On Christmas morning 2008, Sharon Whelan (30) and her two daughters Zarah (7) and Nadia (2) died in a house fire at their home on a farm in rural Kilkenny.
What happened to Sharon and her two beautiful girls was no accident. Somebody was responsible. Somebody had taken their lives.
But who? And why?
In episode two of Newstalk's Inside the Crime podcast, host Frank Greaney speaks to two detectives who played key roles in answering those questions.
Brian Murphy is retired now, but in 2008, he was a detective stationed in Kilkenny.
He was one of the key investigators in the Whelan murders.
Brian was off-duty on Christmas Day that year, but he was on call as the station’s crime scene examiner - and he remembers getting the call to attend the scene in Windgap.
Jim Lyng also got the call that Christmas morning. Unlike Brian, he was on duty. At the time, he was a Detective Sergeant also stationed in Kilkenny.
Jim went to mass that morning but had to drop everything when he got word of the fire at Sharon’s house.
Gardaí initially thought they were dealing with a tragic but accidental house fire.
However, experience had taught detectives like Jim Lyng and Brian Murphy that the best tool an investigator can have is an open mind.
All the bodies were found in the same room. That just didn’t make sense, and its significance wasn’t lost on an experienced detective like Jim.
The first red flag had been raised, and it wouldn’t take long for his suspicions to be confirmed
Little did the detectives know that what heroic neighbours, locals and gardaí did that Christmas morning - helping ensure key forensic evidence wasn’t lost - would prove absolutely vital in the investigation that followed.
As soon as the evidence pointed to murder, everything ramped up within the incident room at Kilkenny Garda Station.
Before long, they had a main suspect - and that led to an arrest within a few hundred metres of the Whelan family's front door.
You can listen to episode two of Inside the Crime below, or you can listen back to episode one here.
Inside the Crime is hosted by Frank Greaney, produced by Aisling Moore, with sound mixing by Lochlainn Harte.
Episode three is out next Tuesday - subscribe to the podcast on Newstalk.com/podcasts or on the Newstalk app, powered by GoLoud.