By David Raleigh in Boolaglass, Askeaton
A minister has told how he prayed over the bodies of two of his church members found in a decomposed state at the home in which they were planning to settle down together.
The Reverend Dr Keith Scott said the man and woman were members of the Church of Ireland in Askeaton, Co Limerick.
The bodies, found in an upstairs bedroom at the farmhouse at Boolaglas, Askeaton, are understood to be those of Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle.
The State Pathologist Marie Cassidy has attended the scene in the house near Askeaton, Co Limerick, where the bodies of two people were discovered. Report by Jimmy Wolfe Video by Dan Linehan
Gardaí said they could not confirm the identities until after full post mortems were conducted later this evening and all next of kin were informed.
Ms Holmes, aged 63, from Ballynahinch, Co Down, is wanted by the FBI in America and by the PSNI over a series of alleged frauds.
Mr Ruttle, aged 56, who grew up in the house which was left to him by his late mother, is a local farmer.
Gardaí said they were investigating a number of lines of inquiry including that the deaths may have been the result of a murder-suicide.
The couple, who had been renovating the house, had not been seen for several weeks.
Gardaí said they were alerted to the isolated home shortly before 3am after receiving a tip-off, and found the man and woman in a "decomposed" state.
Gardaí confirmed a gun was located near their bodies, and that Mr Ruttle has licenses for a rifle and a shotgun.
The bodies were removed from the scene to University Hospital Limerick for full post mortems to be carried out by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.
Rev Dr Scott said he prayed over the bodies before they were taken by gardaí from the house.
"It was not in the Roman Catholic sense. I said a few prayers over the bodies as they went out of the house, but it doesn't quite work out in the same way as the (last rites)," he said.
"It's a terrible tragedy, and all of the family are very deeply shocked, terribly shaken and upset."
He described the deceased male as "just a local guy working around the area".
He said the man and woman "were members of the local Church of Ireland church. can't say any more than that."
Neighbours of Mr Ruttle, who it is understood has family living in England and Cork, said they were shocked.
Local woman Sarah McNamara 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."
Elma Barry, who lives two houses from the scene, said: "Just shock and just disbelief...It's hard to comprehend what's going on next door to you."
"It's just the life we live at the minute - people just don't know what's happening next door to them."
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.
"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."