Family touched by Everton’s special tribute to Natalie McNally as hunt for murderer continues

‘Everton have offered to bring us to a game. But we cannot be happy until Natalie’s killer is caught’

Dad Noel McNally with Natalie at an Everton game in Goodison Park

CCTV: Image of the man police believe is the killer leaving Natalie’s street

The big-screen tribute to Natalie at yesterday’s Everton game© PA

Noel and Bernie McNally in their Lurgan home as the family waits for the suspect, who was captured on CCTV, to be found

A memorial wreath left outside Goodison Park

Ciaran O'NeillSunday World

A wreath in memory of murder victim Natalie McNally was yesterday left outside the stadium of her beloved Everton.

Relatives of Natalie’s travelled to Goodison Park for Everton’s game against Southampton where thousands of fans also paid tribute to the Lurgan woman who was killed in her home last month.

The tributes, during which a photograph of Natalie, 32, was shown on a large screen in the stadium, came shortly after a man arrested in connection with her death was released on police bail.

A memorial wreath left outside Goodison Park

The 46-year-old man was arrested in south Belfast on Friday and taken to Musgrave Police Station.

Natalie, who was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy, was beaten and stabbed to death on December 18.

Investigating officers previously made two arrests but nobody has been charged in connection with the attack.

A 32-year-old man arrested on December 19 was released unconditionally and is no longer a suspect.

A second man, also aged 32, was arrested on December 21 and was also released on police bail.

CCTV: Image of the man police believe is the killer leaving Natalie’s street

As the hunt for Natalie’s killer continues, her family said they were touched by the tributes to her at yesterday’s Premier League game.

Natalie’s dad, Noel, has supported Everton for more than 60 years and passed on his love of the club to his three sons and only daughter.

He said the response from Everton had meant so much to his family.

“I would go over to a lot of Everton matches with my sons and Natalie was a big fan too. She had been over to a few matches,” said Mr McNally.

“My sister is going to the game today with her daughter and her son and before the match they laid a wreath at the Dixie Dean statue outside the ground.

“I have been a fan of Everton for most of my life and the club has been very good to us.

“They have been in touch and offered to bring us over to a game when we can get over,” said the Lurgan man, who added that Everton’s Irish international, Seamus Coleman, wants to meet the McNally family when they travel over to Liverpool.

Speaking about the ongoing investigation to find his daughter’s killer, Mr McNally renewed his appeal for people to come forward with any information they have.

“We cannot be happy until Natalie’s killer is caught.

“We are happy with the police investigation and we know they are doing all they can.

“They are keeping us updated all the time but we will not be happy until this man is behind bars.”

The big-screen tribute to Natalie at yesterday’s Everton game© PA

A PSNI spokesperson said yesterday: "A 46-year-old man arrested by detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team investigating the murder of 32-year-old Natalie McNally in Lurgan on December 18 has been released on police bail to allow for further enquiries.

“The investigation continues and anyone with any information they feel is relevant is asked to contact us on 101.”

Mr McNally said they were grateful for all the support they have received since his daughter’s brutal murder.

“People from all walks of life coming to see us and supporting us.

“It means so much to us and we are thankful people are thinking of us.”

On the night she died, Natalie had watched the World Cup final with her father at her parents’ house before returning the short distance to her home at Silverwood Green.

Her body was discovered the following evening by a friend who was concerned when they were unable to contact her.

She had been badly beaten before being stabbed.

Due to the extent of her injuries, her father initially struggled to identity her when he went to the local hospital.

Noel and Bernie McNally in their Lurgan home as the family waits for the suspect, who was captured on CCTV, to be found

The PSNI have released CCTV footage of the suspected killer walking away from Natalie’s home at Silverwood Green.

The CCTV footage shows a man entering the street at 8.52pm on December 18 and then leaving at 9.30pm.

The man was carrying a rucksack when he arrived in Silverwood Green and appeared to be wearing white footwear, possibly trainers.

On Friday, the PSNI released more CCTV footage of the suspected killer.

Officers investigating Natalie’s murder have so far conducted hundreds of house-to-house inquiries, seized 3,000 hours of CCTV footage and sent around 50 items for forensic examination.

Searches were also carried out last week at a golf course beside Natalie’s home.

Police believe they have recovered the weapon used in the murder and that it came from Natalie’s home.

Investigating officers believe the Lurgan woman, who worked for Translink, knew her killer, that they had a pre-existing relationship and that she was comfortable allowing him into her home.

A silent vigil for Natalie was held earlier this month at Stormont, and was attended by her three brothers.

Her brother Declan told those at the vigil: “Whatever differences of opinions there are in this country, we know there is no difference of opinion and everybody wants to see an end to violence against women and girls.

“Everybody in society has to redouble our efforts to end violence against women and girls in memory of our sister Natalie.”

Police last week distributed leaflets in Lurgan asking for people with anyone with information about Natalie’s murder to come forward.

The Crimestoppers charity is offering a £20,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of Natalie’s killer.

Anyone with information can contact the confidential Crimestoppers line on 0800555111.

The PSNI have ruled out any link between Natalie’s death and the murder of Shane Whitla in Lurgan on Thursday night.

Mr Whitla sustained gunshot wounds and a puncture wound to his throat at Lord Lurgan Park, a short distance from Natalie’s home.

Police were yesterday given permission to extend their detention of a 29-year-old man in connection with last week’s murder.

A judge said that because there were "multiple crime scenes" he would grant a 36-hour extension to the investigating officers.

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