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How a wanted US murder suspect walked out of police station while in custody

By Hilary Kimuyu February 8th, 2024 3 min read

Police have launched a manhunt for a man who was waiting to be extradited to the US to face first-degree murder charges and escaped from police custody in questionable circumstances on Wednesday, February 7, evening.

Police said in a statement that Kevin Kangethe Kinyanjui, 40, who was arrested and detained by local authorities in Nairobi’s Westlands last week escaped while meeting his lawyer at the Muthaiga police station on Wednesday, February 7.

Police added that the suspect who had been detained pending a ruling on whether he should be extradited to the US to face murder charges in connection with the murder of Margaret ‘Maggie’ Mbitu on October 31, 2023, escaped and jumped onto a matatu and fled to an unknown destination.

“The prisoner escaped by running away leaving the said lawyer behind. The officers raised the alarm as they chased the prisoner along the Thika superhighway but couldn’t re-arrest the prisoner,” police said in a statement.

According to the police, John Maina Ndegwa walked in and identified himself as a lawyer and wanted to talk to his client privately and was granted permission to do so, but minutes later the suspect escaped leaving the said lawyer.

A source at the scene who spoke to Nairobi News said that police officers led by Nairobi Regional Police Commander Adamson Bungei rushed to the station after learning that the suspect who was being held at the station had escaped and described the incident as “just embarrassing”.

According to the source, Bungei described the incident as “embarrassing to us”.

The four police officers on duty and the said lawyer were all detained and will be interrogated to explain what happened.

On January 31, 2024, the US embassy in Kenya on Tuesday confirmed the arrest in Nairobi of a wanted Kenyan fugitive who fled the country after killing a woman and taking refuge here.

The Embassy commended the efforts of Kenyan law enforcement in apprehending the fugitive, who is suspected of murdering Margaret ‘Maggie’ Mbitu in Massachusetts sometime between October 30 and November 4, 2023.

“United States law enforcement agencies, Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are working side-by-side to locate and apprehend the fugitive,” they said in a statement.

“The United States and Kenya are committed to strengthening law enforcement cooperation to apprehend criminals, eliminate criminal activity, and advance justice.”

Kangethe appeared in court on February 1 and was being held in police custody for 30 days as the Director of Public Prosecutions prepares extradition proceedings after being arraigned at Milimani Law Courts, pending his extradition to the US.

The suspect is accused of killing Maggie, 31, in October last year.

Kangethe, who had an Interpol Red Notice on his head, was arrested at a club by police acting on a tip-off and is being held at Gigiri Police Station while investigations continue.

A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement agencies around the world to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.

It is not an international arrest warrant. Individuals are wanted by the requesting member state or international court.

Kenyan detectives received a request from US authorities in November to arrest Kangethe for an alleged murder in Massachusetts. The victim’s mother revealed that Margaret had planned to break up with the suspect.

Kevin Kangethe Kinyanjui, 40, is wanted in connection with the murder of Margaret “Maggie” Mbitu, 31, based in Whitman, Massachusetts, whose body was discovered inside a vehicle at Boston's Logan Airport in November 2023. PHOTO| COURTESY
Kevin Kangethe Kinyanjui, 40, is wanted in connection with the murder of Margaret “Maggie” Mbitu, 31, based in Whitman, Massachusetts, whose body was discovered inside a vehicle at Boston’s Logan Airport in November 2023. PHOTO| COURTESY

In November 2023, after the body was found, her mother, Rose Mbitu, told the Boston News that her daughter was planning to break up with Kangethe.

Boston police officers found Margaret’s car with her lifeless body inside, and analysis confirmed that she had been murdered.

US authorities are convinced of one thing – that Kangethe murdered Maggie, as she was affectionately known to family and close friends, before buying tickets for a 16-hour flight to Nairobi, a move detectives believe was to avoid prosecution.

It later emerged that the tickets were bought within hours of her death.

“State police detectives have obtained an arrest warrant charging Kangethe with Ms Mbitu’s murder and are working with Kenyan authorities to locate Kangethe,” a Massachusetts State Police statement said at the time.

Preliminary evidence gathered from Maggie’s car, which was parked in a garage at the airport, and CCTV footage from the airport pointed to the suspect in the most heinous of murders.

The 31-year-old nurse worked at Brockton Area Multi-Services Inc and finished her shift at 11pm last Monday. She got into her white Toyota Venza and drove off, the last time she was seen alive.

In November 2023, sources told the Nation that Kangethe had worked at an airport in the US before the incident.

Maggie was described as a kind person whose happiness was contagious.

“The whole family… everyone is down… I am not myself right now. This is heartbreaking,” her mother told the Boston News.

Margaret is survived by her parents Rose and Harun, siblings Ann and Bernard, and several cousins, aunts and uncles.

Margaret was a naturalised US citizen. She graduated from Quincy College in 2018 and worked for Bamsi, a non-profit organisation that claims to have impacted the lives of more than 50,000 people.