When a Strange Collection of Sex Toys Led to a Dead Body
The new true-crime docuseries “Secrets of a Psychopath” probes the disappearance of Elaine O’Hara, an Irish woman who disappeared in 2012. (Warning: Graphic violence)
There’s a difference between journalism and voyeurism and, too often, Secrets of a Psychopath partakes in the latter.
The subject of director Derek Dillon’s three-part docuseries, premiering today on Sundance Now and AMC+, is the March 22, 2012, disappearance of Elaine O’Hara, a single Irish woman living on the outskirts of Dublin. O’Hara had dreams of becoming a Montessori school teacher and worked as a childcare assistant, but her professional aspirations were complicated by her considerable mental health issues, which included depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. Those afflictions had led to a teenage suicide attempt and multiple stays in psychiatric hospitals, and were further exacerbated by the death of her mother. She was a loving and selfless individual, if also an unstable one. Consequently, when she vanished, many were quick to conclude that she had taken her own life by jumping off the cliffs near Shanganagh Cemetery, where—following her release from a psychiatric ward—she’d visited her mother’s grave with her father that day, and where her car was later found.
Still, things didn’t quite add up. Her iPhone was found in her apartment. Her car boasted a charger for a Nokia cellphone that she wasn’t known to own. And she’d been planning on volunteering at the Tall Ships’ Races the following day. It wouldn’t be until 13 months later that the truth would come into clearer view. On Sept. 10, 2013, anglers at the Vartry Reservoir in nearby Wicklow retrieved articles of clothing, yellow rope with handcuffs attached to it, leather restraints, head gear with a ball gag, and a zipper-mouth gimp mask from the water. Three days later, O’Hara’s skeletal remains were located in the Dublin Mountains near Kilakee. And then, a second search of the reservoir turned up O’Hara’s keys. As these amazing coincidences proved, this was a case of murder.