Mum whose daughter is buried in arms of ‘monster’ who killed her begins process to get her child exhumed

A MUM whose daughter is buried in the arms of the “monster” who killed her has begun the process to get her child exhumed.

Rebecca Saunders was just 26 when husband Martin McCarthy, 50, drowned three-year-old ­Clarissa at Audley Cove in west Cork on March 5, 2013.

Clarissa was killed in a horrific murder-suicide that shocked the country


Clarissa was killed in a horrific murder-suicide that shocked the country
Martin McCarthy, Rebecca Saunders and daughter Clarrisa


Martin McCarthy, Rebecca Saunders and daughter Clarrisa
Clarissa and mum Rebecca Saunders


Clarissa and mum Rebecca Saunders

McCarthy walked into the sea with the youngster in a horrific murder-suicide that shocked the country.

Rebecca, who returned to America after the funeral, said she was “in a fog of grief and shock” when she allowed her child to be buried “with the father she loved, but who took her life from her”.

Rebecca said she has been haunted by her agreement to allow them to be buried together but now wants to have the remains of her daughter exhumed and returned to Texas where she lives.

She set up a GoFundMe page seeking $50,000 (€40k) to help finance her battle to get her firstborn home and that fund now stands at over $55,000 (€45k).

The success followed a huge public reaction to her appearance on RTE’s Claire Byrne Live last month.

On the page in an update Rebecca said that the news regarding the exhumation is positive.


She said: “Today I spoke to a funeral director who assured me that, once the exhumation is carried out, they could indeed separate Clarissa from her murderer.

“The length of time that has passed since the burial is not an issue. I feel so relieved at this news since that was the biggest question in my mind as we go forward in applying to exhume Clarissa.

“I received the death certificate for the murderer that I need for the (exhumation) application today. All going well I plan to have all the paperwork I need completed and posted by the middle of May.”

Rebecca said she is not only grateful for all the financial support but thanks people “for helping me in this journey”.


She added: “Your support has made such an impact, but it is your positivity, prayers and messages of encouragement that has really inspired me to have confidence that we can bring Clarissa home.”

The heartbroken mum said the move to bring Clarissa home to her will lift the burden of feeling she had abandoned her little girl and will provide her with some closure.

However, the Irish Sun has learned that the young mum could be facing into a lengthy legal battle.

According to sources the process is long and complicated, particularly as permission to exhume a body must be received from the family member who holds the deeds to the grave.


It is understood a member of the McCarthy family has the legal hold over the plot in Schull.

Sources say they may be opposed to having the grave disturbed and to Clarissa being taken from her dad, whom she adored.

The process also involves the Minister for Justice, who has to sign off on exhumation orders and ­officials in Cork County Council, who would have to provide personnel to observe the digging of the grave and the local coroner.

A source said: “It’s not an easy thing to do when there is agreement between the parties but in a case like this it could result in a long and costly legal battle before being resolved one way or another.

The couple met when Rebecca was visiting west Cork as a student aged just 16 – and she returned from America when she was 18 to marry him.

Three days after the horrific event the dad and his daughter shared a single coffin and were laid to rest in an adjacent graveyard.

Rebecca said that when tragedy struck she believed that Martin had taken a snap decision. However subsequent information indicated that there was a degree of planning to his actions.

She said: “I really can’t say that I feel I will ever be able to forgive him. I feel like he used his daughter as a sword to stab me in the heart with. And that is very very wrong.”

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