Kenyan-born Bahraini athlete Damaris Muthee whose decomposing body was found in a house in Iten on Tuesday was strangled, an autopsy has shown.
Pathologists from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) conducted the examination today at the Iten Referral Hospital.
Keiyo North DCIO Andollo Munga told the media that stomach contents from the deceased have been sampled for further examination and to establish if there was poisoning.
“At the house, the deceased was found on the bed, dead. She was covered with a blanket and a pillow was on her face. It is unfortunate we lost an upcoming athlete in such a manner. Investigations are ongoing,” said Munga.
The athlete’s family and her in-laws were present during the autopsy. Sebastian Mutua, her father, said Damaris was married to Felix Ngila who works in Qatar. He dismissed claims that his daughter might have been in a relationship with the suspect - Eskanda Hailemariam, who is of Ethiopian origin.
“When my daughter was from her recent race in Angola, she passed by Qatar to greet her husband who even paid for her ticket. The husband was shocked to learn of this incident,” said Mutua.
Mutua said his sixth born daughter was polite and humble and always listened to him.
“There has been information making rounds about my daughter’s relationship. I don’t believe such information. She was married and that is the only thing we know,” added Mutua.
He asked the governments of Kenya and Bahrain to help with investigations. “If we can lose young children in such a manner, what then remains of us? I urge young girls to be cautious...because some people are evil, “ said Mutua.
The family said they will plan the athlete’s send-off. Josphat Ndeti Ngila, father-in-law to the athlete and who is a retired athlete, said his son married Damaris when she was 17 years old. They have a six-year-old son. “I was training at Kaptagat before my retirement and when my daughter-in-law began training in Kapsabet and Iten, I was in total support. She was home after the Angola race and was called by her coach to resume her training,” said Ngila.
Ngila said the family would not sleep until justice is found. He said his daughter in-law was caring and had big plans.
“She said she would buy me a car. She was focused and had big dreams. We have lost a family anchor. She bought an acre of land and had plans to start building in August. Sadly, she will be buried there,” said Ngila.
Ngila added that the family had searched for her personal belongings including her ID card and her bank documents to no avail.
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Nahashon Kibor, a coach who was present at the mortuary, called on athletes to be open especially when going through tough times in their private lives. “Speak out and seek help. Life is precious. Apart from money and fame, there is life to live. As an athlete, if threatened run before your life is cut short,” Kibor said.
Kibor advised athletes to report any threats against them to coaches and the athletic federation. “I urge athletes to go to church because many come as staunch believers but when the money comes, they change,” said Kibor. Joan Chelimo, an Iten-based athlete, said the news had left their colleagues in shock. “It is frustrating more because you could be training with colleagues facing challenges but they fail to speak up,” she said.
Athlete Mary Keitany said gender violence was becoming a challenge among athletes. She called on the government to intervene. “It is barely six months since we lost Agnes Tirop in such a manner. This is not fair at all,” said Keitany.
John Mwangangi, another athlete who has been training with the deceased, said there was need to vet athletes. “Many people could be walking around disguised as athletes. We call upon the Immigration Department to take this seriously,” said Mwangangi.
Damaris won the Marrakech 20km race in 2018 and was runner-up in a number of competitions such as Casablanca Memorial Rahal 10km, Maputo Half Marathon (2018) and Agadir Half Marathon in 2017. She was preparing for a race in South Africa.