One of the suspects arrested following the beheading of a boda boda rider in Kirinyaga County has told detectives he had been promised Sh400,000 for the killing.
Showing detectives where the rider’s head was dumped, the suspect claimed he was one of the hit-men hired for the job.
"We had been promised Sh400,000 if we eliminated the rider. I was one of those who murdered the rider. We used a knife to kill him but we never got the cash we were promised,” the suspect said at the riverbank as detectives searched for the missing head.
Asked why they were hired to kill the man, he responded: "I think it is something to do with a land dispute."
But the slain man’s mother Mary Waruguru, 43, dismissed the land dispute claims.
“My son didn't own any farm anywhere. In fact, I only inherited half an acre from my late husband on which I grow crops to feed my family," said Ms Waruguru.
Detectives said that although the suspects confessed committing the crime, police had not ascertained their claims that they were hired to carry out the killing.
"The statements of the two suspects do not tally and that is why we want to carry thorough investigations to establish the truth of the matter," one detective said.
On May16, boda boda rider Eric Muriithi, 23, disappeared while working in Ngurubani town.
The following day, his headless body was found dumped in a rice field at K3 in Mwea sub-county.
Two prime suspects were arrested by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Last week, one of the suspects led detectives to the Rupingazi river, where he claimed they had thrown the head after snuffing out the man’s life.
But after combing the river banks in search of the head, they left empty-handed.
Led by Mwea West sub-county police boss Wilson Koskei, the detectives said the suspect had confessed they hacked the youthful rider to death and dumped the head in the river, more than 15km from the scene of the attack.
"The suspect has brought us to this river on the border of Kirinyaga and Embu, but we have not found the head. However, we shall continue looking for it," he said.
Mr Koskei said the suspects are jailbirds and would face the law after investigations were completed.
He observed that a third suspect had recently been lynched by a mob after he was caught red-handed stealing a motorcycle from a local resident.
Detectives are trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the gruesome murder of the youthful rider, described by family members as a hardworking and honest person.
The family said Muriithi hailed from Gatuiri village and relocated to Ngurubani to work.
The day he disappeared, he was seen carrying two passengers, taking them towards Ciagiini in the evening. That was the last day he was seen alive.
When he failed to report to work the following day, his elder brother, Martin Kimotho, also a boda boda rider who lived in the same town, became suspicious that something was amiss and alerted his mother.
It was then that family members joined hands and started looking for Muriithi.
They received information that the body of a young man whose head had been chopped off was seen lying in a pool of blood on a rice farm.
After searching for the head in vain, the family buried the headless body in a sorrowful ceremony that attracted friends, villagers and government administrators.
Ms Waruguru is a widow whose husband died in 2015 after a short illness.
She said her family had no dispute with anyone and she could not understand why her son was slaughtered like a goat.
"Since my husband passed away, I have been living peacefully with neighbours and relatives," she said.
Muriithi, the second-born in a family of five, had been stripped naked and his identity card, phone and motorcycle were missing.
Detectives said the motorcycle had been recovered and would be used as evidence when the suspects are charged.
A court last week allowed police to continue holding the two suspects as they investigated the killing.