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Woman wanted over brutal murder of two pals arrested after 8 years on the run

A woman who reportedly killed her two closest friends has been arrested after eight years on the run.

Ruth Lawrence, now 37, fled her native Ireland for South Africa with her then-boyfriend Neville Peter Van Westhuizen, 39, after she allegedly killed Eoin O’Connor and Anthony Keegan, 32 and 33 respectively, in a double homicide.

She was arrested yesterday (October 4) in Bloemfontein, in the Free State province.

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Captain Christopher Singo, a spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) who found Lawrence, said: "Her arrest comes after Interpol issued a warrant of arrest against her regarding the murder of Eoin O' Connor, 32, and Anthony Keegan, 33, who were found murdered in Ireland in 2014.

"After the murder of the deceased persons, the suspect then fled the country."

Lawrence hadn't even been on the police's radar before the double homicide, but quickly found herself embroiled in an international criminal case.

A spokesperson told the Irish Sun: "She hasn’t been home in eight years. But she should come home to face these charges."

O'Connor and Keegan were discovered wrapped in plastic sheeting on Lough Sheelin in County Meath, buried in a shallow grave following their murder.

Police in Ireland (Garda) confirmed that neither were criminals or members of a gang that could have provided a motive for their brutal killings.

Despite splitting from Lawrence split from Van Westhuizen in 2017, Lawrence remained in South Africa, 6000 miles away from home – even after her visa had expired.

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Irish officials had attempted to liaise with officers in South Africa, but there had been a backlog in the number of international crimes being investigated there thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the hunt for Lawrence was delayed.

However, on September 28, police received information that Lawrence was in Bloemfontein, leading to her arrest.

The news will come as welcome relief to the bereaved families of O'Connor and Keegan, who were adamant that the search for the men's killer should continue.

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Brian O’Connor, who survives his brother Eoin, said back in June: "We firmly believe that anyone who was involved in the planning and cover-up of the murders of my brother and Anthony, who was like a brother to us, should also face justice for what they did.

“It’s now been eight years since two young men were taken from their families in a barbaric crime and no one is yet to be held accountable."

Lawrence is not yet being flown back to Ireland and is expected to appear first in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

He had also been wanted in connection with the murders but is now in prison in South Africa serving a 15-year sentence for the “culpable homicide, assault and kidnapping” of another victim.

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