The two Gardai stared aghast at the body of the beautiful young woman lying grotesquely twisted on the rocks. She was naked except for black and tan panties half-on, half-off her hips. Besides arm and leg fractures, she had a fractured skull, a broken back and fractured ribs. She must have died instantly when she struck the rocks.

“But before that she was badly beaten,” said a doctor who examined the body. “She had bruises on her face and shoulders, as if from a man’s fists, and other marks on her body suggest a struggle.

“During the struggle her clothes must have been ripped off. She must have fought for her life on the brink of the Cliffs of Moher, before she was pushed off on to the rocks in the bay below.”

Her injuries were so horrific and the location so remote that at first detectives thought she must have been dropped out of the sky. But who was she? When her identity was finally established she presented international police forces with one of the strangest murder mysteries for years.

A “Made in USA” label on the panties helped to establish that she was American.

Coincidentally, across the Atlantic in New York lawyer Juan Goya was getting worried that he hadn’t heard from his sister Virginia Domenech, who seemed to have completely disappeared. “She was expecting her daughter, my niece Maria, to fly in from Paris, on May 31st,” he told police as they helped him search divorcee Mrs. Domenech’s flat.

Now it was early June, and there was no sign of Maria Domenech or her mother. Both were beautiful and wealthy, it seemed, both had plenty of men friends, and both lived in the same New York apartment. Maria, 28, a former beauty queen, rarely spoke about her affairs, though.

One of Maria’s friends, a big, good-looking man of the world named Patrick Darcy, had courted both mother and daughter but confessed to not having seen either for several months.

Painstakingly, police in Paris, where Maria Domenech was last seen, put together her movements. She left her hotel with a man on May 21st, 1967, but did not fly back to New York, as she said she would. Instead she flew to Ireland via London, with her unknown companion. He travelled as “A. Young,” and she as “Miss Young.”

There, from photographs and fingerprints, she was identified as the body that fell from the sky.

In New York it was discovered that “A. Young” was a name used by a freelance travel agent who carried credentials in two different names besides his own. His real name was Patrick Darcy.

More painstaking police work, this time in New York, revealed that almost certainly Darcy was the man who had travelled to Ireland with Maria, despite his protestations that he had not left America in May.

Detectives questioning him told him that they believed he had persuaded Maria to give him a large sum of money she was carrying, then took her to Ireland to kill her.

They also suggested that when Maria did not return to New York on May 31st, her mother would suspect Darcy and notify the police. So somehow, in a way that no one knows because no trace of Maria’s mother has ever been found, he returned to New York and eliminated her as well.

Were they right? Almost certainly they were. But the satisfaction of knowing the truth eluded them. For, aware that he was being watched, Darcy gave detectives the slip, flew to Miami, and committed suicide in a hotel room there on OCTOBER 16th, 1967. Ironically, he had booked in under one of his aliases, by then well known to New York police.