Kevin Kangethe, accused of killing woman in US, escapes from police custody in Muthaiga

Kevin Kangethe in a Nairobi courtroom on February 1, 2024.

What you need to know:

  • He was awaiting extradition on a Massachusetts warrant alleging he killed his girlfriend and left her body in a car at a Boston airport

A man accused of murdering his girlfriend in the US and fleeing to Kenya has escaped from police custody in Nairobi.

Mr Kevin Adam Kinyanjui Kangethe slipped out of Muthaiga Police Station and hopped onto a matatu and disappeared, police said. 

Mr Kangethe, 40, had been detained pending a ruling on whether he should be extradited to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Margaret Mbitu on October 31, 2023

Margaret Mbitu, 30, was found dead in a parking lot at Logan Airport in Boston, US. 

Photo credit: Missing Person Poster

Police, in a statement, said that Kangethe escaped while meeting his lawyer on Wednesday evening.

According to police, John Maina Ndegwa came in and identified himself as a lawyer, saying he wanted to speak to his client privately and was allowed to do so but minutes later, the suspect escaped leaving the said lawyer behind. 

Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei rushed to the station when he learned of the escape and described the incident as "embarrassing".

Four police officers who were on duty during the escape and Mr Ndegwa were arrested. 

Kevin Kangethe is wanted for the murder of his girlfriend Margaret Mbitu.

Photo credit: Boston Police

On January 31, 2024, the US embassy in Kenya confirmed the arrest of a wanted Kenyan fugitive, who allegedly fled the country after killing a woman and taking refuge here.

The Embassy commended the efforts of Kenyan law enforcement in apprehending the fugitive, who is suspected of murdering Margaret 'Maggie' Mbitu in Massachusetts sometime between October 30 and November 4, 2023.

"United States law enforcement agencies, Kenya's Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are working side-by-side to locate and apprehend the fugitive," they said in a statement.

"The United States and Kenya are committed to strengthening law enforcement cooperation to apprehend criminals, eliminate criminal activity, and advance justice."

Mr Kangethe appeared in court on February 1 and was being held in police custody for 30 days as the Director of Public Prosecutions prepares extradition proceedings after being arraigned at Milimani Law Courts, pending his extradition to the US.

The fugitive, who had an Interpol Red Notice on his head, was arrested at a club by police acting on a tip-off.

A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement agencies around the world to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.

It is not an international arrest warrant. Individuals are wanted by the requesting member state or international court.

Kenyan detectives received a request from US authorities in November to arrest Kangethe for an alleged murder in Massachusetts. The victim's mother revealed that Margaret was dating the suspect.

In November 2023, after the body was found, her mother, Rose Mbitu, told the Boston News that her daughter was planning to break up with Kang'ethe.

Boston police officers found Margaret's car with her lifeless body inside, and analysis confirmed that she had been murdered.

US authorities are convinced that Kangethe murdered Maggie, as she was affectionately known to family and close friends, before buying tickets for a 16-hour flight to Nairobi, a move detectives believe was to avoid prosecution.

It later emerged that the tickets were bought within hours of her death.

"State police detectives have obtained an arrest warrant charging Kangethe with Ms Mbitu's murder and are working with Kenyan authorities to locate Kangethe," a Massachusetts State Police statement said at the time.

Preliminary evidence gathered from Maggie's car, which was parked in a garage at the airport, and CCTV footage from the airport pointed to the suspect in the most heinous of murders.

The 31-year-old nurse worked at Brockton Area Multi-Services Inc. and finished her shift at 11pm on a Monday. She got into her white Toyota Venza and drove off, the last time she was seen alive.

In November 2023, sources told Nation.Africa that Kangethe had worked at an airport in the US before the incident.

Maggie was described as a kind person whose happiness was contagious.

"The whole family... everyone is down... I am not myself right now. This is heartbreaking," her mother told the Boston News.

Maggie is survived by her parents Rose and Harun, siblings Ann and Bernard, and several cousins, aunts and uncles.

Maggie was a naturalised American citizen. She graduated from Quincy College in 2018 and worked for Bamsi, a non-profit organisation.