Nyeri family in agony after nanny disappears with one-year-old son

Baby Ian Kariuki who was stolen by his nanny on May 31, 2024.

Photo credit: Pool

For the past six days, Joyce Wanjeri has been tirelessly searching for her one-year-old son, but to no avail. Her son, Ian Kariuki, was allegedly stolen by his nanny on May 31, she says.

Her efforts, along with those of the Missing Child Kenya Foundation, have led to several clues as to the whereabouts of the suspect - Jane Nyambura - although some have unfortunately hit dead ends.

The police are investigating the matter. The case was reported at Kiamwathi Patrol Base and recorded under Occurrence Book (OB) number 02/01/06/2024.

"The suspect was last seen in Mweiga town, Nyeri on Tuesday, June 4 at 8am, accompanied by another woman who was carrying my son on her back. The three entered a hotel and asked for food," Wanjeri said in an interview. 

Joyce Wanjeri, the mother of the lost one-year-old boy. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

At the hotel, a customer bought them food and also volunteered to buy flour for the child at a nearby shop.

It was only after they had left that the hotel owner realised that one of the women she had served was the same person whose photo had been circulating on social media for a few days.

"The hotel owner alerted us and confirmed with the police that the person she had seen was indeed the suspect we had been looking for all along," said Wanjeri.

The information was a ray of hope for the family, who have been travelling from town to town in the district whenever they get a tip-off about the suspect's whereabouts.

Wanjeri, a teacher at Mathenge Technical Training Institute in Nyeri, says she had no worries for the past two months when she employed the suspect as a nanny.

"Nyambura was introverted, peace-loving and never mistreated my two boys. She was recommended by her niece who lives in our neighbourhood in Kiamwathi," Wanjeri explained.

The suspect used to work as a caretaker for an elderly woman in Chaka town, Nyeri. She resigned after complaining that she was being overworked by being assigned to farm chores.

On the particular day of May 31 when the nanny disappeared with her son, Wanjeri explains that she left for work at around 7.45am after dropping her six-year-old child off at school.

She left her other son sleeping. 

"Usually, while the nanny does her chores, my son spends most of his time playing in our compound," said Wanjeri.

As is the norm, Wanjeri said information gathered from her neighbours showed that her son was last seen in the compound at 11am that day.

However, her eldest child returned home from school at 5pm to find the house empty.

The search for the two began at 9pm that evening when Wanjeri returned home from work.

What was strange, she says, was that the suspect had left all her belongings behind, including her phone - making it difficult to trace her.

The food she had prepared for the baby's lunch was also well stored in the fridge.

According to Wanjeri, the nanny did not raise any concerns, except for one instance six days before the incident.

"I had just returned home from work when she approached me and complained that her child had been sent home from school for unpaid fees," she recalled. Wanjeri then gave her Sh7,000 to cover the outstanding fees of Sh4,000.

 The family describes the bond between the nanny and their son as extremely close.

"There were times when my son refused to be held by anyone but his nanny," said Wanjeri's husband, Michael Kariuki.

 He says he is currently in contact with the nanny's family in Karatina town, where she comes from.