In March 1993, 26-year-old Irish-American Annie McCarrick was living at Sandymount in Dublin with two female roommates. Early in the day on March 26, she ran errands to the bank and grocery store and later left to go walking in Enniskerry, about a half-hour away.
That same day, she was supposed to pick up her paycheck, but she never showed.
The following day, friends showed up at Annie’s house for a prearranged dinner party, but Annie wasn’t there. Annie’s roommates called her father, John McCarrick, in New York when she never showed up at their home. He immediately knew something was wrong because Annie was always in touch with someone. Her mother was to arrive from the United States in a few days, and it was unlike Annie to disappear without any warning. She was looking forward to seeing her mother.
There was a possible sighting of Annie on bus Number 44 at approximately 3:30 p.m. headed to Enniskerry. At 9:00 p.m., there was another sighting of her at Johnnie Fox’s Pub in Glencullen, although this was never confirmed. Witnesses there reported seeing a woman of Annie’s description with an unidentified man. Annie did not have a boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.
Annie’s parents immediately left for Ireland. The search for their daughter became one of the most extensive investigations in Ireland’s history.
A composite sketch of the man seen with Annie was distributed around the country. Authorities began an exhaustive search of the countryside around Johnnie Fox’s Pub.
At the end of 2014, authorities announced that an IRA (Irish Republican Army) member was a person of interest in Annie’s disappearance. Gardaí received information about him four years prior. The man had given Annie a ride from Johnnie Fox’s Pub to a bus station in Bray before her disappearance, so he claims. He said dropped her off and never saw her again. The man has a history of raping and molesting children. So far, he has not been arrested for her kidnapping and murder.
Annie was never found. Annie’s parents divorced five years after she went missing, and her father has since passed away.
Other Disappearances of Women
When Annie disappeared, other women also vanished, and it is believed that the cases are related, suggesting a possible serial killer was at large in Ireland. Their disappearances are referred to as the Vanishing Triangle and are part of a special task force called Operation Trace.
- Priscilla Clarke – While she is not among those listed as being related to Annie’s disappearances or part of the Vanishing Triangle, I came across her case at the same time I found Annie’s. I think there is a chance her case could be related, even though it happened a few years before. Priscilla, 25, disappeared on May 3, 1988, from Enniskerry, where she resided as a live-in nanny for Mark and Lynda Kavanaugh. On the day she went missing, a witness saw two women riding horses. One was identified as Lynda, but the police never identified the other, though they believed it was Priscilla. A few days later, Lynda’s body was found in the River Dargle. Priscilla was never found. Police assumed both ladies got caught in the river while trying to cross with horses and drowned. However, others believe foul play was involved. Priscilla was just one year younger than Annie and disappeared from the town where Annie went walking.
- Eva Brennan, 39, vanished after leaving a family get-together in Rathdown Park, Rathgar, Dublin on July 25, 1993, just four months after Annie. Rathgar is only about 35 minutes northwest of Enniskerry. Eva’s father went to her apartment after she went missing and with the help of a neighbor, broke into Eva’s home when she did not answer. The shirt Eva was wearing on the day of the family get-together was there, which means Eva made it home at some point afterward. Like Annie, Eva was close to her family and in constant contact with them. She has never been found.
- JoJo Dullard, 21, disappeared on November 5, 1995. She met with her Dublin friends and was supposed to catch a bus afterward back to County Kilkenny where she resided with her sister. However, the young girl got sidetracked chatting with her friends and missed the bus. JoJo decided to hitchhike back home. Her first ride dropped her off in Moone, the halfway point between Dublin and her home. She made a quick call to a friend, telling her what she was doing. While on the phone, JoJo said, “Oh, a car is coming, and I have to go now.” A witness saw her leaning into the backseat of a dark Toyota Carina. She never made it home and hasn’t been seen since.
- Fiona Pender, 25, disappeared from Tullamore on August 22, 1996. She was seven months pregnant at the time. Fiona was a model and hairdresser and considered upbeat, full of life, and very excited about becoming a mother.
- Ciara Breen, 17, disappeared from Dundalk, Ireland, on February 13, 1997. Ciara and her mother had talked late into the night, and then both went to bed. When morning came, Ciara was nowhere to be found. Police believe the teen left of her own accord sometime after she went to bed. Her window latch was open from the inside.
- Fiona Sinnott, 19, disappeared from Broadway, County Wexford, on February 9, 1998. She was not reported missing until February 18 because she frequently left for short periods. However, this time Fiona failed to come home. The night before she went missing, she was with friends at a local pub called Butlers. Her ex-fiance showed up, and the two left together. He claims he went back to her house, stayed the night, and left the following morning. He claims Fiona was still there and alive when he left. She had been complaining of pains in her arm, so he gave her some money to catch a bus so she could go to the doctor. Fiona has not been seen since. She left behind an 11-month old daughter.
- Deirdre Jacob, 18, disappeared from Newbridge, County Kildare, on July 28, 1998. She had just returned from the bank and was walking back to her home, only 1.5 km away. Someone last saw her standing at the gate of her house around 3:00 pm. She was caught on CCTV footage on her way home, and the following Thursday and Friday, two women who worked at a delicatessen were 100% sure she walked into their establishment. She has not been seen since.
Other than the IRA member, there are a couple of other persons of interest.
The police have long believed that Larry Murphy killed or took part in the killing of these girls. He was convicted in 2001 for the rape and attempted murder of a businesswoman in Carlow in 2000. He served 10 years out of a 15-year sentence. No other disappearances occurred after his imprisonment. However, not everyone is convinced that he is solely responsible.
Robert Howard, aka Wolfman, was a sex offender convicted in 2003 of the 2001 rape and murder of 14-year-old Hannah Williams. He may also be responsible for the Vanishing Triangle disappearances. He has a long history of abusing young girls, and in 1973, he raped a 58-year-old woman.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
It always amazes me when people disappear in broad daylight, and there are no witnesses to the abduction. So then, you have to wonder if the person knew the victim or the abductor/killer managed to gain her trust so she would go willingly with him.
I tried finding the composite sketch in Annie’s case, but I had no luck whatsoever. I wonder if it matches the IRA member who supposedly gave her a ride from Johnny Fox’s to the Bray bus station. I don’t believe his name was released.
If Annie’s sighting at Johnnie Fox’s is true, then why was she there with this man? Did she know him? Did he offer to buy her a drink? It was suggested in one article from 2011 that Annie may have been on a secret date with this man, she resisted his sexual advances, and he killed her. That makes sense, but why was the date a secret? Was he married?
There was about a 5.5-hour gap between sightings. The first one on the bus at 3:30 p.m. and the one at Johnny’s Fox’s at 9:00 p.m. So what was Annie doing in between? If she was on a mystery date, what were they doing during this time, and why were there no sightings? Does the man live in Enniskerry or nearby? And why would they meet in a small village where they would be more noticed than at a busy pub in Dublin?
Most people, and even police, believe these disappearances could be the work of a serial killer on the loose. The cases have a few things in common:
- All were young women.
- All had brown hair.
- All but two disappeared in broad daylight.
- All of them occurred in a close geographical triangle, all within an 80-mile radius of Dublin.
- No bodies have ever been found
But there are some differences, too:
- Ciara disappeared at night after she voluntarily left her home. It is believed that she was meeting someone, although that’s never been confirmed.
- JoJo also disappeared at night. Her case feels like a “moment of opportunity.” When she was dropped off in Moone, whoever took her was there and took advantage of the situation. Just a theory.
- Eva was the oldest. We know she made it to her home after the family get-together, so I wonder if someone followed her home or was lying in wait inside the home. I think she might have known who abducted her.
- There is another suspect in Fiona Pender’s case – a 41-year-old currently living in Canada. This man was charged with sexually assaulting his wife in 2013.
If all these disappearances are related, then we have some gaps between cases. What is the reason for time in-between disappearances? Was the person in jail? Sick? In another country? And why did they all of a sudden stop after Dierdre vanished? Killer in prison for other crimes? Died?
I hope whoever is responsible is brought to justice, so the families of the missing can find peace.