'Forensics focused' | 

Gardaí probe into murder of Kerry gran Miriam Burns has made ‘significant progress’

Fingerprints, DNA, fibre analysis and CCTV security camera footage will now prove central to the case.

Miriam Burns

Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

Gardaí are finalising a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the murder of Kerry grandmother Miriam Burns (75).

The Garda investigation into the killing of the mother of four last August is now at "an advanced stage" with significant progress made over recent weeks with both forensic and technical evidence.

A Garda source indicated that the file is "forensics-focused" given the lack of eye-witnesses or admissions in respect of the killing.

Fingerprints, DNA, fibre analysis and CCTV security camera footage will now prove central to the case.

Mrs Burns was discovered dead in the sitting room of her Killarney home on August 15.

She had been assaulted and strangled.

However, there was no sign of any break in at the property in the Ardshanavooly estate.

It is feared Mrs Burns unwittingly opened the door of her Killarney home to her killer in the hours before her death.

Mrs Burns was known as "Killarney's smiling lady."

The 75-year-old was renowned for her kindness and generosity - and it is believed her killer may have exploited that.

There was no sign of a disturbance inside the house associated with a burglary.

Gardaí are still working to determine how much cash Mrs Burns may have kept in her property and whether some was taken by her killer.

Detectives also fear that the killer may have exited and re-entered her home several times while her body lay in the front room.

Mrs Burns was discovered lying on her side with traces of blood around her face and mouth.

The pensioner had apparently tried to defend herself from her attacker with signs of a struggle in the room.

However, she died from a violent assault in which she was both beaten and strangled.

Mrs Burns was discovered at lunchtime when a relative, who is based overseas, became concerned at his inability to contact her over the weekend of August 13/14.

The man rang an Ardshanavooly neighbour and he went with another neighbour to check on her welfare.

Both were shocked to see the grandmother lying lifeless in the front room and they immediately left the property and contacted the gardaí.

The death was immediately treated as suspicious given the visible injuries to Mrs Burns.

Gardaí sealed off the property and Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted a post mortem examination at University Hospital Kerry (UHK) in Tralee.

Just over an hour after the post mortem concluded, gardaí confirmed that Mrs Burns death was being treated as murder.

Minutes later, a man in his 50s was arrested in the south Kerry area on suspicion of murder and taken to Killarney Garda Station for questioning.

He was detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 which gave gardaí up to 24 hours for questioning.

The man suffers from a very chaotic lifestyle and was known to Mrs Burns.

She had kind-heartedly helped him on numerous occasions over recent times.

The man vehemently denied any involvement in her death.

The man, accompanied by his solicitor, well-known Killarney defence counsel Padraig O'Connell, was taken by gardaí to two different locations in Killarney.

The areas involved - the Wishing Well and a patch of ground near Ross Castle - were carefully searched by technical officers with clothing and other material recovered and taken for forensic testing.

All rest, medical and food breaks were availed of by the man during his three days in custody and he was subsequently released without charge by gardaí.

For operational reasons, gardaí have refused to release details of the post mortem examination.

Gardaí conducted exhaustive door-to-door inquiries across Ardshanavooly and neighbouring areas to determine if anyone saw or heard anything suspicious over the weekend of August 13/14.

Detectives also examined hundreds of hours of CCTV security camera footage from both private properties and business premises in the Ardshanavooly area with the focus of movements to and from the estate between August 12-15.

One theory being examined is that Mrs Burns was killed sometime before her body was found on Monday, possibly on Saturday or Sunday.

The last reported sighting of Mrs Burns - who was well-known in Killarney for cycling to events - was on Friday afternoon (August 12).

Hundreds attended Mrs Burns' funeral service at St Mary's Cathedral on August 21 as a mark of the respect in which she was held by the Killarney community.


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