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Silent killers roam Kirinyaga County

By Wainaina Ndung’u | May 4th 2012

By Wainaina Ndung’u

On the evening of December 18, last year, Simon Kiragu Mwangi, 42, the Kirinyaga County Lands Officer and his wife, Joyce Akinyi Adede had a drink at a popular entertainment spot in Kerugoya town. In the wee hours of the night, they left for their house in Miringa-Iri Estate never to be seen alive again.

Their bodies were discovered two days later on Tuesday afternoon by one of their salon employees brutally murdered on their matrimonial bed. Not even the neighbours heard them being killed.

The employee went to look for them when her employer failed to turn up for two consecutive days.

Kirinyaga Central OCPD Peter Omwano says the employee knocked on the door several times without getting a response. She then decided to push the door, which she discovered was not locked.

lifeless bodies

All the other doors inside the house were ajar and on peeping in the bedroom, the woman was shocked to see lifeless, naked bodies of her employer and her husband lying in a blood soaked bed.

She raised the alarm prompting other tenants to come out and see the grisly sight. The couple’s car was parked outside untouched. Nothing had been stolen from the vehicle or the house. The couple was believed to have been hacked with an axe the assailants picked from the kitchen.

"We have recovered the murder weapon from the couple’s kitchen and we think it will provide us with clues," Omwano told journalists at the time. Months later, no arrests have been made.

The death of the couple was only one in a series of other mysterious killings that have left residents and law enforcement agencies in the area unable to determine whether a gang is involved or whether a serial killer is behind the killings.

The killings are executed in the night and the killer or killers leave without a trace. Neighbours to the victims do not hear even a whimper, yet the killings are brutal and ruthless. Mostly targeted are people living alone, especially young working women. Amazingly, nothing is stolen from victims leaving law enforcement agencies wondering what the motives of these killings are. Yet police won’t acknowledge there is a problem. Out of the dozens of deaths reported, police have only managed to arrest one suspect.

no arrests

In an incident in February last year, a woman was clobbered on the back of the head with a blunt object similar to an axe at an estate opposite the Kerugoya Law Courts. She was alone in the house when she was killed. Nothing was stolen from her and no arrests were made. And in October last year, a college student staying with his father during his field attachment at the Site and Service (Katheri) Estate had also died in similar circumstances. He had been accosted during a weekend when he was alone in the house. Besides being clobbered on the head, the youth had also been strangled but nothing was reportedly stolen from the house.

On January 2, this year at about 4pm, the body of Dickson Mwangi Uthi, 53, the deputy principal at Ngungu Day Mixed Secondary School in Kirinyaga East District, was discovered lying in a pool of blood inside a kitchen store at his house within Kimbimbi market.

The body had three stab wounds in the left eye, neck and the chest. The rear door to the house was found open and nothing was stolen.

Back to Miringa-Iri Estate where the Lands Officer and his wife had died, a house girl was also accosted in a house she was sleeping alone, raped and killed while at the Site and Service Estate, a Court Process Server was killed in similar fashion recently. In both incidents nothing was reported to have been stolen.

Others who have died in similar circumstances include a nurse at the Kerugoya District Hospital who was killed in a house she had rented at some flats opposite the Kerugoya Boys High School. The same flats were also the scene of another murder of yet another single woman — a banker who lived alone. Yet another woman who was an accountant at the Kirinyaga District Farmers Sacco was accosted at her rented residence at the district hospital quarters nearby and clobbered to death.

In all these murders, all the victims had been clobbered on the head with a blunt object and their doors left ajar with nothing being stolen from them.

lucky escape

Early in January, a woman teacher working in a public secondary school escaped death by a whisker when she managed to scare off an intruder who had gained access into her house by cutting the metal grills on her window and then smashing the wooden door to her bedroom.

The lucky teacher was alone in her house when the intruder gained access and she lay in wait as he smashed the bedroom door and unexpectedly grabbed the assailant forcing him to panic and escape. Giving the police a good pointer about the assailant was that he had dropped a small axe as he left in panic.

Esther Wawira, an accountant working in Kerugoya town says she has given up her rented premises in the town and decided to live at her parents’ home almost 40 kilometres outside the town.

"My safety and security counts above everything else including the convenience of an independent lifestyle," says Wawira, 32, who has been living alone since falling out with her fiancé almost four years ago.

Fredrick Kinyua "Shujaa," the chairman of community policing in Kagumo market, says residents in the area are apprehensive that there could be hired hit men on the prowl.

Mr Kinyua says criminals could be taking advantage of lonely, salaried single women.

"Were it not for the co-operation between the public and the police through community policing, the situation would be much worse," says Kinyua. He says the Government must seriously address concerns raised by residents about potential suspects including one who he claims is a licensed gun holder.

Shujaa also says they have advised the police to check whether there is a connection between the brutal murders and land brokerage, saying that Kirinyaga County is notorious for land purchase deals gone sour.

But the Kirinyaga Central District Commissioner Patrick Muli and OCPD Peter Omwano say they are not worried about the increasing mysterious killings saying they do not attribute them to either serial killers or hired hit men.

"Kerugoya town is much safer than other towns in Kenya if you looked keenly at our crime statistics," says the DC. "It is only that the media chooses to blow up particular crimes in a particular way."

Asked whether it wasn’t strange that there are so many brutal murders of working single women in their houses, the OCPD says: "People die anywhere."

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