The investigation into the disappearance of a woman in Dublin 30 years ago has been upgraded to a murder inquiry, gardaí have confirmed.
Senior officers also issued a specific appeal for anyone with information, especially in relation to a brown handbag that 26-year-old Annie McCarrick had at the time of her disappearance on March 26, 1993, to come forward.
Ms McCarrick, who was originally from Long Island in New York, had been living in an apartment at St Catherine’s Court in Sandymount in Dublin with two other tenants at the time she went missing.
She worked as a waitress at the Courtyard Restaurant in Donnybrook and as a waitress at Café Java on Leeson Street, and on March 17, 1993, she attended the St Patrick’s Day Parade with friends.
She spent the next few days working, socialising in various licensed premises, and visiting friends.
On Thursday, March 25, 1993, she was on a day off but called to Café Java to collect her wages, but when they were not ready, she arranged to call again the next day.
She visited friends and stayed for dinner and on Friday, March 26, 1993, she spoke to both her flatmates before they left separately to travel home for the weekend.
Gardaí know she had made arrangements with friends, inviting them to her apartment for dinner the next day, Saturday, March 27, and that she was excited planning for a visit by her mother, Nancy, who was due to arrive in Ireland on March 30, 1993.
Shortly before 11am on Friday, March 26, 1993, Ms McCarrick visited the Allied Irish Bank branch on Sandymount Road to carry out some personal banking. Her visit was captured on the bank’s CCTV system.
It is the last confirmed sighting of her. She has not been seen since.
There are reported sightings of her subsequently in the Sandymount Green area, boarding a number 44 bus bound for Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, and a number of further reported sightings in Enniskerry village and Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen.
Gardaí established that groceries she had bought on the morning of Friday March 26, 1993, in Quinnsworth on Sandymount Road, had been left unpacked in shopping bags. A receipt in the bags confirmed the date and time of purchase as 11.02am that morning. This is her last confirmed activity.
Annie McCarrick was officially declared a missing person when her mother travelled from the US to Ireland one week after her daughter was last seen.
Despite extensive searches at the time and in the years since, no trace of Ms McCarrick has been uncovered.
Gardaí say the decision to upgrade the inquiry was made "based on the entirety of the information available to the investigation team at Irishtown Garda Station".
Investigating officers say they have maintained an open and active investigation into the case, with a dedicated investigation team based at Irishtown Garda Station, which over the last 30 years has discovered and collated in excess of 5,000 documents and reports, taken more than 300 statements of evidence, and retained a number of exhibits.
Detective Superintendent Eddie Carroll, of the serious crime unit of the Dublin Metropolitan Region South Central Division, said he and a senior investigating officer travelled to New York recently to speak to Nancy McCarrick, and that based on all of the information available to the investigation team, the missing person investigation has now been reclassified as a murder investigation.
Det Supt Carroll issued an appeal for information at a media briefing on Friday to mark the 30th anniversary this weekend of Ms McCarrick's disappearance and murder.
“The primary focus of this investigation is the victim, Annie McCarrick and her family,” he said.
Ms McCarrick was 5ft 8in in height, she weighed 10 stone, had long brown hair and spoke with a soft Irish-American accent at the time of her disappearance.
It is believed she was in possession of a large brown leather bag at the time.
Det Supt Carroll said there is a person, or persons, who have information on the disappearance and her murder on or about March 26, 1993, and who have not yet spoken to gardaí, or who may have already spoken to gardaí but were not in a position to tell everything they knww at that time.
Det Supt Carrol said he and his colleagues want to speak with any person who has any information on the large brown handbag, which it is believed that Annie was in possession of when she went missing.
"I appeal to any person who have information relative to Annie’s murder not to assume we know, or that it has limited value. Let us make that decision.
"I would urge any person or persons with information in relation to the murder of Annie McCarrick to please come forward to either the investigation team at Irishtown Garda Station at 01 6669600, your local Garda station or the Garda Confidential telephone line 1800 666 111."
Speaking on Friday morning, Justice Minister Simon Harris said gardaí were “absolutely clear” there are people who have information about Annie McCarrick who have yet to speak to them.
Mr Harris said Nancy McCarrick has every right to know what happened to her daughter.
He also said Ms McCarrick’s father died without knowing what ever happened to his daughter and gardaí have been working “extremely hard” on this.
Gardaí took the decision to upgrade her case to a murder inquiry “for a variety of reasons”, Mr Harris said.
Mr Harris described Annie McCarrick as somebody from the US who had come to Ireland having fallen in love with the country.
Speaking to RTÉ’s, Mr Harris said gardaí also want to particularly speak to “ any person who has information on the large brown handbag, which it's believed that it was in possession of Ms McCarrick when she went missing”.
“So 30 years on, they [gardaí] and I are really encouraging anyone with, again, any information to come forward,” he added.