Murang'a arson attack: Suspect Alice Nyambura to face murder charges

Kandara arson attack victims

From left: Mary Wangui Njoroge and two of her grandchildren — Jackline Wambui and Alvin Kiarie — who died in the Kandara arson attack. A post-mortem has revealed that the six victims of the attack were burnt alive.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Homicide detectives investigating the case in which six family members were burnt to death in an arson attack in Murang’a County on April 10 have said the suspect will be charged with murder.

Those who died are Ms Mary Wangui 60, her three daughters, Cecilia Gathoni 30, Lucy Mumbi 18, and Margaret Wanja 15 as well as her two grandchildren Jackline Wambui 7, and Alvin Kiarie aged three.

Ms Alice Nyambura, 36, who is Wangui’s younger sister, was arrested the same day of the incident. Kandara Senior Resident Magistrate Eric Mutunga allowed the police to detain her for 21 days as they concluded their investigations.

 An investigation report indicated that the fire that killed the six was premeditated, deliberately executed with the intention for murder.

In the report, the detectives say they are convinced the suspect is highly criminally culpable of the arson attack.

The report indicates that the post-mortem reports that were conducted on the bodies by government Chief Pathologist Johansen Oduor helped pin the suspect to the crime.

Police say the house where the six died, had nine occupants by 1am when the deadly fire started.

"Six of the nine died and were buried on April 27 in a mass grave in Gatitu Village of Kandara Sub County. The other three were the suspect and her two daughters. Statements from the two minors abdicates them from blame and we are left with the suspect in custody carrying the sole responsibility of the tragedy," the report reads.

The report adds that by the time the deadly fire erupted, the suspect had taken her children and belongings to safe custody.

"This gives the impression that she had prior intelligence that the deadly fire would erupt. The fact that the room in which the six died had been locked from outside gave the impression that the fire was premeditated and started against the victims with an intention to cause maximum damage," the report adds.

It further says preliminary investigations recovered accelerants and used matchsticks from the suspect, an indication that she had handled materials likely to cause fire moments before the tragedy struck.

The autopsies indicated that all six were burned alive, died in an agonising manner as they held onto each other with no chance of escape. Dr Oduor revealed that all sustained 100 percent burns.

Dr Oduor's revelation that the six were conscious-- noting that all had no other injuries before they burned alive-- helped the detectives arrive at the most likely scenario that the assailant was one and who used the padlock to ensure the victims remained trapped in the fire for maximum damage.

The motive of the attack has been recorded as malice driven by urge to revenge family disputes founded on inheritance of their polygamous father’s estate valued at Sh2.3 billion.

The family's patriarch Mr John Kung'u who died in 2000 had two wives--one dead since 2008--and collectively had 20 children. The family is profiled in the investigative report as that living "in inheritance dispute factions to a point where some do not even speak to each other owing to deep-rooted enmity ".