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chilling letter ‘If you take Clarissa to America, I can take Clarissa to heaven’ –  note husband left before drowning daughter (3) and himself

"If you can take Clarissa to America I can take Clarissa to heaven,” Martin McCarthy (50) wrote in a letter to Rebecca Saunders before he drowned their daughter Clarissa at Audley Cove in West Cork on March 5, 2013.

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Martin McCarthy and wife Rebecca with their daughter Clarissa. McCarthy drowned Clarissa and then himself in March, 2013. The two were buried together in Schull, west Cork.

Martin McCarthy and wife Rebecca with their daughter Clarissa. McCarthy drowned Clarissa and then himself in March, 2013. The two were buried together in Schull, west Cork.

Martin McCarthy and wife Rebecca with their daughter Clarissa. McCarthy drowned Clarissa and then himself in March, 2013. The two were buried together in Schull, west Cork.

A farmer who drowned himself and his three-year-old daughter left a chilling note to his American wife, threatening to kill the little girl if the mother returned home to the US without him.

"If you can take Clarissa to America I can take Clarissa to heaven,” Martin McCarthy (50) wrote in a letter to Rebecca Saunders before he drowned their daughter Clarissa at Audley Cove in West Cork on March 5, 2013.

The chilling letter was revealed on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live programme in which Ms Saunders appeared via a video link from Houston, Texas.

The letter was written as Ms Saunders was preparing to divorce her husband before he and their daughter vanished from their home.

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Rebecca Saunders and her daughter Clarissa McCarthy

Rebecca Saunders and her daughter Clarissa McCarthy

Rebecca Saunders and her daughter Clarissa McCarthy

“You can now get on with the rest of your life as mine and Clarissa's is about to end. By the time you will get to read this letter I and Clarissa will be in heaven. You did not realise how much I loved you, I could not see my daughter being raised up by a step father,” it said.

Ms Saunders, who has since remarried and has two children, reiterated her desire to have her daughter’s body exhumed after she agreed to have them buried together while still in “a fog of grief and shock”.

They were buried in a single coffin at the cemetery next to St Mary's Church in Schull.

But now Ms Saunders said she deeply regrets burying her daughter with “that monster”.

She told the Claire Byrne: “Ever since, ever since Clarissa’s casket was closed and she was lowered down into that grave, I just felt like I had made a very grievous mistake.

"And while I understand the reasons why I decided what I had decided eight years ago, certain circumstances were brought to light that made me realise just how involved Martin’s plan was and I feel like burying them together was a huge mistake.

"I feel like I essentially abandoned her because I am not there any more and the grave and where she’s buried and how she’s buried and who she’s buried with, just gives me a great deal of stress that I would just sleep better, I would be able to function better if I was able to take her home with me.

“I know that, I know that exhuming her is not going to bring her back to me but it will be some small amount of closure. And I hate to use that word but that is what it will be when I can exhume Clarissa, when I can take her home with me. There will be some small amount of closure that I no longer have to think that she’s in the arms of that monster.”

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Meanwhile, Mary Coll and Jaqueline Connolly, the mother and sister respectively of the late Clodagh Hawe, said in a statement to the programme that funeral directors and the clergy should give grieving families more time and space to process their loss before having to decide on funeral or burial arrangements under such horrific circumstances.

Clodagh Hawe (39) and her sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were killed by their father Alan Hawe (40) at their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, on August 29, 2016. Mr Hawe then took his own life.

“Funeral directors, family liaison officers and members of the clergy should be educated on how to advise families appropriately and respectfully when faced with losing loved ones under such horrific and shocking circumstances. It should be noted that members of the clergy should not be in a position to issue timelines around burials of the deceased, and precedent around burial rituals (within days of death) should not be forced upon the bereaved families.

“It is vital to give people time to process their shock to allow them time to make better and more informed decisions and burial arrangements should be made only on receiving all of the information around the deaths of their loved ones. What happens very quickly in those few short days affects your life forever.

Anyone who wishes to speak to the Samaritans can reach them via freephone at 116 123, via email at jo@samaritans.ie


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