Community in shock after Kerry babies arrests

They are being questioned at separate Kerry Garda stations.
Barry Whyte
Barry Whyte

08.34 24 Mar 2023

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Community in shock after Kerry...

Community in shock after Kerry babies arrests

Barry Whyte
Barry Whyte

08.34 24 Mar 2023

Share this article

Two people are being held on suspicion of murdering a newborn baby in County Kerry in the mid-1980s.

The man in his 60s and woman in her 50s are being questioned at separate Garda Stations in the county.

The body of the baby, who became known as ‘Baby John’, was found with multiple stab wounds on White Strand beach in Caherciveen almost 40 years ago.


He is believed to have been five days old when he was killed.

Gardaí have made numerous appeals in recent years – insisting there are still members of the public with important information regarding his death.

A fresh investigation was opened at the beginning of 2018 following a Garda apology to Kerry woman Joanne Hayes, who had been wrongly accused of the murder.

Ms Hayes was arrested and confessed to the baby’s murder but later withdrew it.

Kerry babies

Ms Hayes, from Abbeydorney, was known to have been pregnant in the run-up to the Bay John’s discovery and was arrested.

She later admitted that her child had died shortly after birth and had been buried on her family farm.

At the time, Gardaí attempted to prove that Ms Hayes had become pregnant simultaneously by two different men and had given birth to both children.

Gardaí definitively confirmed via a DNA profile in 2018 that Ms Hayes was not Baby John’s mother and apologised to her for her treatment during the investigation.

In 2020, the State apologised for the "truly appalling hurt and stress" caused to Ms Hayes and her family.

DNA sampling

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Kerry journalist Sinéad Kelleher said it is believed that DNA sampling carried out in the community in recent years played a “significant part” in the case.

Gardaí began carrying out DNA sampling in the area when they their cold case review in 2018.

Baby John’s remains were then exhumed in September 2021.

“That appears to have made progress,” she said.

“Now, it has obviously been two years since then, but DNA will play a key part in this investigation, absolutely.

“Especially after 40 years because obviously with the passing of time, a lot has changed and people have passed away who may or may not have had information.

“So it is a really long case, I mean nobody was expecting this last night or this morning when they wake up to find out this has happened.

“It is quite a shock to the county that there has been so much progress.”


A man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s who were arrested last night on suspicion of murder are being detained at Listowel and Castleisland Garda Stations.

Gardaí are describing these arrests as a significant development in the investigation in an effort to establish the truth surrounding the death of Baby John.

Additional reporting from Michael Staines.

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