Tabitha Akinyi [Photo: Denish Ochieng]

Martha Auma is mourning the death of her 13-year-old daughter, the latest victim of mysterious murders targeting teenage girls in Nyahera, Kisumu West.

Tabitha Akinyi's body was found by the roadside on Saturday morning, April 4, about 100 metres from her home.

This was the same place the body of Violet Atieno, 14, was found in August last year, a tight rope tied around her waist, strapping her hands to her sides and her private parts chopped off.

As the family prepares for Akinyi’s burial set for the weekend, members of Kasiganda clan now say the latest killing has pushed the tally of teenage girls mysteriously and brutally killed under similar circumstances to seven in the last ten years.

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Copycat killings

“What worries us is the manner of the killings, the timing and the area affected. We do not understand whether it is witchcraft or just normal crime,” said Peter Miyuma, a resident.

According to Mr Miyuma, all the seven killings happened between April and August, and all within Karombo village in Nyahera, Kisumu West.

When The Standard visited the village, Ms Auma was preparing to leave for Maseno Police Station to record a statement on the murder of her daughter.

She said she last saw Akinyi on Friday last week. Auma had spent the entire day working in the farm, while her daughter was doing domestic chores at home.

“Around midday, I sent a message to the girl to bring me some water at the farm,” she said.

Akinyi delivered the water and returned home while her mother, her thirst quenched, continued to till her land.

When Auma returned from the farm in the evening, her daughter was not home.

As darkness set in, Auma and her family got more worried and began the frantic search for Akinyi.

Night search

The family raised the alarm and the entire village converged at Auma's homestead before spreading out to search for the missing teenager. The search went into the night before the villagers gave up and agreed to resume the following day.

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At about 7am on Saturday, passersby found the lifeless body of Akinyi.

The Standard Seven pupil at Ogada Primary School had become the latest statistic of mysterious murders in the area.

Her killing cast a dark cloud over the village. It brought poignant memories of another killing in August last year.

Violet Atieno's mutilated body was found at the same place Akinyi's was found.

According to her father, Wilson Akengó, the Form One student at Dago Kokore Secondary School had been out fetching water with her siblings on August 26, 2019.

“After two trips, her colleagues remained behind as she went for the third and last trip. It was around 3pm, and she never returned,” said Akengó.

By the time the family gathered for supper, Atieno was not home.

“She failed to turn up for supper, so we checked in the neighbours’ homes, but she was not there,” said her father.

The search for the missing girl began, but was halted when it became too dark. The following morning, passersby found Atieno's body dumped near a road. Part her throat and private parts were missing.

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Kisumu West OCPD Henry Wesonga said no arrest has been made after the latest killing. He said police are working with the community to resolve the murder mystery.

Wesonga, who has just been posted to the area, said he had formed a team to help unearth the motive behind the killings.

“Police cannot do this alone, that is why we are moving to the residents to give us any information they have so that we can take up this matter,” he said.