IT IS JUST three years since the McKeon and Meagher family came together to celebrate the wedding of their daughter and son, Jill and Tom.
Now, the families must plan for a devastating reunion as they grieve for 29-year-old Jill Meagher whose body was found in a shallow grave in Melbourne, Australia today.
A statement issued by her uncle Michael McKeon tonight said her relatives are “powerless to describe their loss”. “We are devastated. We are heartbroken,” he began.
He thanked those who helped in the search and provided support over the past six days but added that they did not get the outcome they hoped for.
“Both the McKeon family and Meagher family will have to plan now to grieve for Jillian and this is going to be one of the hardest things given that only three years ago we came together for the marriage of this lovely couple.”
The ABC Radio staff member had been missing in Melbourne since the early hours of Saturday morning, disappearing after a night out with colleagues in a bar just a five-minute walk away from the apartment she shared with her husband.
A massive search got underway midday Saturday and the release of CCTV footage from a Brunswick street Wednesday was vital in tracking down the accused and finding the victim’s remains. Detectives had been keen to speak to a man in a blue hoodie who was spotted numerous times outside a bridal boutique and who also appeared to hold a conversation with the victim.
Police in Victoria say they are no longer searching for anyone else in relation to the murder. They arrested and charged 41-year-old local man Adrian Bayley with her rape and murder. The Coburg resident has already appeared for an out-of-session court hearing, was refused bail and remanded for more proceedings at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.
It is understood that Bayley accompanied detectives to the site where the body was buried about 50km north-west of Melbourne. It was discovered at the side of a road at Gisborne South and police have cordoned off the area for forensic examinations. A post mortem exam to determine exact cause of death is expected tomorrow.
Jill Meagher, who hailed from Drogheda in Louth, had been living in Australia for the past three years. Her husband Tom has made a number of media appearances in the past six days to escalate the scale of the search. He is now being comforted by family and friends.
Statement in full, as released by the victim’s uncle Michael McKeon:
We are devastated. We are heartbroken. She was the first grandchild my mother had and her aunts, uncles and cousins are powerless to describe their loss.There are no words to describe how we feel at what has happened. We had hope yesterday when there was no evidence of foul play but when the man in the CCTV footage was arrested we feared the worst.
We acknowledge the role that social media has played in the search for her. We believe that it has helped us to reach a conclusion although it is not the one we had hoped and prayed for.
We thank the people around the world who have supported us.
Both the McKeon family and Meagher family will have to plan now to grieve for Jillian and this is going to be one of the hardest things given that only three years ago we came together for the marriage of this lovely couple.