Puzzle of orphaned Tharaka boy killed by his two step-uncles over missing bag

Edwin Murithi

Edwin Murithi, 17, who was reportedly beaten to death by his two step-uncles in Tharaka on December 31.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The boy was found by his grandmother, Grace Kaguna lying on the grass under a mango tree a few metres from the accused's house at around 10am on January 1.
  • Before he died, Murithi said his step-uncles accused him of stealing a bag and gave him a heinous beating, according to witness accounts given to police.

Police in Tharaka Nithi County are set to charge two brothers accused of beating their step-nephew, Edwin Murithi, 17, to death in Mariene village in Tharaka Constituency on the night of December 31, 2023.

Samuel Muriuki, a second-year student at Kirinyaga University, and Kelvin Njeru, a graduate of Kenya Medical Training College, were brought before the Marimanti Magistrate's Court on Monday after being found mentally fit to face murder charges.

They are now awaiting arraignment at the Chuka High Court.

A post-mortem report seen by the Nation shows that Murithi, an orphan who was studying at Chuka Boys' High School on Equity Group’s Wings to Fly scholarship, died of internal bleeding caused by injuries to several internal organs including the liver and pancreas.

Tharaka Nithi family mourns boy allegedly beaten to death by uncles

Muriuki was arrested last Saturday in Naivasha, where he was reportedly hiding, while Njeru was arrested on the night of January 2 at their home in Mariene, where he had just returned after the incident.

The boy was found by his grandmother, Grace Kaguna, 70, lying on the grass under a mango tree a few metres from his and the accused's house at around 10am on January 1.

Murithi died minutes later while the family members were looking for a vehicle to take him to hospital. His body was later taken to the mortuary at Marimanti Level Four Hospital by officers from Tunyai Police Station.

According to family members, before he died, Murithi said his step-uncles accused him of stealing a bag and gave him a heinous beating. This is the account witnesses gave to the police.

On December 31 last year, Murithi was full of life as he waited for the New Year family party organised by his grandmother and other relatives who had gathered at their home to welcome the New Year together.

At around 6pm, he reportedly walked about two kilometres to the Sahara City Hotel on the Ena-Kathwana-Meru highway to watch football with his enthusiastic village friends.

Edwin Murithi Murder

From left: Grace Laguna and Lucy Muthoni, a grandmother and aunt respectively of Edwin Murithi of Mariene village in Tharaka Constituency, who was allegedly beaten to death by his two step-uncles on December 31, 2023. The accused are in police custody and will be charged with murder.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru | Nation Media Group

As his eyes were glued to the screen in excitement, he was allegedly called by his uncles and after leaving the hall, he was forced to board a motorcycle, where he was wedged between the two on the pillion seat, and rushed home at around 10pm.

He was reportedly taken to Muriuki's house, where his hands and legs were tied and his uncles beat and kicked him as he lay helpless on the ground. They also reportedly tried to strangle him.

To prevent the neighbours from hearing his cries, the two allegedly covered his mouth with pieces of cloth and after several hours of beating he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness, he found himself alone in the house with his hands still tied.

The boy reportedly managed to untie himself and, lacking the strength to stand, rolled out of the house on his stomach, but was unable to get past the mango tree where he was found.

“I found him lying on the ground a few metres from the house he was reportedly tortured and though in great pain and with a weak voice, he narrated to us what had happened to him,” Kaguna told the Nation on Wednesday as they prepared to bury Murithi on Thursday.

She said that the bag the deceased was accused of stealing was later found to have been taken by Muriuki’s mother.

Kaguna claimed that the family had been having differences for several years and the accused attackers were not happy after their step-nephew was awarded the Wings to Fly scholarship.

“The deceased scored 354 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination and I had a lot of hope in his education because he was doing very well in secondary school,” said the grandmother who raised the boy after his mother died when he was one and a half years old.

She added that the family had also had land disputes over the years and that they were the only ones in the village who had yet to process title deeds because of the disagreements over how to share the ancestral land.

Kaguna said she also fears for her life as she was now left alone in the house with her almost 100-year-old mother, who is deaf.

Residents have condemned the heinous act and urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that the case is watertight and the perpetrators are brought to justice.