Police launch investigation after 13-year-old girl found murdered in Nyeri

Michael Maina

Michael Maina at the scene where his daughter Stella Wambui, 13, was found murdered and dumped on a maize farm near their home in Satima village, Nyeri County. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Police are investigating the murder of a 13-year-old girl who was found dead on a maize farm in Nyeri's Kieni constituency on Tuesday morning. Her body was discovered at dawn, shortly after locals ended an overnight search for her.

Stella Wambui, a Grade 8 student, went missing after attending a family gathering at her mother's home in Satima village.

Kieni West Sub-County Police Commander Samuel Ndegwa said police investigations had ruled out the maize plantation as a secondary crime scene because the girl had been killed and dumped elsewhere.

He, however, cautioned locals against speculation, noting that investigations were still ongoing to establish what really happened.

He urged residents to wait for a post-mortem report that will determine what exactly happened to the minor.

"At the moment, we cannot confirm the allegations made by the residents, which include rape, until a post-mortem examination is conducted," Mr Ndegwa said.

The girl had left the party at around 6:20pm on Monday night, accompanied by her mother, for her home in Uaso Nyiro - about three kilometres away.

But almost halfway through the journey, the mother took a different route.

"I had to collect something from my sister's house, so I asked my daughter to meet me at a nearby intersection. Our plan was to continue our journey home together," explained the girl's mother, Mary Kirigo.

When she arrived at the meeting point about 10 minutes later, she could not find her daughter.

Thinking that her daughter might have decided to walk ahead and would soon catch up, the mother started walking home alone.

However, when she arrived home, she realised that her daughter had not returned and that the last time she had been seen at home was that morning before she left for the meeting.

This prompted the parents to launch a thorough search for her.

"We even retraced her steps back to her grandparents' house, following the same route she had taken, hoping to find her along the way," said the girl's father, Michael Maina.

As the night wore on, the search effort escalated, drawing in family members and neighbours to help.

During the operation, locals often met to strategise the search in the exact spot where the body was discovered the next morning.

By 4:00am, the locals had completed their search and retired to bed, with plans to resume the operation in a few hours' time.

Later that morning, while on his way to the police station to report his missing child, the girl's father received a phone call informing him that local residents had discovered his daughter's body.

According to the girl's father, there is a possibility that her killer was someone she knew.

He based this on the fact that the girl was shy and introverted and rarely trusted people.

"Her killer must have lured her into following him and made her feel comfortable before abducting her," he explained, noting that the body was discovered just a few metres from where the mother and daughter were supposed to meet.

Coincidentally, the girl's body was found just 150 metres from her family's leased farm.

Locals who responded to the scene described her clothes as torn and her trousers unzipped. She had injuries to her right ear, white foam coming out of her mouth and visible marks on her neck indicating signs of strangulation.

She was also found with a clenched fist - suggesting she may have tried to resist her attacker.

"There is a possibility that the attacker may have sustained injuries, particularly to one of his hands. The girl may have bitten him while he was strangling her, hence the motive for biting her ear," said one of the locals who recovered the body.

The maize plantation borders a path that the girl and her mother were supposed to take when they were reunited.

The family said the girl had carried a bag with her mother's clothes and a blow dryer on her way home. However, this was not found at the scene.

The last time Maina saw his youngest daughter was that morning before he left for work.

"I had told her to finish her chores before leaving for the party at around 11am," he explained.

The girl had travelled to Satima to join her mother, who had spent the previous night at her mother's house preparing for the party.

The mother says the party was for family members only, and the girl spent the day with her maternal cousins.

"Therefore, it was impossible for her to arrange to meet her school friends," she said, noting that the girl was supposed to return to school the next day (Tuesday) before closing on Wednesday for the April school holiday.