Police in Nyeri have recovered the missing mobile phone of a 19-year-old college girl who was raped, killed and her body thrown by the road on Sunday night.
The phone, detectives say, was found just a few metres from where the body of Peris Nyaguthii, wrapped in a gunny bag, was discovered Monday morning near her home in Kamahuro village, Tetu Sub-county.
Beside the phone lay a folded handwritten note which police say is confidential as it is a potential lead in their ongoing investigations.
Speaking to Nation.Africa, Tetu Sub-county Police Commander Richard Masila said the mobile device was first seen on Tuesday morning by Grade Six pupils of a local public primary school while on their way to school.
“The children noticed the phone at around 6am but decided to ignore it. However, upon seeing it still there in the evening when returning from school, they informed their parents about it,” he said.
With the parents already aware of an ongoing murder investigation, they promptly alerted a village elder who then contacted the police.
“The village elder took swift and discreet measures to secure the crime scene, ensuring it remained undisturbed and did not attract public attention until the police arrived,” said one of the locals who sought anonymity.
The police detectives restricted anyone from accessing the crime scene, including family members, and did not disclose the contents of the folded handwritten note.
Mr Masila said detectives are now examining the note and the last phone conversations of the deceased to determine who she was in contact with prior to her demise.
A local revealed that among the people questioned by the police is a passer-by who claimed to have come across one of the deceased’s shoes on Sunday night, near the location where her body was discovered the following day.
The remains of Peris, an ICT student at Tetu Technical and Vocational College, was found dumped in a Napier grass plantation, near the road, and about 800 metres from her home. Local farmers walking to a tea plantation in the wee hours stumbled upon her body.
She was half-naked, and part of her torso was filled with soil, an indication that she could have been attacked and made to lie on the ground as she was raped.
Before the incident on Sunday night, her family says that she spent most of her Sunday attending church with her mother Ann Mwangi, although the two parted ways after the service.
“She said that her younger brother, a secondary school student, had sent her to buy him perfume which she could not find at our local shopping centre,” said the deceased’s mother.
Peris then proceeded to a further shopping centre known as Gateri, which is three kilometres away from her home.
When her daughter did not return home by 7pm that evening, her mother says that she got worried.
“It was unusual for her to get home late considering that she always had a 'curfew' to be back home by 6pm,” she explained.
The two shared a phone and as Peris’s mother explains, her sim card was in her daughter’s phone.
A few hours later with no signs of seeing her daughter, she sought help from a neighbour who lent her a phone to call Peris. She discovered that her daughter’s phone had been switched off.
“I asked for her whereabouts from my friends at Gateri shopping centre who said that she was last seen at Gateri market at around 5pm in the evening,” the mother said.
The family would later come to learn that before the incident, their daughter had been on a phone call with a college friend.
In the phone conversation, the deceased informed the friend of her whereabouts, saying that she was walking home alone at night and in fear.
“She said that she had tried looking for a motorbike to take her home but could not find one,” the deceased’s mother said.
At one point, the mother said that her daughter’s friend told her that the deceased thought she was being followed, only to reveal to her minutes later that the person following her was somebody well-known to her.
It is for this reason that the family believes that Peris’s attackers were people well-known to her.
However, the deceased’s mother says that she cannot think of anyone that could harm her daughter as she hardly had any company in her neighbourhood.
“She rarely spent her school holidays in Nyeri as I always opted to send her away to my relatives in Kajiado County,” the mother said.
Whenever she was around, Peris stayed in the company of her friends from church on Sundays or relatives.
A post-mortem exercise scheduled for Tuesday at the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital Morgue was postponed to Friday due to the unavailability of the pathologist.