Gardaí are set to mount a large search operation in Co Kildare on Monday which they hope will lead to a new break 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.
Gardaí believe some of the women were abducted and murdered by the same person.
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 intelligence 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.
The search operation will take place in a wooded area near the Co Wicklow border, and about 15kms from Newbridge.
On what type of evidence gardai hope to find, a spokesman 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.
Convicted rapist Larry Murphy has long been a suspect for the murder of several of the women, including Ms Jacob.
In 2010, he was released after serving 10 years of a 15 year sentence for kidnapping, raping and attempting to murder a young woman in the Wicklow Mountains in 2000.
One of Murphy's former cellmates has alleged to gardaí that the Wicklow man confessed to murdering Ms Jacob to him. Murphy has repeatedly denied involvement with any of the disappearances.
In 2018, Ms Jacob’s disappearance was upgraded to a murder investigation. The Garda has submitted a file on her murder to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) 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. She was last seen in Moone, Co Kildare in November 1995. Her disappearance was officially upgraded to a murder inquiry earlier this year.