The three boys lay side by side, lined up from the youngest to the oldest, covered by a blanket, but with their legs exposed from the toes to slightly below the knee.
To undiscerning eyes, they looked very much like children in deep slumber, having gone to bed late after swapping stories at their home in Mabuteek village, Chepalungu, Bomet County.
But to their paternal grandmother, this was unusual. And she was not amused that they had not responded to her calls to wake up.
The sun was up and the door to the grass-thatched house was ajar.
As with a mother’s instinct, the grandmother yanked the blanket off the children and touched them to check if they were alright.
She was startled - the bodies of the usually active boys were cold. It quickly dawned on her that they were dead.
A rope lay a few inches from the children, an indication that they may have been strangled and died very painful deaths.
A piercing scream swept through the village as the old woman, overcome by shock and grief, screamed her lungs out, attracting neighbours and passersby who streamed into the homestead to the shocking scene.
A neighbour narrated that they heard the children screaming for help at around 1am that Friday, March 22, but thought that as usual, the children's father was beating them after returning home from drinking sprees.
They later heard claims that the children had died in the hands of their father; that he killed one after the other using a rope.
Benard Kirui, 35, allegedly arranged their bodies in order of their ages - the five-year-old's, then the eight-year-old's and then the 12-year-old's.
It was said that he then put a blanket over them and then tried to kill himself by hanging, but that the old rope he used cut into two as it could not support his weight. He reportedly fell from the rafters of his house and later tried to escape.
“The man attempted to commit suicide. He was arrested at Kinyoki as he headed to Amalo River where [it is believed he would have made a second attempt to take his life]," said Mr Nelson Masai, Chepalungu Sub-county Police Commander.
During the arrest, police had to keep villagers off as they bayed for Mr Kirui's blood.
Neighbours wailed as police put the children's bodies into their van and as they exited the compound for a journey that ended at Longisa County Referral Hospital mortuary.
The officers stopped briefly at Sigor Police Station where the suspect was being held, having been arrested three hours earlier. That was the closest Mr Kirui came to his children before they were buried.
Asked about the shocking event, neighbours termed the man's home a "no-go zone" and said he always turned them away and was crude to those who responded to distress calls from members of his family, allegedly after beatings from him.
The round grass-thatched and mud-walled house in which the children were killed is in an isolated part of the family farm that is more than 70 acres big.
In interviews with the Nation, villagers also claimed Mr Kirui was violent and that several of his assault cases were pending at the local chief’s office.
“Several cases relating to assault have been reported against him, not only by his neighbours but also by his wife and father,” said Lelaitich Chief Robinson Rotich.
Mr Kirui is said to have drunk illicit brew at a local den till late on the day that he allegedly killed his children.
"As he took his drinks, he was his usual self. There was nothing untoward to show he was contemplating committing the dastardly act," said Mr John Bii, a resident.
THE DAY BEFORE
The day before their deaths, the children were taken back home by their uncles after staying a week at their maternal grandparents’ home, reportedly after being kicked out by their father.
“The suspect had beaten up his wife a week earlier and chased her away with the children following a domestic dispute,” said Ms Pauline Bii, a resident.
The boys’ mother had remained at her parents’ home, reportedly after declining to return to her husband following repeated assaults.
“The couple is survived by a young child who was away from the homestead with the mother at the time of the murder,” said Chief Rotich.
Amid the shock and anger in the village, the children were buried together at Cheboin village in Narok West on Monday, joined at the hip in death as they were in life.
Relatives and friends wailed near the tent in which three small coffins were placed at the home of the children's maternal grandparents.
It was decided after an engagement with the families that they be buried at a location other than their parents' home, where they were murdered.
Their mother, Sharon, was so overwhelmed with grief that she was unable to speak or hold her two-year-old daughter, the only surviving child, at the funeral.
Alice Bett, a resident, said, “The mother must get justice as she struggled to bring up children who were murdered by a person supposed to protect them."
Mrs Carolyne Kirui, a distraught relative, said, “It was so painful to see the children's bodies in the mortuary. For the mother who carried the children in her womb for nine months each, it was unbearable. Men must understand that marriage is not all about paying dowry. Your wife is not an object."
Investigators have pieced together the circumstances under which the boys died, the weapons used to kill them and how Mr Kirui took off from the home after spending three hours in the house with their bodies.
In court on Monday, the father stood forlorn in the dock, in grey trousers, a pink shirt and a brown jacket. The man stared blankly at the ceiling and occasionally rested his head on his palm like one in a trance.
He could not take a plea before Bomet Resident Magistrate Praxedes Aduke as investigators, through public prosecutor Mark Barasa, sought more time to complete their work.
“We are asking for seven days within which to subject the suspect to medical tests, for investigations be completed,” stated Mr Barasa.
The application was granted by the magistrate who ordered that the suspect be held at Chebunyo Police Station.
Investigators also wanted post mortems conducted at the Longisa hospital before the start of the case.
Mr Kirui was taken back to court on Tuesday but he did not take the plea as this was pushed to Friday.
It is also on Friday that his mental state will be revealed following checks - this exam is a mandatory legal procedure in murder cases.