Cate McCurry, PA
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Deirdre Jacob are searching a new area following reports of “unusual activity” in woodland the evening she went missing.
A fresh search of an isolated part of Co Kildare is under way as part of the investigation into the murders of Ms Jacob and JoJo Dollard.
The area of woodland is in Taggartstown, close to the Co Wicklow border.
Ms Jacob was 18 years old when she disappeared in July 1998.
Inspector John Fitzgerald, who is leading the search operation, said a review of the evidence identified the woodland as “an area of interest”, which may be relevant to the inquiry.
Investigators are searching almost three acres of land, which is expected to take up to three weeks.
Mr Fitzgerald said up to 15 people will be involved in the search each day, made up of members of the Garda technical bureau team as well as a forensic archaeologist.
Ms Jacob was one of at least six women who disappeared in the area during the 1990s.
Mr Fitzgerald said the information about the unusual activity was reported some time ago, but, following a review of the murder investigation, it was deemed more relevant than initially thought.
“There was unusual activity noticed in the woodland in and around the time Deirdre went missing, and based on that we felt it prudent to commence a further search of the area,” he said.
“The area has been under review for some time. We have carried out a cursory search some time ago and then the recommendation was to commence a search in October as it is the best chance of success based on the fact that it’s thick land.
“There’s is a lot undergrowth and the time of year gave us the best opportunity to gather any evidence that may be here.”
He said Ms Jacob’s family are aware the searches are taking place.
He also said that, while the investigation into the disappearance of Ms Dollard is separate, the team “are mindful” that the location where she was last seen is nearby.
He also said it is important to “manage expectations” and “not get ahead of ourselves”.
“Any development is significant, but it is a big step for us to take this ground and search it. If evidence is found, it will be assessed and the senior investigating officer will decide where to go from there,” Mr Fitzgerald added.
“We would like to thank the public for their assistance and it will take some time to get through and we appreciate their assistance.
“We have a lot of significant assistance from the public and we will see how we go.”
Ms Jacob’s disappearance was reclassified as a murder investigation following new information received by Gardaí three years ago.
She was last seen near her home in Roseberry, Newbridge, at approximately 3pm on Tuesday, July 28th 1998.