The family of murdered Dungloe man, Shaun Duffy gathered at St Patrick’s Church, Meenacross on Sunday morning to mark his seventh anniversary knowing they are still no closer to the truth about how he lost his life.
Theories are plentiful about how the 36 year old entrepreneur was killed. Mr Duffy’s body was found in the front living room of his home at Meenacross, three miles from Dungloe, on January 29, 2005. He had been shot with a cross-bow bolt and struck on the back of the head.
He was murdered after he returned home from his mother Kathleen’s house, 300 yards up the road in Maghery.
Despite a huge garda investigation during which more than 1,000 people have been interviewed, nobody has ever been charged with his murder.
The inquest, which was held about a year and a half ago, revealed he was found by his brother Kevin at 2.30pm on January 29 after trying repeatedly to contact him on his mobile phone and landline. Kevin said there was blood all over the walls and doors and the furniture had been smashed.
A jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. It also said in accordance with medical evidence from Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis that the cause of death was multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head. At the time, gardaí said the investigation into the death is ongoing and would remain so.
Teams of gardaí searched the area around Mr Duffy’s home, and house-to-house enquiries were carried out as gardaí tried to build a profile of his last movements. They appealed to anyone who saw Mr Duffy on the night before his murder, Friday night, either when he was in the Strand View Bar in Maghery or later on, to contact them.
Later they said they were pursuing a number of lines of enquiry but the family are now fed up waiting. They want the case handed over to the Cold Case investigation squad.
Shaun’s sister Karena Tooms believes the killers might have got away scot free.
“We’ve heard nothing since the inquest which was about a year and a half ago. We’re fed up that they haven’t got anywhere but I don’t think they ever will to be honest and I thought that from day one. There has to be someone locally who knows something and it wasn’t one person who was responsible for it, it had to be more. Shaun was more than able to look after himself.
“We had the anniversary Mass in Meenacross on Sunday and most of the family were there. It was an emotional occasion: the memories don’t go away, we think of him every day.”
West Donegal and Dungloe in particular are not places one would immediately associate with the setting for a grisly murder hunt that has shocked locals and even to this day sends shudders down the spine. The peace in the coastal village of his native Shaun Duffy’s native Maghery was shattered this weekend seven years ago when a well-known local bachelor was violently murdered with an arsenal of weapons including a crossbow, an axe and a knife.
Shaun Duffy, who lived alone in a house just outside the town in Meenacross appeared ot have the odds stacked agains him. After returning home from the family home around 2.40am, he was violently killed by what gardai believe to be two men who had been lying in wait for him.
The 36-year-old was found lying face down in a pool of blood. And with his killers still at large, fear has eaten up the area with locals talking of nothing but the killing.
Elderly people living on their own in the Rosses area in general have been particularly unsettled by what has happened, checking locks and being too afraid to answer the door to callers.
A cast of characters has been mentioned as possible suspects and at the time everyone in the once tranquil area was looking over their shoulders, wondering who could have carried out such a shockingly horrible crime.
Investigating gardaí have so far been unable to make an arrest, saying only that the list of possible suspects is long.
A team of 45 officers and detectives were reported to be working on the case initially.
A garda source said: “It’s a case of too many suspects. There are a number of people who could have had a grudge against this man and wanted to kill him - he had plenty of enemies.”
The crossbow used in the attack did not belong to Duffy himself, according to his sister Karena Tooms. A well built man of about six feet, Karena described locally as a good-natured, but had the capacity to look after himself if he ever got into trouble.
“He never started any fights but was able to finish them,” she said.
“I think the only way anyone will be caught is if their conscience hits them and they confess, I’ve always said that and I know that hasn’t been popular with the gardaí but that’s the way I feel.
“I think the case should be handed over to the Cold Case squad. They’ve solved cases from 25 years ago and it’s time for a fresh approach.”