A six-year-old girl and her four-year-old brother had just arrived at their home from church last Sunday when they discovered the lifeless body of their mother, lying in a pool of blood.
Celestine Nduku Kioko, 26, from Kambi ya Juu area in Isiolo, was last seen by villagers that morning while seeing off her children to church.
But police believe her husband, whom she had reportedly broken up with three weeks earlier following several disagreements, is a person of interest in the gruesome killing.
Neighbours suspect the killing happened between 10am and 2pm when most of the people in the neighbourhood were in church. She had prepared to do some washing as used utensils and clothes were found outside her house.
On realising their mother’s lifeless body, the children alerted their grandmother who lived some metres away from their rental house, who then informed a friend who accompanied her to her daughter’s house.
“I initially thought she could be saved but on closer look, I saw her throat had been completely slit. She had other stab wounds in the chest and was dead,” said Ms Susan Wangari, who accompanied Ms Kioko’s mother to the scene.
Neighbours say the relationship between Ms Kioko, who ran a hotel, and her husband, was rocky and that the estranged man used to beat her.
Ms Wangari said the man recently roughed her up while at his parent’s compound within the same vicinity.
“She had even reported to police (about the assault) but no action was taken,” she told Nation.
A proud mother, Ms Kioko, hid the scars and never showed her grief in public, and was committed to seeing her eight-year-old marriage work until it turned more violent and she decided to walk out.
Her past posts on Facebook between June 30, 2019 and February 7 this year, when she last shared a picture of herself in a white top and black skirt, showed a jovial woman.
She had on May 21, May 24 and September 26 last year shared her pictures, of light moments and with her children under hashtags #Ifoundmypeace #ProudMommaOfTwo #BestMommaChallenge.
Information gathered from her social media account shows that she was married and schooled at Lema Girls High School in Machakos.
Details have emerged that the assailant could have raped her before murdering her as eye witnesses say she was naked.
The killing has sparked anger among Kenyans online who have demanded justice for Ms Kioko and her now motherless children.
The woman’s mother, Florence Kioko, said her daughter’s marriage was marred by violence and that she recently moved out and rented a room where she lived with her children.
“She reported the matter to police on some occasions including one when the husband injured her on the face. The issue did not proceed to court as police told her to solve the matter with elders and parents,” the mother said.
She asked police to expedite investigations into the matter and bring the culprit to book.
Advised to separate
“They had issues and we advised them to separate for some time. Police should arrest the one who murdered my daughter,” Florence said while blaming detectives for not updating the family on progress of investigations.
A police officer who sought anonymity told the Nation that an identification card was recovered from the scene but they are yet to establish whether the attacker dropped it or it was planted.
Isiolo Sub-County Police Commander George Kariuki said they are treating the estranged husband as the prime suspect and that he is being pursued.
“Investigations are underway to arrest the culprit,” Mr Kariuki told journalists at Isiolo Police Station.
The police boss said a report on the post-mortem done on the woman’s body will be out later and promised to share it with the media.