Family reveals Sh500k ransom demand before Waeni's killing

Rita Waeni Muendo

The family of Rita Waeni Muendo have revealed their 36 hours of agony that marked her last moments before her badly dismembered body was discovered.

Her killers, in a string of short text messages through her phone, demanded Sh500,000 for her freedom, before going silent. And even after her killing they made additional extortion demands, whose details the family did not reveal.

The shocking details emerged in a statement by family spokesperson Lilian Mutea, who said her family was broken by the loss of 20-year-old Waeni, and especially by how she was killed.

“We are broken and our lives have been shattered... Her parents, siblings and our entire family are yet to come to terms with this tragic event,” read the statement on the shocking murder.

This came a day after female lawyers, through Fida Kenya, joined leaders in condemning what they termed a rising trend where young women were losing their lives through “intimate partner violence” and called on the government to enhance their protection.

Citing the recent gruesome murder of another young woman, Starlet Wahu, Fida Kenya vice chair Christine Kungu said her death was as a result of violence against women.

“Barely a week later, Fida Kenya has learnt with shock of the murder of a woman whose body was found at an apartment located in Roysambu under circumstances suspected to have been intimate partner violence,” she said.

According to Waeni’s family, she was a fourth year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She was brilliant and ahead of her time in schooling, the statement said.

Yesterday, the family spoke for the first time since Sunday when the dismembered body parts were discovered in a dustbin at a hotel room in Roysambu. 

In the two page statement that reads like an eulogy, the family recounted the last moments of their daughter last Saturday when Waeni left her aunt’s home in Syokimau for a meeting along Thika Road. 

A day after she left home, the family says, at around 5am, Waeni’s father Muendo Mutea received a strange text message on his phone. 

It was his daughter’s phone number being used to make a ransom demand of Sh500,000. The caller said the family had 24 hours to send the cash for her release. 

The statement said after receiving the message, the family reported the matter to the police and DCI. 

The Standard has established that the family filed its report at Mlolongo police station, unaware that their daughter was about 30km away along Thika Road having earlier left her aunt’s home in Syokimau. 

Police helped in the search for Waeni even as the demand for ransom continued long after Waeni may have been killed by her abductors. 

And after hours of endless search, the family finally identified their daughter’s remains at City Mortuary and established that the college student killed in a hotel room in Roysambu was her. 

On social media platforms, the story of the gruesome murder continued to generate public interest. Photos of Waeni while alive were shared widely.

From the images, Waeni was a jovial and bubbly person. In one image, she wears a broad smile that seem to resonate with the endearments the family uses to describe her. 

“She was a spirited and caring individual, known for her unwavering kindness, infectious laughter, and ability to light up any room she entered. Her family and friends will forever cherish the precious memories we shared with her,” the family said. 

A police source told The Standard the family was able to identify Waeni’s remains from a birth mark on her left leg since her dismembered body had no head. 

And as the family mourns and starts burial preparations, the police have intensified the search for a man said to have been the last person seen with her. 

The DCI has formed a mega investigation team to unravel the murder. Different teams of investigators including DCI homicide, Kasarani DCI, Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau and Operation Support Unit have been deployed on the matter to find Waeni’s missing head and apprehend the killers. 

On Monday night, a Nigerian national was arrested at JKIA as he was about to leave for Abuja.

Detectives at the airport stopped the suspect from boarding his flight at 11pm. 

On Tuesday, the suspect was taken to Kasarani DCI where he was questioned on among other things his whereabouts in Nairobi and why he was in possession of two passports.  

He was also questioned on the murder of Waeni but sources familiar with the probe said after investigations, it was established that he (the suspect) was not the man being sought. 

The suspect is however yet to be released and the police are likely to press charges that include possession of more than one passport. 

The sources said after studying CCTV footage from the building where Waeni was killed compared with the suspect in the hands of the police, the investigators had concluded that they are yet to arrest the real culprit. 

A senior police chief yesterday told The Standard that the man behind bars was tall, hefty and dark. 

The man being sought in connection with the murder is slim but tall and dark in complexion. 

“We are holding him as we examine CCTV footage to ascertain if he is the one,” said the investigator, who requested for anonymity. 

The owner of an Airbnb apartment located along TRM Drive, Pricilla Wangui Maina, told the police she received a call from her caretaker who found blood traces in the house.

She rushed to the scene and confirmed that the guest had not checked out and the house was clean. 

Police followed the blood stains to a nearby dustbin collection point, where they discovered the remains of a woman stuffed in polythene bags. 

Some of the samples collected by the police are part of their evidence in the investigations. Preliminary investigations after reviewing the CCTV footage showed the suspect was a middle-aged man who had booked the one-bedroomed Air BnB over the counter of Jully Mini Supermarket.

He was wearing a black jeans trouser, black jumper, navy blue shirt, specks and white cap. 

This latest murder comes only days after the murder of socialite Scarlet Wahu who was killed by a man inside a hotel room in South B estate.

Last evening, police in Juja retrieved yet another body of a woman from a river in Juja, in what is turning out to be a worrying trend of femicide. 

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman may have been sexually assaulted before she was killed and dumped by the riverside.

In one month, several cases of women killings have been reported. Two other female university students have been reported killed; a student in Machakos was found stabbed to death in her boyfriend’s house and a Maasai Mara student body found in a bush.