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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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'We can't solve this without the public's help': Family renew appeal for woman who went missing without a trace

Jo Jo Dullard went missing on the evening of 9 November while hitchhiking home from Dublin to Kilkenny.

The 21-year-old’s disappearance shocked Ireland when she vanished without a trace in November 1995.
The 21-year-old’s disappearance shocked Ireland when she vanished without a trace in November 1995.
Image: Kathleen Bergin

FAMILY AND FRIENDS are to mark the 24th anniversary since a young Kilkenny woman went missing without a trace.

Jo Jo Dullard was only 21 years old when she disappeared on 9 November 1995. 

On Sunday her family has invited friends and members of the public plan to gather to mark another anniversary since she was last seen.

Jo Jo had missed a direct bus home on her way from Dublin to Callan in northern Kilkenny. She managed to thumb several lifts before being dropped in the village of Moone in Co Kildare.

She was last seen making a phone call from a phone box in Moone. She told a friend on the phone that a car had pulled up, but was never heard from again.

A major search was launched in the days and weeks that followed but no trace of Jo Jo was ever found.

Her sister Kathleen Bergin has campaigned continuously for information on her sister. 

Kathleen and her family were driving forces behind Operation Trace, set up by former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne in 1998 to investigate the cases of six young women who disappeared from the Leinster area over a five-year period.

A young woman faces into a cold November night

memorials-to-jojo-dullard A memorial to JoJo in the village of Moone in Co Kildare. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Bergin posted several images of her missing sister on her Facebook page and a description of what she believes Jo Jo may have felt the fateful night she was last seen alive. Her post is being carried by the Kildare Crime Alerts and Prevention Facebook page.

“A young woman faces into a cold November night and a long trip home from the capital. She has just missed the last bus to her hometown and decides that she’ll take another service, which will take her some of the way home and plans to hitchhike the rest of the way. 

“When the bus reaches its final town, the young woman is still over 65 miles from home. Can you see her? She is 5’4” in height, medium build with dark shoulder-length hair. She zips up her black jacket and puts her black rucksack on her back, and proceeds to look for another way home. Can you see her?

A young woman looking for a lift home. She manages to get to the next two towns by accepting lifts from passersby. She sees a phone box and decides to call her best friend to let them know where she is, the conversation is cut short at the sight of an oncoming vehicle. She manages to flag down the vehicle. 

“Approximately 20-25 minutes later, a woman fitting the same description is seen leaning in the window of a dark coloured Toyota Carina in the next town. Can you see her? Did you see her?”

Bergin added: “It’s 9 November 1995 and 24 years have passed and there is still no sign of Jo Jo. There were no mobile phones or tablets in 1995, there were no texts or apps to contact a friend or a family member, to tell them, ‘I’ll be home soon’ or ‘I love you’, no way to trace where a person is.

“Twenty-four years ago a young woman disappeared without a trace, a young woman who was starting out on a new adventure in life, a life that was stripped away. Can you see her?

“A beautiful young lady, dark shoulder-length hair, a beautiful smile and looking forward to her future. Can you picture her? Can you see her? Can you imagine if that was your daughter, your sister, your niece or your best friend? Can you see her now?

“Can you imagine not being able to reach out and touch that person’s hand anymore, not being able to give that person a hug anymore, not being able to tell them you love them anymore?

“When someone goes missing, it has a devastating effect on the family, her friends and the community. Our brother Tom and sister Mary have passed away not knowing what happened to Jo.

“She poured her heart and her soul into trying to find her, even up to the last moments of her life. It’s time for Jo Jo to come back home to her family and be laid to rest with her Mam and Dad.”

00009584_9584 (1) Mary Phelan holding a poster of her sister in 1997. Source: RollingNews.ie

A member of the public reacted by saying: “Please God, it’s been too long. For Nora and Kathleen and the family if anyone knows anything please tell it in confidence. Think about your own family and the pain that remains when one of them is missing.”

Local Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, who has been vocal in his support of the family added: “A lot more could be done to find her now and I hope the search will go beyond our legal jurisdiction. 

“It is deeply unfair for the family to carry this burden. As a community, we have to stand firmly behind them on this.”

Once again Jo Jo’s sister appealed for the public to “come forward with any information, no matter how small”.

Prayers, reflections and music will be provided by the Kilkenny Gospel Choir at the national missing persons’ monument in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle on Sunday.

Contact Kildare Garda Station on 045 527730, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or the missing person helpline on 1890 442552.  

- With reporting from Adam Daly 

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