Askeaton deaths: Separate funerals for couple found at farmhouse

The couple found dead in a Co Limerick farmhouse on Monday are likely to have separate funerals, the Irish Examiner has learned.

Gardaí now believe that Thomas Ruttle, aged 56 and Julia Holmes, 63, died from a drugs overdose or by taking poison in a suicide pact.

Mr Ruttle will be laid to rest in the family grave in the Church of Ireland cemetery in Askeaton.

Gardaí have been in talks with Ms Holmes’ next of kin in the North about her funeral arrangements.

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Although the couple went as Thomas and Julia Ruttle after they met up three years ago, it has emerged they were never legally married.

Ms Holmes left a trail of fraud on both sides of the Atlantic during the past 20 years using up to 40 different aliases. Three years ago she moved to Limerick to live with Mr Ruttle at his home at Boolaglass near Askeaton after meeting him on the internet.

The couple had a blessing of their marriage vows in the local St Mary’s Church of Ireland, Askeaton.

Ms Holmes was previously marred in the North more than 30 years ago.

When she lived in the US, she married a Texan before being jailed for two years for a $500,000 (€450,000) property fraud.

On her release from prison, she was deported back to the North.

The badly-decomposed bodies of Mr Ruttle and Ms Holmes were found on Monday by burglars who came on the remains after they broke into the house.

Ms Holmes was yesterday formally identified from dental records and it is expected Mr Ruttle will be formally identified today. With the release of the bodies, funeral arrangements can proceed.

It is believed the Ruttle family will have a service for Mr Ruttle in St Mary’s Church of Ireland, Askeaton, and he will be buried in the family grave in the adjoining graveyard.

Reverend Keith Scott, Church of Ireland parish priest in Askeaton, confirmed that the Ruttle family will be making arrangements for Mr Ruttle’s funeral.

He said: “I don’t know what the status of Julia’s body is. It will probably be the responsibility [of] and up to her family.”

A member of the Holmes family in the North has told media in Belfast the family does not want to have any involvement with her funeral arrangements.

Rev Scott said three years ago he had been asked to perform a blessing of the couple’s marriage vows in Askeaton.

He said: “This usually happens when a couple gets married abroad and want to have a church ceremony when they return home. It is a pastoral service and not a church wedding.”

He said he attended a reception the couple held in Glin after the church ceremony.

To have the blessing of vows church ceremony, a couple need not have any documentation to show they have been legally married.

Rev Scott said: “Maybe this is a little bit loose on our [Church of Ireland] part. It is not a civil or a church marriage. All it is, is an affirmation of the promise made to each other and prayers. It is not a wedding, in essence it’s just simple prayers for their ongoing marriage relationship.”

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