The macabre murder of Kenyan family that still baffles US authorities, 16 years on

Jane Kuria

The attack, which killed Jane Kuria, 47, and her daughters Isabella Kuria, 19, and Annabel Kuria, 16, also left her son Jeremy Kuria, 7, and his (Jeremy’s) cousin Peter Thande, 10, seriously injured and unconscious.

Photo credit: Family album

Sixteen years after a Kenyan woman and her two daughters were brutally murdered in their home in Atlanta, Georgia on August 1, 2007, local detectives are still groping in the dark, trying to piece together exactly what happened.

The attack, which killed Jane Kuria, 47, and her daughters Isabella Kuria, 19, and Annabel Kuria, 16, also left her son Jeremy Kuria, 7, and his (Jeremy’s) cousin Peter Thande, 10, seriously injured and unconscious.

On that fateful Wednesday, the bodies of the single mother and her daughters were discovered by her sister-in-law, Pauline Thande, and niece, Diana Maina, who went to check on them after Jane failed to answer their calls.

What they found were four separate crime scenes, all horrific and gruesome.

Some 16 years later, the cold case has been taken up by Investigation Discovery, an American pay-TV network specialising in true crime documentaries, to search for missing clues to solve the cases and give the family some closure.

In the documentary, now-retired Cobb County Cold Case Unit Detective John Dawes describes the crime scene as "one of the most vicious I had ever seen, it was completely shocking evil that a person would do that".

When Diana and Pauline arrived at the home, one decided to check the front door and the other the back.

"The first thing I saw was blood. There was blood on the floor and the walls," Diana says in the documentary.

Decided to call 911

She is referring to the first thing she saw after opening the door to her slain aunt's house. The two decided to call 911.

According to local news outlets, Jane was found in the kitchen, Isabella near the front door entrance and Annabel in her bedroom.

Jeremy was found unconscious, laying in his bed and Peter Thande, who is Pauline Thande’s son, was found unconscious next to a couch in the living room. Jeremy and Peter survived the ordeal.

No murder weapon or other usable DNA was left behind, but an acquaintance of Jane emerged as a “person of interest”. The boys eventually recovered but have no memory of their assault.

For nearly 16 years now, the police have not made any arrests even as the family calls for action by the authorities.

Homicide investigators in the past indicated they had gone over reams of evidence in search of a motive, but said they have no idea who committed the crime and why.

The late Jane and her children moved to the US in 2001 from Kenya after the death of her husband. In 2002, she moved to the suburb of Powder Springs.

Until she met her death, she was working at a local hospital and nursing home. Isabella was a college student while Annabel was in high school.

According to GAFollowers a local news site, it was pointed out by Jane’s immigration lawyer that she and her daughters had applied for asylum because of their opposition to female genital mutilation in Kenya.

Their lives were in danger

Jane said that their lives were in danger if they returned to their native country, Kenya. The asylum was denied and Jane was in the process of appealing when she and her two daughters were murdered.

The two survivors of the massacre have moved on with their lives, but cannot help but look back at the crime that changed everything, knowing that their family’s killer is still out there somewhere.

It has taken Jeremy, now 18, time to heal—both physically and mentally, after losing his entire family to the unknown assailant.

He recovered in the hospital for two months following the attack. But the mental scars have taken years to overcome.

According to Diana who spoke to 11Alive in 2018, while Peter was eating ugali, he looked at his mother and said he remembered that that was the meal he was eating the day of the attack.

“He remembered the man who came to the house was wearing an African shirt,” she said.

“Detectives said that they've never found... any kind of blood, that was not for the family,” Diana said then.

“There was just nothing. So, it's like somebody just came in and killed them and just left. But, how does that happen? And how is it that it's been 10 years and nobody has found anything?”

Murderous attack

Five years ago, Jeremy appealed for help to settle a Sh5 million hospital bill after undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumour.

Jeremey underwent the operation to remove the growth that his family believes may have been triggered by the murderous attack in 2007.

A family member based in the US said Jeremy might have sustained severe injuries that caused a brain tumour when unknown assailants attacked his family at their Powder Springs home in the city.

There is little progress on the case and it has since gone cold.