By David Raleigh in Boolaglas, Askeaton
Neighbours of a farmer believed to have been found dead in a house with his fraudster girlfriend have spoken of their "complete shock" after two bodies were discovered in Co Limerick this morning.
Gardaí are waiting for post mortems to confirm whether the bodies are farmer, Thomas Ruttle, 56, and, Julia Holmes, 63, who is currently at the centre of a worldwide police hunt for alleged fraud.
Ms Holmes, who is wanted by the FBI and PSNI, had been in a relationship with Mr Ruttle, the house owner, a Garda source confirmed.
Officers discovered the badly "decomposing" bodies of the woman and a man in an upstairs bedroom at around 3am.
Ms Holmes, and Mr Ruttle have not been seen for a number of weeks.
Gardai said they could not yet confirm if the bodies were that of the missing pair.
A Garda source said Mr Ruttle has a number of licensed firearms, including a shotgun and a rifle.
Gardaí said a gun was discovered in the bedroom where the bodies were found, but added that it was still too early to confirm how the man and woman died.
The State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy has traveled to the scene and full post mortems are to be conducted at University Hospital Limerick later.
Julia Holmes, who is alleged to have used 40 different aliases, was known locally as Croen Ruttle.
She disappeared from her home in Ballynahinch, Co Down, in January 2011 before a warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to turn up to court in Newtownards for a series of alleged frauds totalling £18,000.
She was previously deported to Northern Ireland from the United States in 2006 after she was arrested in connection with a $500,000 property scam.
Ms Holmes recently set up a company called Irish Bee Sensation, which won a gold award at the prestigious Irish Food Awards in the pure Irish honey section.
Superintendent Tom O'Connor, who is leading the investigation, said: "We are trying to ascertain what happened. It appears the bodies have been there for some time."
He confirmed Ms Holmes was renting the house.
"There appears to be a firearm at the scene, but we have to rule out a number of callers to the house in the past few weeks," Supt O'Connor said.
Sarah McNamara, a neighbour of Mr Ruttle, said: "I'm shocked really, to be honest with you. I just heard there were two bodies found at the house. It's a lovely quiet area around here."
"I don't know them or even know them to see. It's very quiet around here. The houses are detached but we're close enough too. I'm just coming home from work, I'm shocked really, that it's only down the road, and that it's so close."
Elma Barry, who lives two houses from the scene said: "Just shock and just disbelief. Myself and my neighbour are just chatting and it's hard to comprehend what's going on next door to you."
She said her daughter saw Garda activity at the house at around 3.30am.
"We weren't even thinking what the outcome of that Garda activity would be," she added.
"It is very quiet here, the houses are a little bit apart, but it's a lovely quiet area. I'm in this house 29 years, and I just know it was Ruttle's house. I would have known the man to see him but not personally."
Ms Barry added: "It's just the life we live at the minute; people just don't know what's happening next door to them - (this) just proves it."