As police were last night set to charge three men in connection with her murder, the authorities revealed how the young teacher tried to save herself from an intruder who used a magnetic key to get into her hotel room. A senior officer said: “There was a struggle in the room.”
Late last night there was some confusion about what stage the investigation was at. Early yesterday Superintendent Yoosoof Soopun, from the Mauritius Police Force they were confident of an early positive result.
He said Mr McAreavey was in the restaurant of the hotel when his wife was murdered, and police have ruled him out as a suspect.
“She had gone back to the room to get some biscuits to put in her tea and, when she failed to return, her husband went to look for her.
“When he found her in the room, she had been killed. He tried to help her but she was already dead. A postmortem has showed she died from neck compression.”
Mr Soopun said the killer used an electronic key card to enter the room. “There was no forced entry into the room. Whoever killed her definitely used an electronic card. This is being viewed with much concern by the police and government of Mauritius. We are doing everything we can to find whoever was responsible.”
A staff member at the four-star plus Legends Hotel, who went to the room to try to revive the young teacher, later consoled her husband as he made a statement to police. Afterwards the staff member said: “John is far from home, far from his family and in a country where he does not know anybody. I am just here to provide as much help as I can. This is a terrible situation. He needs support.”
Tourism Minister Nando Bodha said he met Mr McAreavey at the hotel, where a small number of staff where constantly at his side offering support.
“He is really very distressed,” he said.
It is understood Mr McAreavey found his wife dead 45 minutes after she left him in the restaurant.
“This is the first time that something like this has happened here. Those who have been to Mauritius know that it is a peaceful place,” the minister said.
“What I can assure you is that there will be a fully fledged investigation into the matter. The people of Mauritius are shocked. We share the distress and sadness of the family.”
Mr Bodha said he had spoken to the Police Commissioner in Mauritius and expected the case to progress rapidly.
Friends who arrived at the Harte family home, just off the main road to Omagh, and who embraced Mr Harte included Down GAA legends Seán O’Neill and Maurice Hayes.
Arrangements are now being made for the funeral and two car parks set aside for mourners include one at St Malachy’s church where the couple were married. It is thought likely that the Catholic church will also be the venue for the funeral Requiem Mass.
A fleet of buses has been organised to ferry mourners visiting the family’s home which is at the end of a narrow country lane.