Irish couple who never gave up on their missing son learn his remains were found 25 years ago

Denis Walsh Jr was reported missing in March 1996. His body washed up on Inis Mór weeks later, but was not identified until this week. (Garda Press Office)

BY: Rachael O’Connor
February 09, 2021

AN IRISH couple are facing unimaginable heartbreak after they learned their son who disappeared 25 years ago was found just weeks after his disappearance. Denis Walsh was 23 years old when he vanished in March 1996 after walking out of his home in Caherdavin, County Limerick. For the 25 years since, his parents, Mary and Denis Senior, have made multiple appeals for information about their son and have never given up hope in finding him, even travelling abroad after being tipped off to possible sightings. But in a heart wrenching twist, Mr and Mrs Walsh were visited by Gardaí over the weekend where they were told their son, Denis, had tragically been found dead years ago. Improvements in DNA testing had allowed Gardaí to confirm that a body which had washed up near Inis Mór a week after Denis disappeared was, in fact, their son. The remains which had been found off the Aran Islands had been brought to the Mortuary in University Hospital Galway, and had undergone DNA testing in 2008, 2011 and 2017 but yielded no matches in the Garda database. But on 5 February, following further advances in DNA testing, the body was confirmed to be that of Denis Walsh Jr after his parents both provided DNA samples to work with. His parents are shocked and heartbroken but also happy their son has been found and identified and they finally have some closure. They told The Irish Mirror that their son was remembered at his local church over the weekend and they are looking forward to finally bringing him home so that they can lay him to rest properly. His father, Denis Walsh Sr, told the outlet “We’re bewildered by the whole thing; we have suffered enormously for the past 25 years and I haven’t slept over the past three nights.”

He said the family still do not know where Denis’ remains are being kept, and questioned how his body was not identified using dental records when his remains were found just week after he was reported missing. “We have been going around for 25 years looking for Denis,” Mr Walsh continued.

“We went to Cork, Kerry, Dublin, Fermanagh, England. I’m happy Denis has been found.”

TV detective joins hunt for man missing for 28 years after walking into public toilet

TV detective joins hunt for man missing for 28 years after walking into public toilet

EXCLUSIVE: Charles and Doris Clark are being investigated over the death of son Steven who vanished in 1992 and are helping Mark Williams-Thomas with a new ITV documentary

By Jeremy Armstrong

  • 22:54, 14 DEC 2020
  • Updated08:48, 15 DEC 2020

The elderly couple arrested on suspicion of murdering their son are working with a former detective on a TV documentary about the case. Charles and Doris Clark are helping Mark Williams-Thomas while under investigation in connection with the death of their son Steven. The 23-year-old mysteriously vanished on December 28, 1992, after going into a public toilet in Saltburn, North Yorks, while his mum was in the ladies. Doris, 82, was spotted filming last month close to the spot where Steven went missing. Both she and husband Charles, 78, were due to answer bail on Sunday but were released under investigation by Cleveland Police after their arrest in September. They deny any wrongdoing and are trying to solve the mystery of their son’s disappearance. Mr Clark, like his wife a former police officer, confirmed they agreed to do an ITV documentary. He told the Mirror: “We have no evidence at all of Steven being dead. I think he is alive so let’s look for him. He went for a walk on the beach and was then seen two or three days later by a lot of people. He was alive in Redcar days later, from the police statements (at the time).”

Asked if he thought it was unusual to film a TV documentary while under investigation for murder, he laughed, adding: “We did not seek legal advice at all. We are looking for Steven. He is missing. They are putting a TV documentary together to find him, and I don’t know any more than that.”

ITV and Mr Williams-Thomas were approa­ched for comment. The Clarks still live in the home in Marske-by-the-Sea three miles from Saltburn which they shared with their son. A mystery letter writer who named Steven’s “killer’” in a 1999 message to police came forward after the Mirror published extracts for the first time last month. One witness has come forward to say that she saw him close to his family home, two hours after he was reported missing. Steven was described as having a “distinctive” gait after a car accident had left him with a limp.