As detectives continue with investigations in order to unravel the killer of Monica Kimani in Kilimani, Nairobi, close friends of the man suspected of killing her have opened up.
It is now emerging 28-year-old Joseph Irungu alias Jowie, who was arrested on suspicion of the woman’s murder, was born and brought up in Nakuru town.
Mr Irungu is the second born child in a family of two boys and two girls.
Those who grew up with him say he has a strong Christian background having attended Agape Church situated in Pangani estate off the busy Kanu Street.
He was a founder member of the then vibrant church choir christened Agape Stormers.
When Nation visited the church Saturday, a worker confirmed that Mr Irungu was a member of the church choir.
"It is true he was a member of this church and a staunch choir member. I knew him personally and I was shocked when I learnt that he has been arrested in connection with the murder of a young woman in Kilimani, Nairobi," said the worker who declined to be named as he is not the church’s spokesman.
He revealed that the once vibrant church choir has fizzled out and only comes to life during school holidays when most of the members are available.
When Mr Irungu’s photograph was published following Ms Kimani’s murder, it was instantly recognised by his friends in Nakuru town.
To many, the photograph rekindled memories of a promising young man who grew up in the sprawling Mwariki estate on the outskirts of Nakuru Town West Constituency.
Mr Irungu’s family later moved and settled in Lanet in Nakuru East Constituency.
Several interviews with his close friends revealed that he went to Race-track Primary School which is next to Mwariki estate.
But he did not complete his studies there as he was transferred to another school.
He later joined Nakuru’s leading day school, Langalanga Secondary School in 2008.
He did his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) exam in 2011.
Nation traced some of his close friends who grew up with him in the cosmopolitan town.
Interestingly, in the wake of bad publicity, they described him as a good person.
According to multiple sources, everyone knew Mr Irungu as a well-mannered person of “good character”.
“I don’t know much of his present lifestyle. However, during our good times he was a staunch church member at Agape Church and a superb vocalist in the church choir,” said a close friend.
Another church member described Mr Irungu as a good person who loved doing his church assignments with a lot of passion.
A neighbour who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter said he is yet to come to terms with the murder charges facing Mr Irungu.
”He was such an amazing young man who was musically correct and with superb vocals. I was shocked when I saw his photograph in the newspapers as the main suspect of the murder of a girl in Kilimani,” the neighbour said.
Many of his friends said that they parted ways when he went to Dubai and later to Afghanistan.
They said his stay at Dubai was short-lived as he returned back to Kenya before heading to Afghanistan.
But his friends could not tell with certainty what he was doing in Dubai and Afghanistan where he stayed for two years.
“I was told while he was in Afghanistan, he trained on security matters but since we never communicated I can’t authoritatively comment on what he was doing there,” said his former colleague at Agape Stormers choir.
“The last time I saw him in Nakuru was in 2015 and since then I have not heard of him as we never communicated again,” said another close band member.
“He was an inspiring musician,” said a friend who teamed up with Mr Irungu to form a band that entertained residents in Nakuru and Naivasha towns.
“He was a vocalist, and an instrumentalist in the church,” a close friend said.
Mr Irungu comes from a family of musicians as one of his brothers is a recording artist and a guitarist.
His elder brother is also engaged in photography business in Nairobi.
“Irungu is one person who never missed going to church. His absence was easily noticed,” said another friend with whom they played music together in the church.
“I was shocked when I saw his photograph in the Daily Nation as the main suspect in the murder of a girl in Kilimani estate in Nairobi,” said a member of the band that Irungu was a key member.
The band was later disbanded as members parted ways to seek for greener pastures elsewhere and as interests changed.
For now, the friends are keenly following the case to see how it will end.