Belfast Telegraph

Family's anguish as they renew plea to find Armagh teen's killer, 45 years later

By Cate McCurry

The family of a murdered Co Armagh teenager is issuing a plea to help find her killer 45 years after her partially-clothed body was found in a quarry.

Marian Beattie was found dead by her brother and a police officer hours after she attended a charity dance. The 18-year-old had left the dance in Aughnacloy with an unknown man just after 1am on March 30, 1973.

Despite police investigations, the man has never been found or identified. Marian lived in Portadown and had gone to the dance at Hadden's Garage with a friend to watch her brother play in a band.

Her family have issued a heartfelt plea to churchgoers around Aughnacloy and Ballygawley.

An open letter will be read out during a number of church services in the area over Christmas in a bid to establish more information. Marian's brother Gerard Beattie said the family has faced a wall of silence since her murder.

"It has been almost 45 years and there hasn't been anything from anyone," he said.

"She was partly-clothed when she was found and there were matches lying beside her and a hand print found on her shoe.

"But the forensics haven't matched anyone.

"We understand some officers who worked on the original case can't understand why they can't get him.

"There were hundreds of people at the event from all over Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan and Cavan."

The case was reopened by police in August 2013, although Gerard has criticised how police have handled the case.

"We met two detectives once but never saw or heard from them again and then we met another officer who swore he would find the person responsible for Marian's murder but again never heard from him. I think it's an absolute disgrace how the police have treated the case.

"My mother died from a broken heart. She was never the same again after Marian's death."

Marian's body was found 100ft into the quarry with items of her clothing found beside her. The Beattie family believe the man responsible for her murder knew the area well.

He added: "For her to drop down 100ft into a quarry and this person to reach her at the bottom would have to know the area. We are praying we can get justice. This man took our sister away from us 45 years ago. It's a long time to carry something like this on your shoulders."

Criminologist Robert Giles, who has written about serial killer Robert Black, has been helping the Beattie family's campaign for justice.

He said: "There's a good chance there's information in the local area and we would appeal to those people to look inside their hearts and come forward.

"This was not a sectarian or political crime. This was a young woman who went out on a night out and was killed. We want to reach out to people to see if there is anyone can help.

"This man who has never been found or identified. We would also be interested if anyone took photographs that night for either personal use or for newspapers. This was a massive charity dance attended by hundreds of people."

He also accused the police of "letting the family down".

"Collectively as a point of leadership in the police they have been let down. The family would like to see some closure and they deserve it." The PSNI did not respond to a request for comment.

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