In August 2013, dog trainer Magali Vergnet frequently walked dogs along the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. One day, one of the dogs disappeared into a wooded area and returned with bone fragments. This happened over several months, with Vergnet believing the bones to be from an animal. By mid-September, the dog retrieved both bones and clothing. Vergnet contacted the property owner, worried that she might have unknowingly been allowing the dog to retrieve human remains.
On September 10, 2013, three men atop a bridge overlooking Vartry Reservoir in Dublin remarked on how low the water was in the unusually dry summer. They soon noticed a bag lying in the water.
On August 22, 2012, Elaine O’Hara, a childcare worker with a history of health problems, was last seen alive at a public park in Dublin, Ireland. With an adolescence marked by mental illness and trauma, O’Hara seemed to be getting her life back on track when she disappeared without a trace.
Authorities initially believed she vanished while volunteering at a local ship race, but it was soon discovered that O’Hara had left her belongings, including her purse and cell phone, at her home. Security footage showed her leaving her home with a different phone. Elaine O’Hara was last seen by a jogger in Shanganagh Cemetery, who claimed to see O’Hara crying loudly at what was later determined to be her mother’s grave.
On September 10, the men at the bridge retrieved the bag from the water and discovered that it contained a black blindfold, a hoodie, a ball gag, and bondage straps among other items. The following day, one of the men turned the items into Roundwood Gardaí station. After searching the area with a metal detector, the Gardaí water unit discovered more evidence: handcuffs, keys, a mask, a knife, an inhaler, and a chain with a ring that belonged to O’Hara. The water unit also recovered two Nokia phones.
On September 13, 2013, dog trainer Magali Vergnet returned to the foothills of the Dublin Mountains with the property owner and another man. After scouring the area, they came to an isolated clearing where they discovered scattered human bones. They quickly contacted the Gardaí, who used dental records to identify the remains as Elaine O’Hara. Only 65% of her skeleton was ever found.
Of the phones pulled from the river, one was identified as O’Hara’s, while the other was registered under the name Garoon Caisholm. 2,600 text messages sent from Caisholm’s phone to O’Hara’s were discovered, many of which were sexually graphic. The discovery of the phones linked previous evidence uncovered by police to the time of O’Hara’s murder.
Police discovered that in 2007, O’Hara had frequented a fetish sex website under the username helpmelearn36/F and chatted with user architect72. The two had exchanged sexually explicit emails and developed a fetish relationship that involved bondage, knives, and threats of violence and murder.
“that’s what you want more than anything else, you want to kill me.” – helpmelearn36/F to user architect72.
“No, that’s not true. I want to stab someone not hang someone.” – architect72‘s reply.
Police linked the Gmail account to Graham Dwyer, an architect from Kerrymount Close. Investigation uncovered that the two had shared an intense but turbulent relationship from 2007-2008, though it later dwindled until March 2011, when the two began texting through prepaid Nokia phones. The relationship quickly rekindled its former intensity. The two communicated frequently, Dwyer under the name “Master” and O’Hara as “Slave.”
“I will give you a baby in return for lay with fake knife for life and you must promise me you’ll let me kill you when you want to die.” – architect72 to helpmelearn36/F
From the outside, Graham Dwyer appeared perfectly normal. He had no criminal record and lived a quiet life. He studied architecture at Dublin Institute of Technology, where he met Emer McShea, who bore his first child.
McShea later testified that he fantasized about stabbing women during sex and pretended to stab her with a kitchen knife.
Dwyer’s relationship with McShea ended in 1996. The next year, he began dating Gemma Healy, a fellow architecture student. The two married in 2002 and moved to Kerrymount Close, where Dwyer’s career took off. However, the couple were deeply in debt as he chatted online with Elaine O’Hara.
“It’s your body that would put people off.” – architect72 to helpmelearn36/F
The evidence recovered from the Nokia phone and O’Hara’s laptop led police to search Dwyer’s house, where further evidence was found. Dwyer was arrested and taken to trial in 2015. Though he denied ever knowing O’Hara, his claim was quickly disproved by security footage showing him at O’Hara’s home and the discovery of his semen in her bed. Homemade sex tapes substantiated the use of bondage and violence.
Dwyer’s defense council argued that there was no evidence that he had killed O’Hara, and that police and her own family initially presumed she had committed suicide due to her history of mental illness.
“I’ve had enough of BDSM, it’s not worth it…go f**k yourself.” – helpmelearn36/F
“You should stick with me, best you’ll have…I could help you change most of what’s wrong with you.” – architect72
Prosecuting council Seán Guerin SC disagreed, saying that the evidence implied a plan by Dwyer to murder O’Hara as part of his sexual fantasy to kill a woman in what was “very nearly the perfect murder”. Text messages outlined Dwyer’s repeated manipulations and violent urges toward O’Hara, who Guerin claimed only ever wanted “companionship, love and ultimately a child”. He proposed that Dwyer had learned of her recent release from psychiatric hospital and lured her into the cemetery, where he intended to lead her into the wooded area and kill her. The calculated disposal of the phones and personal objects were proof of intent.
On 27 March 2015, Dwyer was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.