Gardai (Irish police) this week are questioning island people in a reopened inquiry into the murder of an infant simply known as Baby John found stabbed to death on a beach in County Kerry 34 years ago.
Door-to-door questioning is being carried out and some DNA samples have been offered in the probe on Valentia Island which has a population of just over 600 off the coast of Co. Kerry.
The cold case operation opened in January into the death of Baby John who, just days old, was found stabbed to death in a plastic bag on the White Strand near Cahirciveen, on the mainland just across the water from Valentia.
John’s murder was at the time international news because a botched Garda investigation led to what became known as the Kerry Babies case.
A young woman from nearby Abbeydorney on the mainland, Joanne Hayes, was wrongly accused by gardai of giving birth to two boys by different fathers, and of murdering Baby John. The charge and related ones were later dropped, and a tribunal of inquiry launched into the case.
34 years on from the discovery of the body of Baby John on a beach in Cahersiveen, gardaí engaged in cold-case review of the #KerryBabies case conduct door-to-door enquiries on #Valentia Island. @rtenews pic.twitter.com/chBNmsbwQA— Paschal Sheehy (@PaschalSheehy) September 24, 2018
When the garda inquiry into the death of Baby John reopened in January it was accompanied by an apology to Hayes. The person responsible for the killing has never been found and Baby John’s parents have never been identified.
It’s the first such official inquiry into Baby John’s death since the body was discovered in April, 1984.
Superintendent Flor Murphy, who is leading the new investigation, told local reporter Anne Lucey, “Someone is Baby John’s mother. Someone is Baby John’s father. Someone knew his mother or father.
“People have carried a lot of pain and hurt over the last 30 years. This is an opportunity for them to help bring closure to this terrible event and ensure that Baby John receives justice.”
One line of inquiry is that Baby John’s body was washed across the channel between the island and the mainland. However, others maintain the baby’s body, which had suffered multiple stab wounds, was placed on the beach.
Murphy said that since January significant work was undertaken by the local investigation team supported by the Serious Crime Review Team.
He said, “The investigation is still appealing for information from the public. We still believe members of the community in south Kerry have information about the identity of the mother of Baby John. Baby John lived for five days, so someone, somewhere knows about his very short life.
“After all these years, Baby John deserves the truth.”