“She set out that night on her journey home but she never made it. We want to help her now complete that journey."
-Kathleen Bergin, Jo Jo's sister
It was the 9th of November 1995. A Thursday. Twenty one year old Josephine JoJo Dullard was out with friends in Bruxelles bar, just off Grafton Street, in Dublin, Ireland. She was wearing blue jeans, black boots and was carrying a small rucksack bag. She had a black Sanyo cassette player and headphones with her so that she could listen to music on the way home.
JoJo was from Callan in County Kilkenny but she lived in Dublin for a while. She was doing a beauty therapist course. But she moved home to Callan when she got a full time job as a waitress in Grainger's Cafe. She was due to start the following Monday. That day, the Thursday, she left her home in Callan at 8.30am and got a bus to Dublin. She had to collect her last social welfare payment from the post office in Dublin. After that, JoJo met a few of her friends in Bruxelles bar and she spent the afternoon there with them.
Just before 10pm, JoJo left the bar to head across to the bus station to get the last bus to Callan. But she just missed it. So instead, she got a bus to Naas in County Kildare and she hoped she would be able to get a ride home from there. JoJo arrived in Naas at 10.50pm and hitched a ride from a motorist in Naas. They dropped her off near the edge of a motorway in Kilcullen in County Kildare. From there, JoJo managed to hitch a second ride from another motorist in Kilcullen at 11.15pm. They dropped her off at Moone Village in County Kildare at 11.35pm.
When JoJo was in Moone, she made a call from a payphone. As it was 1995, JoJo did not have a mobile phone or a tablet so using the pay phone was the only way she had to contact anyone in the absence of a landline. She called her friend, Mary Cullinane, and told her that she was on her way back to Callan. It was 11.37pm. She told Mary that she had missed the last bus so would need to hitchhike all the way back to Callan. Moone was some 47 miles from Callan.
While she was on the phone with Mary, she stopped talking for a couple of minutes. She had been waiting for a car to pass by and must have flagged one down as she told Mary:
"God, I have a lift. I'll phone you again at my next stop."
That was the last time Mary ever heard from JoJo. JoJo never made it home that night.
JoJo's family knew instantly that something was wrong. JoJo was incredibly close to her siblings, Mary, Nora, Kathleen and Tom. They raised her when their parents died of cancer. They reported her missing to the police. But the police did not think there was a cause for concern and thought that JoJo would show up soon. But she didn't and her family had no idea what happened to her.
JoJo Dullard (in the middle) with her sisters
They knew, due to the call she made to Mary, that she had made it to Moone but they did not know where she went after that. Her family even hired a Private Investigator to try to find her.
Someone fitting JoJo's description was seen around 20-25 minutes after the call was made to Mary in Moone, in Castledermot in County Kildare. That person was seen leaning in the window of a dark colored Toyota Carina car.
In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, no trace of JoJo was found.
JoJo's sisters, Mary Phelan and Kathleen Bergin, ensured that JoJo's name was not forgotten about. Mary died not knowing what happened to JoJo. From the moment JoJo went missing, she dedicated her life to fighting for her, searching for answers and helping other missing people. She was fearless and took on police and politicians and reached out to Bill and Hillary Clinton and George Bush seeking assistance about raising awareness for missing people.
Mary Phelan, JoJo's Sister
Kathleen and Mary pushed for a new investigation and justice. They were driving forces behind Operation Trace which was set up by former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne in 1998. It was set up to investigate the cases of six young women who disappeared from the Leinster area in Ireland over a five year period. Annie McCarrick, Fiona Pender, Ciara Breen, Fiona Sinnott,Deirdre Jacob and JoJo Dullard were all women aged between 19 to 25 years old who vanished from the Leinster area between1993 and 1998.
In 2020, police provided an update in relation to JoJo's case. The case was no longer a Missing Person's investigation. It was a murder investigation.
At a press briefing, Detective Superintendent Desmond McTiernan, head of the Serious Crime Review Team,said:
"We're quite satisfied that JoJo is dead and met her death through violent means."
The police said that the investigation was upgraded to murder following what was known as “victimolgy analyses and proof of life enquiries”.
Detective McTiernan explained what that involved:
“A victimolgy process is looking at JoJo’s life and determining that for instance, she didn’t die of suicide. We have to look at that option, that scenario.It’s about closing down all other reasonable options that might explain her current demise and showing reasonably that it has to be murder. We are satisfied that JoJo came to harm and we are classifying this investigation as a murder.”
The police and Kathleen asked the public for assistance. Somebody knows something. False statements were made in the past in relation to the case but police hope that this time, somebody will come forward and tell the truth. At the press briefing, Kathleen said:
“After all these years we have known in our hearts and accepted that JoJo is no longer alive and we are hopeful that the team will be able to move the case along further and maybe, please God, find answers to our questions. We just want our JoJo back, that's all. It would be a gift to us, to be able to put all the pieces together and bring JoJo home. That's all our family wants. We just want to put her with mam and dad, and to be able to sit down beside her knowing she's not out there on her own any more."
No one has ever been arrested in relation to JoJo’s disappearance .
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