Murder or suicide? The dreaded phone call that shattered a father’s world

Family of KCA University student who died in Nairobi demands justice

What you need to know:

  • According to information gathered by the family, the door was open for two days before a caretaker checked and found the body allegedly "dangling from the roof".
  • Despite the official claims of suicide by the investigating police officers, Caleb’s father couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was amiss.

Over the Easter weekend, Stephen Chepkwony received the phone call that every parent dreads.

The voice on the other end was that of a man called Bernard Rono, who delivered news that would shatter his world.

"The caller asked me if I was the father of one Caleb Kipkirui Ngetich, a student at KCA University, and when I said yes, he said he would call back and disconnected the call. It was alarming because I had not spoken to my son for two days," Mr Chepkwony told in an interview.

Sensing that all was not well, Mr Chepkwony left his farm in Cheptolelyoi village and hurried to Bomet town where his family lived.


Caleb Kipkirui Ngetich, a KCA university student suspected to have been killed and incident disguised as suicide in an earlier photo. 

Photo credit: Family Album

As he drove through Kapkesosio trading centre, he received another call, this time from Chepngaina sub-county chief Richard Kirui, who told him he had received information that his son was unwell and in a critical condition in Nairobi.

"I also called my son's phone number, but it was switched off. That was the clearest indication yet that something was seriously wrong," said Mr Chepkwony.

Little did he know that this would be the beginning of a journey of fear, uncertainty and a relentless search for the truth.

"I boarded a matatu to Nairobi after parking my vehicle at my home in Bomet town without informing my wife and other children of the possible trouble and tragic winds that lay ahead," Mr Chepkwony said in an interview.

While in Narok town on his way to Nairobi in a public service vehicle, Mr Chepkwony received a third call, this time from the man whose call had come in the flurry of activity that had tormented him in the space of three hours.

"This time, the man identified himself as a police officer and told me that my son had died. He asked if I wanted the body to be taken to the Nairobi City Mortuary or the Kenyatta University Mortuary for preservation. Without much ado, I asked him to take it to the university facility," said Mr Chepkwony.

Arriving in Nairobi under cover of darkness, he proceeded to the Kenyatta University mortuary, where he was confronted with the horrifying sight of his son's lifeless body.


Ms Jalody Chepkwony and her husband Mr Stephen Chepkwony during an interview in their Bomet town home on April 3, 2024 on the suspicious death of their son Caleb Kipkirui Ngetich, a KCA University student whose body was found in his residential house in Ruaraka Nairobi, last Saturday.

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai| Nation

Caleb lay lifeless, a stark contrast to the vibrant young man he knew.

"I kissed my son's forehead and chest and prayed to God to take care of him. I told him that I had let him go and that I had no problem with him. That we are at peace..." Mr Chepkwony said, revealing the character of a man physically strong in the face of adversity, but with deep-seated inner turmoil.

But it dawned on the father the next morning that there were glaring inconsistencies between the police report of the incident and what had happened, suggesting a shoddy and casual investigation into the matter or an outright cover-up.

Despite the official claims of suicide by the investigating police officers, the elderly man couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was amiss.

Inconsistencies in the police report and peculiarities surrounding Caleb's death cast doubt on the official narrative and fuelled suspicions of foul play.

And so, undeterred by the authorities' reluctance to address his tough questions and concerns, Mr Chepkwony embarked on a personal quest for answers about his son's alleged suicide.

He visited the scene of the crime at Caleb's rented room in Nairobi's Allsops area in Ruaraka, opposite Qwetu Apartments, where he was met with locked doors and dubious claims of a crime scene, the disturbing discovery only deepening his resolve to uncover the truth.

"I insisted on being shown the crime scene and the police let me go alone. I found that contrary to the claim that it was cordoned off, the room was actually locked and the caretaker had the key. That was the first red flag in the case," said Mr Chepkwony.

Mr Stephen Chepkwony (centre) the father to Caleb Kipkirui Ngetich, a first year KCA University student who died in Nairobi's Ruaraka estate last Saturday, speaks to journalists in  the company of relatives and neighbours in their Bomet town home on April 3, 2024. 

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai| Nation

"It dawned on me that there was more to the matter if the police could lie to me that it was a crime scene when there was nothing to indicate that it was a preserved and protected area," Mr Chepkwony said.

The post-mortem findings also pointed to a darker reality, suggesting the possibility of foul play and prompting Mr Chepkwony to call for a thorough investigation.

"As a result of my examination, I am of the opinion that the cause of death was asphyxia due to compression of the neck by ligature as a result of hanging," Dr Dorothy Njeru, a pathologist, said after conducting the post-mortem on April 1, 2024.

The report indicates that there were no defensive wounds, that there was a brownish mattress around the neck, a brown ligature mark around the neck forming an inverted V at the back, and that the head showed no signs of trauma.

The family has requested further investigation by the pathologist with a full toxicology report. Samples of the body have been taken for further laboratory tests, which had not been released by press time.

The family transferred the body from Kenyatta University mortuary to Tenwek Hospital mortuary in Bomet County ahead of a burial ceremony scheduled for Saturday at Cheptolelyoi village in Chepalungu constituency.

The police gave his father a mobile phone and a laptop, all of which were switched off. It has not been established whether anything was stolen from the house.

Before his death, the student had told his father that he was moving to another area and needed rent.

"I sent him the Sh9,000 he needed and it has come to light that he did not use the money as he transferred Sh8,000 to his Mshwari savings account which is intact (there was Sh10,800 in the account) and he had another Sh700 in M-Pesa at the time of his death," said Mr Chepkwony.

It has also been confirmed that the student, who attended St Mary's Primary School in Bomet and Baringo Boys High School (class of 2022), had no other financial transactions and was not involved in betting, which has become a craze for many youths.

There are allegations of a dispute between Caleb and an internet service provider over his plans to move out of the area, but these could not be independently verified. The father claimed that his son had reported the matter to him, but that he had not taken it seriously.

At the time of his death, Caleb was wearing a pair of black jeans, trousers, grey socks, boxer shorts and a grey T-shirt, which his father said were spotlessly clean.

The brown bed sheet allegedly used to take his life was next to his body at the morgue.

"He was an introvert and did not go to social joints like his peers. We have also checked and confirmed that he was not involved in betting. At least not from January this year, according to available records," said Mr Chepkwony.

According to information gathered by the family, the door was open for two days before a caretaker checked and found the body allegedly "dangling from the roof". He then reported the matter to the management.

"I just want to know who killed my son and why? Did he deserve to die like this? And for what?...such an innocent and disciplined child that he was! said Jalody Chepkwony, the mother of the deceased.

A senior police officer in Starehe sub-county, who declined to be named, said the matter was under investigation and that witnesses had recorded statements.

"An official report will be released on the investigation into the case, which has been classified as a suicide of a university student. You will be informed about it later," the officer told the Nation on Thursday.