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Confidential e-mail sent from Garda Sergeant Fintan McGrath to Superintendent Peter O’Neill, November 2005
Here is the update on the Burnt Soul investigation that you requested. The facts thus far are as follows:
There have been seven bodies recovered in or around Ballyrunner since early September, though there may be more that have not been found as yet. All are drug-dealers or criminal gang members and all the victims knew each other. This is clearly an attempt by a vigilante to engage in a vendetta against a certain group of people.
Interestingly, the victims were killed in a variety of methods. Two were strangled, three more were stabbed to death, and two killed with a blunt instrument akin to a baseball bat. We do not know if this means there was more than one killer (copycats perhaps?) though the victims and the location suggest to me that there is just one Burnt Soul.
There have been just two contacts with the killer. The first was a letter found with the first victim (see letter and attached Crime Scene Report) indicating the person and the reasons behind the killings. The second was a letter sent to the Dublin Telegraph newspaper in response to an editorial written by that publication. In the letter, Burnt Soul stated that he/she would never hurt any innocents; it was only the guilty they were after.
The identity of Burnt Soul is still unknown, despite my team’s best efforts. Very few witnesses have come forward, suggesting that people in Ballyrunner support his actions and are protecting him. The only reports we have are sightings of a heavily cloaked individual corroborating the claim that someone heavily burnt in a fire is conducting these killings.
Worryingly, the killer knows our procedures. He leaves no traces at the scenes of his crimes. He seems to know the whereabouts of our forces and avoids our patrols with ease.
Finally, the first letter from Burnt Soul indicated a woman named Sarah McBride was behind the killings. This was to extract revenge for the death of her mother Eileen (see Crime Scene Report for further details). This woman has still not been located.
I know the outlook does appear gloomy but a lot of progress has been made, particularly over the last few weeks. The mounting death toll and the negative publicity caused by our apparent inability to stop the killer finally encouraged your superiors to give me the manpower I had been demanding from the start of this investigation. Too late for some, I know, but since the extra Gardai hit the streets three weeks ago, just one body has been found.
We have uncovered the last known whereabouts of McBride. Someone matching her physical description (which, let’s face it, is quite unique) and giving the name Eileen Conlon (her mothers maiden name) arrived on a flight to Dublin in February this year. Flight personnel recalled that McBride seemed unwell, and coughed violently throughout the journey upsetting the other passengers. On this evidence, she could not possibly be committing these crimes but she may know who is.
Finally, there is our ‘internal’ problem. I believe someone in the force is helping Burnt Soul probably under the misconception that crime in Ballyrunner has to be fought by any means necessary. I have my suspicions as to who they are which I will go through now. The original letter suggested Burnt Soul met one policeman who ‘promised to reopen the investigation, and help me achieve some kind of justice’ (quote taken from the first letter). It is difficult to tell who they met, and even harder to prove it.
However, I have taken it upon myself to look closely at young Gardai involved in or connected with the investigation of the fire that killed Eileen McBride four years ago. I have come up with three names (all low-ranking officers):
Tadhg O’Malley (26) was involved in the original investigation as a young recruit. He was deeply affected by the experience, it being his first major assignment. He struck up quite an accord with Sarah and became friends with her. He has become quite a bitter man in the meantime, perhaps feeling he let down Sarah’s trust when he was forced to follow the official Garda line that the fire was an accident. As far as I am concerned, he is the prime suspect.
Fintan McConnell (25) was assigned to Ballyrunner Garda Station at the time of the fire. He is a young aggressive hothead who is certainly capable of taking the law into his own hands. Though not directly involved with the fire investigation, (he is a beat cop) he would have access to the reports and could have used that information in the letter. He’s seen the violence on the streets at first hand and may wish to help solve it, no matter what methods are used to do so.
Paul Sweeney (28) was not connected to the investigation. However, he is a friend of the McBride family and has known Sarah since she was a little girl. He has received counselling in the last few years because of the affect the fire had on her. He is the least likely to be our leak but cannot be ruled out as yet.
Here is the difficult part. I want to make an official request to have these three individuals tailed and their movements recorded. I know it is hard to spy on our own but it is necessary to prevent further murders. I do not need to remind you that the forces integrity has already seen a bruising because of our handling of Burnt Soul so far. If word were to get out to the media that a Garda was aiding this vigilante, well, the results could be devastating.
I hope I can count on your continued support in this matter.
Garda Sergeant Fintan McGrath.’
End of e-mail.