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Shock of missing children found murdered as cases of abduction rise

The suspect (left) confessed to killing five children at Moi’s Bridge in Uasin Gishu County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

It all began on Tuesday with the arrest of a suspect in connection with the disappearance of two boys in Biafra, within Eastleigh area in Nairobi County.

Within hours of his arrest, the 20-year-old man led DCI officers from the Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau to a spot where he claimed to have dumped bodies of two boys aged 12 and 13 in a thicket near the Kenya School of Government in Kabete.

One of the bodies was identified by the family of a missing child yesterday at the City Mortuary as that of Junior Mutuku Musyoka, 12. The other body is yet to be identified.

Hours after the heartbreaking find, yet another body of a boy was discovered in the same area by police. By the time of going to press last evening, that body - which brought the total number of those discovered in Nairobi yesterday to three - was yet to be identified.

A grief-stricken Felister Wayua was still trying to wrap her mind around the callous acts of those that killed her son, whom the family reported missing on June 30. While Wayua’s family had in some way found closure in the search for their child, that of Charles Opindo remains on tenterhooks, as their son still unaccounted for.

Musyoka and Opindo, both football fans and residents of Biafra in Eastleigh, are said to have often played football together at a nearby field, and disappeared around the same time. Upon news of the discovery of the bodies, Opindo’s family also headed to the City Mortuary but would later confirm that the body brought to the morgue alongside that of Musyoka was not of their son.

The body of Junior Musyoka was found at a thicket in Spring Valley, Nairobi on Tuesday, July 13. [Courtesy]

Sam Opindo an uncle to Charles said after visiting City Mortuary they had established that the body was not their son.

“It’s not him. We have examined the body carefully,” said Sam.

In Nairobi alone, police are hoping to unravel the mysterious disappearance of at least 10 children who have been reported missing in the last six months, according to police sources.

Yesterday, police were linking the happenings in Nairobi to another event over 300 kilometres away in Moi’s Bridge, a small town straddled by Uasin Gishu, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia counties.

Here, a team of detectives drawn from the DCI, the homicide department and forensics experts dispatched from Nairobi were busy documenting scenes where separate murders of young girls are said to have occurred between 2019 and 2021.  Accompanying the team was a suspect who led officers to at least five different scenes of crime where he confessed to have killed and later dumped bodies of children.

Dressed in a white overall, the suspect pointed out the exact positions where he allegedly murdered the children, while detectives took photos and videos that would aid in completing investigations. Families of some of the deceased, too stunned to say anything, quietly followed the unfolding events.

Majority of the scenes pointed out by the suspect were bushes near maize plantations. According to an officer who sought anonymity, the suspect is a habitual offender who had been in prison for related crimes for 15 years before being set free after completing his jail term. 

He was arrested on June 16 after CCTV footage showed him in the company of his latest victim, 13-year-old Linda Cherono. Cherono had gone missing on June 11, only for her body to be found on June 15 near Baharini dam within Moi’s Bridge.  The suspect is said to have been targeting young girls under the age of 15.

At the onset of investigations, County Criminal Investigation Officer Ali Adan told The Standard that local residents interviewed at Moi’s Bridge had mentioned the man as the main suspect.  Another victim, Mary Elusa, 14, went missing on December 15, 2020, and her body discovered the next day.

Murder suspect Evans Wanjala (in white overall) at the scene where separate murders of young girls are said to have occurred between 2019 and 2021. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

Grace Njeri, 12, was reported to have disappeared on May 21, 2020, and her body found on June 18, 2020, at Soronoi farm.  Another victim, Stancy Nabiso Achieng, 10, also went missing on December 31, 2019, and her body recovered from River Nzoia on January 1, 2020. Police say there was evidence of defilement in all the cases.

Back in Nairobi, Wayua a mother of four, narrated how her son simply vanished about two weeks ago.

Musyoka, who had returned home from school that day, was a big soccer fan and often played with other children at an open field near his home. It was after a football match that Musyoka failed to return home on the material day.

After unsuccessfully searching for him in the neighborhood, Wayua reported the matter to police who promised to conduct investigations. But then came the strange phone calls, she says, from a man who claimed to have abducted Musyoka.

The caller demanded Sh50,000 to release the boy. Wayua, who ekes a living from menial jobs such as washing clothes in her neighborhood, could not raise the amount. She pleaded with the man to release her son, in vain. Her only hope was that DCI officers at Shauri Moyo would help rescue her son from his captors.

Jecinta Nduku, Wayua’s sister-in-law, travelled from her rural home in Masii, Machakos County, to help in the search. Nduku said at first, she thought the callers were conmen out to exploit their plight. But things became scary when the caller warned them that he would kill the boy.

“We could not raise the amount that they wanted. We only kept briefing the DCI, hoping that our son would be rescued,” said Nduku.

Junior Musyoka's mother, Felister Musau, at Shauri Moyo police station. [ Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Wayua speaks of the days filled with fervent prayers that her story would have a happy ending. “I have been praying every day and hoping that my son would be found alive until today (Wednesday) when DCI officers broke the devastating news,” she said at the Shauri Moyo DCI offices where she recorded her statement.

In the same Biafra neighbourhood, the family of Opindo who went missing a day after Musyoka, is still searching for him. Opindo, 13, was last seen playing with other children at an open field in the area on July 1. The people holding Opindo called the family demanding Sh30,000 to free the boy.

Police have linked the man arrested in connection with the Nairobi murders to the kidnap syndicate in Moi’s Bridge, believed to be behind the abduction and murder of 12 children in the Rift Valley region. Police said the other man arrested in Nairobi had confessed to the murders and even provided details of how he clinically strangled the minors after failing to secure ransom from their families.

Sources familiar with the investigations said the suspect lured the boys from the field where they played football.

The suspect is said to have been visiting the grounds where Musyoka and his friends played football. “He (suspect) says he had become friends with the boys and that is how he got close to them,” said an officer familiar with the case.

Buru Buru DCI Chief Jackson Muriuki yesterday said his officers were trailing more suspects. On Tuesday, police unmasked the identity of the principal suspect through forensic analysis of the calls made to the families of Musyoka and Opindo.

Police traced the man to his rented house in Kitengela, Kajiado County. Upon arrest, he led the DCI to Kabete where he had dumped the children’s bodies.

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