DCI quiz eight relatives over granny's mystery death

Eight people, including the sons of Leah Njeri Njuguna -the grandmother who died in mysterious circumstances nine months ago -were yesterday lined up for questioning by DCI homicide investigators.

Also summoned was the granddaughter, Caroline Njeri, who was the first family member to enter her grandmother’s house in Thika’s Landless area on the day her lifeless body was discovered beneath  a mango tree. Yesterday, three family members appeared before the investigators shortly before mid-day.

An informal meeting was first held where the police briefed the investigators on the family’s history and deep-rooted differences that led the retired teacher and businesswoman to lead a solitary life.

The investigators also sought to verify the authenticity of a video taken by the granddaughter, which was released on Wednesday, showing the inside of house at the time of Leah’s death.

Njeri was said to be close to her grandmother and was a more frequent visitor than her uncles.

The meeting also aimed to discuss how investigations were going, and whether family members will undergo a DNA test.

Sources within the DCI revealed that some relatives were opposed to the DNA test, which is intended to conclusively match the remains found in the compound to immediate family members.

Preliminary findings from the Thika DCI suggest that Njeri, 82, might have died of natural causes while alone at home.

However, some family members have disputed these findings and are pushing for the investigations to be moved to the DCI headquarters.

Insiders familiar with the probe yesterday disclosed that investigators were pursuing several angles based on the family’s accounts to resolve the mysterious death. 

Sources close to the family said Njeri’s life took a turn for the worse when her husband, Isaac Githuku Gachanja, left her for another woman, Rose Wambui.

When Wambui was brought to her new marital home in Bendor Estate, Leah violently resisted her new co-wife, leading to a bitter dispute that saw her arrested and detained.

“She completely refused to leave her home to a newcomer. Much later, she was sweet-talked into an arrangement that got her a few millions to build her own home in Landless,” a source told The Standard.

Her husband gave Sh2 million to start the building project, but the money dried up before construction was completed. Her pilot son, Gachanja Githuku, took over and helped complete the house before she moved in around 2010.

Living in the new home, which was in the same neighbourhood with one of her sons, Charles Gachire, Leah led a reclusive life, maintaining minimal interactions with neighbours.

In May 2015, her second son, David Kihara, passed away. Her husband, who was a director at Trans Business Machines Ltd, died on October 19, 2017, after a short illness.

The family, originally from Kiangige, Kariara Ward, Gatanga sub-County in Murang’a County, faced further tragedy with the loss of their last-born son, John Nyagah, in 2019.

While Githuku, her pilot son, sent money every month, Leah appeared to have a strained relationship with her other remaining son, Charles Gachire, according to a neighbour, Isaac Njoroge.

When The Standard reached out to Mr Gachire, he retorted, “There are so many people that are dead, why are you following this one?”

Leah’s last interaction with family was sometime in July last year. In September, neighbours stopped seeing her around and assumed she had travelled.

Subsequent holidays like Christmas and Easter came and went without her presence. When she was discovered, her expansive home held only skeletal remnants, alongside those of her dog and chickens.