left by murdered drug dealer John Paul Joyce.

Joyce was found shot dead in a ditch near Dublin Airport in January 2010, two months after his release from prison.

“We are all heartbroken over what has happened to William and Anna and we are pleading with anyone with information to come forward"

This week, ahead of an appeal broadcast on RTE’s Crimecall , William Maughan’s father said the family accepted the couple were dead.

Joseph Maughan said, however, that they want to give the couple “a Christian burial together”.

“We are all heartbroken over what has happened to William and Anna and we are pleading with anyone with information to come forward,” he said.

William had been a plumber by trade but stopped working when he developed a drug habit.

However, he had told his parents that he wanted a new start.