Ashling Murphy was a 23-year-old Irish teacher whose random murder while jogging in Tullamore has sparked vigils and heartbreak throughout Ireland and other countries.
According to An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s National Police Service, “Gardaí continue to investigate the fatal assault on Ashling Murphy that occurred at approximately 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 12th January, 2022, along the canal bank at Cappincur, Tullamore, County Offaly.”
“Significant progress has been made in the investigation to date. An Garda Síochána is not confirming any specific details for operational reasons,” Gardai wrote.
A suspect is now charged and in custody: Jozef Puska, 31, according to BBC. He was described by BBC as a “Slovakian national living on €200 (£166) a week.”
The Sun reported that a possible suspect may be a man on a bike who was “acting suspiciously in the area” and was possibly “stalking potential victims along the canal in Tullamore 24 hours before she was brutally murdered.”
A woman in her 40s claimed a man on a bicycle approached her just two hours before the murder. Tullamore is a small town located about an hour and a half from Dublin.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Murphy Was Attacked While Out for a Jog
The Irish Sun reported that Murphy was “brutally murdered while out for a jog.”
Her “heartbroken family” visited the murder scene, according to the news site, listing her family as parents Kathleen and Raymond, sister Amy, brother Cathal and boyfriend Ryan Case.
The Irish Independent reported that the cause of death was strangulation.
The Independent further reported that Murphy had gone for a jog about an hour after finishing teaching at Durrow National School. The crime is considered “random,” and occurred on the banks of the Grand Canal in Tullamore around 4 p.m.
The Irish Independent reported that the killer “lunged at another young schoolteacher and a garda’s wife as they tried to go to her aid during the fatal assault on Wednesday.”
2. Police Are Investigating a Suspect Who Is at a Dublin Hospital With Facial Injuries, Reports Say
According to The Irish Sun, there is an identified suspect who is at a Dublin hospital. The news site reported that he doesn’t live in Tullamore and went to Dublin after Murphy’s murder. He had facial injuries, which is why an “associate” took him to the hospital, and his home was searched and clothing taken, according to the news site, which said the mountain bike was recovered near the scene.
CCTV video also captured a man on a bike around the time of the murder. The Sun ran a photo of the suspect on a bicycle, which you can see here.
The associate who took the suspect to the hospital had called police about it, according to The Irish Sun, which says the man claims he was “injured elsewhere in the city.”
According to the Irish Independent, authorities are preparing to interview the “chief suspect,” who has self-inflicted injuries. He may have also suffered “scratch wounds,” the site reports.
“There is nothing in this individual’s background to suggest that he would be capable of such an horrific crime,” a senior source told the Irish Independent, which said the suspect is a father who lives in Offaly.
Another man was wrongly identified as a potential suspect, Daily Mail reported. No suspects have been arrested or charged at this point.
3. Irish Police Are Seeking Information on a Falcon Storm Mountain Bike
An Garda Síochána “continue to support Ashling’s family at this time. The Murphy family are appreciative and overwhelmed by the national outpouring of support shown to them,” the police wrote in their statement posted to Facebook.
“The Murphy family have requested that they now need privacy, space and time to process Ashling’s death. An Garda Síochána wishes to acknowledge the support of the public to date and in order to assist the public in providing information to the investigation team a dedicated phone line 057 9357060 has been established at Tullamore Garda station,” the Gardai wrote in the Facebook statement.
“An Garda Síochána continue to appeal to any person who has not made contact with the investigation team and who has any information on this fatal assault to come forward.”
The Gardai continued:
An Garda Síochána continue to appeal for any information on a Falcon Storm mountain bike with straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/ green front forks (image attached) prior to 4pm on Wednesday 12th January 2022 and in the previous days/weeks.
Gardaí continue to appeal to any persons that were in the Cappincur/ Canal walk area of Tullamore, County Offaly before 4pm, Wednesday, 12th January 2022, to make contact with them.
Gardaí continue to appeal to any person in and between the Tullamore town centre area and the wider approach roads to The Grand Canal Way in the vicinity of Capincur on the 12th January 2022, with any form of video footage (Dashcam, CCTV, Mobile phone, GoPro Cam etc..), to contact us.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Tullamore Garda Station on 057 9357060, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any Garda Station.
4. Murphy Was an Accomplished Musician
Murphy’s Facebook page says she started school at Mary Immaculate College in Ireland in 2017. Her page is filled with photos of Murphy with family and friends.
Her top visible post says she is a member of Ballyboy C.C.É.
Ballyboy CCÉ “delivers a wide ranging program to the local community and beyond, designed to promote, support and safeguard our Heritage,” its website says.
She shared posts of Irish folk music and violin playing. In January, 2020, she shared a poster for a run/walk.
Her family spoke to the Irish Independent. “The last thing she’d say in the morning going out was ‘Mam, I love you’,” her mother, Kathleen, told the news outlet.
“She was just a special girl. She’s the youngest, a little angel,” her father Raymond told the Independent.
“She was a brilliant girl in every sense of the word. She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvellous musician. She crammed so much into her short life. She played with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí all over Ireland and all over the UK on the tours. She was in their youth choir and senior orchestra.”
5. Vigils Were Held in Murphy’s Memory in Boston as Well as Ireland
Vigils took place throughout Ireland and around the world for Murphy as people erupted in sorrow over the young teacher’s senseless death.
There was also a vigil in Boston. “Gathered with members of the Irish Pastoral Centre, the Irish community and Councilor Ed Flynn in Adam’s Village this evening to join in prayer and music in memory of Ashling Murphy. Ashling had ties to the Boston community and will be remembered as a loving sister, daughter, teacher and a talented musician. Sending peace and love to her family and friends who are mourning this devastating murder,” wrote one woman, sharing photos of the vigil.
Vigils were also held throughout the United Kingdom.
Moortown St. Malachys, an amateur sports team, wrote, “There’s a Big Heart in this Little Place…. This evening a large crowd gathered at our pitch, where we held a vigil in memory of Ashling Murphy while also remembering local lady Dorota Kawalska who passed away following a short illness. It was lovely to have Rafal, Oliwia and Nathan in attendance and We hope that they took some comfort from the large crowd and felt the support of their community. Thank You to everyone for attending.”
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