PSNI
(File photo) Police believe the woman was last seen alive in January 2015 Getty

Police believe an elderly woman found murdered in her Belfast home may have lay undiscovered for nearly three years because no-one noticed she was missing. The body of 68-year-old Marie Conlon was found at a flat in west Belfast on 6 October by police responding to reports regarding concerns about her welfare.

After forcing entry into her Larkspur Rise flat, officers found her body in bed, where it had clearly "lain undiscovered" for some time.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) launched an investigation, with a post-mortem examination suggesting her death was suspicious.

Detectives investigating the circumstances of the death have established that the last known sighting of Conlon was in January 2015, with evidence suggesting her death may have occurred at around that time.

A 23-year-old man has now been arrested on suspicion of murder. He remains in police custody for questioning.

SDLP West Belfast Councillor Brian Heading is urging anyone with information to come and assist with the investigation.

He said: "This was a heinous crime against a vulnerable member of our community.

"Local people are absolutely shocked that something like this could happen here. If anyone has any information about this crime or saw anything suspicious in the area last week, I would encourage them to come forward as soon as possible.

"My thoughts and prayers, and those of my party colleagues, are with the woman's family at this extremely distressing time."

PSNI detective chief inspector Alan Dickson said: "Authorities were alerted on Friday after concerns were raised about the welfare of 68-year-old Marie Conlon. Officers forced entry to her Larkspur Rise home and discovered her deceased in bed. It was apparent that she had lain undiscovered for some time.

"A post-mortem examination was carried out and the results suggest that the death may have been suspicious. Further testing is due to take place.

"Detectives investigating the circumstances of the death have established that the last known sighting of Ms Conlon was in January 2015. It is our belief, supported by the medical evidence, that her death may have occurred at around this time.

"We have launched a murder investigation and a 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including murder. He was detained in the west Belfast area yesterday and remains in custody at present."

Anyone who believes they may have information that could assist the investigation is asked to call police on 101.