On the 16th of December 1993 Marie Kilmartin of Beladd Co. Laois attended work at a local nursing home at 11am. As this Thursday was close to Christmas a party was organised at Marie’s workplace. At 4pm that day, after the Christmas party, two of Marie’s female workmates dropped her home and watched her walk in her front door. Marie’s workmates had asked if she would like to meet up again later as the staff from the nursing home had arranged another party later that night. Marie said she might go to the party, however her friends knew this was extremely unlikely as Marie didn’t like to venture out in the dark and suffered mildly from agoraphobia.
Marie was not originally from Co. Laois, she had actually grown up in Co. Sligo in Western Ireland, but Marie decided to move to the midlands county in the early 1980s. After a short period of time in Co. Laois Marie’s father helped her buy a home in the county near the large town of Portlaois. The house was located in a quiet estate and Marie got to know all the neighbours well, along with her housemate. When Marie’s housemate arrived home from her job as a nurse at 6pm that Thursday she was surprised to find that Marie was not at home and that none of the lights in their house had been switched on. The housemate also found Marie’s groceries unpacked on their kitchen table.
Some two hours after Marie’s housemate had returned home she began to worry as to where Marie was, especially considering Marie’s fear of the dark and struggles with agoraphobia. The housemate decided to contact the nursing home where Marie worked and was told that Marie had left the nursing home shortly before 4pm, and had not attended the second party arranged later that night. Surprisingly Marie’s housemate did not further investigate this and went to bed for the night. The next morning Friday the 17th of December the housemate contacted a neighbour who was married to a local Detective Sargent at Portlaoise Garda Station who thusly informed the relevant Gardi.
Thankfully in this particular case the Gardi acted quickly due to Marie’s mental health, her agoraphobia and fear of the dark. A forensic examination of Marie’s home uncovered no evidence as to what may have led to her sudden disappearance, Gardi did however, uncover a lead through a check on Marie’s phone records. At roughly 4:20pm on Thursday the 16th of December a phone call was made to Marie’s landline, this particular call had lasted over two minutes and Gardi were certain it was Marie who had talked to the caller due to the time of the call and its duration. Gardi quickly traced the call to a payphone just outside Portlaoise near St Fintan’s Hospital, and also established that no other calls were made from the payphone around the time of the call to Marie’s house. A witness later came forward stating that she saw a lone male entering the phone box at the time the call was made to Marie’s landline, she described the man as roughly thirty years of age, 5’6 to 5’9 in height and having dark hair. Gardi also made enquiries around Marie’s neighbourhood but nobody had seen Marie after she was dropped home at 4pm.
For the next ten weeks there was little to no progress in the investigation, a local woman did come forward to Gardi stating that she saw Marie on Friday morning, the day after she disappeared, in a local supermarket looking confused and dishevelled. Unfortunately this woman did not know Marie and the sighting couldn’t be confirmed.
By the time the summer of 1994 began no evidence had emerged as to what may have happened to Marie Kilmartin. However, on Friday the 10th of June a local prison officer named Thomas Deegan informed a local Garda Tom Flynn that he had found a body in an area known as Pims Lane near Mountmellick Co Laois, some sixteen kilometres from Marie’s home. The body was discovered in a bog beside a drainage ditch with a cement block placed on the body, which appeared to be an effort to keep the body at the bottom of the bog. There was also an effort to conceal the entrance to the bog by placing a pram and home heater over the entrance. A ladies coat was found draped over the body, this coat would later sadly be identified as belonging to Marie Kilmartin, and further confirmation was made through jewellery and dental records. The area where Marie was found was considered very remote and known locally as an illegal dumping site, which led Gardi to believe that the culprit was a local person.
State Pathologist Professor Harbison carried out a post-mortem at Tullamore Hospital and concluded that Marie had been strangled due to damaged thyroid cartilage. Sexual assault was however ruled out because Marie was found with all her clothing intact, however surely one can speculate on such a finding. Yes it is difficult to dress a dead body, but not impossible particularly if two people were involved, or the victim may have been sexually assaulted and forced to put to put their clothes back on by the culprit and murdered at a later time as grim as that may be unfortunately. The question has to be asked was Marie’s body too badly decomposed to confirm sexually assault forensically, if this was the case surely sexual assault cannot be fully ruled out.
Two weeks after Marie’s body was discovered two males aged in their twenties and fifties were arrested, the older individual was well known to Marie, was said to be acting suspiciously in the days after Marie vanished and had previously cut turf in the area Marie was found. However, neither individual confessed to a crime nor was there enough evidence to begin court proceedings. Some fourteen years after Marie vanished three individuals were arrested two men aged in their forties and sixties and woman aged in her sixties. Again these individuals were released without charge. No further arrests have been made in relation to Marie’s murder.
Thanks to Marie’s daughter Aine’s tireless work Marie’s case has remained a priority for Gardi. Aine has also launched numerous media campaigns through newspapers, radio and television all in the hope of getting long overdue justice for her mother.