This month marks twenty years since the disappearance of Irish American Annie McCarrick while she was living abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Her family as well as authorities are still at a loss regarding the mysterious disappearance.
The Irish Examiner reports on the sense of loss felt by McCarrick’s remaining family in the US, as well as the equal amount of unfinished business the initial lead on the investigation, Garda Assistant Commissioner Martin Donnellan, feels.
“Girls started to disappear in this country around that time,” Donnellan told John Murray on RTÉ radio on Wednesday.
Donnellan indicated that he believed McCarrick’s disappearance was not an isolated incident, and was probably connected to a string of murders of other young women in Leinster between 1993 and 1998.
Donnellan explained, “There was Deirdre Jacob, only 18, who disappeared in July of 1998. She had gone to the post office in Newbridge and we had CCTV footage of her there. She walked home in broad daylight, was seen in various places, and then just disappeared. It was obvious that she had been snatched off the street.”
“Then there was Jo-Jo Dullard, who went missing in 1995, also in mysterious circumstances. Added to that is the disappearance of Ciara Breen in Dundalk, Fiona Pender in Tullamore, and Fiona Sinnot in Wexford.”
Donnellan said he believed at least three of the mysterious cases were connected. “All three were on their own when they disappeared,” he said.
“There was never a trace of clothes found, which is unusual. In each case, the clothing the girls were wearing was very distinctive but we never came across a single item. They were each probably bundled into a car or van.”
Between 1992 and 1998 seven women disappeared, which, according to Donnellan, indicates that there may be one person responsible for at least some of them.
“It means that he [the culprit] must have been in jail or had left the country after that,” said Donnellan.
McCarrick, a native of Long Island in New York, was 26 years old when she disappeared. She had studied abroad in Ireland and had returned to live and work there while she researched her family’s Irish roots.
McCarrick was sharing an apartment with two Irish girls in Sandymount, Dublin when she went missing. The American girl had been looking forward to a visit from her mother Nancy who was due to arrive just a few days after her disappearance.
On Friday, March 26, 1993, McCarrick didn’t show up to work when she was expected to be collecting wages.
The following day, her friends grew concerned when they arrived at her apartment for a previously arranged dinner party, but there was no sign of McCarrick.
McCarrick’s late father, John, had said he knew something was wrong immediately when Annie’s friends in Dublin phoned back to New York saying they didn’t know where Annie was.
“She was always reaching out and touching someone... She would never have gone a day without talking to someone… We were very, very concerned,” her father told ABC News in America.
Former Garda Commissioner Donnellan also remembers the immediate mystery that surrounded the case. “I was off at the weekend on that Friday and Saturday, and I got a call from Irishtown station that a girl had disappeared in very mysterious circumstances.”
“She was staying in a flat near Sandymount with two other girls. They were going to their homes in Cork so she was at a loose end and phoned a friend to go for a walk in Enniskerry, but her friend couldn’t go so she went off alone.”
McCarrick was reportedly seen and videoed on CCTV while at both an AIB and her local grocery store. After that, she took a bus to Ranelagh, and then to Enniskerry.
The final confirmed sighting of McCarrick came from a work colleague who saw her in a restaurant in Donnybrook. One person came forward to say they thought they had served her in the post office in Enniskerry, although this was never confirmed.
Another unconfirmed sighting of McCarrick was at Johnnie Fox’s pub in the Dublin mountains. Sam Doran, a doorman at the pub, came forward after his colleague Paul O’Reilly pointed out McCarrick’s picture in the newspapers. Doran said who he believed to be McCarrick had come to the door of the ‘Hooley Room,’ without realizing there was a cover charge.
Doran said that the woman was accompanied by a man wearing a wax jacket who paid for her cover and paid for her throughout the evening.
McCarrick was never seen leaving the pub, and the man she was reportedly with never came forward.
Earlier this month, a magazine based in Dublin tauted that they may have more information on the Annie McCarrick disappearance, but the notion was quickly dismissed by gardai.
Larry Murphy, a convicted rapist from Co Wicklow, remains a prime suspect in Annie McCarrick’s disappearance. Murphy was jailed for 15 years for the abduction, rape and attempted murder of a woman in February 2000. He was released in 2010 and is now believed to be living in the Netherlands.
To this day, Donnellan remains perplexed by McCarrick’s unanswered disappearance: “We had always hoped that we would get the right call. It is so tragic. If people went missing in the US, you would not be surprised, but not in the island of saints and scholars.”