A CHIEF SUSPECT has been identified in the murder investigation into Deirdre Jacob's disappearance in 1998, according to reports.
The male 'person of interest' is now living abroad after serving a lengthy prison sentence in Ireland for violent crime against women, reports the Irish Times.
Detectives will not be able to issue a European Arrest Warrant to bring the individual before an Irish court until enough evidence is collected to convince the DPP to initiate charges, a source at the Journal added.
Gardaí however continue to stress that their "extensive" inquiries are ongoing after they upgraded Deirdre's case to a murder investigation yesterday.
In a statement on Tuesday, Gardaí said: "As a result of new information being received, An Garda Síochána have re-classified the Deirdre Jacob investigation from a missing person investigation to a murder investigation."
Deirdre, 18, vanished shortly after 3pm on the afternoon of July 28th, 1998 in her native Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
The teen was a trainee teacher at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, London and had returned home for summer at the time of her disappearance.
She was last seen walking home just yards away from her family's driveway in Roseberry, but was never heard from again.
Recently, Gardaí have received new information which has led them to believe she was murdered on the day she disappeared or shortly thereafter.
The case has been reviewed in detail over the past year by Gardaí in Kildare and the Serious Crime Review Team.
Investigators are following a number of lines of inquiry and say progress is being made.
It comes after Deirdre’s family made a heartbreaking appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance last month.
Speaking at Naas Garda Station yesterday, Chief Superintendent Brian Sutton said it was the belief of detectives that Deirdre was killed on or shortly after the day she vanished.
He said: "Deirdre Jacob was 18 years of age when she was last seen on 28 July 1998 as she walked to her home in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
"She was a young woman starting off her life, who had just completed one year at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London.
"Deirdre had enjoyed her life in London and was looking forward to returning to college that September when her life was taken away on or after the 28 July 1998.
"This 20-year-old investigation has been reviewed in detail by Gardaí from Kildare and from the Serious Crime Review Team over the last 12 months".
Gardaí appealed to anyone with information to come forward, "particularly persons who have not come forward in the past."