Detectives search for any link between killer and his victim

Jastine Valdez (Picture: Facebook)

Detectives are conducting detailed checks to see if killer Mark Hennessy knew his victim, Jastine Valdez, in some way or knew her movements.

Officers have said the evidence gathered to date suggested the attack was random, but investigators will “dig deeper” for any signs that the father of two did know the 24-year-old or her route home and may have targeted her.

Gardaí have said that, so far, they have not found any connection between the two people — including by examining their phone records.

However, following the discovery of Ms Valdez’s body on Monday afternoon, gardaí can devote more time and resources on establishing whether or not there was any prior linkages between Hennessy and the Filipino student.

They are examining emails and social media networks for any possible contacts.

There have been reports that Ms Valdez worked part time in a restaurant in Bray or Enniskerry. Gardaí are firming that up and, if she did, will try and determine if Hennessy frequented the business.

Detectives search for any link between killer and his victim

Peter Norton, the manager of Poppies in Enniskerry village, where Ms Valdez had reportedly worked, told the Irish Examiner that she had never worked there and that he did not know her. Nor did she work in the local Spar, though she used to call in there the odd time.

Mr Norton said the village was packed with people on Saturday, including on the short stroll to the entrance of Powerscourt estate.

“It is the busiest day of the week, the village was full, particularly up there [towards the estate] with cyclists and hillwalkers,” he said. “That road would have been busy.”

He said people in the village, which held a vigil at 7pm yesterday, were “still in disbelief”, adding: “No one can understand it, such a tragedy, an only child, here just three years to build a new life.

Detectives will investigate the possibility that Hennessy knew Ms Valdez’s routine, walking from Enniskerry village to her home about 15 minutes walk away.

Gardaí know that Ms Valdez often took the 185 bus from Enniskerry to Bray.

Last Saturday, she used the gym in the town, did some shopping, and visited a friend’s home.

The bus goes at set times and Ms Valdez got the 5.40pm bus, arriving in Enniskerry village at around 6pm.

CCTV captured the Nissan Qashqai being driven by Hennessy passing through the village at 6pm.

According to his wife, Hennessy left the family home, in Woodbrook, Bray, about an hour earlier, purportedly to go socialising.

A note left at the scene
A note left at the scene

Sources said that if he did know or was familiar with Ms Valdez’s movements, he would have known her route walking home.

She lived in a lodge with her parents, Danillo and Teresita, past the entrance to the estate, towards the waterfall, a walk of around 15 minutes or so.

It is not known if Hennessy had ever interacted with Ms Valdez before, perhaps even offering her a lift on a previous occasions. He would have noticed she was only 5ft in height and of slim build.

“It is possible we can find no phone contact between them, but that he knew her and was fixated in some way and acted on that? Yes, it’s possible,” said a source.

That will have to be investigated, as much as we can, given both parties are dead.

However, gardaí still suspect, based on available evidence, that the attack was random.

The nature of the abduction in broad daylight, on a busy road, is confounding investigators.

Hennessy apparently hit Ms Valdez and then forced her into the boot of the Nissan Qashqai. This was seen at 6.20pm by a witness who rang 999 and was subsequently seen by a second witness.

“The nature of the abduction is very bizarre,” said a source.

He said Hennessy had relatively minor convictions from almost 20 years ago, albeit he had an outstanding charge for dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to stop after a collision.

“Going from that to abduction and murder is one hell of an escalation,” said the source.

Detectives are also considering the fact that Hennessy appeared to have killed Ms Valdez very quickly given the results of the autopsy and the sighting of his jeep in the Rathmichael area of south Dublin at 6.50pm driving suspiciously.

They will also consider the fact that Hennessy was able to dump the remains in what is described as an inaccessible area in a section of dense, thick gorse that gardaí had to cut their way into.

Gardaí have also established that Hennessy went drinking for periods after the murder and are gathering CCTV from the relevant pubs.

If the abduction was random, it raises the possibility that Hennessy may have struck before.

DNA samples taken from the 40-year-old will be cross-checked with the crime-scene index in the DNA database, operated by Forensic Ireland, to see if it matches with samples from unsolved sexual assaults and unsolved murders.

“Bar a quick match in the database,” said an experienced source, “I think uncovering any links with previous unsolved incidents will depend primarily on good detective work.”

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