Did police officer Caroline Kangogo kill herself or was she shot at close range and her body planted in her family’s bathroom?
The answer to this question could not be established even after a post-mortem examination was conducted yesterday, with pathologists saying further laboratory tests would be done to confirm how exactly she died.
While Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor said the autopsy confirmed Kangogo died by a single gunshot to the head, he did not confirm whether she was killed or she committed suicide.
“Caroline Kangogo died by a single gunshot wound to the head. The bullet entered through the right chin and exited on the left side of the head, its trajectory being through the brain and the skull,” said Dr Oduor after a two-hour autopsy at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) mortuary in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
“There were stories of whether she was shot or she shot herself. We shall only establish that once we do more tests. We have taken swabs on the hand to find out whether there was gunshot residue. As a pathologist, my job is to establish the cause of death. We shall only establish the manner of death—either suicide, accident or natural death—once we see the lab results,” Dr Oduor explained.
The gunshot wound, he said, was inflicted with the gun in contact with the chin.
“This was a contact shot, meaning the gun was on the skin when it was fired. This is because there was a hole caused by the bullet and there was soot on the contact spot, or what you call muzzle imprint,” explained Dr Oduor.
Based on crime-scene investigation reports, Dr Oduor said Kangogo died where her body was found—her family’s bathroom in Nyawa village in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
“It seems it happened at the scene. From what I have seen and read in the investigator’s report—because I was not at the scene. Kangogo was positively identified by the family and relatives,” Dr Oduor told journalists at MTRH.
Kangogo, who was being sought in connection with the murder of her colleague John Ogweno as well as Juja-based businessperson Peter Ndwiga, was found dead in the family’s bathroom, 40 metres from the main house.
Police gave the cause of her death as suicide.
“It is suspected that she might have shot herself using the firearm from below the chin and the bullet exited on the head slightly above the left ear,” a police report said.
A Ceska pistol Serial Number G4670, which was cocked with a magazine loaded with eight rounds of ammunition, one in the chamber, one used cartridge and one bullet head were collected from the scene.
The autopsy came after top lawyers raised questions about the position Kangogo was found in inside the bathroom.
Led by Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi — whose organisation had hired veteran lawyer John Khaminwa to plead her case when she was on the run — the lawyers said the case needed to be investigated further.
“The media has been conscripted by DCI to run with the cover-up story ‘Caroline Kangogo commits suicide’. Who was the witness? When was the autopsy done? I remember telling the special crimes boss on Tuesday, ‘I am sure you guys will eventually tell us that you found her dead’,” Mr Havi said on Twitter after pictures of Kangogo’s body were shared online.
Other lawyers who disputed the suicide theory include Mr Cliff Ombeta, with Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr and his Bungoma counterpart Moses Wetang’ula calling for further investigations.
“This lady did not commit suicide. Gun placed in hand unlike where it would be because of the recoil. Blood splatter and drag would not be at the front. Shows she was brought there and left to bleed. Placing of the cover on the head? The yellow Jersey still?” Mr Ombeta said on Twitter.
But even as the debate raged on whether it was really a case of suicide, Kangogo’s father Barnabas Kibor, himself a former police inspector, insisted his daughter committed suicide.
“I do not like it when people go on with these insinuations that she might have been killed. In case you actually know for sure she was killed, then come forward and say so. But from what I see, this girl, my daughter, took her own life depending on how we found her,” said Mzee Kibor.
“She had locked the bathroom from inside. There is no way someone could have brought the body and dumped it in that bathroom, but still have it locked from the inside,” Mr Kibor stated.
“When the bullet exited, it couldn’t have splattered blood on the wall because it went in through the chin and exited through the left ear. She shot from the right and it went up, to the left,” explained Mzee Kibor, in apparent reaction to claims that blood would have been splattered on the walls if Kangogo had indeed shot herself.
Mzee Kibor also refuted claims that his daughter was left-handed.
The autopsy came a week after the date the family had planned to inter Kangogo’s body.
Mzee Kibor had reportedly carried a coffin to the MTRH morgue, ready to transport the body for burial the next day – Saturday – only to be told the pathologist was not coming, after all.
A teary Mzee Kibor demanded to be given the body after the planned post-mortem failed to take place.
“I have no case with anybody. Just give me my child so that I go and bury her. What shall I do with the cow I had slaughtered for the burial?” he asked in Iten after the post-mortem was called off.
“We shall only set the burial date after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations releases the post-mortem report,” Mr Robert Kipkorir, the family spokesperson, said.
The family said Kangogo’s wish to be cremated in a wedding gown would not be honoured.
"To my people, it's my wedding day – dress me in a white gown that my husband could not afford. To my parents, I am requesting that my body be cremated to end your suffering. Remember to take good care of my children. For the things in Kasarani, hire movers for safe delivery here," a draft text message detectives said was found on her phone read.