I didn’t kill Careen Chepchumba, says Louis Otieno as he opens up on the case in podcast

Louis Otieno: My friend, Careen

After a magistrate gave his final word on an inquest into the February 2012 death of Kenya Power employee Careen Chepchumba, the matter went silent.

But a new podcast on the story of Louis Otieno revisits the death of Ms Chepchumba, who died at 26, and fresh perspectives emerge.

Mr Otieno maintains his innocence and denies ever having sexual relations with her. His mother swears her son can never kill “anything or anybody” while journalist Dennis Onsarigo – who once investigated the death for the Case Files TV programme – observes that the media was “not fair” to Mr Otieno. Ms Chepchumba’s parents declined to take part. 

The podcast, uploaded on Nation.Africa this morning, is the fourth in a series of six that tell the story of Louis Otieno. The series is named Paradise Lost and the fourth episode is titled My Friend, Careen.

One of the highlights is where Mr Otieno calls journalists timid for the way they reported on the Chepchumba matter without seeking his comment.

“I know you’re cowards because you write things (but) you don’t ask me about them. You just write,” he charges.

One instance where he faults the media is how Ms Chepchumba was labelled his girlfriend. He insists she wasn’t.

“I don’t even know how it came to be that way,” he says. “I don’t even know how she became my girlfriend.”

He goes on: “She was not. If she was, don’t you think I’d be the first to know?”

Ms Chepchumba was found dead in her apartment at Santonia Court in Kilimani, Nairobi, on Valentine’s Day, 2012. 

A suicide note was found beside her, in which “she” used an apologetic tone and referred to a man who was “so horrible, so manipulative” and that he was a “a predator who takes advantage of the innocent and the vulnerability”.

The inquest heard that Ms Chepchumba had been dropped home by her father and brother and she was not seen leaving her house until she was found dead.

No one was charged over her death and it went into a public inquest where her father, Hosea Kili, said Mr Otieno had been extorting Ms Chepchumba and had left her with a mountain of debt.

Mr Otieno, in his testimony, claimed that the father had sexually abused her. 

The inquest into Ms Chepchumba’s death was finalised in May 2018 when magistrate Charles Ondieki ruled that the matter be investigated afresh.

The magistrate ruled that it wasn’t a suicide but a murder.

“Forensic evidence was the sure key to unlock criminal culpability by some known person or persons,” ruled the magistrate.

Nothing has moved since the inquest and Mr Otieno, who had a tell-all interview for the podcast, feels like the media had an agenda when covering the case.

“The same people who have the capacity to find the truth refuse to go the right direction and get all the facts they need and wrap this up. They want to leave it hanging in limbo. And I’m thinking: do Kenyans actually think I’m that powerful? I could take somebody’s life and then walk around a free man? Am I that powerful?” he poses. 

One of the mysteries around Ms Chepchumba’s death is the way the narrative transformed from a suicide to a murder.

Chepchumba died at a rented apartment after moving out of their home. Her relatives would visit often, and Mr Otieno also visited her often. Mr Otieno had been their neighbour before Ms Chepchumba moved to Santonia Court. He says in the podcast that he advised Ms Chepchumba to move out because of the troubles at home. Little did he know that the moving out would put him in the thick of a murder.

A pathologist told the court that there was evidence of sexual intercourse before she died.

“Did you have any sexual relations with her?” we asked Mr Otieno. His answer was a curt: “No.”

Mr Onsarigo opines that there was a deliberate move by police not to get to the bottom of the death.

“That a mother could call her child a prostitute; that should have been something of interest to the police, for example,” said Mr Onsarigo. “And I don’t think the media was fair because they never took time to get to the bottom of this.”

Mr Otieno’s mother Elizabeth Omolo says her son could not have done the heinous act. 

“When the girl was found dead, the first thing they said was that she was Louis’ other wife and it was Louis who had killed her. I can swear with all my body, my life, and everything I am that God gave me, he cannot kill. He did not kill that girl,” says Ms Omolo.

There is one thing Mr Otieno did that made his lawyer in the Ms Chepchumba case mad at him. Tune in to find out. 

Listen to the podcast here.

By Elvis Ondieki, James Smart and Muna Chuba