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Wicklow Mountains suspect made admissions to gardai but was released

Gardai outside Ms O'Connor's home in Dublin
Gardai outside Ms O'Connor's home in Dublin

The suspect for Patricia O'Connor's murder made admissions to gardaí on Monday in relation to remains found in the Wicklow Mountains - but at that point detectives believed the body was male.

It has emerged the 32-year-old man presented himself to Rathfarnham garda station but was released as investigating gardaí in Bray believed the torso found dumped in a plastic bag on Saturday was male.

"What he was saying didn't correlate with what the investigation knew at the time, so gardaí had no reason to detain him," a source said.

Ms O'Connor (61) was fatally assaulted by a male relative about two weeks ago following a violent row at a house in the capital's southside, gardaí believe.

Nine separate human remains were discovered in the past number of days, which include a human head and arms in a plastic bag.

Gardaí believe Ms O'Connor died of horrific head injuries after being struck with an iron bar. She was then placed in the boot of a car and brought to Co Wexford where her killer attempted to bury the mother-of-two in a shallow grave.

Last night, the 32-year-old murder suspect was still being questioned by Bray detectives over the gruesome murder after his period of detention was extended by 12 hours.

Details of the mysterious killing have begun to emerge and gardaí now believe she was killed at a property in Rathfarnham.

The killer then put her body into the boot of his car and drove to a field between Kilmuckridge and Blackwater in Wexford where he buried Ms O'Connor in a shallow grave.

However, less than 24 hours later the killer panicked and returned to the grave, where he dug up Ms O'Connor's body.

He then placed her remains into the car and left the area. At some stage the killer dismembered the grandmother's remains with a hacksaw.

After mutilating the body he then scattered her remains in a 30km area across the Wicklow Mountains. A family discovered the torso in a plastic bag near Military Road on Saturday and a huge investigation was launched.

Further remains were discovered on Sunday by a member of the public.

But, when it was discovered on Tuesday afternoon the dismembered body parts belonged to an adult female, Rathfarnham gardaí contacted the murder suspect and met him by appointment that evening. The suspect helped gardaí with their inquiries and brought investigating detectives to a scene near Kilmuckridge. He was subsequently arrested at this location at 7.30pm.

Ms O'Connor was first reported missing on June 2, but at the time her disappearance was not considered suspicious.

Detectives are now searching for the weapons used in the heinous crime.

A major investigation led by Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning of the South Eastern Division, Supt Pat Ward and Det Insp Frank Keneghan of Bray garda station made a breakthrough on Tuesday night with the arrest of the 32-year-old suspect.

Senior sources have praised the painstaking work carried out by the investigation team which led to the arrest.

"Officers have been working flat out on this case for the last few days and we got a lucky break yesterday when we identified a suspect," a source said.

Up to 10 separate crime scenes have been set up in Dublin, Wexford and Wicklow.

Over 200 gardaí and Defence Forces personnel were involved in the large-scale search operation.

Members of the Garda Water Unit and Dog Unit were also involved.