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Damaris Muthee saga: Mystery of Ethiopian at centre of athlete's killing

Damaris Muthee, whose body was found in a house in Iten on Tuesday. [Courtesy

Athlete Damaris Muthee, whose decomposing body was found in a house rented by an Ethiopian, was preparing for a race in South Africa.

As investigators tried to piece together details of what happened, sources described the Ethiopian as a ‘mysterious’ athlete.

Sources at the Lilies Estate in Iten described the two as quiet. At the Newton Agencies Management, where Muthee trained, her colleagues said she was making a comeback after a period of inactivity.

They said her husband works in Qatar.

“Muthee got an opportunity to meet her husband in Qatar for about 12 hours when she was connecting the flight to Angola ahead of the April 4 race,” said Eric Kogo, Muthee’s coach.

Coaches in Iten, one of the most preferred training destinations in the world, said the Ethiopian athlete, who is said to have fled the country, was not under any sports management like most others.

Mr Kogo said the missing Ethiopian had not participated in any competition. “I spotted him in Iten and when I inquired, I found out that he had not taken part in any race since his arrival in Iten five years ago. He rarely interacted with athletes and coaches.”

According to Kogo and his colleague Joseph Cheromei, the Ethiopian had no coach in Iten.

Mr Kogo, who has been training Muthee since last year, said the athlete was the team leader. “She is a smart athlete. She rejoined Bahrain earlier this year after placing 15th at the Discovery Kenya cross country in Eldoret. She had been dropped from the Bahrain team after her performance dropped and was making a comeback. The Bahrain coaches discovered her effort  and took her back,” he said.

Tragic comeback

Newton Agencies, a South African sports management company, had secured a race for the late Muthee in Angola Peace Marathon on April 4. She finished third, earning her confidence by her management, said the coach.

She was getting ready for the Nelson Mandela Race on June 4.

According to Mr Kogo, they spoke on phone on Saturday, and the athlete said she was in Kapsabet, about 80km from Iten, for the treatment of a tendon injury she picked during the Angolan race.

“I was shocked when I heard she was dead. Surprisingly, I was in Kapsabet for the Central Rift Athletics Championships and I thought Muthee was also there. I had communicated with her through WhatsApp and she told me she was in Kapsabet,” the coach said.

Yesterday, investigators were still waiting for Muthee’s family from Machakos County, which had not arrived by 5pm.