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How suspected child killer Masten Wanjala easily left police station

By Kamore Maina | October 14th 2021


Jogoo Road Police Station [David Gichuru, Standard]

Fresh details have emerged on how self-confessed serial killer Masten Milimu Wanjala vanished from a police station without raising suspicion.

Wanjala is reported to have made it through the well-guarded Jogoo Road Police Station’s report office without attracting the attention of the 10 officers who were on duty on Tuesday night.

News of his disappearance only came to light yesterday morning when a new team of officers reported to work at the station, raising questions on the police’s handling of suspects in their custody.

Wanjala was reported missing on the day he was to appear in court to answer to criminal charges related to the murder of at least eight children whom he is accused of killing.

After it was established that he was not in the cells, senior police officers at the station conducted a head count of inmates.

The station bosses also physically examined the cells and at the end of the exercise established that Wanjala could not have escaped by drilling the walls or cutting through ventilation grills.

It was clear he simply walked out of the cells through its doors. The question is how Wanjala managed to do this without catching the attention of the two officers manning the report office.

A senior officer privy to the investigations said the police had opened a probe into Wanjala’s escape from their custody.

 Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and those from the Special Service Unit have launched a countrywide manhunt for the fugitive.

At the Kamukunji Police Division in Buruburu, the 10 officers who were on duty were summoned by their bosses and recorded statements on the activities at the police station on Tuesday night and yesterday morning.

The police bosses also reviewed the station’s Occurrence Book (OB) and cell register (a record of all inmates in custody) in an effort to establish the truth of the suspect’s disappearance.

Police officers are supposed to update the OB and cell register every 12 hours or when a new team of officers is reporting to work and leaving work.

This exercise, known as ‘handing over’, involves physically counting the number of inmates in the cells and updating the same in the cell register, which is checked by senior officers at the station.

During the process, officers on duty record in the OB their names and ranks, and the time of reporting and leaving work. They also record the names and details of suspects being booked into the cells and those being released from the cells.

Sources familiar with these records yesterday told The Standard that Wanjala’s name appears in the list of suspects who were physically accounted on Tuesday evening when the new team took over.

By Wednesday 6am when the new team was reporting to work it was established that Wanjala did not respond when his name was called out by the duty officer.

A report from Jogoo Road Police station to Vigilance House police headquarters said Wanjala was established to be missing during this head count.

“When arrested, inform this station for collection and inquiry,” the alert from the station read.

Police now believe that Wanjala could have snuck out of the cells at around 9pm when a group of suspects arrested for violating Covid-19 guidelines were freed.

“We suspect that he could have sneaked out at that point,” said an officer familiar with activities at the station.

Police believe that one suspect who had wrapped his head with a Maasai shuka and was released at the time may have been Wanjala.

During his stay at the police station, Wanjala had made it a habit to wrap his head with a red shuka.

Murder scenes

Sources said Wanjala, during his 21-day stay at the police station, had become familiar with officers.

“He cut the image of a polite man and had become very friendly,” said an officer at the station.

Wanjala, 20, is accused of killing children between 2019 and 2021.

He has taken officers to at least 10 alleged murder scenes in Nairobi (five), Kajiado (two), Machakos (two) and Bungoma (one).

In his confession, he allegedly admitted to killing the children after disguising himself as a football coach.

Wanjala was arrested in Kajiado in mid-July this year by DCI officers from Nairobi area who were following up on the kidnapping of two boys from Shauri Moyo. 

A Nairobi court would later allow police to hold him for 30 days, which was extended by another 30 days that lapsed yesterday.

Those who knew him from his home at Mukhwea in Kabuchai sub-county talk of a man that returned home when he was 18.

His mother is said to have left the home when she was pregnant with him.

In earlier interviews with The Standard, relatives talked about a man who was polite, “hard to read” and loved football.

Most of the children Wanjala is accused of killing met their deaths in gruesome ways, according to reports. Some were drugged and had their blood sucked out of their bodies. A few others had been strangled, while others suffered blunt force trauma to their heads.

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