A 23-year old primary school teacher from Ireland, who was out for a jog on a busy canal towpath was killed Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 12.
Ashling Murphy was found unresponsive at around 4 p.m. local time on the banks of Grand Canal Way in Tullamore, Dublin by two women joggers. They witnessed a part of the attack and called for help as the suspect ran off.
Despite receiving medical assistance, Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene, CNN reported. Officers noticed multiple injuries on her body and believe she was brutally beaten by one man, who acted alone. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was strangulation.
On Wednesday, the Irish police had arrested and detained a 40-year-old man but he was released without charge on Thursday night.
“This male has been eliminated from Garda inquiries and is no longer a suspect,” a Garda Síochána spokesperson told the Irish News.
In a press conference, Supt Eamonn Curley from Tullamore Garda Station said the Gardaí are now “urgently” seeking witnesses who saw Murphy and her killer in the moments before she was attacked and murdered.
“Any information you have, however insignificant you think it may be, we need to hear from you,” said Supt Curley.
“No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family at this stage,” he added.
According to the Irish Independent, Murphy had been at work just an hour before she was killed.
Gardaí visited Scoil Naomh Colmcille in Durrow in Tullamore, the primary school where Murphy was teaching, to speak with staff and offer support.
“This young woman’s first class students, very young children, are today wondering why their teacher is not there and will never be back,” a source said.
“Gardaí are liaising with the school as the entire community tries to come to terms with this tragedy.”
In a tragic coincidence, the attack apparently took place at a popular jogging and walking route known as Fiona’s Way, named after Fiona Pender, a pregnant 25-year-old woman who disappeared in Aug. 1996 and has never been found.
Local councilor Tony McCormack, who lives nearby, told the Irish Independent: “It’s scary. It’s horrendous to think something like that can happen in your own backyard. I feel so sorry for that young woman’s family. Imagine her getting up to go to work this morning or whatever, and then going for a run, and for that to happen to her.”
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said, “We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ashling Murphy,” it said in a statement. “For such an appalling tragedy to befall a young woman, who only recently began her teaching career, adds to the profound sense of loss and grief felt.”
Murphy hails from a respected Irish family of musicians. She herself was a talented musician and a member of the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland.
“She was just a special girl. She’s the youngest, a little angel. She was a brilliant girl in every sense of the word,” Murphy’s father, Raymond, told the Mirror.
“The last thing she’d say in the morning going out was ‘Mam, I love you’,” her mother, Kathleen, told the outlet.
Vigils are being held across the country in Murphy’s memory.