We tried so many times to reach her

Fam­ily of Belfast wo­man whose body was found two years af­ter she was mur­dered say it’s ‘dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend’ the tragedy

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY AL­LAN PRE­STON

THE fam­ily of a west Belfast pen­sioner whose body may have lain undis­cov­ered in her flat for over two years said last night that they had tried “nu­mer­ous” times to make con­tact with her.

Marie Con­lon (68) was found dead in her Lark­spur Rise res­i­dence last Fri­day night af­ter po­lice forced en­try. A 23-year-old man has been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of her mur­der.

Ms Con­lon’s fam­ily said in a state­ment: “Nu­mer­ous at­tempts had been made to con­tact her in per­son, and by other means, over the course of the past two years, but at no point were sus­pi­cions raised that she had died.”

THE fam­ily of a wo­man whose body may have lain undis­cov­ered in her west Belfast flat for more than two years tried to con­tact her nu­mer­ous times and never sus­pected she had died.

Po­lice forced en­try into 68-year-old Marie Con­lon’s apart­ment in Lark­spur Rise last Fri­day night af­ter be­ing alerted to con­cerns for her safety.

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, the PSNI said she was found in her bed and may have died more than two years ago.

Af­ter a post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion in­di­cated her death may have been sus­pi­cious, a 23-year-old man was ar­rested on Wed­nes­day on sus­pi­cion of a num­ber of of­fences in­clud­ing mur­der. He was still in cus­tody yes­ter­day.

Ms Con­lon’s fam­ily said in a state­ment they were “shocked and heart­bro­ken to learn about the loss of our beloved sis­ter”.

“The tragic cir­cum­stances of her death make it all the more dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend and ac­cept,” they added.

“Marie was very much loved by her fam­ily and will be mourned greatly.

“She was a very in­de­pen­dent per­son. Nu­mer­ous at­tempts had been made to con­tact her in per­son, and by other means, over the course of the past two years, but at no point were sus­pi­cions raised that she had died.

“It is only with hind­sight that the unimag­in­able now seems pos­si­ble.

“We have been work­ing closely with the PSNI to bring this dev­as­tat­ing sit­u­a­tion to an end.

“We hope and pray that jus­tice will be done and ask for pri­vacy as we grieve the loss of our sis­ter.”

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Alan Dick­son said the last known sight­ing of Ms Con­lon was in Jan­uary 2015.

Based on med­i­cal ev­i­dence, it is be­lieved she may have died around this time.

It’s also un­der­stood a neighbour’s flat has been searched as part of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said Ms Con­lon came from a close-knit fam­ily in the Bal­ly­mur­phy area of west Belfast.

“It’s very sad a per­son has ended their days in this na­ture and I know the fam­ily have been quite dis­tressed by it all,” he added.

“It’s like a dou­ble trauma. Not only have they lost a sis­ter and aunt, but there may also have been a mur­der in­volved. Your heart goes out to them.

“Given the fact it’s such a close-knit fam­ily, it will be par­tic­u­larly sad as they haven’t seen her for quite a while, even though they wanted to.”

Mr Maskey (be­low) also said he could partly un­der­stand why Ms Con­lon had lain undis­cov­ered for such a long time. “I’m told she led a very quiet, pri­vate life over the last num­ber of years, which ob­vi­ously has con­trib­uted to the fact she’s lain so long,” he added.

“Also, there’s a num­ber of rel­a­tively new flats there, with some ten­ants not stay­ing for long. “When I was do­ing elec­tion can­vass­ing in the area it was of­ten quite dif­fi­cult to find peo­ple at home.

“A lot of them were of­ten out work­ing shifts. It’s not like the front doors are ly­ing open with neigh­bours com­ing in and out all the time. It’s not that type of de­vel­op­ment.”

Yes­ter­day, shocked neigh­bours ques­tioned how Ms Con­lon’s body didn’t at­tract at­ten­tion for two years, and how house­hold bills were still be­ing paid.

Ciara, a mother-of-two who has lived in Lark­spur Rise for years, said: “It’s hor­ri­fy­ing. My kids have played in front of the flats all sum­mer and no­body knew. It’s sad that no­body in­clud­ing her fam­ily knew she was there.”

“I’ve lived here a long time. It’s a quiet street and most peo­ple keep them­selves to them­selves. That’s maybe why no­body no­ticed.”

STEPHEN HAMILTON/ALAN LEWIS

The apart­ments at Lark­spur Rise where the body of Marie Con­lon was found. Right: a foren­sic ex­pert at the scene yes­ter­day

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