The father-in-law of Jason Corbett, the Irishman found dead in his North Carolina home, is being questioned alongside his wife in relation to his murder.
Thomas (65) and Molly (31) Martens were both present in the family home at the time of death. Corbett (39), a native of Limerick, was found on the ground with fatal head injuries reportedly caused by a baseball bat attack. The police were called to the house in the early hours of Sunday, August 3. Davidson County Sheriff David Grice said detectives took two people "of their own free will" to the Sheriff's office.
Corbett’s children, Jack (10) and Sarah (8) remain, under order of the authorities, in custody of their step-mother despite direction to the contrary in Corbett’s will. Tracey, Corbett’s sister, and David Lynch, her husband, are now the legal guardians of the children. A guardianship hearing to determine custody of the children will take place on Friday.
With relation to the suspects detention Sheriff Grice told the Daily Mail “Those people were the wife and the wife's father. They were taken away and interviewed on tape.
"We have to interview on audio video tape for court. We collected evidence from them and from the crime scene."
The remains of the 39-year-old Irishman were flown back to Ireland on Thursday. His body was flown to Dublin, on a Delta flight, with the help of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust. Corbett was then brought home to Limerick.
He will be laid to rest with his first wife, Mags, who died after a severe asthma attack eight years ago, when their daughter Sarah was just 12 weeks old.
Tracy and David Lynch remain in the United States fighting to have Jack and Sarah released and returned to their family in Ireland. The family have vowed that Corbett will not buried until his children are returned to Ireland.
David said “It shouldn’t have even got to this. These children are two Irish citizens…they were linked to Jason’s work visa. They are technically illegal in the United States now.”
The children were legally resident in the US under their father’s visa.
He added “We’re just lost here and we don’t know what to do. This whole thing is just a nightmare.”
The family also insist that Jason will not be buried until his children are back in Ireland.
Speaking to the Limerick Post from North Carolina Tracy said she was getting to grips with the legal process and she was hopeful of a positive outcome.
“I have confidence in the system here, that they will allow Jack and Sarah to come home. They’re Irish citizens, they’re on their dad’s work visa and they’ve no relatives in America.
“All of Jason’s family and friends, the children’s biological grandparents, both sets, are in Ireland waiting for us to come home with Jack and Sarah.”
She added “He wanted to come home. We’re just here trying to give Jason a voice. I know what his wishes were.
“I’m heartbroken, and I want to go home and be allowed to grieve the loss of one of the most important people in my world with my family.”
Ireland’s Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has said that her colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan would be is willing to intervene to help but she added that it may not be the most appropriate course of action as there are legal issues the consulate is currently dealing with.
She said it may not be “the most effective thing to do”.
“I know the Minister is willing to intervene but there are processes there. The Department of Foreign Affairs has been extremely good in situations like this where these kinds of terrible situations happen to Irish citizens and has a lot of expertise in that area and I know that there is an absolute willingness to do everything that is possible to assist the family.”
“I know the Minister wants to do as much as he can and I would support that. I know that help has been offered through the Consulate in the United States.
“This is an extraordinarily terrible time for the family and a very, very distressing situation not only to lose their family members but also the concern about the children, but I understand there is a legal process which is about to take place in the United States.”
“The Consulate and the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government is there to assist the family and wants to assist the family but I understand that this process is something that has to take place under US law but the assistance is there and will be provided in whatever way it can be.”
On Friday it will be decided if the children’s legal guardians attempt to secure a ruling allowing them to return home to Ireland will work.
An online petition has been launched online along with a fundraising page, on Facebook. It’s estimated the family’s costs could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Contributions to the ‘Jason’s Journey’ fund can be made to the Permanent TSB branch in Dooradoyle, Limerick. The account number in the name of Mary Fitzpatrick is: Account No: 1124 0513, IBAN: IE15IPBS99075111240513, Sort Code: 99-07-51, BIC: IPBSIE2D.