Emotional scenes swept through guards across Britain for a young Irish schoolteacher who was beaten to death while out for a run along a canal path.
Ashling Murphy was killed on the Grand Canal Walk in Tullamore, Central Ireland, around 4pm on Wednesday, police said.
Watch the video above for more on guards for Ashling Murphy held throughout Ireland
RTE News reported that Mrs. Murphy was training when she was allegedly assaulted. The suspect fled when two women encountered the attack.
The 23-year-old victim was still alive when she was found but died on the spot.
Ms Murphy sustained serious injuries “in accordance with an assault”, Supt Eamonn Curley told reporters from the scene.
Police say an autopsy has been performed to determine the exact cause of Murphy’s death, but that it has been kept confidential “for operational reasons”.
Her heartbroken family was participating in a guard on the Grand Canal Walk as they took her final step back.
Crowds of others formed a guard of honor as the family walked towards a candlelight vigil in which Mrs. Murphy’s father paid tribute to the talented young musician.
According to the Irish Independent, Ray Murphy broke down in tears as he played the final chords, her favorite song, When you were sweet sixteen.
A man in his 40s was arrested in connection with the incident and detained at Tullamore Garda Station, Ireland’s national police force – known as the Gardai – said in a statement.
“The injuries that we believe at this time are consistent with an assault,” Tullamore Garda Station Superintendent Eamonn Curley said in a statement.
‘At this stage there is no information that the victim and her killer were known to each other’ – Tullamore Garda Station’s Superintendent Eamonn Curley
“Based on investigations we have conducted to date, we believe that this crime was committed by a man who acted alone,” suppt. said Curley.
But days later, the man originally thought to be suspected of the crime was released after Gardai ruled him out as a suspect.
The now acquitted 40-year-old has been forced into hiding after being subjected to “extreme slander” on social media, his lawyer says.
Lawyer Donal Farrelly told BBC News NI that his client had been escorted to a hotel by police for fear of possible “retaliation” from the hands of members of the public after his picture was widely shared on social media.
Police say a team of more than 50 officers have been assigned to the murder investigation, which has restarted calls to do more to stop violence against women across the UK.
“No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrator of this crime to justice,” Supt Curley said.
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said “the whole country is devastated and shocked by the violent and barbaric killing”.
“There is no place in our society for violence, especially violence against women. It can and will not be tolerated,” he added.
Remember Ashling Murphy
Murphy graduated from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick just three months ago, according to college president Eugene Wall.
“The entire MIC community is devastated and shocked to the core to hear about the tragic and senseless murder of Ashling Murphy, who graduated from the MIC just three months ago,” he tweeted Thursday.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family, friends, colleagues and students.”
According to the BBC, Mrs Murphy was a talented musician who worked at Durrow National School.
Her principal said her death left the school community “devastated and numb”.
James Hogan told Virgin Media News Mrs Murphy was an “amazing, handsome, exceptional sportsman, Irish musician, choral conductor and an inspiration”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family at this time and indeed the wider community, her teacher colleagues and the children she taught who are without their teacher today,” Curley said.
“My thoughts tonight are with the family of the young woman who was killed in a truly shocking crime, with her friends and with her community,” Irish Justice Minister Helen McEntee tweeted on Wednesday.
– With CNN