Irish-American woman (26) sent text to father for help shortly before death

The family of Claire McKenna have offered a $35,000 reward for information as investigations continue in New York

A young Irish-American woman whose death is being investigated by New York police had sent a text for help to her father the morning before her body was found.

The family of Claire McKenna have offered a $35,000 reward for information pertaining to her death on October 12th as investigations continue in New York.

The body of the 26-year-old Irish-American was discovered at 9.27am on October 12th on 94th Avenue and 214th Street in Queens.

Amid their heartbreak, Claire’s family want to clarify mistakes in media reports around her death.


“Contrary to reports, she was found face up... and fully clothed, and ‘track marks’ referred to was actually a scar from psoriasis. She never did drugs,” her uncle Nigel McKenna told LMFM’s Late Lunch show.

Both Nigel and Claire’s father Derek hail from Kilkerley in Co Louth and have lived in New York since they emigrated in late 1980s. Derek is an All-Ireland boxing champion and a former Louth GAA Minors and New York City GAA all-stars player.

“A few nights ago I was sitting with my brother and Claire’s identical twin sister in their livingroom and suddenly she shouted out ‘Why are they saying these things in the newspapers about my sister? No one knew my sister better than me,’” said Nigel

“That’s why I felt I had to publicly correct the mistakes in the media.

“The day after Claire’s body was found, my brother and I visited the crime scene... My brother visited the homes and I stayed outside and searched under cars and in trash cans and through yards hoping to find her phone and handbag which were not discovered with her body.

“While outside, an ambulance pulled up and when they discovered I was Claire’s uncle, they told me a teenager had found her body on his way to school and when the EMTs arrived and found no pulse, they called police and it became a crime scene.

“They said it was like finding a princess...

“At 3.11am on October 11th, she had sent my brother a text for help, adding her phone was about to die. We still don’t understand why she didn’t call him or take a taxi. Was someone holding her against her will or was she afraid that person would hear her calling?

“At 6am, Derek woke up to find that text and you can imagine what was going through his head.

“He immediately went to where Claire’s location was last shown on the phone, went to the nearest police precinct and reported her missing.

“The next day he returned to the police station for an update and was shown some pictures of hair and clothing, which he knew were Claire’s. He was then told that Claire’s body was found at 9.27am which is when the EMTs declared her dead.

“There is so much crime in New York City and the police are overwhelmed by the amount of homicide. This is another day in the office for them so we had to push the detectives.

“We will do whatever we have to do. If they don’t do it, we will do it ourselves and find some other people to investigate.

“We can’t get over it. There’s so much pain.

“Claire was so beautiful. She had her own music on iTunes and was very popular, especially in India. She was making her way like any other struggling artist, writing songs, performing and making records in trying to make a name for herself.

“She would get bagels every day to give to the homeless. She was a good soul.

“Two days before her body was found, Derek talked to her at 9.30am and she was so happy. She was moving to her new apartment that afternoon and we didn’t know that she never showed up

“All her stuff, all her furniture was already in the apartment. She just had to go there and settle in but she never got to spend one night there.

“Something happened between talking to her dad and when she was found. Where was she? It’s just so heartbreaking for all of us.”

* This article was edited on Friday, December 23rd, 2022