Moira was cremated before an autopsy could be carried out – now her family wants answers

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Moira Killeen loved having people for dinner at her town house on Avenue Gaston Diderich in Luxembourg. She was a wonderful host, according to her family, and fun. “Moira was a wizard in the kitchen. You could give her five ingredients and she’d have a delicious meal on the table within minutes and for any number of guests,” said her brother Brian.

The night before she died, she had a group of family and friends over to eat before a charity Telethon they were all attending. Brian, and his partner, Anna, were singing at the event. But the star of the show was Moira’s then 10-year-old niece Lisa, her brother Sean’s daughter. Moira loved to hear her sing.

Usually Moira would cook. On that Saturday night, Brian brought a takeaway so that she wouldn’t have to. As they sat down to eat, Anna noticed she looked, as usual, stunning. “Moira seemed very happy and I remember she wore a beautiful dress,” she later said.

After dinner, the group drove over the border to France for the concert.

“We arrived for the Telethon and grabbed a table. It was in a big concert hall,” said Brian. “No sooner was she sitting down but she was talking to neighbours beside us at the table, and she was in great form.”

The Killeens are from Dublin but Moira, her brothers Brian and Sean and sister, Deirdre, were raised between Luxembourg and Dublin by their parents Kathleen and the late Seamus Killeen, who worked at the European Parliament.

After their parents returned to live in Dublin, Moira, Sean and Brian stayed in Luxembourg. Brian works at the European Commission, and Sean founded a technology company, now located in Ireland. Moira married and had two children, Fiona and Bryan. Friends remembered Moira, who liked to spell her name Moyra, as an optimistic person who “loved life and loved jokes”.

Moira had her troubles too. Twice married, she had recently initiated a divorce. Her family acknowledge that she had developed a drink problem, and she had arranged to attend a treatment centre. But no one expected that she would take her own life, nor could they have predicted the series of puzzling events that followed soon afterwards.

The morning after the Telethon, Moira texted Brian: “Brian, I had a great night last night. Thank you for that. It did me the world of good.”

It would be his last text message from Moira.

Two days later, Moira Killeen’s body was discovered in her bedroom after 6pm on Tuesday, December 10, 2019. Her husband, Claude, raised the alarm. She was found on her bed, a pool of blood on the floor under her outstretched right hand. She had been dead for an estimated 24 hours. According to the police report on her death, a doctor at the scene ticked the box marked “violent and suspicious” on a “declaration of cause of death” form. Police pronounced her death as suicide and by 9pm, her remains had been removed from the house. Her siblings were stunned that she had taken her own life. Sean, who arrived soon after Moira’s body was found, raised his concerns but the police had concluded their inquiries by then.

More than 250 people turned up for Moira’s funeral service in Luxembourg the following Saturday and she was to be cremated that Monday. The Killeen family gathered over the weekend, grieving and reflecting on Moira’s death with an increasing sense of unease.

They had doubts over her suicide, which for legal reasons cannot be reported, and questioned the sufficiency of the police investigation.

On the eve of Moira’s cremation, her family had gathered at Brian’s house for dinner where they talked and talked about her.

“We were standing up to leave and my sister said, ‘What’s next?'” said Brian.

In Ireland, suspected suicides are automatically referred to the coroner who conducts an inquest into the cause of death. An autopsy in Luxembourg will take place if the death is violent, is regarded as suspicious or at the request of the next of kin.

The Killeens decided they would request an autopsy themselves.

With her cremation scheduled for the following day, there was no time to waste. At 7am, Sean contacted the undertaker to halt the cremation.

After that he and Fiona, Moira’s daughter, signed the paperwork to have her remains transferred to the state laboratory, the Laboratoire National De Santé pending an autopsy.

Her siblings and her mother hired a lawyer to help make their case to the state prosecutor. Eventually on February 4, the Magistrate Michelle Erpelding of the District Court ordered an autopsy of Moira’s remains and an examination of her death.

The family’s relief was short-lived, as events took an unexpected turn.

At 9.15am on February 5, Sean Killeen got an email from his family lawyer: “I just talked to the greffier [clerk] of the investigating magistrate. She told me that at the LNS [Laboratoire Nationale de Santé] they told her that your sister is already buried, and would be no more at the LNS.”

“I am in shock,” Sean Killeen replied.

Emails and phone calls followed to find out what had happened. The Killeen family learnt to their horror Moira’s remains had been destroyed.

The Laboratoire Nationale de Sante confirmed on January 17, it had released Moira’s remains to the undertakers for cremation – and it appeared no one in the family was informed. That was not all.

Having collected Moira’s remains on the instructions of the Laboratoire Nationale de Santé, they were cremated. Once again, it appeared no one in the family had been told. The Killeen family’s hoped-for autopsy on Moira’s remains could no longer proceed. The case was closed. But the Killeens have been seeking answers ever since.

The Laboratoire Nationale de Santé met with the family in May, but declined to comment on the case to the Sunday Independent. “We had a detailed and very confidential conversation with the family of the deceased following the events. Against this background, it is not in line with our policy to make a detailed statement to the public in such a matter. We ask for your understanding!” a statement said.

The undertaker has corresponded with the family and said what happened was “regrettable”.

It is particularly hurtful to Moira’s mother that she could not attend her daughter’s cremation.

“My mother was devastated. It was a tremendous setback for her, and her grief has not subsided to this day,” said Brian Killeen. “My mother would have wished to have been informed of the date of the cremation and the opportunity to attend it. To think that Moira had been cremated and her ashes left with undertakers for three weeks, unbeknownst to the family…there are no words.”

Her children, Bryan and Fiona, have endured a difficult bereavement. “The lack of professionalism in the various administrations is appalling,” said Bryan.

The family are now pressing the Luxembourg authorities to open an inquiry. They plan to make representations to the Irish Government and have hired the retired garda inspector, Pat Marry, to help them advance their case.

An experienced detective, he most recently testified against the garda killer, Aaron Brady, who was sentenced to 40 years for the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.

Marry spent months examining the records in this case.

Marry concludes: “This is a most unusual situation whereby a judge has ordered an autopsy on foot of several requests from the family of the deceased and when they go to carry out the court order it is discovered that the deceased’s body had been cremated some time earlier without the family’s knowledge or consent.”

Source: Irish News