Revealed: Mother and daughter's last fatal decision inside food truck

Tragic: Catherine Anyango and her daughter Michelle. 

Photo credit: Pool I Ntaion Media Group

The 43-year-old woman who was found dead with her daughter in a food van in Finland was to graduate from a nursing school before the end of the year.

The late Catherine Anyango, who was in a catering business, was also a part-time nursing student, according to her mother Ms Roselyn Oketch.

Ms Anyango and her 25-year-old daughter, Mitchelle Anyango were found dead inside their van at the main parking lot of the resort town on Thursday 9, 2023.

The two are said to have gone to work in Nilsi, where they had a samosa stand but did not return home.

“We were looking forward to attending her graduation as a family but this wish will never materialise,” her mother said, adding that Ms Anyango only engaged in the catering business on weekends.

Ms Oketch added that they learnt of the death from local police after reporting a case of a missing person when they failed to reach her on phone.

She said her sister and classmates were worried when she failed to pick up calls or show up for her classes.

“We had been trying to reach her from February 3 but the calls went unanswered, one of her sisters later contacted the police before their bodies were discovered,” she said in an interview at their home in Chiga, Kisumu East Sub-county.

Death of her husband

Ms Aketch said Ms Anyango relocated to Finland in 2008 shortly after the death of her husband with the help of her friend in search of a teaching job.

The deceased was, however, unable to secure a teaching job but enrolled on a catering course before securing employment at a restaurant.

Most of her earnings went to supporting the education of her daughter who was by then studying at Ng’iya Girls High School and her son. The two later joined her in Finland.

Mitchelle joined her mother in the catering business while the son, who is now 20, secured a job with the Finnish military.

The two owned a food cart company and specialised in ‘ethnic’ food, including samosas and would move from town to town, selling the unique cuisine.

She also gave birth to three other children while in Finland with the youngest now being five years old. The three were, however, moved to a children’s home due to the mother’s ill health.

Continued to support the children

“My daughter had separated from the father of her three children. Anyango, however, continued to support the children and had even attempted to move them from the children’s home but she was never allowed to,” the mother said.

Ms Aketch says she last saw her daughter and granddaughter in October 2022 when she (Ms Anyango) travelled back to Kenya to renew her passport.

Ms Anyango’s daughter Mitchelle was also aided to register and get her identification cards since she had left the country without them.

Everything moved swiftly and she was able to renew the passport within two weeks. She also visited her late husband’s relatives in Migori before travelling back in early November.

“She was very happy when leaving. I remember her telling me that she would send me some money upon arrival since she did not have enough cash by then,” Ms Aketch recalled.

The two last spoke towards the end of January when Ms Anyango sent her mother money to buy drugs since she was unwell.

Ms Anyango and her daughter were last seen on February 4 while off to their catering business.

“The deceased, Catherine and Michelle, were last seen alive at 0400hrs of Saturday morning doing their daily selling of food in their truck. Apparently, after closing the business, it’s suspected that they decided to take a nap in the truck based on the position they were found in, sleeping side by side,” said a close family member.

Carbon monoxide

“After the autopsy, it’s been discovered that the cause of death is inhaling carbon monoxide in their sleep, leading to lack of oxygen. So, it’s possible that they used charcoal to cook or something that produces carbon monoxide because the truck had carbon monoxide,” she continued.

Before her death, Ms Anyango, who is the third born in the family, had been actively supporting the family and even helped her sister relocate to Finland.

 “She was also a happy daughter, very active, a go-getter who loved cooking and dancing,” her mother said.

Meanwhile, the family has appealed to well-wishers to help them move the bodies back to Kenya for their final burial rites.

“At the moment, we need at least Sh4.6 million to help us bring back the bodies, the mortuary fees have kept rising and we fear that we may never be able to bring them back,” said Ms Aketch.