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New search in missing women cases is welcome, says former garda head of 'Operation Trace'

THE former head of the special garda taskforce which investigated the cases of six missing Irish women, said he hopes the latest search of woodland brings closure to at least one of their families.

Alan Bailey, a retired garda detective sergeant, said there's been a "lot of false dawns" for the families of the women but the news of this latest search is to be welcomed.

This morning (Monday), gardaí are beginning a large operation in Co Kildare. The search is in the hope of a breakthrough in investigations into the spate of suspected murders of women in the area in the 1990s.

In the period between 1993 and 1998, eight women disappeared in an area roughly corresponding with the borders of Leinster.

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Gardaí believe some of the women were abducted and murdered by the same person.

Speaking on Deise Today this morning, Alan Bailey - who served 13 years as co-ordinator of 'Operation Trace' - said there are approximately 50 acres of land involved in the search site and it will be a "hard, slow and painstaking" effort.

"You're looking, essentially, at two cases. Deirdre Jacob disappeared about 30kms from here but Jo Jo Dullard was only about 10 kms away," he said.

Alan Bailey is convinced Deirdre Jacob was abducted by a stranger unknown to her.

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He told Damien Tiernan this morning that drone footage and aerial mapping will be crucial in the latest search which will involve cadaver dogs, search teams and other specialised teams including forensics and anthropologists.

"Hopefully, it will bring closure to one of the families at least and give them news of who murdered their daughter."

Intelligence received by Gardai

The search operation is the result of intelligence received by cold case detectives who have been re-examining the cases, The Irish Times reports.

The information concerns the disappearance of 18-year-old Deirdre Jacob who went missing in 1998. She was last seen walking home in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

It is believed a witness has come forward who says he saw someone acting suspiciously in a wooded area shortly after Ms Jacob disappeared. Gardaí also believe there is a chance of uncovering evidence in relation to other disappearances.

Search of a large area

The search operation will take place in a wooded area near the Co Wicklow border, and about 15kms from Newbridge.

When asked about what type of evidence Gardai hope to find, a spokesperson said “we won’t know what we find until we find it”.

The search is being described by Garda headquarters as relating to the “investigation into the disappearance of women in Leinster”.

Given the difficult and rural nature of the site, it is expected to be a costly and lengthy operation.

The disappearance of Deirdre Jacob

In 2018, Ms Jacob’s disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation. The Gardai submitted a file on her murder to the Director of Public Prosecutions but the DPP has yet to recommend charges.

She was training to be a teacher in London and was on a visit home when she went missing.

Gardaí are also understood to be investigating new leads regarding the disappearance of another of the missing women, 25-year-old Jo Jo Dullard from Kilkenny. She was last seen in Moone, Co Kildare in November 1995. Her disappearance was officially upgraded to a murder inquiry earlier this year.

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