How did wanted man escape police cells?

Kevin Kangethe at the Milimani Law Courts on January 31, 2024. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Was it a planned escape from police cells?

That is the question sleuths from Nairobi area police division are trying to answer after Kevin Kang’ethe, the man accused of murdering his girlfriend in the US, escaped from police custody Wednesday evening.

Kang’ethe had been remanded at Muthaiga police station by a Nairobi court that allowed the police time to apply for his extradition to the US.

He is accused of killing his girlfriend Margaret Mbitu and dumping her body in a car at an airport in Boston, US, on October 31, last year.

Yesterday, police chiefs in Nairobi woke up to the escape from police cells by Kangethe in mysterious circumstances. Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei had to personally visit Muthaiga police station.

Kang’ethe escaped from custody on Wednesday, around 7:30pm and jumped into a waiting matatu.

“He was talking to his lawyer at the station and within a few minutes, managed to escape by boarding a matatu parked at the stage metres away from the police station entry,” a police report said.

Preliminary investigations reveal that Kangethe escaped after he was moved from the cells at the request of a man claiming to be his lawyer and whose name police have not revealed. The officers who were on duty allowed Kangethe to meet the man in one of the rooms that are normally used by officers from the crime branch.

Unaware of any plans for escape, the officers left the two in the room. They were shocked to learn Kangethe had taken off leaving the lawyer behind.

At the time of the escape, Muthaiga station commander Esther Njeri, was held up in a staff meeting with officers from the crime branch and only got wind of the escape when she heard a loud bang, the police report say.

A further statement said when the police on duty noted that Kangethe was missing; they combed the area but did not find him.

This led to another search along Thika Road. On Thursday, Bungei directed the arrest of five police officers who were on duty when Kangethe escaped.

Also in custody is a man said to be the lawyer who had visited Kangethe in the cells at Muthaiga police station, moments before he managed to break from the cells of the police station.

Kang’ethe has been in hiding since he left the US after he was alleged to have killed Mbitu. A week ago, the Director of Public Prosecutions Renson Ingonga filed extradition proceedings against Kangethe at Milimani court.

State prosecutor Vincent Munda told Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina the DPP had received a request from US authorities to have Kang’ethe extradited.

In court, Munda said the DPP was seeking further directions from the court on how they will conduct extradition proceedings.

The court directed that the application be served to the suspect’s defence counsel and ordered that they should respond within three days. “We will be filing an affidavit within three days. We will also be filing an affidavit to oppose bond or bail against the suspect,” said Munda.

Kangethe, the court ruled, would be remanded at Muthaiga Police Station after the police were granted 30 days to hold him as extradition hearings proceeded.

Investigating officer Patrick Wachira, from the DCI headquarters homicide investigations unit, said the suspect was arrested on January 30, 2023, in Westlands, Nairobi, and booked at Gigiri Police Station in connection with the alleged crime.

In the application, the police indicated that the suspect is being investigated for the offence of first-degree murder in violation of Massachusetts General Law.

He is alleged to have murdered his girlfriend by stabbing her multiple times before boarding a plane to Kenya. The application presented in court by the police revealed that on November 1, around 6.35 pm, police in the US discovered the body of Mbitu in the front passenger seat of the suspect’s cars.