School teacher Ashling Murphy 'beaten to death by a stranger' on walking trail in Ireland
A primary school teacher who was “simply out for a run” is believed to have been killed by a stranger at a popular walking trail in Ireland, police have said.
Ashling Murphy, aged in her early 20s, was violently attacked on Wednesday afternoon while running along a canal bank in Cappincur, a neighbourhood in Tullamore, County Offaly.
Gardaí (Irish Police) said a member of the public raised the alarm at 4pm and Ms Murphy was found to have sustained “serious injuries”.
Ms Murphy, who was from the Bluebell area and taught at Durrow National School, was treated by medics at the scene but died a short time later.
Officers said they believed Ms Murphy’s injuries were “consistent with an assault”.
A man in his 40s, who is reported to be a Romanian national who lives locally, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.
Gardaí said her family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
The Office of the State Pathologist and the Garda Technical Bureau have been notified.
Detectives said they are awaiting results of the post-mortem examination.
The crime scene remained sealed off on Thursday as investigators carried out a detailed search.
Superintendent Eamonn Curley from Tullamore Police Station told reporters: “No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice.
“At this stage, there is no information that the victim and her killer were known to each other.
“From our enquiries we have carried out, we believe this crime was committed by one male who acted alone.”
He said Gardaí were keeping an “open mind” and appealed to witnesses who were on Grand Canal Way between 3pm and 5pm who may have seen Ms Murphy and her killer in the moments before and after the attack.
Supt Curley added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teaching colleagues and her children who are without their teacher today.”
Ms Murphy’s murder prompted tributes from Government officials and calls to end violence against women and girls.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Violence against women and girls must be stopped. The whole country is shocked and devastated.
“Her family, friends, colleagues and the children she taught are in our thoughts.
Education Minister Simon Harris said: “A young woman, simply out for a run in the afternoon and brutally killed.
“We must all act to end violence against women. We all have a responsibility.”
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation offered its condolences to Ms Murphy’s family and friends, “her colleagues and pupils at Scoil Naomh Colmcille and all who knew her”.
It added: “For such an appalling tragedy to befall a young woman, who only recently began her teaching career, adds to the profound sense of loss and grief felt.”