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Shock of Kenya’s serial killer

By | June 10th 2010

By Cyrus Ombati

Philip Ondara Onyancha may not strike one as wicked but he confesses to be a depraved man who has killed 19 people, and intended to snuff the life out of many more.

The 30-year-old former security guard, who becomes Kenya’s most prolific serial killer by his confessions, says he intended to kill 100 people, "but I have so far far killed 19". Nothing says ‘dangerous’ when you see Onyancha who speaks with a soft tone and appears to be shy but if his confessions are accurate, then the usual assumption that the most dangerous criminals wear grim faces is way off the mark.

Philip Ondara Onyancha claims to have killed 19 people but wanted to kill 100 .

He admitted that he has been on a killing spree for the last three years, targeting women whom he says are "the weaker sex" and children.

Together with accomplices who have not yet been arrested, he would abduct children and demand ransom from their parents.

Sometimes, he confessed, he would kill a child they have abducted and still demand money from the parents.

He also confessed to having murdered several prostitutes in Thika and other towns.

The killings of the prostitutes, which have been unsolved until yesterday, had Thika town gripped by fear.

He also said that he drank the blood of his victims. The self-confessed killer said he would strangle and bite the neck of his victims to suck their blood.

Speaking at the Nyeri Provincial Police Officer’s office to journalists yesterday, Onyancha claimed evil spirits ‘instructed’ him to kill his victims.

He claimed the evil spirits dictated to him where and when to commit murder, as a sacrifice.

"If they say I go to Mombasa, I just get into a vehicle and head there, and I must kill," he said.

He said his former teacher at Kenyatta High School, Mahiga, in Othaya, recruited him into a cult when he was a student.

"I joined Form One in 1995. My class teacher, a woman, called me into her house, and she recruited me into the cult," he said.

He later became a staunch member of the cult "and the spirits demanded I kill 100 people before I could be promoted to a higher level".

Raising money

He said he later joined a kidnap syndicate, which abducted people for purposes of raising money through ransom.

"The group is not into devil worshipping. We just operate a kidnap syndicate," he said.

Yesterday, he led police to locations where he hid bodies of some of his victims.

He first led police to two locations in Nairobi where he had dumped the bodies of two women. He later led police to Thika, to show them two lodgings where he killed four women.

In Nairobi, one of the sites he led police to was in Muthangari estate, along Riverside Drive, where the skull, bones, shoes and a bag of a woman were found dumped in a septic tank.

Onyancha said he dumped the body of a woman in the tank in 2007 after he lured her into the compound occupied by a European Union diplomat, where he was then stationed as a G4S security guard.

"I don’t know her because I met her on the road and shook her hand before she followed me into the compound. I have powers that make the weaker sex and children to follow me to where I want, and I later kill them for their blood," he claimed when he spoke to journalists in the company of detectives.

The woman was his first victim, he said. He later led detectives to a building occupied by the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company offices, opposite Karen Police Station.

The body of Catherine Chelangat, 32, who went missing on November 22, 2008, was found on the rooftop of the house.

Chelangat was a student at the Kabete Technical.

Lynch him

Police later drove him to Thika where he showed them lodgings where he killed the four women. Business was disrupted in the town when police arrived with him, with residents demanding to be allowed to lynch him.

Police recover the remains of Catherine Chelangat from the roof of a building in Karen, Nairobi. Onyancha led police to the site where he killed the Kabete Technical student. [PHOTO: Collins Kweyu/STANDARD]

The four prostitutes were reported to have been strangled by a man who lured them by posing as a client.

Hellen Nyambura’s body was found in Rwambogo Bar and Restaurant while that of Jackline Wambui, 25, was found at Suitable Hotels.

Police then drove him to Nyeri where he led the investigators and journalists to an unmarked and little known lodging, along the busy Gakere Road.

The suspect said he went to the hotel with a young woman after midnight, and paid Sh150.

"The attendants wanted me to raise Sh200, but I negotiated with them. We got into Room 13 and we did not even have sex. I strangled her and fled before dawn."

Onyancha chillingly recounted how, even after killing his victims, especially children, he and his accomplices would still extort money from desperate relatives.

The guard claimed the woman who recruited him into the cult told him he would become rich after killings 100 people.

"It is a powerful cult … when I greet my target she will follow me to where I want. I was introduced to it by a woman in Nyeri in 1998, when I finished my Form Four," he claimed.

He, however, claimed he does not know any other member of the cult.

Onyancha said he never had sex with his victims, saying he just killed them and drunk their blood.

Psychologists say a sexual element is often involved in serial killings.

Serial killers are usually driven by an urge for psychological gratification.

Onyancha’s confessions to detectives from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit led to Sunday’s recovery of remains of two victims, Antony Njirwa, nine, and another yet to be identified, in a bush near Lenana School, Nairobi.

Dumped bodies

The search for more bodies was later extended to the Lake Naivasha on Tuesday; after he told detectives he had dumped bodies of another nine-year-old boy, Natan Baraza and a 22-year-old woman on the shoreline.

Sources said a suspect they believe is innocent was arrested in connection with the murder of a 22-year-old woman and is in remand.

A pair of sandals that little Natan wore on March 21, the last day he was seen alive, was recovered from a spot on the shore where the suspect said he killed him and was identified by his mother, Ms Joyce Khaemba.

Natan was last seen alive after watching a football match at Karuturi Stadium next to the flower farm where he lived. His captors dropped a note at the farm’s main gate demanding Sh85,000 from the family for his release.

The man confessed he killed his victims in Naivasha when he was stationed at a flower farm adjacent to the lake. Onyancha said he killed every time his employer moved him to a new station.

On Monday, police escorted him to lodgings in Naivasha town where he claimed to have strangled several women.

Onyancha was arrested in Nairobi on Thursday last week, after he was traced through a mobile tracking system.

This was after he made a call to extort money from the father of a boy he had killed.

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