THE heartbroken parents of a murdered teacher have paid tribute to their “special girl” after she was killed while out jogging.
Ashling Murphy, 23, died after being strangled along a canal in Tullamore, Ireland, on Wednesday afternoon.
The talented musician, who works at Durrow National School, was running along a well-known route when she was targeted.
Police believe the suspect attacked the primary school teacher in a random an unprovoked assault – which was witnessed by other walkers.
Officers have confirmed that Ashling and her attacker didn’t know each other, promising that “no stone would be left unturned” to catch her killer.
Cops last night released a man in his 40s that they had been questioning over her death and say he is no longer considered a suspect.
They are now appealing for witnesses and asked anyone with information about a "Falcon Storm mountain bike" with "straight handlebars and distinctive yellow/green front forks" to come forward.
Officers also believe that the brave teacher put up a fight against her attacker, who is understood to have been stalking her before the violent incident.
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Her parents Kathleen and Raymond last night paid tribute to their daughter and said she was their "rock".
Devastated mum Kathleen told Independent.ie: “The last thing she’d say in the morning going out was ‘Mam, I love you’."
Heartbroken dad Raymond added: “She was just a special girl. She’s the youngest, a little angel.
“She was a brilliant girl in every sense of the word.
“She was a great worker, with great drive. A marvellous musician. She crammed so much into her short life.
"She played with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí all over Ireland and all over the UK on the tours. She was in their youth choir and senior orchestra.
“She played all over and had so much respect shown to her by her peers.
“She was a beautiful girl, she was just the best, she was our rock. She loved her style and her fashion, and she was so elegant.
“She was so soft and gentle. She loved her boyfriend Ryan who she was with for five years.
“He’s heartbroken. We’re all devastated.”
'ONE IN A MILLION'
Ray and Kathleen, along with her brother and sister Cathal and Amy, are being comforted by friends and family.
Ashling’s death notice said she was “sadly missed by her heartbroken family”.
Durrow National School Principal James Hogan said the first class teacher was a “shining light”, adding: “She was one in a million.”
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A shrine was erected to the inspiring teacher just inside the school door this morning and another one at the front gates, while flags also hung at half-mast.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin earlier paid a heartfelt tribute to Ashling and her family, saying: “This is devastating news, the very horrific and violent killing of Ashling Murphy.
“My heart goes out to her parents, to her family, to the children she taught and to the wider community.
“She didn’t waste a minute of her life, a musician, a teacher.
“One can only think what’s going through the minds of the children that she taught everyday and what they are thinking of today in terms of what happened.”
Hundreds of people attended a vigil in the teacher’s memory, with dozens of flowers and candles being laid.
Supt Eamonn Curley said “no stone would be left unturned” in bringing Ashling’s killer to justice.
He added: “From inquiries we have carried out to date we believe this crime was committed by one male who acted alone.”
Gardai yesterday spoke to locals and officers from the Sub-Aqua Unit carried out searches of the canal.
Senior Irish politicians have promised that justice would be delivered for her family and condemned violence against women.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said that "every resource" will be provided to Irish police investigating the murder.
She said: "Every resource will be provided to An Garda Siochana to find who murdered Ashling Murphy. It is vital that we all support the Gardai in their work."
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