The gruesome murder of two men in suspected homophobic attacks in Sligo has sparked fears the killer may have been targeting other potential victims through online dating apps.
Gardaí believe the mutilation and murder of two single men in Sligo within two days — Aidan Moffitt, 42, and Michael Snee, 58, — may not have been the perpetrator’s first attempts at violent assaults.
They are investigating that the victims had met their attacker online and died as a result of a homophobic hate crime.
Detectives are also probing a link to a third violent attack on a man in Sligo at the weekend. The victim of that attack in the early hours of Saturday, a man in his 40s, was stabbed and received serious facial injuries.
Gardaí arrested a man in his early 20s yesterday on suspicion of murder after what was described as an intense operation in Sligo.
The suspect's online history is expected to help determine if the killings were the work of someone targeting men on dating apps. The man is due to be released or charged later today.
Chief superintendent Aidan Glacken appealed to other people in the Sligo area who have been the subject of unwanted approaches or who were assaulted to contact their incident room at Sligo Garda Station.
“I have a dedicated diversity team here, we need to hear from you. We are here to listen to you and we are here to support you,” Supt Glacken said.
“No matter how insignificant you think it may be, we need to hear from you."
The suspect is believed to belong to a local family who settled in the area a number of years ago.
Both deceased men were found mutilated in their homes, around 1km apart in Sligo.
Popular auctioneer Mr Moffitt, 42, was found with severe injuries at Cartron Heights on Monday evening while Mr Snee of City View, Connaughton Road was discovered on Tuesday evening.
Gardaí confirmed both men, who lived alone in quiet residential areas, sustained "significant physical injuries’" although Mr Snee’s injuries were not as extensive as Mr Moffitt’s.
Two senior investigating officers are leading separate murder enquiries, backed up by substantial garda resources from regional and national units.
The body of Mr Snee was removed from his maisonette home at City View at 3.30pm yesterday and taken to the morgue at Sligo University Hospital for postmortem. A postmortem had already been carried out on the body of Mr Moffitt.
- If you have been affected by any issue in this Irish Examiner article, you can get help from the National LGBT Helpline 1800 929 539