Waiter arrested over murders of women in Turkey
A 17-year-old waiter has been arrested over the murder of two Northern Ireland women in western Turkey.
Marion Elizabeth Graham and Kathy Dinsmore, both aged 53 and from Newry, Co Down and described as inseparable, were found murdered in woods 75 miles north of Kusadasi.
It is understood the Turkish waiter, named locally as Recep Celik, confessed to the killings after concocting a story the women had been kidnapped. He appeared at a preliminary hearing in Turkey last night.
The two women suffered multiple stab wounds, including having their throats cut, and their bodies were found in forest near a graveyard to the east of the port city of Izmir.
It is believed the waiter had asked Ms Graham for her daughter's hand in marriage but was refused.
The women travelled with him out of Kusadasi on Thursday after Ms Graham's daughter Shannon went on a boat trip.
According to reports, Celik had taken the women for a sightseeing tour of Izmir, some 75 miles away. They travelled there by taxi and, once inside the city, the waiter collected his father's taxi and drove the women to a wooded area in the suburb of Buca, where he allegedly cut their throats.
The father of the suspect has also been arrested in connection with the murders, local media reported.
Raymond McGuinness, the girl's father and Ms Graham's ex-partner, said he was never fully in favour of the relationship since the two teens began going out last summer.
"There was always something that was not quite right," he said.
The alarm was raised last night when the waiter, said to have been in a distressed state, arrived for work in a Kusadasi restaurant.
He claimed he had suffered a cut to his hand trying to fight off kidnappers who had bundled the two women into a van. They had not been reported missing from their extended holiday at this stage.
Mr McGuinness said: "He told Shannon that he had tried to stop the kidnappers and he had a cut on his hand and that's how he suffered it."
It is understood Alex had been involved in a separate row with Shannon's mother last week.
Mr McGuinness is flying to Turkey tomorrow to bring his daughter home with her mother's body and that of her friend.
The two women travelled on Irish passports.
Monica Higgins called briefly to check on her sister Marion's home on the outskirts of Newry just after being told about the double murder.
"It's absolutely devastating. We've just found out. My mother's in the car crying her eyes out," she said.
"We're trying to work with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to find out what exactly happened to her."
It is understood the waiter's father and a taxi driver were also arrested.
Daughter Shannon was comforted through the day by a Kusadasi-based Irish hotelier at a police station in Izmir while an Irish Embassy official was also dispatched from Ankara to support the teenager.
Ms Dinsmore had been an employee of Newry and Mourne District Council. She also worked in a local cab firm up until last Christmas. Her mother died four weeks ago.
The two women had been regular visitors to Kusadasi for years, staying in an apartment owned by Mr McGuinness.
The blinds of Ms Graham's Newry home were drawn and the garden of the mid-terraced house overgrown as she has been living in her second home in Kusadasi for the last few months.
Her neighbours in Toragh Park, a quiet estate on the outskirts of Newry, said her love of the Aegean resort had drawn her to spend more and more time in the country.
Nicola Hyland, who lives two doors down with her young family, said it was a real tragedy.
"She was a lovely lady, so friendly, always had a smile for you," she said. "I just can't believe what happened to her."
A few houses along a group of children celebrated a birthday, oblivious to the horrific events in the lively holiday destination.
In nearby Carlingford Park, pensioner Larry McArdle said he was stunned when he heard the news on the radio.
"It's just unbelievable," he said. "This world we live in is just getting worse."
SDLP leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: "This is every family's nightmare and the whole area is in grief that something so awful has happened."