Murphy was found dead by other joggers around 4 p.m., and witnesses reported a man fleeing the scene of the murder. Irish police have made an arrest in connection with the killing, though the suspect’s name was not released.
The accused killer, according to foreign sources, is a Romanian national in his 40s who lives nearby. It’s not clear if he’s been charged with Murphy’s murder as of Thursday.
Irish national police are continuing to investigate the incident. No motive is apparent, and investigators believe Murphy may have been targeted at random.
Irish Woman Killed in Broad Daylight
According to the Irish Independent, Murphy was exercising on a popular footpath along the Tullamore Canal in County Offaly, some 75 miles west of Dublin on Wednesday afternoon when she was violently attacked.
In a press conference Thursday morning, a spokesperson for the Gardaí — Ireland’s national police force — said that passersby discovered Murphy with “serious injuries […] consistent with an assault” at around 4 p.m.
Emergency personnel rendered medical assistance at the scene, but the 23-year-old victim soon succumbed to her wounds, the outlet reported. The nature of her injuries was not detailed, and it’s unclear if police suspect a weapon was used during the attack.
Witnesses who found Murphy told police they saw a suspect flee the area. Hours later, police arrested a man in connection with the killing, believed to be the same spotted by witnesses.
The suspect’s name has not been released, but foreign outlets report he is a Romanian national in his 40s who’s been living in Ireland for some 20 years. He is reportedly known to local police for “alcohol-related criminal offenses” and has prior convictions for shoplifting.
Investigators do not believe that Murphy knew the suspect before her death on Wednesday.
Authorities are asking for more witnesses to step forward as the investigation proceeds.
“We have some witnesses but we are urgently seeking more,” a Gardaí source told the Independent. “This man is in custody but more people who saw elements of the attack, or either the victim or the suspect before or after this terrible crime, are now being urgently sought, as we continue to question the suspect.”
With more eyewitness testimony, the source said, “the better chance we have of getting a swift conclusion to this crime.”
“That is our major focus today, speaking to anyone who saw either the victim or the suspect along the canal either before or after the attack,” they added.
Investigators are also asking the public to help identify the owner of a “distinctive” green and yellow mountain bike recovered from the scene, though it’s not clear how the bike ties into the crime.
Gardaí officials have said they will leave “no stone will be left unturned,” adding that 50 officers are currently assigned to the investigation. Forensic examiners are also sweeping the canal path for evidence, according to reports.
Ashling Murphy Mourned
On Thursday, national police officials visited Scoil Naomh Colmcille, the elementary school where Murphy taught first grade, to offer their support.
“This young woman’s first class students, very young children, are today wondering why their teacher is not there and will never be back,” the Gardaí source told the Independent. “[We] are liaising with the school as the entire community tries to come to terms with this tragedy.”
Irish officials also expressed their grief at the young woman’s grisly death.
“My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends and with her community,” said Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
Eugene Wall, president of Mary Immaculate College where Murphy had just graduated three months before she was killed, expressed his “heartfelt sympathy.”
“The entire MIC community is heartbroken and shocked to the core to hear of the tragic and senseless killing,” he said.