Kin of Kenyan woman missing in US step up search efforts

Irene Gakwa

Ms Irene Gakwa (right) disappeared from Gillette in the state of Wyoming and the family suspects that her boyfriend Nathan Nightman, 38, had something to do with it. 

Photo credit: Courtesy

Relatives and friends of a Kenyan woman who went missing from her home in Gillette in the US state of Wyoming in March have announced a series of vigils and feet-on-the-ground searches for her.

The first vigil was held on Friday, July 1, before her family and friends embarked on a search around her home in Gillette.

On Saturday, they kicked off a ground search before holding a peaceful demonstration.

“Anyone wanting to help search for Ms Gakwa can meet with us at the Sinclair station at the bottom of Gurley overpass in Gillette, US,” the organisers said in statements shared on social media platforms.

Nation established that the organisers were planning another ground search on Saturday, July 16.

A fundraiser is also underway on the GoFundMe website. It was started by Ms Gakwa’s friend, Ms Lucinda Anewenah, and her sister-in-law Ms Gyoice Abatey.

Her boyfriend, identified as Mr Nathan Hightman, 38, was arrested in connection with her disappearance.

He was seized on May 10 by Gillette police.

The police accused him of not cooperating with investigators because he refused to be interviewed by them.

“Hightman has declined an interview request from the Gillette police department. Information obtained through investigation suggests that she went missing under suspicious circumstances. She was last seen in a video call made to her parents on February 24,” the police said.

Nairobi News has established through inquiries to the family and the police in the US that Ms Gakwa’s relationship with Mr Hightman had soured and she had told her family members in the US about it.

The two allegedly met on an online dating platform and agreed to live together. They then moved from the state of Idaho to Gillette, Wyoming.

Mr Hightman allegedly used her credit cards and other information belonging to her after her family reported her missing.

Speaking to Nairobi News at the time, her brother, Mr Chris Gakwa, said the family believed something had happened to her.

“We have reason to believe that something terrible might have happened since she instantly went silent after talking to her parents based in Kenya on February 24,” Mr Gakwa said.