The family of Marian Graham, the mother of five murdered in Turkey, near Izmir, have spoken for the first time of their “absolute devastation”.
Marian Graham, 52, was found stabbed to death on August 18 alongside her best friend Cathy Dinsmore in a remote wooded area close to the city of Izmir, near Kusadasi in Turkey.
Marian Graham 15-year-old daughter Shannon, whose boyfriend, Recep Cetin, has been arrested for the brutal double murder, has revealed that the Turkish youth had NEVER asked her to marry him.
Shannon Graham revelation explodes claims that Cetin murdered the women after Marian refused to allow him to marry Shannon. In her eyewitness account of the events of the fateful night, Shannon details how Recep Cetin – known as Alex – cynically tried to cover his tracks with an extraordinary claim he had been kidnapped by the Turkish Mafia.
With the approval of her elder siblings, Shannon explained in detail what happened on the day of the double murder.
Alex, who worked in a Kusadasi restaurant called Victoria, was sharing an apartment that Marian, Shannon and Cathy had been staying in since July 16.
On Thursday, August 18, Alex had organized for Shannon to go on a boat trip with a friend.
“The boat trip was for 9 o’clock,” said Shannon.
“But Alex and I woke at 7.30 because he had to be in work for 8 a.m. I went in to Mum to get her to tie my bikini. We left and I went down to Alex’s restaurant to wait for my friend. Alex was cleaning the restaurant and when 9 o’clock came, Alex and I started making our way over to the boat. That’s where I met my friend Sandy. Me, Sandy and Alex went up onto the top of the boat. He stayed with us for about 30 minutes and we took pictures and stuff like that. He told me to ring him during the day to let him know how I was getting on. There were no signs that day, nothing unusual. It was all normal.”
Later, while enjoying her boat trip, Shannon decided to call Alex.
“I first rang him at 12 o’clock but his phone was off,” she said.
“I thought his battery was dead. I rang him again at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. but it was still off. The trip finished at 4.30 and we went back to Alex’s restaurant, round the corner. I thought Alex would have finished his break by then. I asked his boss where he was and he said he wasn’t back from his break. So we waited.”
At 5 p.m., when Alex still failed to show up, Shannon left and went to another restaurant with her friend.
“Then Alex rang me,” Shannon said.
“He was panicking on the phone. He said, <<Come home now – there’s a problem>>.
“I said, <<What’s the matter?>> and he said, <<I’ll tell when you come home>>. Then he rang again and said, <<Where are you?>> and I said, <<I’m waiting for the bus. Why, what’s the problem?>>. He said, <<Me, mum and Cathy’s been kidnapped but I got away>>. Just as he said that, the bus came. When we got to our house, I saw Alex lying outside in the garden. His hand was all bloody. He was shaking. I asked him to explain.”
“He said, <<Me, mum and Cathy were walking to the supermarket and a big car, like a jeep, stopped and these three big Mafia men came out.>>
“I asked him what they looked like and he said they had long hair and moustaches. He said they first took Cathy and that Cathy was in the car pulling her hair and screaming but mum kept grabbing onto Alex so they wouldn’t take her. Alex kept grabbing onto mum and that’s when the kidnappers sliced his hand.”
Recep Cetin told Shannon he woke up in a “ditch” close to where it happened. He claimed he was making his way back to the house when a taxi driver saw him and took him home.
“All the neighbours were there at that stage,” said Shannon.
“I took Alex into the house because he wanted to change out of his clothes. He said he didn’t own them and I had never seen them before. He said the kidnappers changed him into them. We went up to the bedroom and I put his own clothes on him. Then I put the clothes the kidnappers put on him into a bag and I took them downstairs for the police.”
Both Shannon Graham and Recep Cetin (Alex) were taken to the hospital and later to the police station.
“That was the last time I saw him,” Shannon said. She still had no idea that her mother and friend were dead.
“The next day, Friday, me, Alex’s dad and the taxi driver got into a police car. We first went to the hospital but then we went to Izmir. A translator asked me what happened and I told him. After that, we went to the court house and a girl from the Irish embassy told me that mum and Cathy had been found in a forest. She told me that they had been killed. I was so shocked. I was crying. I couldn’t believe it. I was trying to ring my brothers and sisters because I didn’t think they knew.”
Along with Shannon’s father, Raymond McGuinness, from whom Marian separated 10 years ago, her brother David flew to Kusadasi to bring his little sister home.
Shannon Graham and her mother had been going to Turkey for the past eight years, with Cathy Dinsmore joining them for the last three.
Every summer, Shannon, Marian and Cathy excitedly booked their flights for Turkey.
“We stayed there all summer,” said Shannon. “It was something I looked forward to. Cathy did too. When we first went, we stayed in a little apartment beside Ladies’ Beach, then sometimes we stayed in the town but this year, we just rented. We were all well known in Turkey. Mum knew everyone and everyone got on with her. We used to go on trips, go to the shops and off to the swimming pool. We made friends and it was like home from home. I had a second life out there.”
It was during one such holiday that Shannon Graham met Recep Cetin, who would later become her first real boyfriend. But contrary to press reports, she had not been sharing an apartment with him since she was 12.
“I started going out with him more than a year ago,” she said.
“But I first met him four years ago. Mummy knew him for the same length of time. I wanted to go out with him two years ago but Mummy wouldn’t let me because I was too young. She said okay last year so we started going out.”
According to Shannon and her sisters, Marian Graham “trusted” her daughter’s boyfriend.
‘”he was with him a lot of the time,” said Shannon.
“We always went into his family’s restaurant where he worked. Alex and my mummy got on great. He called her Mum. He used to kiss her on the cheek and say, “Goodnight, Mum.”
Shannon Graham insisted reports last week suggesting that Alex had been violent towards her were “totally untrue”. “We argued, like most couples but he never hit me,” she said.
“My mum wouldn’t have let me stay with him if he did. One day we were in the living room and Alex and I were upstairs. Mum thought I was crying but really I was laughing. She was downstairs with Sandy and Sandy said she never saw her jump off the sofa as quick because she thought something was wrong.”
More significantly, the Shannon Graham dismissed claims that Recep Cetin (Alex) had asked to marry her and that her mum had refused.
“That’s why I would just love to know why he did it,” said Shannon
“The marriage part isn’t true. The first thing I heard of that was in the papers. He didn’t ask me to marry him and to my knowledge he didn’t ask my mother either.
“I was wearing Mummy’s ring on my engagement finger when I came home but that has nothing to do with him. He didn’t ask me to marry him.”
On the day of the murders, Marian, Shannon and Cathy had planned to book their tickets home after Shannon returned from the boat trip. They were due to return to Newry this week.
“Mum was supposed to have dinner ready for me when I got back,” said Shannon.
“She wasn’t going anywhere that day. Alex must have planned the shopping trip when he left me. She was sick that morning – she had an upset stomach and would have said if she was going out. Alex just planned that at the last minute. He probably just said, <<Shannon’s away, we’ll do something instead of sitting around the house>>. The last thing she said when I was going out that morning was, <<Give me a kiss and take care>>. She was so affectionate. She loved you to cuddle her a lot.”
For Shannon Graham, who plans to return to school next week, the loss of her mother was difficult to articulate.
“I was always with my mum,” she said. “We went everywhere together. In Turkey, during the day we went to the beach or the pool and at night we went to restaurants – that was our wee routine. I was the baby so I was spoiled but Mummy was strict in some ways. I knew not to cross her but she would have done anything for me. She would have spent her last £20 on me.”
Shannon continued to tell the story:
“I wanted to speak to Alex but the police wouldn’t let me, she said.
“The only thing I wanted to know was why he did it, because I don’t know why he did what he did. When I heard what he did, I couldn’t believe it. He never asked me to marry him so why did he do it? What was going through his mind? Did he ever think twice about what he was actually doing? Did he ever think to stop? And why did he lie to my face about what happened?”
When asked if she ever go back to Turkey, Shannon Graham said:
“I have been going to Turkey for nine years and have good memories there with Mummy.”
“There was a place in town Mum loved. She would sit at the summer seat by the water for hours and hours… I would nag her and try and get her to leave. My memory of her sitting there is a happy one. That’s what I think of when I think of her… happy in Turkey.”