Gardaí hope an examination of mobile phones belonging to three brothers who died in an apparent murder-suicide near Mitchelstown in north Cork on Friday will help shed light on what triggered the tragedy.
Investigators have recovered a number of mobile phones during a search of the Hennessy family home at Curraghgorm near Mitchelstown where the bodies of brothers, Willie (66) and Paddy Hennessy (60) were found with serious head injuries early on Friday morning.
Gardaí plan to examine the mobile phones to firstly see when the men last made phone calls which might indicate when they were last alive as well as to see whether they had sent or received any text messages from their brother, Johnny (59) whom gardaí believe attacked and killed both men.
Gardaí have also begun door-to-door inquiries in the area, speaking to neighbours to try to establish when they last had any contact with any of the three brothers and whether or not they were aware of any tensions or issues in Johnny’s relationship with his two older brothers.
Investigators are hoping to interview GPs who treated the three brothers, as well as solicitors who handled their affairs, in a bid to shed some light on what prompted the incident.
The alarm was raised late on Thursday night after Paddy Hennessy’s daughter, Elaine and her mother, Stephanie, Paddy’s ex-wife, became concerned when he failed to return to her home at Linden Hill in Mitchelstown at 9.30pm from a visit to the family home place at Curraghgorm.
They made their way to Curraghgorm and began searching the homestead where they found Paddy Hennessy with severe head injuries in a timbering yard, about 200m from the farmhouse where he and his siblings grew up.
Gardaí began a search of both premises and they found the body of Willie Hennessy, also with severe head injuries, in a shed in the timbering yard while Johnny Hennessy could not be found and his red Toyota Corolla van was missing from the yard.
Gardaí soon discovered the van abandoned near St Joseph’s Church in nearby Killacluig and Johnny Hennessy’s body was recovered from the river Funcheon.
Investigators have said that they expect to formally designate the deaths of Willie and Paddy Hennessy as murder and classify the death of Johnny Hennessy as suicide once they receive the results of the postmortems by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.
Dr Bolster, who carried out preliminary examinations of the bodies of Willie and Paddy Hennessy near the family home, will perform the postmortems at Cork University Hospital on Saturday morning.
Gardaí may not release Dr Bolster’s findings for operational reasons but privately Garda sources say that they expect her examinations to confirm Willie and Paddy Hennessy died as a result of lacerations and trauma to the head, consistent with being struck by an axe.
An axe was found near the body of Willie Hennessy in a shed at the timbering yard, where the brothers cut and split logs for firewood and cut up pallets and prepared wood to sell as kindling.
They are hoping Dr Bolster’s examination may give an indication of when both men were killed and whether they had defensive wounds on their hands and arms.
A forensic examination of the scene may throw some light on the sequence of the killings as it is unclear at this point whether Willie Hennessy was killed first in the shed or whether Paddy Hennessy was killed first in the yard.
It is expected a postmortem will confirm that Johnny Hennessy drowned.