Judy Wanjiru Gacheru

Judy Wanjiru Gacheru who was found murdered on October 16, 2018 inside a man's house.


| Mwangi Muiruri Nation Media Group

Man suspected of killing his lover in 2018 still free

On the evening of October 15, 2018, Judy Wanjiru Gacheru, then 32, was last seen in a jovial mood with a man said to be her boyfriend.

The mother of two had worked for several years as a barmaid in Maragua town and friends and relatives were aware of the couple’s relationship.

The following day, residents woke up to the shocking news that Ms Gacheru had been found beheaded inside the man's house in Kambirwa village, Kiharu sub-county.

Interestingly, the police did not summon the man for questioning.

The Murang’a East police boss at the time, Janet Wasige, told Nation.Africa that she did not comprehend how the man she had ordered hunted down never ended up in police cells.

The last police status report on the killing was made on January 3, 2020, indicating that the suspect had gone into hiding but was being sought.

Crime-scene detectives had secured the machete that was allegedly used in slaughtering the woman.

A post-mortem report compiled by Dr Elijah Njoroge showed that Ms Gacheru was first hit hard on the head with a blunt object before her throat was slit.

Murder

Murang'a County barmaids’ union chairperson Elizabeth Wairimu told Nation.Africa that they had written twice to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations seeking to find out the status of investigations into the murder.

"We wrote to them on December 18, 2020 expressing our displeasure with the slow pace of apprehending the suspect(s) and then on March 16, 2021 indicating that it appeared there was a conspiracy to deny the deceased justice," Ms Wairimu said in an interview.

The DCI, she said, had set a bad precedent that is likely to imply to other murderers that they can take a life and go scot-free.

“All we want is for the culprit(s) to pay the price of murder for taking another person’s life,” she said.

Police statements yet to be acted on include one from a friend of the murdered woman. The friend claimed that bad blood existed between the couple over Sh430,000 that Ms Gacheru allegedly stole from her lover. The money was allegedly from the sale of land.

"The man would repeatedly complain that Ms Gacheru had stolen from him and was battering him. He had confided that the money was meant for investing in a bar business," the friend wrote in her statement.

The man had contacted his lover’s brother, who worked at a butchery in Murang’a town, to help him get his money back, to no avail.

Sh430,000

Another statement, from an M-Pesa agent where the man used to bank his money, indicated he had sworn on several occasions that he would kill Ms Gacheru.

"He kept saying he loved her and wanted to settle down and in 2017 he sold part of his family land for Sh430,000. The money disappeared the very day he was paid," the statement reads.

The statement added that he also complained that Ms Gacheru had assaulted him when he raised the issue of the lost money.

A DCI profile of the man showed that he was previously a criminal in Nairobi. When police trained their guns on him and ordered him out of the crime-prone Kayole estate in 2016, he returned to his village and became a barber in Murang’a town.

By 2017 he had saved enough to buy an old motorbike, which he used to earn a living as a boda boda rider.

As an orphan who had inherited a piece of land from his mother, the man planned to invest in a bar in partnership with Ms Gacheru after selling the land, according to the M-Pesa agent.

A week before Ms Gacheru was killed, the suspect had sold another piece of land for Sh150,000 and was heard vowing that the cash was a bait for her.

On the last day Ms Gacheru was seen alive, at around 10pm, the suspect gave her Sh30,000 to buy drinks for both of them. But by midnight, she announced they had used up all the money.

Bar business

"The man did not quarrel even when it was apparent that the bill was less than Sh2,000. He told her it was okay," the bar owner said in an interview.

According to the bar owner, the suspect bought chicken and asked Ms Gacheru to accompany him to his rural home, where they would collect Sh120,000 more to invest in the bar business.

It would appear that Ms Gacheru had walked into a trap that would lead to her death.

Reached for a comment on the case, Murang'a DCI boss Daniel Kandie said he is new in the area and would audit all pending murder cases and issue a report.

"Crime does not expire and the case will be reactivated. We will have a fresh look into it and an action rolled out to nab her killers. It is after we have relooked into the statements that we will report on the way forward," Mr Kandie said.

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