What you need to know:
- Postmortem reports on all the children revealed that they were defiled before being killed.
- In most cases, the bodies were found stuffed in bags.
From afar, the lush maize fields and thickets of Moi’s Bridge — the sprawling township on the border of Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, and Kakamega counties — show no signs of the horror stories they harbour.
Here, in thickets and maize fields, five children between ages 10 and 14 have been found murdered in the last seven months alone.
And there is one man that ties them together, the blood-curdling stories of mutilated bodies dumped in different sections of the town, leaving parents and families devastated and unsure why their children became victims.
Postmortem reports on all the children revealed that they were defiled before being killed. In most cases, the bodies were found stuffed in bags.
The families relived the horror of their children’s deaths again on Wednesday when a team of forensic detectives from the homicide unit in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations visited the five crime scenes, some 10km apart, as they pieced together crucial evidence to send the unnamed suspect to jail.
Dressed in a white overall, the suspect shared with detectives a blow-by-blow account of how he executed the macabre killings on different occasions.
The suspect, now in police custody, was apprehended after a CCTV camera captured him walking with Linda Jeruto, 13, who was later found dead. The girl had been missing for four days before her mutilated body was discovered.
A 300-metre journey to a nearby shop turned out to be the last day that Linda was seen alive. Her body was discovered in a maize plantation near the Moi’s Bridge National Cereals and Produce storage facility by a villager herding livestock.
On Wednesday, parents of the victims accompanied detectives and a contingent of police officers to the scenes as the suspect gave accounts of his heinous acts.
Uasin Gishu County police Commandant Ayub Ali told the Nation they had made a breakthrough in preliminary investigations into the killings, with the evidence linking the suspect to the murders.
“The suspect has confessed to committing these murders. The suspect is very cooperative. We want to urge the families to be patient and we are working to ensure that they get justice,” the police boss said on Thursday.
A court allowed police to hold the suspect for 21 days.
With renewed hope, families of the victims appealed to detectives to unravel the mystery of their children’s deaths.
Geoffrey Omega’s daughter, Mary Eluza, 14, went missing on December 19, 2020. The following day, her body was discovered by a villager tending to his maize crop. She had been defiled and murdered.
“Some of us had lost hope of ever getting justice but we are now optimistic after the team took over the investigations. What we want is justice for our innocent children,” Mr Omega said on Wednesday.
Mary’s body, stuffed in a sack, was discovered near a dam the day after she disappeared. Next to her were the sacks that her father had given her to take home.
The teenager was coming from Moi’s Bridge township from her father’s shop.
Yesterday, parents of the victims, while pleased that an arrest had been made, said they believed the suspect was a front for a gang terrorising villagers through child killings.
They demanded that detectives cast their net wider and get the suspect to name his co-conspirators.
“This suspect provided detailed information about how the killings occurred. However, I have never seen the suspect and I believe that he must have been working with other people who knew our children... we want to urge investigators not to leave any stone unturned on this matter,” said Sharon Sakwa, whose daughter was murdered last December.
Like the other children found murdered, Ms Sakwa’s daughter, Stacy, a Standard Five pupil, had been sent on December 31 by her mother to buy vegetables from a vendor well known to her mother.
She disappeared and her body was found near a railway line behind Moi’s Bridge town the following day, about a kilometre from where the suspect reportedly picked up the girl.
“My daughter was an active, disciplined and hardworking girl. We are still in shock. We have not recovered yet from the loss. We had so much hope in these children and we want detectives to help us get justice,” Ms Sakwa said.
In another incident, on June 2020, the mutilated body of Grace Njeri, who had been missing for a month, was found in a thicket.
Her mother Loise Muthoni is yet to come to terms with the painful loss of her daughter. She had to relocate from the township for fear of her life.
“It is a really painful experience for parents to lose their children in such a manner. We are still in shock why this suspect decided to engage in this evil act,” she said.
On January 16, 13-year-old Lucy Wanjiru was defiled and killed. The girl was a Standard Six pupil at Moi Township Primary School. Her mother, a greengrocer, was at the market when the murder occurred.