Shock as woman killed inside Embu Catholic Church centre

 Josephine Karimi,  24, who was found dead in a pit latrine at Catholic Women Association (CWA) centre in Kiaragana, Embu.

Photo credit: Courtesy

On June 28, Josephine Karimi, who had just landed a job as a secretary at a Catholic Church association, disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Five days later, the 24-year-old was found brutally killed and her body dumped in a disused pit latrine at St Mary's Catholic Women Association (CWA) Centre in Kiaragana, Embu County, where she had worked for seven days. 

The macabre killing has shocked her family and the entire Kivwe village where she came from.

Onlookers at the Catholic Women Association (CWA) centre in Kiaragana, Embu, where a woman was found dead in a disused pit latrine. The woman worked as a secretary at the centre.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

When she did not return home on Wednesday 28 June, the family called Karimi on her mobile phone on Thursday, but it had been switched off.

Moments later, they received information from a Catholic priest, who told them that Karimi was not at the centre and that no one had any idea of her whereabouts.

"Before Karimi went missing, she had lunch with her mother and went back to work on Wednesday," her father, Simon Kivuti Gatumu, told the Nation on Monday.

"But the next day we called to check on her, but her phone did not go through and we sensed that something was wrong. Then a priest called and told us that Kirimi hadn't come to work on Thursday. I rushed to the centre and found that my daughter was indeed not in her office, which was locked".

Police move the body of the woman from Catholic Women Association (CWA) centre in Kiaragana, Embu, where she was found dead in a disused pit latrine.

Photo credit: George Munene | Nation Media Group

Shocked, the family desperately searched everywhere for their daughter, but to no avail.

They even announced her disappearance in various churches and on social media, but no one volunteered any information about her whereabouts.

On Saturday, Mr Gatumo, an employee of the Kenya National Library Services in Embu, reported the matter to Runyenjes Police Station and recorded a statement.

Detectives at the station promised to investigate the matter and told Mr Gatumo to return home.

On 3 July, the librarian returned to Runyenjes Police Station and the detectives asked him to accompany them to the Catholic Centre, to which he agreed.

On arrival, the detectives picked up a casual labourer, who is also a church worker, and questioned him for hours. 

During the interrogation, the labourer, whose job is to clear bushes and do other menial work at the centre, revealed that he knew where Karimi was and that she was safe.

"The casual labourer told the detectives that Karimi was fine, but unfortunately she was not," Mr Gatumo recalled.

The labourer took the detectives to the pit latrine and when they looked through it, they saw the woman's lifeless body and immediately took him to the station for further interrogation.

Embu East sub-county police boss Anthony Maina said the labourer, who hails from Vihiga County, was being treated as a prime suspect in the macabre murder and would be charged to court once investigations were complete.

"The suspect works within the premises of the centre and he must face the law," he said, adding that the killing was being treated as murder.

"We have established that the woman was eliminated and thrown there, possibly to cover up the evidence."

He said the body of the deceased had been recovered and taken to the mortuary for post-mortem and asked the family to be patient, promising that justice would be done.

Mr Gatumo lamented that his daughter was working alone in a secluded place with no security.

"My daughter was working alone in that office and there were no guards to watch over her. If there were guards at the centre or more people working there, my daughter would not have been murdered. We are still coming to terms with our daughter's death," he said.

He claimed the centre was not safe for a woman to work alone and urged the church to consider increasing security.

The local Catholic priest, Father Amedeus Mugendi, declined to comment on the incident when contacted by the Nation.

"The matter is sensitive and I don't want to talk about it because it is being handled by the police," the priest said.