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Mauritius police reconstruct newlywed death, they say

By Peter Taggart, For CNN
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Gaelic football star's wife killed
  • NEW: Plane carrying newlywed's body is en route to Ireland
  • Officers are investigating the killing of the Irish teacher on her honeymoon
  • Three men have appeared in court in connection with the death

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Police in Mauritius staged a reconstruction Thursday of the death this week of an Irish newlywed on the Indian Ocean island, they said.

Three suspects appeared in court Wednesday in connection with the death of Michaela Harte-McAreavey, daughter of a leading Irish sports figure and wife of Gaelic football star John McAreavey.

A plane carrying her body and family members took off Thursday evening from Mauritius and was scheduled to fly to London and then Belfast, where she was to arrive Friday. She is to be buried early next week in Ireland, her family said.

The suspects are employees of the luxury hotel where the 27-year-old newlywed was found strangled Monday, according to the Mauritius Police Force.

Room attendant Avinash Treebhoowoon, 29, and Sandip Moneea, 41, a floor supervisor, have been charged with murder. Room attendant Raj Theekoy, 33, faces a conspiracy charge.

Police said one of the men has confessed and participated in the reconstruction.

The men appeared Wednesday morning at Mapou District Court in northern Mauritius, police said. They've been remanded in custody to appear again in court January 19.

"We believe we have substantial evidence to connect them to the case," said police Superintendent Yoosoof Soopun, who is leading the investigation.

Soopun said the three men were employees of the Legends Hotel, and authorities believe they were inside the teacher's hotel room when she returned alone.

"We presume they were inside and burgling the room when the lady returned and were surprised and attacked her," Soopun said.

The killer used an electronic key card to enter the room, authorities said.

The former beauty queen's husband was in the restaurant of the hotel when his wife was killed and is not a suspect, Soopun said.

She had returned to their room to fetch biscuits to go with her tea. When she failed to return, her husband went to look for her and found her dead, Soopun said.

An autopsy showed that she had died from asphyxiation, said Dr. Sudesh Kumar Gungadin.

Harte was the daughter of one of the best-known figures in Irish sports, Mickey Harte, the Tyrone Gaelic football manager.

In a statement outside his house Tuesday, Harte said his family was "devastated," and offered support to his son-in-law.

Harte-McAreavey taught Irish at St. Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, County Tyrone, in Northern Ireland. She won the Ulster Rose of Tralee contest and participated in other beauty pageants.