THE idea of a little girl watching her mother being violently attacked and killed, or of a mother witnessing it happen to her child, is almost impossible to comprehend in civilised society. But it has happened in Ireland.
People all over the country have been sickened and traumatised by last weekend’s double murder in Co Kerry and are hoping the evil and savage killer will be quickly brought to justice.
At lunchtime last Saturday, Jolanta Lubiene, 27, originally from Lithuania, shopped in the centre of Killorglin, her adopted hometown where she had lived for seven years. By tea-time, she was lying dead in the kitchen of her rented home.
Some time between 2pm and 6pm she and her eight-year-old daughter Enrika were stabbed to death in what should have been the safest place for them. What happened at 9 Langford Downs, a quiet estate about 500m from the centre of Killorglin, has caused genuine shock.
Dressed in dark clothes and wearing white runners, Jolanta had walked from the Aldi supermarket with her shopping, along Langford St to her home.
Anyone who saw Jolanta, or had contact with her, on Langford St on Saturday afternoon may be able to help investigating gardaí.
CCTV footage is also being closely examined.
Help from the public is essential in cracking most crimes but in this case, gardaí are placing even greater emphasis on getting co-operation from people who may have seen or heard something suspicious.
Most murder victims know their killers and the likelihood in this case is that Jolanta also knew the person whom she is believed to have admitted to her home without undue concern for her safety, or that of Enrika.
Some people in normally peaceful Killorglin are apprehensive about having a killer at large, but those with vital information — and gardaí are convinced they are out there — hold the key to getting the killer off the streets.
All week, a chilling silence has hung over Killorglin, a town best known for its age-old Puck Fair — a fun event that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every August.
During this week, however, Killorglin residents have been in sombre mood, trying to come to terms with the horror visited upon their community. And they concentrated on doing whatever they could to ease the pain of the bereaved family.
Displaying typical smalltown solidarity, they showed their concern by filling the local church to overflowing for a special Mass on Wednesday night and contributing generously to a collection by the local St Vincent de Paul Society, with which Jolanta had been involved through her work with meals-on-wheels.
Killarney-based Supt Flor Murphy, who is leading the probe, has been making daily appeals to the public since Monday.
Yesterday, he said a lot of cooperation had been received, but more was needed.
Though the double murder happened inside a house, it was during daylight hours. There are around 50 houses in Langford Downs, so someone may have seen a person entering or leaving the semi-detached house, or acting strangely in the estate on Saturday afternoon. People could also have been alerted by noise coming from the house.
It is likely Jolanta, who sustained multiple stab wounds, tried to resist her killer and could have marked him. His clothes might also have been blood-stained or torn.
If anyone saw someone with scratch marks, blood, or bruises, or behaving unusually, they are asked to pass on that information.
The perpetrator could also have changed clothes, or might have disappeared from the area.
Gardaí, however, have dismissed speculation that the murderer has fled the country.
They are checking phonecalls made by Jolanta and are conducting an internet trawl to discover who she had been in contact with on social media or if there were any new people engaging with her.
Interpol and Lithuanian police have also been contacted and have done background checks on some members of the Eastern European community in the Kerry area, as well as in Lithuania.
Gardaí have issued an appeal for information in Lithuanian, asking: “Do you suspect somebody of having committed these murders?”
Meanwhile, family and friends of the victims, and local people, may avail of a counselling service run by the Killorglin Family Resource Centre.
Children in Scoil Mhuire, where Enrika was in second class, are mourning her loss and a critical incident management plan was implemented in the school during the week. Psychological and counselling services were also available.
Enrika is remembered as a bubbly, outgoing child who excelled in Irish and greeted teachers with “conas tá tú”. Eager to be involved in all school activities, she was described as “precious’’ by principal Muireann Seoighe.
Donations to help the family meet the expense of repatriating the remains to Lithuania can be made through Killorglin St Vincent de Paul. Account number 31552836, sort code 905766, Bank of Ireland, Killorglin.
The bodies have not yet been returned to the family and no funeral arrangements have been made.