After months of twists and turns over the death and “secret burial” of a Kenyan woman in the US last year, her body has been exhumed following a court order.
Dorothy Bosibori Ongera, 35, was buried by her partner in Dallas, Texas, on December 28 after she “accidentally drowned” at home. On Friday, a Texas court granted the order following a petition filed by her father, David Ongera.
At the time, Ms osibori was living with Obadiah Kinara, with whom she had three children.
Last month, her father told the court of his anguish over how his daughter’s remains were secretly sneaked out of a morgue and buried at Emerald Hills Memorial Park. The family also cast doubt on the first autopsy conducted by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, which ruled out foul play.
In the case that was streamed worldwide via YouTube and Facebook, Mr Ongera pushed for an independent autopsy.
The judge barred parties from interfering with the remains until the matter is determined.
“After hearing and reviewing the evidence and considering the argument of counsel, the court grants the motion to exhume the body. However, because this court has not yet adjudicated the person with the right to control the disposition of the remains of Dorothy Ongera, after exhumation there is not yet any person with the powers to direct the cemetery as to the disposition, including whether or not yet any autopsy shall be performed,” ordered Justice Brooke Allen of Tarrant County in Texas.
A hearing to determine who has the right to bury the deceased will commence on March 23.
The family questioned the motive of Ms Bosibori’s partner for secretly burying her body, saying he had no legal rights to do so as he was neither her next of kin nor her husband.
Mr Ongera said the two had “no legally recognisable relationship”, accusing him of isolating them from burial arrangements.
“The only time I saw my daughter was on December 16. I was never allowed to view her body. All family members, including her children, were barred from the burial ceremony,” Mr Ongera told the court.
However, US law only recognises Mr Kinara as Ms Ongera’s next-of-kin, regardless of marital status, because they have three children and lived together until her death.
In an interview with the Nation last month, Mr Kinara dismissed claims that he had a hand in his partner’s death, saying pathologists concluded that it was due to “accidental drowning”.
Mr Kinara said he spoke because of “a campaign to portray me as a murderer despite no active investigation by law enforcement agencies”.
“I loved my wife and I’ve been deeply hurt and affected by the social media campaign orchestrated by my in-laws to create the impression that I had something to do with the death,” said Mr Kinara.
“I believe some people are doing this because they are targeting my children and the insurance payouts,” he added.
The death has since become an international social media sensation because her family disputes the circumstances surrounding her sudden death and burial.