A woman found dead in County Limerick was a Northern Ireland woman jailed for fraud in the US, deported by the FBI, and sought by the PSNI and the Gardaí.
Two bodies were discovered early Monday morning at a remote farmhouse in Askeaton, County Limerick. They have been named locally as Julia Ruttle and her partner Thomas Ruttle, although it is believed that the woman in question is in fact the alleged fraudster, Julia Holmes.
The bodies were actually discovered by burglars who had broken in to the house, but they went straight to the police rather than being linked to the killings. The couple had not been seen locally since mid March.
The subject of a worldwide police hunt, Holmes had recently been tracked to the Limerick farmhouse she was renting. Reports from April of this year claimed that the infamous ‘fraudster Granny’ was scamming the Limerick town of Askeaton where the bodies were discovered.
Holmes had been deported from the US in 2008 after serving a 27 month prison sentence for defrauding investors in Texas in an Irish property scam.
She had convinced six friends in Athens, Texas, to invest in Irish property but used the funds for her own use and scammed $517,000.
One would be investor lost $392,000. She was arrested and jailed and the FBI said she was deported after finishing her sentence in 2008.
One local woman in Limerick told the Belfast Telegraph that Holmes owed thousands of dollars for renovation work carried out on the farmhouse.
"We have been caught for about €15,000 [$16,957] worth of materials and I would say in total there is about €50,000 [$56,523] to €60,000 [$67,828] outstanding on the house," the woman said.
While based in Limerick, Holmes also set up a successful company, Irish Bee Sensation, which has won various business awards and prizes, although it appears the company may not have escaped her fraudulent ways.
A local businessman told the Belfast Telegraph that Holmes informed him she was dying from cancer and fooled him into easing pressure on paying back money she owed him for work with the company.
"I collected a small payment off her in Kinsale,” he said. “I asked her what her address was so I could call to her house. She said strictly no address. 'I'll meet you downtown,' she said. She was sitting at a bench and obviously had a wig on.
"She made no effort to hide it. Then she said straight out: 'I'm dying with cancer.' Naturally I felt awful. I was supposed to be getting a larger payment, but when she started telling me about her chemo, I said 'don't worry.' She got me hook, line and sinker. I was totally fooled.
"Some things she would say might strike you as odd, but then it would immediately go out of your head because she was confident and very believable."
Holmes is wanted by the PSNI since absconding in 2011 while charged with fraud for $28,200. It is believed that she has previously used as many as 40 different aliases including Croen Ruttle, Dr. Watson, Julia Watson and Celia Watson, and has over 20 convictions to date.
In 2006, she was deported from the US back to Northern Ireland following her arrest in connection with a $500,000 property scam.
There is no evidence to suggest that Ruttle was implicated in any way with fraud committed by Holmes.
Police were alerted to the farmhouse early Monday morning amid concerns from locals that there may have been a robbery. The couple were last seen on March 14.
On reaching the house, Gardaí discovered the badly decomposed bodies of a man and a woman in the upstairs bedroom. They are currently investigating a number of lines of inquiry, including murder suicide. It is believed that a gun was found close to the bodies and that Ruttle held licenses for a number of firearms.
Police can not yet confirm the identity of the bodies due to heavy decomposition.
"The bodies are decomposing so it's hard to say who they are. We don't want to say it's them if it's not, for obvious reasons," a Garda source told the Independent.
"The scene is preserved and we are awaiting the arrival of Marie Cassidy [the State Pathologist] and the Garda Technical Bureau. The man who owns the house is local, but we can't say if it's him. The bodies are badly decomposing," said a Garda source.
"We won't know what type of injuries the bodies have until we hear from the State Pathologist.
"The owner has a number of licenses for a number of firearms. The investigation is in its early stages."