The family of a woman found killed in a home in west Belfast say they are heartbroken under the tragic circumstances of her death.

The body of Marie Conlon was found last Friday at a flat in the Larkspur Rise area, off the Suffolk Road. It is believed the 68-year-old Marie Conlon may have been dead for over two years. 

In a statement, Ms Conlon’s family said: “We are shocked and heartbroken to learn about the loss of our beloved sister, Marie Conlon.

“The tragic circumstances of her death make it all the more difficult to comprehend and accept. Marie was very much loved by her family and will be mourned greatly. She was a very independent person.”

They said “numerous attempts had been made to contact her in person, and by other means, over the course of the past two years but at no point were suspicions raised that she had been deceased.

“It is only with hindsight that the unimaginable now seems possible.”

Ms Conlon’s family are working closely with the PSNI in their investigation, they added: “We hope and pray that justice will be done and ask for privacy as we grieve the loss of our sister.”

Police are investigating the death as murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Dickson said: “Authorities were alerted on Friday after concerns were raised about the welfare of 68-year-old Marie Conlon. Officers forced entry to her Larkspur Rise home and discovered her deceased in bed. It was apparent that she had lain undiscovered for some time.

“A post mortem examination was carried out and the results suggest that the death may have been suspicious. Further testing is due to take place.

“Detectives investigating the circumstances of the death have established that the last known sighting of Ms Conlon was in January 2015. It is our belief, supported by the medical evidence, that her death may have occurred at around this time.

“We have launched a murder investigation and a 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including murder. He was detained in the west Belfast area yesterday and remains in custody at present.

“Anyone who believes they may have information that could assist the police investigation is asked to call police on 101.”

Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey has said the community of west Belfast are shocked and saddened by the death.

The west Belfast MLA said: “The local community are deeply shocked and saddened by Marie Conlan’s death.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are yet to be established but at the moment we have a family who are grieving and I would ask that their privacy is respected.

“I would also appeal to anyone with information to bring it to the PSNI,” added the Sinn Fein representative.

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