20-year-old Brendan Megraw before he went missing.Wikimedia Commons

Forensic investigators have confirmed that the remains found near a drainage ditch in Oristown, Co. Meath on October 1 are in fact those of Brendan Megraw, one of the IRA’s sixteen ‘Disappeared’ victims from 1972-1981.

23-year-old Megraw was taken from his home, killed and secretly buried on April 8, 1978 after being accused of informing. He had recently married and he and his wife were expecting a child.

After DNA testing at a UK lab, the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR), a group of experts whose aim is to pinpoint the Disappeared victims’ burial sites, was able to confirm what they had expected to be true in October.

The commission said Dublin City Coroner Dr. Brian Farrell accepted the lab results as evidence of identification, and will soon authorize the release of Megraw’s remains to his family, the Irish Independent reported.

"The thoughts of everyone in the commission are with the Megraw family at this difficult time," investigators said.

On April 8, 1978 kidnappers drugged Megraw’s pregnant wife in their home as they awaited his return, and warned her not to call police as they took her husband away.

Megraw’s family was notified 21 years later in 1999 that the IRA had kidnapped Brendan and that his body was buried somewhere in boggy lands near Kells, Co. Meath.

When the remains were found in October, Brendan’s brother Kieran said, “There will always be questions, but if this is Brendan and we get him home, that is the target. It is quite a shock for the family. Sometimes you maybe ask yourself twice, has it really come about, but there's joy and relief that it looks like it is his body.”

Investigators believe one person living locally may have vital clues to several families' decades-long quest to find the bodies of their loved ones; at least three more of the known victims on the ICLVR’s list are suspected to be buried in the same region as Megraw.

An inquest for Megraw’s death is being scheduled, and the family has indicated that funeral arrangements will be announced soon, with plans to bury Brendan beside his late mother in Glenavy Cemetery near Belfast.