Detectives in Kericho have arrested 14 men they suspect are linked to the gang that killed an old woman, seriously injured her husband and gang-raped their three granddaughters in Litein.
The gang struck on Tuesday night and entered the house after removing some louvre slats from a window in the living room.
Of the 14 suspects, police believe three are members of the dreaded four-man gang after they were positively identified in a parade mounted at Litein Police Station on Wednesday evening.
“We have several suspects in custody and we are closing in on others who have gone underground but are said to have participated in the murder of the grandmother,” Litein Police Divisional boss Ali Abdi said on Thursday.
Many of the men arrested are casual labourers who were constructing a house for one of the woman’s sons. The construction is adjacent to the main house, the scene of the crime.
The other suspects are boda boda riders who reside in the area that borders Bomet County.
And on Thursday morning, the 15th suspect was not as lucky to be arrested after he was stoned to death.
Irate locals descended on the middle-aged man after he was positively identified at the scene of crime.
The villagers armed with stones, wood planks and iron bars took the law into their hands as anger over a surge in crime in Litein boiled over.
"He has been stoned to death by a mob in the compound at around 10:30am," said Mr Kiprotich Yegon, a witness.
The suspect is said to have been residing hardly 100 metres from the home of the family that was attacked.
Bureti police chief Ali Abdi said he had dispatched officers to the scene and was awaiting a brief on the matter.
The 73-year-old woman, a mother of six who had been unwell for some time and was on a wheelchair, was killed on the spot.
“They hit her on the head with a blunt object then beat up the househelp, leaving her unconscious,” said Mr James Mugera, the Kericho County police commander.
The attackers also robbed the family of Sh5,000 and a mobile phone.
The man and their househelp, who was beaten until she became unconscious, are fighting for their lives at Litein Mission Hospital.
Mr Mugera said the robbers were armed with knives, chisels and iron bars.
They are said to have blindfolded the family before attacking them individually, but spared a nine-year-old boy, whom they pushed under a bed and threatened to kill him if he raised the alarm.
In the morning, the boy sought help.
Shocked residents jammed the homestead as news of the attack spread.
They accused police of failing to deal with the gang, which they claimed had terrorised residents for a long time.
They prevented the police from removing the woman's body as they demanded that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet visit the area to tackle crime.
It took the intervention of the family, led by a Mr David Korir, to convince them to let police take the body to the mortuary.
“We are all saddened by the attack, but as a family, we are pleading with you to allow police to do their work. The more the body stays at the scene, the more traumatising it is for us,” he said.
Mr Michael Rono, a villager, said the family had no known enemies in the area and that the couple was highly respected.
Ward representatives Paul Chirchir (Kaposit), Alex Bett (Litein), Hezbon Tonui (Cheplanget) and Evans Kibet (Cheboin) visited the home to condole with the family.
The incident came as memories of an incident in which a couple was brutally murdered by a gang last year were still fresh in villagers’ minds.
During the attack in Chesingoro village, about three kilometres from the scene of the assault, the thugs also spared a child.
Tuesday's attack came against the backdrop of a rise in rape and defilement cases in Bomet and Kericho counties in the last six months.
A 13-year-old girl is currently admitted at the Longisa County Hospital in Bomet County after she was raped by a 10-man gang.
A boda boda rider has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Meanwhile, a police officer was arrested at the weekend in connection with the defilement of a schoolgirl in Mogogosiek in Konoin Sub-county.
Security officers had been accused of a cover-up.
In November last year, a 16-year-old girl was raped by a seven-man gang led by a body boda rider.
Three suspects were arrested while the rest are still at large.