Detectives seek to identify tall dark man in lawyer’s murder
Three more people are being sought by police over the murder of a lawyer, his client and a taxi driver two weeks ago.
One of the suspects is a tall, dark man who drove the taxi — which the three victims had used — from Mavoko to Limuru.
The other suspect is a man who works in Mlolongo but comes from the area where the vehicle was recovered in Limuru.
Police on Wednesday said he went missing after the bodies were recovered. The police did not give details about the third suspect.
The tall dark man, police believe, drove the taxi from Mavoko to Limuru after the three were kidnapped as they left the Mavoko Law Courts on June 23. He had not been arrested by Wednesday evening.
The investigations, conducted by a team of detectives from the American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the homicide department at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), have also identified and reconstructed the suspected scene of murder.
The reconstruction is being used to determine what could have transpired minutes before the three were killed, and also the credibility of witnesses.
The three — lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josphat Mwenda, and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri — were abducted by unknown men as they left the Mavoko Law Courts on a Thursday two weeks ago.
Nine days later, on Friday, July 1, their bodies were recovered from a river in Ol Donyo Sabuk, near Kilimambogo in Machakos county.
The tall dark man was captured on camera driving the Toyota Fielder taxi, registration number KBX 126C, from Mavoko to Limuru.
Police security camera footage shows that its owner, Muiruri, drove from Roysambu at around 5.30am to Kinoo to pick lawyer Willie Mwangi. The two then drove to Mavoko.
On their way back, with boda boda rider Joseph Mwenda in the car, they were abducted, and the car is seen moving along Mombasa Road from Mlolongo to the city. The last image of the car was captured near City Cabanas restaurant, at around 1.45pm.
It is not clear why the vehicle disappeared from the forest of cameras covering the rest of the city and its environs.
From City Cabanas, police relied on the Fielder’s tracking device, which shows that the vehicle joined Lang’ata Road, then used the bypass to Kikuyu before proceeding in the direction of Limuru. The dark man is seen alone in the car, but the camera only captured up to his chin. The rest of his face is hidden.
The detectives on Wednesday revisited the scene where the victims are suspected to have been killed in Mlolongo and found the area disturbed, an indication that there was a struggle.
Two witnesses said they saw two men at the scene on the day the three disappeared. One of the attackers had covered himself in a Maasai shuka.
A similar article of clothing was later found in the house of Sergeant Leonard Mwangi, the fourth officer who was arrested on Monday evening.
The movements of both the deceased and some of the suspects have also been traced. The three were abducted as they left the law courts in Athi River shortly before 1pm and taken to Syokimau Administration Police Post, where they were detained until nightfall.
They were then removed from the tiny cell they shared and taken to the scene of murder, about 2.5 kilometres from the post.
TORTURED AND KILLED
At the killing field, their heads were covered with plastic bags before they were tortured, bludgeoned to death and their bodies packed in sacks. This, according, to the police, was to ensure that no blood was spilled at the scene.
Detectives also believe that there is sufficient proof of malice aforethought — the conscious intent to cause death or great bodily harm — which they said was a key element to prove murder.
For instance, after their abduction, the three were taken from Mavoko to Syokimau, about 18 kilometres away, and not Mlolongo Police Station, which was nearer.
The small cell at the AP post is only meant for temporary custody of suspects before they are transferred to a better equipped police station, which in this case was about six kilometres away.
The cell, one of the three cubicles in a 40-foot shipping container, had been secured and marked as a crime scene, but was on Wednesday burnt by angry boda boda riders who were protesting the killing of their colleague.
That the suspects were never booked in the cell, according to the detectives investigating the matter, also shows that the murder could have been planned.
There is an Occurrence Book (OB) at the Syokimau AP camp, where the officers are required to make reports of all daily occurrences. The details of the three men were never entered into any official records as is standard police procedure.
The OB captures the names of all persons arrested and the offences with which they are charged. The details include the date and time of arrest and detention, identity of the arresting officer, and the date of any transfer of the detainee to another place of detention.
Investigations reveal that the suspects were conscious not to leave any trace of evidence and also concealed their movements. They, for example, left their phones in the house and never communicated hours before, during and shortly after the murders.
A Toyota Corolla belonging to Senior Sergeant Fredrick Leliman has also been detained as an exhibit. It was, however, not clear why it was detained.
Four detectives from the FBI — all of them experts in murder investigations — are in the country to help the DCI officers in the investigations.
Apart from the two teams, the DCI’s specialised teams, including the Flying Squad headed by Mr Said Kiprotich and the Special Crime Prevention Unit of Mr Noah Katumo, are also helping in the investigations.
Mr Mwenda, the boda boda rider, suffered the most injuries, according to a pathologist’s report. Investigators are pursuing the claim that the lawyer, Mr Willie Kimani, could have been targeted because of his previous interactions with the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
He worked with the International Justice Mission (IJM), headquartered in the US.
On Wednesday, the investigators said they were also trying to establish the identities of two police officers who claimed that they were from the DCI and attempted to arrest Mr Mwenda, the boda boda rider, as he left court last year, claiming that he was suspected to have been involved in a robbery in Meru.
Investigators are also looking into other cases against Mr Mwenda that were active in court, particularly Criminal Case number 220 of 2015 and Traffic Case number 1650 of 2015.
In the traffic case, there were conflicting statements from the police, according to records seen by the Daily Nation. For instance, one of the officers listed as a witness denied taking part in the arrest despite his name being in the charge sheet as Prosecution Witness Number One (PW1).
Also, after the police could not prove that Mr Mwenda had a motorcycle, they told the court that he was arrested while riding one belonging to his former classmate.
Court officials, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, visited Mlolongo Police Station early this year, where one of the key exhibits, the motorcycle, was allegedly kept. It was, however, not found at the station.
According to the charge sheet, the motorcycle, whose registration number was given as KMDR 828P, was found to belong to somebody else — Aileen Gatabi Kithaka, who bought it from a shop in Makindu in August last year.