From first responder to murder suspect: Inside the double life of Josephat Simiyu

Confirm gang suspects

Suspects in the Mawanga murders in Nakuru City: Julius Otieno, Josphat Simiyu, Dennis Mmbolo, Isaac Kinyanjui and Makhoha Wanjala are taken to court yesterday. They were detained for 14 more days pending mental assessments and DNA testing.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Police in Nakuru are pursuing leads that one of the suspected masterminds of the Mawanga killings may have been a purported first responder in a previous incident in Manyani Estate, where a mother and her two daughters died in a house fire.

Josephat Simiyu, 24 was captured in a local TV interview as a witness narrating how he and another man, tried to rescue the woman, Judy Nyambura and her two daughters; Shadiya Wangare, 17 and Limsy Wanjiru, 11.

The three perished in their house on June, 1, 2022, and Nakuru East Deputy Sub County Police Commander Wilson Nduati had said that the cause of the fire could not be immediately established.

It was not until Simiyu was arrested in connection to the Mawanga murders and his picture shared by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, DCI, on social media, that residents realised that he had been at the scene of the house fire in Manyani, a month earlier.

During the interview with Ebru TV after the fire that caused the death of the trio, Simiyu had said that his name was Josephat Juma.

In his account of the incident, he said that he noted a billowing smoke from the roof of the house and alerted other residents of the estate who attempted to put off the fire.

“I was connecting water pipes at a construction site. When we arrived, there was fire in the first bedroom, but we could not get into the bedroom because the door was locked from inside.

“When we broke the door, we started asking if there were people inside, but there was no response,” he said during the interview.

It is now emerging that the suspect, was working as a plumber in Manyani during the incident that led to the death of mother and two daughters.

Police believe that the suspect may have had a hand in the murders, which were staged in a similar manner as those that have been committed in Mawanga Estate.

In the Mawanga deaths, the attackers would raid the homes of women during the day, disguised as an employee of a water services company.

The attackers would then rape the women, kill them and set their bodies on fire before escaping from the scene.

Josephat was arrested in Kivumbini moments after detectives arrested Evans Kebwaro, 24 in Keroka, Kisii late last week, as the DCI believed that he was behind the gruesome murders.

Josephat was arrested alongside Julius Omondi Otieno, 27, Dennis Alusiola Mmbolo, 25, Isaac Kinyanjui Nganga, 18, and Ficky Wanjala Makokha, 25.

Yesterday, Senior Principal Magistrate Charles Ndegwa at the court in Nakuru, allowed detectives to hold Evans, Josephat and the other 4 for fourteen more days before they are arraigned for plea taking.

In the application to the court, the investigating officer CPL Kennedy Mwachi sought for the duration to allow them to subject the suspects to a DNA profiling.

Through the prosecution the Corporal told the court that the suspects also needed to be escorted to the Nakuru Teaching and Referral hospital for mental assessment before answering to the charges leveled against them as required by the law.

“I pray that this Honorable court allows me to detain the respondent for another 14 days to allow the suspect to be taken to hospital for the two activities. I pray that this honorable court grants the orders in the interest of justice and do find the above reason as compelling,” he pleaded with the court.

According to the prosecution the offences occurred on diverse dates between December 2,2021 and June 24,2022 within Mawanga area with the preliminary investigations linking the six to the offences of Murder, Robbery with violence and Arson attacks.

During the arrest phones were recovered that are needed to be taken for forensic analysis and that analyst reports from the samples collected on the scenes are yet to be received from the government chemist.

The prosecution further stated that the suspects were found with a motorbike which needed confirmation from the National Transport and Safety Authority, NTSA to establish ownership.

“The respondents were arrested on July 1, and the investigating team requires ample time to have them be interrogated on the same issues.

“The team has vital and crucial information that is likely to lead to the arrest of more accomplices. They need to undergo police procedures formally which include but are not limited to recording statements, fingerprint taking and interrogation,” read part of the application.

In his ruling the Magistrate granted the prosecution the days the prosecution had requested.

“Your prayers to detaining the suspect for the days requested has been granted by the court, they will be presented to a duty court for plea taking on the date given,” ruled Mr Ndegwa

The six will be presented in court on July 19.


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