The murder of Kamakwa chief in Nyeri on Thursday may have come as a shock to many, but on its back rides decades-long memories of an infamous past.
A criminal past hangs like a dark cloud over the rich, populated area covering Gitathi-ini, Kamakwa and Kamuyu in the outskirts of Nyeri Town.
It has been more than 24 years since the end of the infamous era of Kenya's most wanted gangsters; Gerald Wambugu Munyeria alias Wanugu and Anthony Ngugi Kanagi alias Wacucu, but their nefarious activities wrought a legacy of criminal violence that clings to the area like a bad smell.
Chief Peter Kimiti Nyuguto was killed a few minutes past 6pm by unknown gunmen in a maize plantation just outside his home.
After arriving home from work, he parked his motorcycle and went to the coffee plantation to check on his farm.
Earlier, he had spent the day meeting security officials in Nyeri Town.
His widow, Anne Muthoni, on Saturday told Nation that she was preparing dinner when she heard a gunshot.
As she rushed out to check, two more gunshots followed before all became silent.
“We decided to go check once the gunshots stopped,” Ms Muthoni said.
They found the late chief lying in a pool of blood next to his motorcycle, with three bullet wounds on his chest.
According to witnesses, the assailants were armed with two AK-47 rifles and escaped on a motorcycle.
On Friday, a sombre mood engulfed the home as burial preparations got under way.
Mourners stood in small groups, speaking in low tones.
The widow said the slain chief had received death threats from people who accused him of being a police informant.
Security officials say they are pursuing possible leads.
To those who knew him, Chief Kimiti was on a mission to end lawlessness in his area.
He had his ear on the ground and would share the information with detectives.
While his death may appear to have been a random attack, that it is not the first of its kind suggests it is a calculated plan by gangsters to cower residents.
On February 28, Kamuyu residents lynched two thieves who had had tried to rob a woman as she went to work at around 5am.
In retaliation, two residents who had taken part in the lynching were shot dead.
Helpless residents have since been watching on in silence as crime spirals out of control in the area.
The gangsters control the vast area between rural Tetu and Nyeri's leafy suburbs, and this control has been passed down from one generation to another since the days of Wanugu and Wacucu.
The two hailed from Kamuyu and unleashed terror across the country between 1993 and 1996.
They were responsible for high profile murders, violent robberies and carjackings.
Using a complex web of informers, they managed to evade the police for years before their luck run out in 1996.