Inside hunt for murder suspect who vanished from police cells

Kevin Kinyanjui Kangethe who allegedly killed a girlfriend in the US is led out of a Milimani Court on February 01, 2024, where the DPP filed an affidavit to commence his extradition to the US. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The hunt for the man who is wanted in the US to answer to the charges of killing his girlfriend and dumping her body at an airport has taken a dramatic twist following the arrest of four more people over the weekend.

The four have been arrested by the police who believe they hold the key to the whereabouts of Kevin Kang’ethe who escaped from Muthaiga Police Station and outran four officers.

The four, who included a cousin and close associates, were picked up by detectives from the Nairobi area Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau on Friday night.

Two men, who are said to be close friends of Kang’ethe, are also in police custody. The arrest of the four brings to eight the number of people in police cells over the prison break incident.

Police are looking for Kang’ethe wanted in the US over the murder of his girlfriend, Margaret Mbitu.

Yesterday, sources familiar with the investigations told the Sunday Standard that the four were picked by the DCI after it emerged they were in constant contact through calls with Kang’ethe.

Some of these arrested people had also visited Kang’ethe in the cells following his arrest at a club in Westlands.

“We want to know what they know. We have noted the frequent calls,” said a senior investigator.

Kang’ethe broke out of Muthaiga police station last Wednesday under unclear circumstances.

He had been remanded by a Nairobi court that allowed the police time to apply for his extradition to the US where he was to face charges of murder. Kang’ethe is accused of killing Mbitu and later dumping her body in a car at an airport in Boston, US, last October 31.

Last Wednesday, police chiefs in Nairobi woke up to the news of his escape from cells in mysterious circumstances. So serious was this incident that Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei had to personally visit Muthaiga police station.

Police say Kang’ethe who was to be extradited to the US to face first-degree murder charges escaped custody on Wednesday, around 7:30 pm and later managed to jump onto a waiting matatu.

“He was talking to his lawyer at the station and within a few minutes, managed to escape by boarding a matatu that had parked at the stage meters away from the police station,” a police report on the incident said. A further statement on the incident said when the police on duty noted that Kang’ethe was missing, they looked for him in the area but did not find him. This led to another search along Thika Road where he is said to have boarded a vehicle and disappeared.

Bungei who toured the police station yesterday directed the arrest of five police officers who were on duty when Kang’ethe escaped. Also in custody is a man said to be the lawyer who had visited Kang’ethe in the cells when he escaped.

Kang’ethe has been in hiding since he left the US after Mbitu’s death. A week ago, DPP Renson Ingonga filed extradition proceedings against Kang’ethe.

State prosecutor Vincent Munda told Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina the DPP had received a request to have Kang’ethe extradited to the US. He said the request letter to have Kang’ethe extradited to the US had been signed by the US Secretary of State.

In court, Munda said the DPP was seeking further directions from the court on how they would be conducting extradition proceedings.

The court directed that the application be served to the suspect’s defence counsel and ordered that they respond within three days.

“We will be filing an affidavit. We will also be filing an affidavit to oppose bond or bail against the suspect,” said Munda.

Kang’ethe, the court ruled, would be remanded at Muthaiga Police Station in Nairobi after the police were granted 30 days to hold him.

Investigating officer Patrick Wachira, from the DCI headquarters homicide investigations unit, said the suspect was arrested on January 30, 2023, within Parklands 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. 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 car.

The body was locked in a Toyota Venza which had remained in the parking since the evening of October 31, 2023. Police said after he entered Kenya, through JKIA, Kang’ethe went into hiding. He is to have maintained constant communication using various telephone numbers with his friends in the US and a few relatives and friends in Kenya.