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Friends arrested over bar murder; PUBLICAN SUSPECT IN SEAMUS KILLING.

Byline: By IAN MARKHAM-SMITH

A US publican is one of two men arrested in the probe into the murder of an Irish barman.

Pals John McLaughlin and John Ciglar were taken into custody at a hotel in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, on Friday night.

They were arrested in connection with the death of North Belfast man Seamus O'Neill.

The 60-year-old, from Duncairn Parade, was found beaten to death and wrapped in a tarpaulin at a bar in Philadelphia on January 4.

McLaughlin, 36, is the operator of McWhitey's Tavern where Seamus was found dead after an alleged row between the pair.

He has been charged with murder while 44-year-old Ciglar has been charged with obstruction and abuse of a corpse.

A third person was with McLaughlin and Ciglar when they were arrested but has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Seamus, who moved to the US 30 years ago, lived near the bar where his body was found in the working class Port Richmond area of Philadelphia.

He worked at the nearby My Blue Heaven tavern, where 30-year-old bartender Kim Pinciotti said: "He was a good guy. He always had a new joke to tell. We're still feeling it."

McWhitey's Tavern was ordered closed by authorities last week and yesterday the front door - with a newspaper clipping memorialising Seamus - remained locked.

Sgt William Britt said the two suspects were known as close friends.

Police added Seamus had finished his shift at My Blue Heaven on January 2 and stopped for a drink and to socialise at McWhitey's, where he was friendly with McLaughlin.

Officers claim there was an argument over a trivial matter, bickering about Ireland, and the confrontation turned violent between 1.30 and 2am.

Authorities believe Seamus was beaten, possibly with a baseball bat, which killed him.

Police claim help was needed to clean up in the bar and wrap the body, which had been moved to the basement.

Detectives believe the body was found just before preparations were being made to remove it.

Lt Philip Riehl: "We believe it had to do with two guys who had a few drinks late at night, got into an argument and then there was a brutal, savage attack on what we consider a senior citizen with a baseball bat."

Seamus' wife Bonnie said: "We'll never make sense of this.

"It's inconceivable - you don't take a life for no reason."

It was initially reported Seamus had won thousands of dollars in an illegal lottery.

But Sgt Britt said authorities found nothing to corroborate that.

On Saturday night Seamus' friends held a wake for their pal at the bar.

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

PROBE: Police enter bar where Seamus' body was found; LOVED: Seamus O'Neill with his wife Bonnie
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2008
Words:456
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