The violent deaths of a Co Limerick couple took a new twist last night, as Marie Cassidy, the State pathologist, was unable to identify either victim or the causes of death.
The badly decomposed bodies of the couple, named locally as Thomas Ruttle, 56, and his 63-year-old partner, Julia Holmes, were found by intruders to Mr Ruttle’s home in West Limerick early yesterday.
Gardaí believe the couple may have been dead for two months. A gun was found at the scene.
A Garda spokesman said last night: “Following Dr Cassidy’s postmortem, further pathological tests will be needed. The investigation continues.”
Mr Ruttle’s licensed firearm was found nearby.
It is believed that when Mr Ruttle met Ms Holmes, he was not aware of her criminal background in the US where she served a jail sentence. She was also the subject of a major PSNI investigation in the North.
After a preliminary examination shortly after 12pm yesterday, the bodies were removed to University Hospital Limerick. A team of forensic gardaí then moved into the house.
Gardaí are working on the theory that the deaths were a murder-suicide.
Ms Holmes moved in to live with Mr Ruttle in the past two years after being deported from the US where she served a prison sentence for a €500,000 fraud.
She was jailed in Texas in 2005 after the FBI linked her to bogus sales of property in Ireland. Originally from the North, she was questioned by the PSNI in relation to another fraud there and over the years was known to have used in excess of 40 aliases to cover her tracks after being involved in a variety of scams.
Mr Ruttle, described as “a quiet, inoffensive” person by local people, came into contact with Ms Holmes after they met in Limerick and she then moved in with him.
She called herself Julia Holmes Ruttle, but it is not known if she and Mr Ruttle had been married.
A neighbour, Liam Madigan, 51, said: “This is very sad. I have known Thomas all my life. He worked down in Aughinish for some years and, after his father Bill died, he cared for his mother Eileen here at the family home. I met her [Julia Holmes] a few times. She seemed to have a good sense of humour.”
Since moving to Boulaglass, Ms Holmes started up an award-winning organic honey-making enterprise.
However, in recent weeks it was discovered that Ms Holmes was using honey purchased in supermarkets and repackaging it as being organic.
She also engaged builders to carry out a major renovation of Mr Ruttle’s home and, according to local sources, builders have not been paid.
As the couple did not socialise very much, their absence around the locality in recent weeks did not arouse concern.
The house was fitted with a CCTV security system and a new satellite dish had also been put in place.
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