Family prepare to bring murdered pair home

The former partner of a woman stabbed to death with her best friend in Turkey has arrived in the country to begin making arrangements to have their bodies brought home.

The former partner of a woman stabbed to death with her best friend in Turkey has arrived in the country to begin making arrangements to have their bodies brought home.

Marion Elizabeth Graham and Kathy Dinsmore, both aged 53, from Newry, Co Down and described as inseparable, were found murdered in woods 75 miles north of Kusadasi.

Sources have said the killings happened after Ms Graham refused a waiter's proposal to marry her 15-year-old daughter Shannon.

The two women suffered multiple stab wounds, including having their throats cut, and their bodies were found in a forest near a graveyard to the east of the port city of Izmir.

Raymond McGuinness, Ms Graham's ex-partner and the father of Shannon, flew to Turkey along with Ms Graham's son David.

The women's bodies have been formally identified, allowing Irish officials to begin making arrangements to have them repatriated.

A spokeswoman for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said repatriation depends on flight availability.

"Now that the identification was done this evening, the bodies will be signed off and be released," she said.

The family is being assisted by Irish diplomat Fiona Nic Dhonnacha, the deputy head of mission in Ankara who has travelled to Izmir to support Shannon.

It is understood a 17-year-old Turkish waiter, known to the family as Alex, confessed to the killings after concocting a story the women had been kidnapped.

It is believed the teenager has been quizzed by a prosecutor and remains in custody. It is understood the waiter's father and a taxi driver were also arrested, but have been released.

It is not clear if and when the 17-year-old will be brought before a court.

It is believed the waiter had asked Ms Graham for her daughter's hand in marriage but was refused.

The women travelled with him out of Kusadasi on Thursday after Shannon went on a boat trip.

Mr McGuinness said he had never been fully in favour of the relationship since the two teens began going out last summer.

"There was always something that was not quite right," he said.

The alarm was raised on Thursday when the waiter, said to have been in a distressed state, arrived for work in a Kusadasi restaurant.

He claimed he had suffered a cut to his hand trying to fight off kidnappers who had bundled the two women into a van. They had not been reported missing from their extended holiday at this stage.

Mr McGuinness said: "He told Shannon that he had tried to stop the kidnappers and he had a cut on his hand and that's how he suffered it."

It is understood Alex had been involved in a separate row with Shannon's mother last week.

The two women travelled on Irish passports.

Ms Graham's sister, Monica Higgins, called briefly to check on her sister's home on the outskirts of Newry yesterday just after being told about the double murder.

"It's absolutely devastating. We've just found out. My mother's in the car crying her eyes out," she said.

"We're trying to work with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to find out what exactly happened to her."

Ms Dinsmore had been an employee of Newry and Mourne District Council. She also worked in a local cab firm up until last Christmas. Her mother died four weeks ago.

The two women had been regular visitors to Kusadasi for years, staying in an apartment owned by Mr McGuinness.

In a statement, members of the Dinsmore family spoke of their sorrow.

"John and George Dinsmore are devastated by the tragic death of their beloved sister Kathy Dinsmore while on holiday in Turkey," it said.

"The Dinsmore family are grateful for the many condolences that they have received and appeal for privacy during this difficult time."

The blinds of Ms Graham's home were drawn yesterday and the garden of the mid-terraced house overgrown as she has been living in her second home in Kusadasi for the last few months.

Her neighbours in Toragh Park, a quiet estate on the outskirts of Newry, said her love of the Aegean resort had drawn her to spend more and more time in the country.

Nicola Hyland, who lives two doors down with her young family, said it was a tragedy.

"She was a lovely lady, so friendly, always had a smile for you," she said. "I just can't believe what happened to her."

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, the uncle-in-law of Michaela McAreavey who was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius in January, offered his sympathies to the families.

"I am deeply distressed to hear the terrible news of the violent deaths in Turkey of Marion Graham and Kathy Dinsmore, both from the Diocese of Dromore," he said.

"I wish to offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased at this difficult time."

SDLP leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: "This is every family's nightmare and the whole area is in grief that something so awful has happened."

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