Belfast Telegraph

Gardai say chief suspect in strangled woman's killing is her estranged husband

By Ken Foy

The estranged husband of Joanne Lee, whose body was found in Dublin on Thursday, has been identified as the chief suspect in her murder.

The 38-year-old was strangled before her body was stuffed in a wardrobe in a flat in Ranelagh.

Her estranged husband Keith Lee (42) has not been arrested as he is being treated for multiple injuries at St James's Hospital after he jumped from a third-floor window on Thursday afternoon when gardai raided the flat where Ms Lee was found.

Officers are due to quiz Mr Lee in relation to his wife's death, but this is not expected to happen for a number of days because he suffered two broken ankles, broken ribs and a broken arm after leaping from the window.

It has emerged that Mr Lee had reported his wife missing when he presented at Store Street garda station on Tuesday night.

He also outlined to officers that there were major difficulties in their relationship.

This led gardai to issue a public missing person's appeal late on Wednesday night, but officers now believe that the victim may have already been strangled at that point.

Gardai have confirmed that the man who threw himself out of a third-floor window before making admissions about killing Ms Lee is her estranged husband. They are also satisfied that Ms Lee was murdered in the flat where her body was found.

Investigators are still trying to establish exactly how and why the victim ended up inside the property.

Speaking at the scene in Ranelagh, Superintendent Gerry Delmar said they believed the man being treated in hospital is Keith Lee.

Asked who the man is, Supt Delmar said: "The man, we believe, is her estranged husband."

Supt Delmar also said that the last known sighting of Ms Lee, whose maiden name was Bell, was on February 5 at her family home in Garristown, Co Meath.

Ms Lee was living in a flat on North Strand in Dublin city, so it is possible she may have been in that area before she was reported missing on Tuesday. The officer appealed for information about a silver Nissan Micra to which the dead woman had access.

The car could prove vital to the investigation because it was what led gardai to search the Ranelagh property in the first place.

"We found the car at this address and that's where enquiries went," said Supt Delmar.

Having discovered the car, gardai made enquiries in the area and tried to get into one particular flat.

When they were not allowed entry, they forced their way in. That is when Ms Lee's husband jumped out the third-floor window. Once inside the flat, the grim discovery of Joanne's body was made.

A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday revealed Ms Lee had been strangled.

Speaking at the scene on Thursday evening, Ms Lee's devastated uncle John Curry said the family had been torn apart by her killing.

An emotional Mr Curry said: "She was a lovely girl, a beautiful girl, never any trouble, nothing from her. She was just ... I'm so upset, I can't speak."

Belfast Telegraph

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