Farmers’ funerals delayed as probe continues

The funerals of the two farmers killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Co Carlow on Wednesday are likely to be delayed after their bodies were only released last night to their families.

Michael Jordan, 51, was due to be buried in Bagenalstown after funeral Mass in his local parish church today, while the brother-in-law he is believed to have shot dead before hanging himself, George Rothwell, 71, was also to be buried after a funeral service in the Church of Ireland.

However, forensic examinations of the scene where the fatal shooting occurred at Mr Rothwell’s house took longer than expected and the bodies were only removed from Naas General Hospital last night.

It could now be Monday before the funeral services can take place.

Church of Ireland rector Rev Charles McCollum said yesterday: “There’s nothing anybody can do about it.

“They [family members] are pretty ready and know that there will be a funeral in two days or three days or whatever amount of days. They know it [the investigation] is very complex,” he said.

Mr Jordan’s wife — and George Rothwell’s sister — Hilda Jordan made the decision to have the two men jointly waked in Bagenalstown but those plans had to be put on hold.

Autopsies completed on Thursday confirmed that George Rothwell died as a result of a number of gunshot wounds which were definitely not self-inflicted, while Michael Jordan died of asphyxiation.

Scene-of-crime experts were still at Ballycormac House, 6km from Bagenalstown, yesterday evening. Gardaí are also awaiting results of ballistics tests on the two shotguns found in the area — Mr Rothwell’s was found beside his body while Mr Jordan’s was found in a nearby field — and on cartridges taken from the scene before establishing if both men fired shots before Mr Rothwell was fatally wounded.

Superintendent Gerry Redmond said yesterday that a family liaison officer was keeping Hilda Jordan and her relatives updated on developments.

While speculation has focussed on a possible land dispute between Mr Jordan and Mr Rothwell giving rise to Wednesday’s double killing, mystery surrounds the definitive cause of the tragic events.

Gardaí believe Michael Jordan fatally shot George Rothwell in the latter’s farmhouse before ringing the emergency services and setting fire to a number of outbuildings. He then hanged himself.

The men lived on adjoining farms and it’s understood that the Rothwell farm was split between George and Hilda following the death of their father, Fred, some years ago.

Reports that there was tension between George and Michael over Michael, a Catholic, marrying into the Church of Ireland Rothwell family, have been discounted by locals who say there are excellent relations between the two religious traditions in the area.

Personal relations between the two men were also believed to have been good in recent times and they, along with Hilda Jordan, attended Gowran races together last Saturday.

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