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Kenyan-born female athlete found dead in Iten, six months after Tirop's murder

Police Land-rover carrying the body of Damaris Muthee to the mortuary after it was she was found in a pool of blood in a rental house in Iten Elgeyo Marakwet County yesterday. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Kenyan-born Bahraini athlete Damaris Muthee was today found dead in a house in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, six months after Agnes Tirop, an international athlete was found murdered under similar circumstances.

In yet another sad news that shook the athletic fraternity, Muthee's body was discovered in a male Ethiopian athlete's house in Lilies Estate, barely a kilometre from where Tirop, who was killed in October lived. 

Keiyo North Deputy County Commissioner Julius Maiyo said Muthee is suspected to have been killed by the Ethiopian athlete.

He identified the Ethiopian athlete as Eskanda Hailemariam. Details of his age were not immediately known. Residents in Iten knew the suspect only as Koki.

Authorities said Muthee, who trains in Iten, had visited the suspect on Saturday. She has Kenyan and Bahraini citizenship.

Her decomposing body was discovered lying on the Ethiopian national's bed at 3pm on Tuesday after the suspect called a neighbour and reported that he had killed his girlfriend, Maiyo said.

According to investigators, Muthee may have been killed by strangulation. 

Muthee who comes from Masinga in Machakos County is a mother of one, according to Iten-based athletes.

"The slain athlete had visited the Ethiopian boyfriend on Saturday and we are suspecting that she was killed the same night because the body is decomposing," the DCC said.

The administrator said the Ethiopian Athlete might have left Iten the same day. He said the suspect called yesterday from Ethiopia. 

"The police got reports that the Ethiopian had killed his girlfriend and the police came to the residence and found it locked. They broke the door and found the decomposing body."

He said there were blood stains on the bed where the body was discovered. 

Maiyo said it was regrettable that Muthee's killing happened after athletes training in Iten were sensitized on gender-based violence following the murder of Tirop last year. 

Keiyo North sub-county police commander Tom Makori said preliminary investigations pointed at strangulation. 

Makori said efforts were on to trace the Ethiopian and bring him to book. 

"We are pursuing several leads in bringing the suspect to book. There were no visible injuries on the body. We believe that she was strangled. Further investigations will reveal the exact cause of death," Makori said. 

Athletes who trained with the late Muthee described her as a hard working sportswoman who has been training in Iten and Kapsabet.

Muthee won Marrakech 20km race in Morocco in 2018 and was runner-up in a number of competitions such as Casablanca Memorial Rahal 10km, Maputo Half Marathon (2018) and Agadir Half Marathon in 2017.

“I have known Muthee since 2007. She left Machakos to train in Kapsabet and we met again in Iten in 2012 after she finished high school. We last spoke in December,” marathoner Hellen Nzambi said.

Athlete Christine Kambua who talked to Muthee last week said she was a down to earth athlete who had a vision of performing well in the half marathon.

“I did not know that she had an Ethiopian boyfriend. She had only told me about the father of her son, who is a Kenyan,” Kambua said.