Kidnapped child was murdered in satanic rite
Details of 1973 killing revealed as hearing told no death cert issued
The murdered seven-year-old boy found in an attic in Dublin in 1973 was tied to rafters in the attic in a “cruciform”, the author of a forthcoming book on the killing has said.
The death was Ireland’s only known “satanic murder”, according to David Malone, who came across the case while carrying out research on other events of the time.
Gardai who recall some of the events told the Sunday Independent the case was always regarded as strange and tragic and that the victim, John Horgan, disappeared while he was out looking for rabbits near his home in Palmerstown on June 13, 1974.
His body was found the next day in the attic of the home of a 16-year-old near the Horgan family home in Hollyville, Lucan Road. The 16-year-old, who was never named as he was a juvenile, was arrested and charged the following day with murder.
Gardai found an altar, on which was a chalice and Communion hosts, beneath the hanging body.
After the discovery of the body gardai called local parish priest, Fr Cornelius O’Keeffe, who administered last rites.
The author and TV documentary producer, Mr Malone, said: “It was a Satanist murder. When he was discovered he was in a cruciform tied to the rafters. As a result the 16-year-old was arrested and sentenced to life. It was a terribly tragic case.”
The case reawakened last week at Dublin County Coroner’s Court as Mr Malone said that during his six months of research into the murder he discovered that no death certificate had been issued for John Horgan.
“At the outset of researching something like this you start with birth and death certificates but I found that there was no death cert. I presume it was as a result of an oversight.”
As the juvenile who carried out the murder was never named and not all the details of the nature of the killing were in the public domain there was relatively little publicity about the case.
The Northern Troubles were at their height and a number of security-related crises hit the country around the time of the murder and subsequent court hearings.
Last Tuesday the brief hearing to issue the death certificate heard that John Horgan was found in the attic surrounded by “religious objects”.
County Coroner Kieran Geraghty gave a brief account of the details of the tragedy after his office was notified that a death certificate had never been issued.
It is a legal requirement that every death is recorded and registered with the State.
At the hearing, Detective Inspector Richard McDonnell said a male was later charged with the crime and served a sentence.
Det Insp McDonnell, from Lucan garda station, contacted the Horgan family after he was asked in February of this year to prepare an inquest file for the issuing of the death certificate.
“I contacted the family of John Horgan who indicated they did not wish to revisit a very traumatic period in their lives and reopen old wounds,” the detective said yesterday. “However, the memory of their son is always with them.”
The Horgan family was not present at the brief inquest.
The coroner revealed that the killer, who is now 54, was now living outside Ireland and said it would be inappropriate to call a full inquest without the consent of the family.
Mr Malone said he cannot reveal further details due to contractual arrangements with his publishers and because of discussions over syndication rights. The book, The Boy in the Attic, is due to be published by Mainstream Publishing this autumn.