Jastine Valdez was manually strangled to death a short time after being abducted by her suspected killer, Mark Hennessy.

As detectives continued to search for any possible links between the Filipino student and the father of two, an autopsy confirmed the 24-year-old woman was strangled with her killer’s bare hands.

The confirmation came as a vigil was held in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow — the scenic home of Ms Valdez, who lived with her parents, and the site of her abduction on Saturday evening.

Over €70,000 had been raised as of last night in a GoFundMe campaign to assist Ms Valdez’s traumatised parents, Danillo and Teresita, including in the repatriation of the body of their only child to the Philippines.

On the fourth day of the Garda investigation, it emerged that:

  • Gardaí are awaiting a full pathologist report to see if Ms Valdez was sexually assaulted;
  • A note written by Hennessy, 40, found in the Nissan SUV he was driving contained the word ‘sorry’, as well as the words ‘Puck’s Castle’ which directed the garda search team to the remote Rathmichael area of south Dublin where the remains were found at around 3pm on Monday;
  • Gardaí extended their appeal for any sightings of Hennessy, and the 171D Nissan Qashqai he was driving, across six south Dublin areas between 5pm on Saturday, when he left his Bray home, and 8pm on Sunday, when he was fatally shot by gardaí in Cherrywood;
  • Gardaí gathered CCTV footage from at least one pub, in Ballybrack, where Hennessy was seen drinking, and are canvassing other pubs, after he dumped Ms Valdez’s remains;
  • A DNA sample from Hennessy was being checked with the crime scene index of the DNA database to see if it matched any unsolved sexual assaults or murders.

A book of condolence for Ms Valdez was opened at Powerscourt Arms Hotel in Enniskerry.

Home town remembers Jastine Valdez with vigil

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar led Dáil condemnations of the “senseless and brutal deaths” of Ms Valdez and also of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel, who was found beaten to death in a derelict farmhouse in west Dublin last Thursday.

It also emerged yesterday that Hennessy had called his wife before his death and told her that he had done “something awful” and indicated he would not be coming back.

When his note was found afterwards, it was covered in blood. Some Garda reports suggest he appeared to be stabbing himself with a knife in the car when they arrived at Cherrywood.

These reports suggest he then ran, armed with the knife, at a garda, at which stage he was fatally shot by a local detective. That incident is under GSOC investigation, as required by law.

The preliminary autopsy at the scene at Puck’s Castle Lane, estimated that Ms Valdez had died within 36-48 hours. An eyewitness also saw the Nissan driving suspiciously at 6.50pm in the area.

Given the abduction was reported by a 999 call at 6.20pm, this suggests to investigators that she was strangled by Hennessy in the next 30-40 minutes.

Investigators are perplexed at the circumstances of the abduction — in broad daylight, on a busy road, and being witnessed — and the quick murder that followed.

We simply don’t know why he did it, and now that he is dead and he succeeded in killing Jastine, we might not know why,” said one Garda source.

Gardaí still suspect that Hennessy and Ms Valdez were not known to each other and that he appeared to just randomly abduct her as she walked home. But they are conducting a “deeper” investigation for any possible links.

Experts from the Garda Technical Bureau continued their examination of the note in terms of deciphering what he had written, for possible clues.

Yesterday, it emerged that they identified the word ‘sorry’, following the discovery on Sunday night when they found the note of the words ‘Puck’s Castle’.

This, together with the downloading of the satnav history on the Qashqai, led to searches in the Puck’s Castle Lane and lead mines areas of Rathmichael.

Home town remembers Jastine Valdez with vigil

They saw her body inside thick gorse, which they had to cut through to reach. Garda sources said Hennessy must have “battered” his way through it to hide the body.

Gardaí yesterday asked to speak to people (including those with dashcams in their cars) in the Dalkey, Killiney, Ballybrack, Sallynoggin, Cherrywood, and Rathmichael areas of south Dublin and who saw Hennessy or his Qashqai (171 D 20419) between 5pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday.

Hennessy was described as 5ft 9, slight build, balding, and wearing a dark-coloured T-shirt, blue jeans, and grey runners.

Gardaí said he could have stopped at restaurants, cafes, petrol station shops, or bars in those areas.

Bray Garda Station on 01 6665300; Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111.

More on this topic

'We will never have peace': Parents of Jastine Valdez speak of grief as inquest returns unlawful killing verdict 'We will never have peace': Parents of Jastine Valdez speak of grief as inquest returns unlawful killing verdict

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Full inquest into death of Jastine Valdez to open todayFull inquest into death of Jastine Valdez to open today

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