Gardaí have identified a man whose body was found in Galway following a years-long investigation.
The man was discovered on September 27, 2014, by a dog walker in the woods beside Rusheen Bay in Barna. His death was treated as a personal tragedy; however the investigation remained open over the years as the Garda worked to establish his identity.
With no form of identification found on the body, and very few items apart from his clothes, gardai had little information to help solve the mystery.
Now, thanks to information from his former housemates, a key, and DNA evidence, he has been identified and his family have been contacted.
In years following the discovery gardaí made extensive efforts to identify him, including searches of local and international missing person’s databases, fingerprinting and dental examinations, and a facial reconstruction carried out by Dr Christopher Rynn from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Numerous media appeals were also issued at various stages.
Among the man’s few possessions when he was found, was a single silver key with 'EPA' inscribed on it, cash in both sterling and euro currency, a Canadian/USA watch, and clothing believed to have been bought in the United States or Canada. It was the key which resulted in unlocking the mystery surrounding this man’s identity.
In recent weeks two Polish men contacted gardaí after hearing of previous appeals. The pair had shared a house with another Polish man for a short time in 2014. He left the house, telling him to re-let his room if he did not return.
Though the men had since changed the lock of the home, they had the original lock, allowing gardaí to establish that the key found with the man's body fit this lock. This led to a definite line of enquiry as to his identity, and in the past week a DNA comparison, conducted via Interpol in Poland, has led to gardaí being able to name the man and contact his family.
Gardaí have since learned that the man travelled to the United States in the early 1990s from Poland. He came to Ireland in 2014, just weeks before his body was found in Barna.
As he had not been formally identified, the State made arrangements for his burial in Bohermore Cemetery. The man’s relatives have now been contacted and a file will be prepared for the Galway County Coroner.
Superintendent Patrick McHugh of Salthill Garda Station this week commended the investigating gardaí from Salthill, who continued in their efforts to identify the man to ensure his family would have closure.
"Great credit is due to the dedicated gardaí who have been working this case to establish the identity of this man since 2014," Supt McHugh said. "The circumstances of this case are both sad and tragic. The family and An Garda Síochána are grateful to the individuals who came forward to provide us with the key to solving this matter. Taking the crucial step of contacting the gardaí has ensured that this man’s family are now aware of the whereabouts of their loved one.”