Sligo killings: Gardaí fear suspect may have searched for other victims

Sligo killings: Gardaí fear suspect may have searched for other victims

The scene where Gardaí discovered the body of Aidan Moffitt on Monday. Picture: Eamonn Farrell /

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.

Michael Snee, 58 (left), and Aidan Moffitt, 41.
Michael Snee, 58 (left), and Aidan Moffitt, 41.

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. 

Mr Moffitt was an active member of Fine Gael locally and was recently elected chairman of the Sligo/ Strandhill District Committee.

Former Sligo/Leitrim TD Tony McLoughlin described him as "the number cruncher" at election counts, the political strategist who could spot a trend and "give you a different perspective".

Originally from Co Roscommon, he had built an auctioneering business specialising in high-end properties around the northwest.

Mr Snee was a retired healthcare worker, who had impaired vision in one eye, and lived a quiet life alone with his dog in one of 14 maisonettes among council-owned sheltered accommodation.

He had previously worked in St John’s Hospital and Cregg House residential home for people with disabilities.

“He would put out the ashes and light the fire for me, that’s the sort of a neighbour he was,” Thomas McCarrick said.

“He didn’t drink. I’d see him nearly every day because he was into gardening. He had the loveliest house you could ever wish for. He put a lot of work and money into his garden, front and back,” he said.

  • 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

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