John Muturi

John Muturi alias Francis Limo, a murder and rape suspect, at King’eero Police Station in Lower Kabete  on April 30, 2021.

| Kanyiri Wahito | Nation Media Group

I want a cigarette and a pastor, says serial rape, murder suspect John Muturi

For a man facing a series of criminal charges that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life, John Muturi alias Francis Limo yesterday had a strange request to the senior police officers interrogating him: he wanted a packet of cigarettes to smoke as he whiles away his time in the cells. Police cells are to him dark, drab cubicles that could do with a bit of personal comforts and small luxuries.

As a capital offence suspect, he remains in handcuffs throughout, and as he seeks to have puffs on government expense, he sounds oblivious of the immortal pain and social chaos of the string of crimes he is accused of.

Muturi is perhaps one of Kenya’s most notorious criminals in recent years. While he is accused of murder, he is also being investigated for a string of rapes and defilements in Nairobi and its vicinity that, if proven, could make him one of the most dangerous serial rapists to ever walk the corridors of justice.

The Saturday Nation stumbled upon him yesterday morning at King’eero Police Station in Lower Kabete as he was being brought in for questioning from Karuri Police Station. Police in Karuri are investigating tens of rape cases linked to him while their counterparts in King’eero are questioning him over the murder of his wife last year.

He asked detectives to hasten their investigations as he wants to be sent to prison as quickly as possible. He also said he would want the detectives to make arrangements for him to start an artisan course in jail, and for connections to a pastor who would lead him to salvation.

Interrogation

As he was escorted to a small interrogation room at King’eero Police Station, Muturi, 39, cut the image of a man who has no cares for the world. He was diminutive for his age. Tiny, even, especially when framed against the burly police officer escorting him to the interrogation room.

Earlier photos of him show a man with a piercing gaze who loved the company of friends. He didn’t smile in any of the photos that the Saturday Nation combed through yesterday, and neither did he as he was led into the holding room at King’eero, the small police station in Lower Kabete that has an uncanny name, especially in the context of the murder investigation at hand; king’eero is Kikuyu for slaughter.

This suspected serial criminal has a dart-eyed look. He doesn’t peer, but neither does he glance. In the fleeting moment that I encountered him, I couldn’t place him in the hierarchy of human fear. There was a tiny smirk in his face. No, not a smile.

A smirk; the subconscious type of sneer that happens at the intersection of mortality and acquiescence. And as he walked the few steps to the interrogation room, he seemed like a man you could bump fists with in the streets. Or ask to light a cigarette for you.

Yet this is the same man who casually admitted in court on Thursday to the rape charges, and who yesterday told Kabete sub-county police commander Martin Masika that he is the one who stabbed his wife in the chest and abdomen in August last year after a domestic quarrel over money.

Odd jobs

In a chilling admission, he said he killed his wife, with whom he had lived for years in Gachie, after she refused to give him some Sh270,000 that he had asked her to keep for him. The Saturday Nation could not establish the source of the money as Muturi said he did odd jobs in the Gachie neighbourhood, including working as a farmhand and as a butchery attendant.

He said he stabbed her in the chest and abdomen then fled to Kampala through the Malaba border point. After a few months, however, and after exhausting his Sh70,000 savings, he sneaked back to Kenya and settled in Mai-Mahiu, Nakuru County. There, he landed a job as a local pastor’s farmhand.

Detectives are still piecing together the finer details of Muturi’s murder charge, even as they record statements from tens of women who have so far said they were raped by him.

While he says he can’t remember the number of women he has raped or defiled, police say he targets girls aged between 15 and early 20s, whom he lures by promising jobs. That age group is particularly vulnerable as most of them are fresh from school, impressionable, and looking for ways to make money as they make the weary transition into adulthood.

On Thursday, he told a Kiambu court that he had raped tens of women and murdered one, but Ms Patricia Gichohi, the Resident Magistrate, declined to record the plea as Muturi had not taken a mental test to confirm whether he is fit to stand trial.

The suspect was arrested on April 22 in Maai-Mahiu on suspicion of raping a woman on January 27 in Mucatha, Kiambu County. He had promised the girl a job as a mobile money attendant in Mucatha. The two met at around 6.30pm in late January, and Muturi, according to police records, told her that he was recruiting on behalf of his aunt. Along the way, he drew a knife, pulled her into a farm, and raped her. He then used the victim’s mobile phone to call her family members and demand a Sh5,000 ransom for him to release her. The family sent the money and Muturi spared the girl her life. He is also accused of defiling a 15-year-old girl on October 12 last year, whom he accosted as she walked home.

 Kiambaa sub-county police commander Cecilia Kemboi told the Saturday Nation in an interview yesterday that 10 women have so far identified Muturi as the man who raped them. More are expected to come forward, and Muturi yesterday joked that he would like to be sentenced quickly before that happens.

The Saturday Nation is not revealing the names of the victims for legal and ethical reasons.

“This is a very sad story,” said Ms Kemboi. “Some of the victims are pregnant, some are school-going children, and the suspect is openly admitting that he committed the offences.” Some of the victims identified Muturi using his voice while others nailed him by a scar on his face.

Muturi’s crime spree lasted years, according to the police. At Gachie, he had found the ideal place from where to stage his forays: just the right distance from Nairobi, yet quiet and rural enough to provide cover when he needed it. Once he identified his victims, he would lure them with all manner of promises then pounce on them in the cover of darkness. Yesterday, he said he had kept a young girl in a forest near Kitisuru overnight. He could not remember the date, he claimed.

The Saturday Nation team was not allowed access to the interrogation room at King’eero Police Station, but from a distance could hear a markedly excited Muturi engage with the detectives. This did not sound like the classical police interrogation, where detectives raise voices, bang tables and demand answers. Instead, it was rather conversational and amiable, with Muturi sounding too friendly even.

He said he had scarce regrets for the crimes he had committed, and that none of them haunted him.

“I sleep well and still enjoy my ugali,” he told the detectives in Kiswahili. “I don’t know what gets into me when I’m committing these crimes.”

Illiterate

Muturi is illiterate. He can neither read nor write. For him, words, or letters that form them, are nothing but colourful decorations. Yesterday, he said he recognised the ‘Kenya Police’ lettering on the shoulder of Mr Masika as a mark of government authority but could not read the detective’s nameplate. His banter, therefore, is not punctuated by brainy, cerebral episodes, or attempts to rationalise stuff. Instead, from afar it sounds like a tedious drone that lacks in tonal variation and emotion.

But, emotion or no emotion, he had blood curdling stories to tell and confessions to make. Legally, he needs to have a witness with him when making the confessions, and detectives are expected to have afforded him that right if they are to rely on his words as they build a case against him.

Yesterday, he said that even when he was on the run for the string of sexual offences and a murder, he kept hunting for his next victims. From Mai-Mahiu he trapped a woman in a job scam early this month before asking her to meet him in Kabete. He then raped her and stole her phone.

Police used the victim’s past call records to identify Muturi as the suspect. He was the last one to speak with the victim, and call data indicated that he had called her regularly.

He was traced to Mai-Mahiu, where he was arrested and transferred to Kiambu. While he has admitted to detectives that he committed the crimes, his pleas have not been recorded in court, and will not until a medical examination shows he is fit to stand trial. As investigations into the murder case continue, he is expected back in court on May 6 on the rape accusations.

[email protected] Simon Ciuri contributed reporting from Karuri.

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