Gardaí yesterday said there appeared to be "no warning signs" within a rural Sligo family that could have flagged the appalling murder of a nine-year-old boy and the subsequent suicide of his 21-year-old brother.
Members of the Garda Technical Bureau examine a shed at the rear of the house in Tourlestrane, Co Sligo. Picture: Keith Heneghan
Their parents made the horrendous discovery after they returned home to their house in rural Tourlestrane, near Tubbercurry, on Sunday evening.
It is understood that another child — a 15-year-old daughter — had been in the home at the time of the stabbing but was unaware of what had happened.
Shane and Carmel Skeffington left with their youngest child — a three-year-old boy — at around 4pm to do some shopping.
When they returned home shortly after 7.30pm, Mr Skeffington found the body of his son, Brandon, at the top of the stairs. The boy had suffered stab wounds.
When he went looking for his other children, he found his eldest son, Shane junior, out in a shed. He had taken his own life.
Brandon was removed from the scene by an air ambulance and taken to Sligo Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
The devastated parents, and their two other children, were being comforted by close relatives yesterday, assisted by the garda family liaison officer. Mr Skeffington has brothers and sisters, as well as his mother, living nearby.
Detectives are examining the hours during which the parents left the home in a bid to unravel what happened and determine, if possible, what could have led to such a violent tragedy.
They will try and speak to the daughter, Sharon, who was in the home at the time to see if she heard or saw anything during that time. A child interview specialist may be brought in to assist in the highly sensitive task.
A technical examination continues this morning at the house, including in the area where young Brandon’s body was found.
Deputy State pathologist Michael Curtis began the post-mortem examinations yesterday evening.
“Those hours when the parents were away, that will form a key part of the investigation,” said one garda source.
He said gardaí had yet to come across anything specific that could explain what transpired. “There were no warning signs, as such,” eh said. “Nothing is standing out, as of yet anyway.”
Gardaí will examine any relevant wider issues involving Shane Jr and the family to see if it can shed any light on what happened.
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