Ritual murder fear in Ireland
By David Lister, Dublin
August 14, 2004

THE gruesome discovery of a decapitated body dumped in the Irish countryside has raised fears the daughter of a leading African politician was the victim of a ritual killing.

The decomposing remains of Paiche Unyolo Onyemaechi, daughter of Leonard Unyolo, Malawi's Justice Minister, were found next to a stream close to the sleepy village of Piltown in County Kilkenny, south of Dublin.

But her head has still not been found, and detectives are investigating the possibility that Ms Onyemaechi, 25, was a human sacrifice in the first ritual or muti killing in Ireland.

The circumstances of the death of the mother of two, in the shadow of the scenic Comeragh Mountains, are a far cry from those of the average rural Irish murder.

The killing has sent a shudder of horror through Ireland's growing African population.

The murder is being compared with the case of "Adam", an unidentified African boy whose torso was found floating in London's River Thames in September 2001, sparking Scotland Yard's first investigation into a ritual killing -- cases where the body parts or bones of a victim are used to bring luck or curse an enemy. [NOTE: According to an article in the Daily Mail in late July 2003, Africans have been arrested at Heathrow Airport wearing human tongues or penises as good-luck charms around their necks. The tongues are to help the wearer pull off fraud schemes, and the penises are to facilitate, well, the usual... ]

Officers from the Garda Siochana (Irish police) are understood to have travelled to London this week to discuss Ms Onyemaechi's death with senior British detectives.

A small team of specialists at Scotland Yard, set up to deal with ritual killings, travelled to West Africa last year and has become one of Europe's foremost groups of experts in witchcraft and voodoo murders.

Although police have denied reports Ms Onyemaechi's corpse bore a number of strange marks, there are strong similarities between the two cases. Both victims were decapitated and found in or near water, a factor believed to be significant in voodoo killings. And both had links to Nigeria.

Ms Onyemaechi had lived in Waterford since arriving in Ireland from London three years ago, and was so settled in the country she had decided to start a family with her Nigerian husband, Chika Onyemaechi, 31.

Her brother Leon said he was baffled why anybody would want to kill a woman who was highly popular with her neighbours.

Ms Onyemaechi was reported missing by her husband on July 8. Police believe the Nigerian man, who lived in London before moving to Ireland, may have travelled to the British capital before flying back to Nigeria.

Speaking at the dead woman's funeral, which was attended by her father, brother and sister, Reverend John Parkin referred to mounting speculation she had been the victim of a muti murder and urged mourners "not to indulge in rumours".

Ms Onyemaechi is said to have come to Europe in the late 1990s, when she studied business administration in London. Police believe she worked as a dancer in nightclubs in Limerick and Dublin. [QUESTION: Is this the kind of immigrant Ireland really needs? Does Ireland need immigrants at all?]

Large areas of land around Piltown have been searched in an attempt to locate her head, but police believe she was probably murdered in or near her home, in Waterford city's Herblain Park housing estate.

Locals have reported a strange smell coming from waste ground near her home, which is being checked.

Sections of carpet in the house where she lived with her husband and two sons -- Andrew, 3, and 18-month-old Anthony -- are believed to have been ripped out.

It took several days for police to identify her remains after the body was spotted in undergrowth by two sisters.

The Times