June Jerop Kangogo, fit as a fiddle, was in high spirits when she was last seen by her classmates on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
Her elder sister, Ms Joyce Jepkemoi, said Jerop, who was an accountant at the National Industrial Training Authority (Nita) in Nairobi and an MBA student at Kenyatta University, spent the day with her friends until around 5pm, when she excused herself to go on a coffee date.
That was the last time her classmates saw the 36-year-old alive.
Two days later, her body was found by pedestrians near Jamhuri Primary School in Nairobi County.
What happened? Who wanted Jerop dead, and why?
These are some of the questions her family is grappling with.
According to a classmate, on that Saturday, Jerop left class at 5pm in a hurry after she received a phone call from a friend inviting her out for coffee.
“Her friends told us she informed them that she was going to meet a male friend, but did not disclose much more about it, only for her body to be found dumped on the roadside on Monday morning,” said Ms Jepkemoi.
“I last spoke with my sister on Friday, March 17, about some family matters as we were to contribute money to buy medicine for our ailing mother. We agreed amongst ourselves that Jerop would collect the money and later forward it to our mother. Each of us (three siblings) was to contribute Sh2,000,” Ms Jepkemoi said.
Jerop was to send the money on Sunday, but her phone was off.
“We assumed that the battery on her phone had run out of power (and) we thought that she would send the money on Monday morning,” she said.
“That morning my mother called telling me that she had tried to reach Jerop, but her phone was still switched off. I told her to wait, maybe she would reach out later. On Tuesday, my mother called her again while in the hospital, but Jerop’s phone was still off, raising suspicion about her whereabouts,” added Ms Jepkemoi.
“She was the type of a girl who could tell me anything, we were very close. When her phone went off for two consecutive days, I knew something was amiss, but I did not rush to conclusions,” she went on.
On Tuesday evening, she received a call from Jerop’s colleague at Nita who said she had not reported for work on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, her colleagues thought that she had failed to report for work due to the nationwide anti-government protests called by the opposition. However, when on Tuesday morning she was nowhere to be seen, her absence raised eyebrows. The fact that her phone was off also worried her colleagues.
According to Ms Jepkemoi, it was unusual for her sister to miss work.
“She always sought permission in advance whenever she had matters to attend to,” she recalled.
With her phone off and nowhere to be seen, Ms Jepkemoi said she filed a missing person report at the Industrial Area Police station in Nairobi, before together with her other sister, they started a search.
“After looking for her for two days, I got worried. I knew her character. If she was in trouble she would have called and told me. I had hoped that she would resurface. Each day I was expecting a call to be informed that maybe she was hospitalised in a critical condition but was alive. We thought that maybe she had been hit by a car and rushed to hospital, but it never came to pass,” she recalled.
On March 24, the sisters thought of visiting the worst and last place – Nairobi’s City Mortuary.
At the mortuary, they were shown photographs and to their shock, Jerop — the sixth-born among 11 children — was among bodies that had been taken to the mortuary by police officers that week.
When it was found, the body was swollen and covered in blood, said Ms Jepkemoi.
“We identified her by her dreadlocks, fingernails and the clothes she was wearing — a white flowered blouse and black trousers. We called her classmate who also confirmed that that was how she was dressed when she left. That’s when we knew she was dead,” said a teary Ms Jepkemoi.
“To us, she had been missing for five days. We had been looking for her since Monday after her phone went off. We suspect she was killed on Sunday and her body dumped on the roadside on Monday morning,” she added.
According to a police report seen by the Nation, pedestrians who found the body called police officers who took it to the City Mortuary.
Jerop’s body now lies at the mortuary awaiting a post-mortem.
Ms Jepkemoi described Jerop as a quiet, kind-hearted, humble, straightforward, hardworking and ambitious person who was looking forward to graduating this year.
Jerop’s family in Moiben constituency, Uasin Gishu County, is now seeking justice over the mysterious death of their daughter.
The family has called for speedy investigations to unravel the circumstances surrounding her death.
“We want to know why she was killed, what was the motive and what she did to deserve such cruelty. As a family, we want justice," Ms Jepkemoi said.
Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are now piecing together information to establish who she was last with and whom she last spoke with.
“We have arrested three suspects who are aiding in investigations. So far we have analysed phone data and we are piecing together more information to unravel the circumstances surrounding her death. We already know she was murdered, what we want to establish is by who and the motive behind her killing,” said a senior detective at the centre of the investigation.
“More than seven people have recorded statements and we are pursuing more who interacted with her before she met her death,” the detective added.
According to Ms Jepkemoi, three suspects were arrested over the murder but are yet to take plea as police sought more days to complete investigations.