Officers believe the woman, named locally as Ashling Murphy, was beaten to death by a man in what was a random attack on a canal bank in Tullamore, Co Offaly, in the afternoon.
Ms Murphy (23) had been jogging along a stretch of the Grand Canal, known as Fiona’s Way in memory of missing woman Fiona Pender.
The area has become extremely popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists in recent years, and even more so since the onset of Covid restrictions.
Ms Murphy comes from a highly respected family who live outside Tullamore and are well known in music circles.
A suspect in the case – a Romanian national aged in his 40s who has been living locally – was being questioned last night on suspicion of her murder.
Senior sources say the case is being classified as murder and gardaí are satisfied they did not know each other before the violent events of yesterday evening.
Local TD Barry Cowen said the news was “shattering and horrific” for the area.
“Everyone’s thoughts and prayers are with the young woman’s family,” he said.
The woman’s body was removed from the scene late last night.
The arrested man was last night being detained at Tullamore garda station under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.
incident room has been established at the garda station and a family liaison officer has been appointed to meet with the family of the dead woman.
Local councillor Tony McCormack, who lives nearby,
said the canal bank is always well populated during the day with walkers, runners
“It’s scary. It’s horrendous to think something like that can happen in your own backyard. I feel so sorry for that young woman’s family.
Imagine her getting
up to go to work this morning or whatever, and then going for a run –
and for that to happen to her,” he said.
“My heart goes out to the family. It’s a shock to have to put up with this, for any family. I don’t know how they are going to get through it. I can’t imagine a family being in that situation, it’s just horrendous. That poor lady, may she rest in peace.”
Junior minister Josepha Madigan tweeted her shock at the incident and her condolences to Ms Murphy’s family
“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.”
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 Síochána. The gardaí will investigate this awful crime and ensure justice is done.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald described the killing as “horrific”.
“A young woman's life brutally stolen. In broad daylight. In a busy place. A nightmare for a family, friends and community,” she said.
Gardaí appealed for anyone who was in the Cappincur/canal walk area of Tullamore before 4pm
yesterday to make contact with them.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore garda station on 057 932 7600, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any garda station.