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A walk through chilling murder confessions

By Paul Ogemba | September 29th 2021
Police informer Peter Ngugi (left) and police officers Leonard Maina (centre) and Sylvia Wanjohi at a Milimani Court on Monday, September 20, 2021. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

It was a perfect conspiracy of seven men and their mission was to plan a perfect murder.

The hitmen had been outsourced. Guns too had been procured and on July 14, 2005, Isiolo Catholic Bishop Luigi Locatti was shot dead at the church’s regional diocese compound in what was made to look like a robbery gone bad.

The bishop’s death shook the Catholic Church and would have remained a mystery were it not for the confession of one of his killers that led to the arrest and conviction of the then parish priest, Father Guyo Waqo. The priest was convicted alongside Mohamed Molu, Aden Ibrahim, Mahati Ali Halake and Roba Bariche.

As a Catholic priest, Fr Guyo had listened to thousands of confessions from parishioners owning up to their sins.  He believed in the church’s doctrine of the seal of confession which provides that a priest or anyone who hears a confession should not disclose anything. That way his secrets would have remained safe but prosecutors are not bound by that doctrine and neither are murderers governed by the mafia code of Omerta which binds conspirators in a crime to eternal silence. But to Fr Guyo’s shock, a confession by Bariche opened the can of worms and enabled the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, leading to their death sentence.

Such confessions have offered the prosecution a break in complex murder cases. From the murder of lawyer Willy Kimani, Kiru Boys High School Principal Solomon Mwangi to self-confessed killers such as Philip Onyancha, investigators and the prosecution are relying more on confessions where perpetrators would never have been nabbed and brought to justice had there never been such admissions.

In the murder of Bishop Locatti, the confession by one of the accused person (Bariche) was made before Justice Weldon Korir who at the time was a magistrate at Isiolo. Bariche’s confession was the turning point in finding the planners and killers of Bishop Locatti, as the prosecution recorded every detail and played the video in court.

Bariche told investigators, in the presence of Justice Korir, that Fr Guyo who was his brother’s friend, approached him with the plan to eliminate Locatti and introduced him to five other people who to help him accomplish the mission. In the confession video played in court, Bariche was telling Justice Korir he agreed to participate in the murder because he was told the bishop had a lot of money and if they managed to kill him, they would be rewarded with a big share of the money.

He said they were provided with three guns and on the night of July 14, 2005, driven to the bishop’s residence where they were taken to a dark house. When the bishop heard a commotion outside, he came out to find out what was happening only for him to meet his death. It was Bariche who pulled the trigger.

Bariche stated that he then escaped to Mandera and was planning to flee to Somalia but he was arrested by the police. He later agreed to confess to the killing which led to the arrest of Fr Guyo and the other accused persons who were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death. When Lady Justice Jessie Lessit on Monday, September 20 found four police officers with a case to answer in the murder of lawyer Willy Kimani, the confession by one of the suspects was the evidence that was relied upon by the judge to reach her decision.

The brutal murder of Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, would have remained a secret and with no clues on who killed them were it not the confession of a police informer Peter Kamau that led to the arrest of the five police officers. The three victims were abducted on June 23, 2016, shortly after leaving Mavoko Law Courts in Athi River, before they were founder dead. Kimani and Mwenda were pursuing a case against the police. 

Kamau, had been recruited to spy on the victims of the fateful day and feed to the police officers incriminated in the case with information on their movements. He was charged alongside the police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Morogo, Sylvia Wanjohi and Leonard Maina.

When things became thick, Kamau disowned his confession and tried to block its production in court as evidence but Justice Lessit ruled that the confession was properly recorded and admitted it as evidence. Kamau, in his confession, stated he met Leliman in 2011 since he was a police informer and that sometime in 2016, the officer asked him for assistance for a matter that troubled him.

He said the officer informed him of a person who wanted him sacked over a shooting incident and hatched the plot to eliminate Kimani and his client on June 23, 2016. He confessed that on the said date, he was given Sh2,000 and tasked to keep an eye on the lawyer and his client and inform the officers as soon as they left Mavoko Law Courts.

While he was in court monitoring Kimani and Mwendwa, Leliman and the other police officers were waiting at a strategic place to pounce on them. Outside the court, when Kimani and his client boarded the taxi, Kamau told investigators they followed in tow. They later stopped them at a railway line where they were arrested and booked at Syokimau police post.

Kamau is said to have confessed that he was tasked with disposing of the taxi. He drove it to Limuru where he abandoned it before returning to Mlolongo. At night, the three victims were removed from the police post and bundled in the boot of Leliman’s car. They were taken to a field where they were allegedly killed by the officers.

Kamau described how the three were killed, one after the other, through strangulation. Their bodies were then stashed in sacks and dumped in a river. After disposing of the bodies, they drove back to Mlolongo.

And when Kiru Boys High School Principal Solomon Mwangi disappeared, no one would have known that his wife Jane Muthoni was the planner and executor of his death. The secret was revealed through the confession of one of the accused persons, Joseph Kariuki. In his ten-page confession read in court, Kariuki admitted that he participated in the murder of Mr Mwangi on November 6, 2016. Muthoni had promised to pay him Sh400,000.

He stated that he met Muthoni who informed him and another killer, Isaac Nganga, that she wanted to eliminate her husband. They later hatched the plot and how to execute the job. On November 4, 2016, he stated that they met with Muthoni who informed them that she would disable her husband with tranquilizers and hand him over to them to execute the killing.

The following day, Muthoni delivered her unconscious husband to them in a car. They drove to a forest, tied a rope around his neck and hanged him from a tree where his decomposing body was discovered eight days later. Muthoni and Ng’ang’a were found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 30 years in jail each while Kariuki was handed a seven-year jail term after a plea bargaining. His confession assisted him to secure a lesser charge of manslaughter.

In Malindi, High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi convicted and sentenced Kadenge Kazungu to 25 years in jail after confessing to how he murdered his neighbour for grazing his goats on his farm. No one saw Kazungu killing his victim but he surrendered to the police and recorded the confession. The judge had no difficulty in finding him guilty of murder.

According to the confession, the deceased was grazing his goats near Kazungu’s maize plantation when the animals trespassed into the farm leading to a fight. In the ensuing fight, Kazungu slashed the victim on the head killing him instantly. He dumped the body in a river where it was discovered the following day.

“I find that during the recording session of the confession, the accused was informed of his rights and he voluntarily agreed to record the confession statement without any duress, extortion, coercion or promise,” ruled Nyakundi.

It was the same scenario in Bungoma where Justice Stephen Riechi found Wilson Mulati guilty of killing his brother. In this case, Mulati and his brother were the only people in the house and no one would have known he committed the offence had it not been for his confession.

On the fateful night, on June 28, 2016, Mulati stated that he was in the house he shared with his brother when a quarrel broke out between them. And they started fighting. He picked a machete and slashed him on the head.

After realising his brother was unconscious and bleeding profusely, he dragged him to the roadside to conceal evidence. The body was discovered the following day.

“His statement explained in detail how the deceased sustained the injuries and how he took his body to the road where it was discovered the next day. This statement connects well to the evidence which makes the court find him guilty of the offence of murder,” ruled Riechi.

In Nyeri, a 77-year-old man was sentenced to 12-months of community service after confessing to killing his son who had sold his property without his knowledge. Justo Mwamba confessed that on January 22 2020, his son came back from a drinking spree and demanded that he gives him macadamia to eat but he refused.

That night, his son picked a fight with his friend and stabbed the friend with a knife which caused a lot of commotion in the homestead. In the dead of the night, the old man felt enough was enough and decided to kill his son. He tip-toed to the son’s house, broke the door and slashed him on the neck before covering his body with a blanket.

“I knew my son was no more after slashing him on the neck. I took a blanket, covered him and went back to my house with the panga I used to slash him. I washed the blood then slept. No one saw me as I slew my son,” confessed Mwamba.

Another man who confessed to killing his rival in a fight over a woman would be given a lesser sentence of manslaughter by Justice Edward Murrithi.

The man, George Munene, confessed that they had a fight with the deceased over the woman they were both dating. He said he slashed him on the head leading to his death.

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