Gardaí have found no indication of foul play in the death of a woman whose skeletal body was found in a Wexford ditch.
It is now feared that the middle-aged woman may have died between a year and 18 months ago, possibly from a severe fall or sudden illness such as a heart attack.
Garda sources warned that extensive tests will be required to try to determine the precise circumstances of the woman’s death.
But inquiries so far have given no indication of anything suspicious in her death.
Officers are baffled as to how the woman’s remains were not found before now.
The body was removed from Ballyandrew, outside Ferns in north Wexford, on Monday morning and a full post-mortem examination was conducted at University Hospital Waterford (UHW).
Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan has briefed gardaí on her preliminary findings.
The body was effectively skeletal though both clothing and hair was recovered at the scene.
One Garda source indicated that the woman, believed to be middle-aged and most likely an Italian national, died some considerable time ago.
Gardaí admitted that a backpack found at the scene has yielded significant information.
The area where the body was found on Monday by a person out walking their dog remained sealed off yesterday.
Door-to-door inquires around the tightknit Ferns community are now being carried out to determine if anyone spotted anything unusual in the area over the past 18 months.
The clothing, backpack and black hair of the deceased match that of an Italian woman who was seen around the south-east in 2016/2017.
The woman, in her 50s, had been living rough in the north Wexford area in late 2017.
However, DNA may be required for a formal identification.
The woman was described as living on the fringes of local communities and largely keeping to herself.
Several people had expressed concern over her well-being given her frail appearance, state of health and lifestyle.
It is understood that gardaí had logged public concerns in 2017 over the welfare of the woman.
But she had not come to their attention beyond that.
Gardaí are now working with Europol, Interpol and the Italian police to confirm the woman’s identity and to trace any family members in Italy.
The investigation is being led by Enniscorthy gardaí who appealed for anyone with information to contact them on (053) 9242580.