By Munene Kamau
A village in Kirinyaga watched in horror as police exhumed the body of Esther Wanjiru Karanu, 95, who was allegedly buried alive by her son and daughter-in-law.
The body was found wrapped in a white gunny bag in three feet deep grave at Ndomba village, Kirinyaga County.
The granny was supposedly buried alive on Saturday evening a day after she was brought to the home from Kiandegwa village where she lived with her daughter. Police officers, led by the Kirinyaga South District OCPD Apollo Onyonyi, exhumed the body.
Neighbours described the couple, who are in police custody, as loners and said they rarely venture into their homestead.
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They call the man ‘Wanugu’ behind his back. Wanugu was one of police’s most wanted criminals in the 1990s.
“No one dares visit this home as the family is mysterious. We fear them,” said a neighbour who declined to be named.
As the exhumation was going on, hundreds of curious neighbours thronged the scene to catch a glimpse of the bizarre incident.
The grave was only about 20m from the home of the suspects John Mugo Karanu, 45, and his wife Alice Mugo, 45. The Mugos are subsistence farmers.
The old woman’s granddaughter, Penina Njeri, said her ailing grandmother was brought to the home last Friday for the couple to take care of her in a rotation rota agreed by the granny’s children.
Njeri said when she went to check on her grandmother on Sunday, she was shocked when she was told that her granny had been hospitalised at the Kerugoya District Hospital.
“I rushed to the hospital, but on enquiries in the wards my grandmother was said to have been admitted to, I was told there was no record of such a patient,” she said.
Njeri said she immediately went back to Ndomba where she found her aunt, Alice, covering a recently dug ground in the family shamba with dry maize stalks.
“When I enquired what she was covering, my aunt said she was planting some potatoes, but failed to explain why she was doing it only at a particular point,” the grieving granddaughter said.
She said upon being more inquisitive, Alice told her to ask her uncle.
“My uncle said: ‘Your grandmother said since she had become a bother to you after living in your house for a long time, I should bury her immediately and never even bother to tell anyone especially your mother. I had to bury her on Saturday evening, moments after she died. I was horrified.”
That is when Njeri realised her aunt was actually covering her granny’s grave.
“I screamed at the top of my voice. Neighbours responded immediately and confirmed it was a grave.”
The neighbours then alerted the area chief who in turn arrested the couple and handed them over to the police at Wanguru Police Station.
Police on Monday visited the scene after interrogating the suspects then sought a court order to exhume the body.
As the body was exhumed, some blood started oozing from the gunny bag, with police saying they suspect the victim could have been clobbered or had been cut several times.
A Government pathologist said a post mortem examination would be done at the Embu Provincial General Hospital.
Meanwhile, Onyonyi said the suspects will have to undergo a psychiatric test to determine their state of mind. The police boss said until this process was undertaken the couple would remain in custody.
The home, however, remains deserted but it is not clear where the granny would be buried.