American woman granted permission to exhume daughter from grave in Cork

American woman granted permission to exhume daughter from grave in Cork

AN AMERICAN woman whose daughter was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide has been granted permission to exhume her from the coffin which they share in Co Cork.

Rebecca Saunders' three-year-old daughter Clarissa was drowned by her husband Martin McCarthy in March 2013 at Audley Cove in west Cork, before he himself drowned.

In a note, he had outlined his intentions in his actions.

McCarthy and Clarissa were then buried together in a single coffin at a graveyard adjacent to St Mary's Church in Schull, something which Ms Saunders later regretted to allow happen through a "fog of grief and shock."

Ms Saunders was 26 when the tragedy occurred, and her husband 50. They had met when she moved to the area in 2004 for a study abroad programme.

Today, she posted on Twitter to announce that she had been granted permission to exhume her daughter from the grave.

"Today I was granted the license to exhume Clarissa!" she said on Twitter.

"After 9 years I will be able to correct my awful mistake! Can't wait to be ale to take Rissa home. This has really been a long time coming. It's a day for celebration!"

She then thanked all those who have helped make the exhumation a reality.

"You've no idea what this means to me and my family."

In April of last year, Ms Saunders reached a fundraising goal of $50,000 (€45,450) to have the remains of Clarissa exhumed and transferred tot he US for burial.

All money not used for the exhumation process will equally be donated to Edel House in Cork, which supports victims of domestic violence and Cork, and the Cork University Maternity Hospital Neonatal Unit.

Ms Saunders, who lives in Houston in Texas, said nine years ago "in a fog of grief and shock" she permitted her darling child Clarissa to be buried "with the father she loved, but who took her life from her".

She told the Claire Byrne Show in April 2021 that the idea to bury them together was not her own.

"It was brought up by somebody else, I did not think of it myself," she said. "I did not want to think of how I would bury my own daughter, but I thought to myself at the time that I could not handle the thought of having my daughter cremated that time.

"If she had a choice, if she could make a choice in this decision whether she was going to be by herself or whether she wanted to be with somebody, I just felt like she would not want to be alone... even though he did what he did, as she would still love him."