How Jkuat student Rita Waeni was lured to her gruesome death

Family breaks silence over killing of 20-year-old Rita Waeni

What you need to know:

  • The family said they had already positively identified the deceased, whose head was yet to be recovered.
  • On Wednesday, the owner of the rental apartment was arraigned in court with three other suspects.

When she read her grandfather’s eulogy on January 6, little did she know that eight days later she would meet a stranger through Instagram who would end her life.

It has emerged that the abductors of Rita Waeni Muendo, a 20-year-old woman who was murdered inside a house located on Thika Road Mall (TRM) Drive, demanded Sh500,000 from her father, Mr Steven Mutea, to set her free.

The Nation has established that when Waeni’s killer demanded the money from her father, he reported the matter at Mlolongo Police Station and DCI officers quickly launched investigations to save the life of the third-year student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

The Nation has also established that Waeni and the main suspect in her murder had met through the social media platform Instagram.

Messages between the two show how the man had, on several occasions, lured Waeni to meet up with him, but she used to turn down the invites.

At some point, Waeni questioned the man’s intent, asking whether he had plans to either kill or harm her due to how he was demanding to meet her.

A detective familiar with the ongoing investigation revealed that the suspect consistently used Instagram for communication, avoiding direct phone calls.

The victim had reportedly declined previous meeting requests, but the suspect managed to convince her to do so by telling her of his plans to leave the country temporarily.

“As per the messages, it is evident that the woman turned down meeting the suspect on several occasions until she agreed to do so last week,” said the officer who spoke in confidence as he is not authorised to address the media.

With the date secured, the suspect arrived early and communicated his location to Waeni who was enroute from Syokimau.

They met and proceeded to the house where police believe the horrifying crime took place.

Rita Waeni

The late Rita Waeni.

Photo credit: Handout

A detective attached to the DCI who spoke in confidence said that Waeni was killed inside the bathroom of the short-stay rental house in Green House Apartments.

On the day the short-term rental house was booked, the main suspect did not pay for it using M-Pesa, instead choosing to use cash. The owner of the house did not ask for his identification details after getting the cash.

In the days leading up to the incident, he was traced to Ruaka, and on the day he met with the deceased he spent half of the day in the same area.

Kasarani sub-County police boss Joseph Muriuki confirmed that three individuals had been arrested in connection with Waeni’s killing.

On Wednesday, the family said that Waeni left her aunt’s place in Syokimau, Machakos County, and headed to Roysambu where she was to meet the man who allegedly ended her life and is now in police custody following his arrest at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“On Sunday, January 14, at 5am, her father received a message, delivered from her phone number, demanding a ransom of Sh500,000 within 24 hours for her release,” Dr Lilian Mutea, the family spokesperson said.

Although by Wednesday evening, the woman’s head was yet to be recovered, the family said they had already positively identified the deceased.

According to Dr Mutea, Waeni was an intelligent, smart girl who was also kind and caring.

“Her family and friends will forever cherish the countless memories of Waeni’s joyous presence and her dedication to making a positive impact on those around her. During this period of grief, we kindly request privacy as we mourn the loss of Waeni,” the statement further stated.

The family said that officers attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) were very helpful to them and they believe that they will eventually get justice.

Kasarani Airbnb Murder

Residents of Kasarani look on as police arrive at an AirBnB along TRM Drive where a woman was found murdered and her body hacked to pieces.

Photo credit: Leon Lidigu | Nation Media Group

Neighbours to her home in Mukimwani village, Makueni County, described Waeni as a role model, saying that she was very active in church and that she had performed so well in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, making her among the few who have made it to the university in the area.

At Mr Mutea’s homestead, an eerie silence greeted visitors. The gate to the homestead was locked and very little activity was taking place as neighbours and family struggled to come to terms with the brutal murder of the young woman.

Friends and relatives of the deceased have formed a WhatsApp group as plans for her burial get underway.

“She was a well-behaved lady. We even saw her as a role model to our daughters, especially after she joined university,” a neighbour who spoke in confidence to the Nation said.

Other neighbours told reporters that she was very active in church—she was a member of the Anglican Inland Church in Mukimwani.

At the home of Waeni’s grandparents, a group of women were condoling with the family.

“We cannot proceed with burial plans until we get word from the team which is in Nairobi,” said Pauline Mutea, Waeni’s grandmother. She said the young woman held a special place in her heart.

“Waeni's father is my firstborn and Waeni was his firstborn. Therefore, Waeni was a very special grandchild. We are devastated as a family,” she said.

She would not be drawn to divulge more about the killing, citing the intense interest the matter has drawn across the country and the ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the owner of the rental apartment, Ms Priscila Maina, was arraigned in court with three others and will remain in custody for the next 10 days as investigations into the matter continue. She was arraigned alongside Kelvin Mutiso, Eugene Omondi and Brian Kinoti.

Ms Maina is in custody for failure to register her tenant’s crucial details as required by the law, which would have helped the DCI to trace the murderer.