Police face hiccup prosecuting four suspects who killed 3, maimed 4 in Meru

Evangelist Josephat Kinoti Isaiah

Evangelist Josephat Kinoti Isaiah, 27, who was hacked to death as he prayed in Nyambene forest, Meru County together with his wife Ruth Kageni in a handout photo. Police have arrested four suspects and appealed to residents to volunteer information. 

Photo credit: Courtesy I Nation Media Group

Police in Mikinduri, Meru County are scratching their heads as they seek the motive behind the gruesome killing of three villagers and maiming of four others that has gripped Kiguchwa area.

Tigania Central police boss Joel Chepkwony said though four suspects had been arrested, they were yet to piece up sufficient evidence that could sustain conviction against them.

The brutal gang aged below 30 years has orchestrated a month-long spree of knife attacks in Kanguene and Kanguba villages, mainly targeting the stomach and the neck.  

Police are looking at the crimes as ritual killings since the perpetrators do not steal valuables from their victims, but would later head to nearby Nyambene forest and slaughter goats.

Mikinduri ritual killing grave

The grave of Ms Rebecca Ciakamwira M’Athiru, 87, who is among three people killed by a knife wielding gang in Kiguchwa area, Tigania central, Meru County. Police have arrested four suspects and appealed to residents to volunteer information.

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro I Nation Media Group

The string of attacks left Ms Rebecca Ciakamwira M’Athiru, 87, Evangelist Josphat Kinoti Isaiah, 27, and Florence Nkatha Kirichia, 42, dead.

Four others are nursing various injuries, among them a woman who was raped and then slashed as she collected firewood and an elderly man whose intestines were severed.

But despite the gory attacks, residents were unwilling to volunteer information that would help the prosecution build an airtight case.

Mr Chepkwony said police were holding public barazas to plead with members of the public to provide information that would help them secure convictions.

He is also promising to bring on board the witness protection agency to guarantee the safety of those who volunteer information.

“These criminals are known, they come from this locality… I have pleaded with them to identify them and tell us who harbours the criminals.  

Joel Chepkwony

Tigania Central police boss Joel Chepkwony in his office at Mikinduri town, Meru County where four people accused of hacking to death three people and seriously injuring four others are being held. He appealed to residents to volunteer information. 

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro I Nation Media Group

“We have arrested the suspects but without evidence, we will take them to court and they will be released and come back to terrorize us. We need several statements so that they can be taken to court,” Mr Chepkwony appealed.

Tigania magistrate’s court gave the police a lifeline after allowing them 14 days to hold the suspects as they seek evidence.

The suspects who mainly operate from the expansive Nyambene forest were seized in their homes moments after officers from GSU, the dog unit, regular police and dozens of volunteers combed the hideout.

Eric Mutwiri thought to be the gang ring leader was lynched by a mob who caught up with him in a neglected tea plantation at the edge of the forest.

The latest victim, Evangelist Kinoti of Methodist Church in Kanguba was stabbed to death when the gang ambushed him as he prayed in a forest last Friday.

He was ambushed by a lone attacker who hit him with a club on the back of his head, then stabbed him in the neck severally.
Evangelist Kinoti is survived by his wife Ruth Kageni and their son Promise Muthomi who turned a year-old last Thursday.

MCK Kanguba

MCK Kanguba where Evangelist Josephat Kinoti Isaiah, 27, who was hacked to death as he prayed in Nyambene forest, Meru County resided. Police have arrested four suspects and appealed to residents to volunteer information.

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro I Nation Media Group

His death sparked outrage with residents joining a team consisting of security agencies, chiefs and Nyumba Kumi operatives, that was formed to crack down on the gang.

Officers used sniffer dogs to comb the forest where the gang reportedly spends most of its time.
Kiguchwa MCK parish priest Daniel Mithika said they suspect the gang was a cult.

Ms Kirichia, was attacked at her Kanguene village home and later died at Meru Level Five hospital where she had been rushed for treatment.

Residents found Sh15,000 in her purse still intact.

The body of Ms M’Athiru, who lived alone was found in her house bearing stab wounds.

Mr Hillary Kaume recounted how he was ambushed by six men as he left work in the evening.

Ruth Kageni husband killing

Ms Ruth Kageni (centre) the widow of Evangelist Josephat Kinoti Isaiah, 27, who was hacked to death as he prayed in Nyambene forest, Meru County address the press together with Kiguchwa MCK parish priest Daniel Mithika (right) address the press outside Kiguchwa MCK church. Police have arrested four suspects and appealed to residents to volunteer information.

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro I Nation Media Group

They beat him up with clubs and one seized a slasher and cut him in the leg.

When they were through, they filled his mouth with ash and left without taking anything.

On July 13, Mzee Mugaa Kaberia was ambushed by the gang and was cut several times, leaving him fighting for his life.

“I felt blood dripping from multiple parts and I raised the alarm and was rescued and taken to hospital. I was shocked to learn that they were not after anything from me," he says as he recuperates.

As he was wheeled into the hospital, he met Mr Stanley Kairu who was also seeking medical attention after being attacked by three men.

The attacks have caused widespread fear with many people fearing to venture out at night, while pupils are being escorted to schools.

Speaking during the burial of Ms Nkatha, Mikinduri OCS Patrick Mwatha said they were having difficulties cracking the case because residents were not volunteering information.

Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu, Woman Rep candidate Felicity Biriri and local leader Mike Makarina called on security agencies to apprehend the entire gang.

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