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Ivy Wangechi’s killer: A quiet worker and teetotaller

Thursday April 11 2019

Ivy Wangechi

An undated photo of Ivy Wangechi, who was killed at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on April 9, 2019, by former schoolmate Naftali Njami Kinuthia. PHOTO | COURTESY 

MARY WAMBUI
By MARY WAMBUI
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VINCENT ACHUKA
By VINCENT ACHUKA
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The man who killed Ivy Wangechi finished his shift at work in Nairobi at 6am on Monday morning without any signs of stress, before driving 300 kilometres to demand to know why the Moi University medical student was not picking his calls.

Naftali Kinuthia, who works as a systems administrator at a city betting firm, has been described by his workmates at their Mombasa Road offices as a quiet man who neither smokes nor drinks alcohol and always goes home straight after work.

At his parents’ home in Chomo, Gatanga Constituency, neighbours and relatives who on Wednesday came to console the family said it was impossible that Mr Kinuthia performed such a despicable act.

“We first thought that maybe he had been bewitched because whatever happened wasn’t normal,” said Moses Ndung’u, a resident of Chomo village.

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Why the 28-year-old drove all the way to Eldoret and hacked Ms Wangechi in that gruesome way and in public is a puzzle only time will solve.

She only managed to scream once before dying from the attack. Also unknown is where he bought the axe with a long metallic handle that he used to hack his victim on the left side of the head.

However, what we know so far is that Ms Wangechi and the suspect met two weeks ago in Thika. Both come from Thika and attended the same primary school, Bishop Njuguna Academy, located within the town.

Ms Wangechi lived with both her parents who are teachers at Makongeni Phase 10, a middle-class neighbourhood on the Thika-Garissa highway.

Mr Kinuthia comes from a well-known business family within Thika town that trades under the name Bemwa.

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The business was started by his grandfather. His family owns a number of apartments and Bemwa bookshop on Mama Ngina Street.

An employee at the bookshop said that Mr Kinuthia’s father did not show up on Wednesday. “He is always the first to get here but today he has not come,” he said.

The Kinuthias previously lived in Nakuru but moved to Thika after the 2007-08 post-election clashes.

It is here that Naftali is said to have first met Ms Wangechi, the woman police said refused to pick his calls after he sent her money for her birthday party.

It is said Mr Kinuthia had travelled to Eldoret last Friday to meet Ms Wangechi — as he had done several times before — but the student switched off her phone at the last minute.

Ms Wangechi’s friends at Moi University however told the Nation that the two had lost touch after primary school but met last year on Facebook. The sixth-year medical student’s birthday was supposed to be on Wednesday.

GOOD NEIGHBOUR

Two weeks ago she was at her parents’ home in Thika before travelling back to school. Their neighbours in Makongeni recall seeing Mr Kinuthia around the estate at that time.

According to them, Ms Wangechi, a straight A student who sat for KCSE at Alliance Girls in 2011, was a calm girl who was difficult to read.

She rarely interacted with people in the estate but always attended the local Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) together with her parents whenever she was around.

Area community policing chairman Justus Muthiini said he knew her as a good neighbour and had seen her on various occasions in the estate during holidays. However, he knew nothing about her said boyfriend.

He dispelled rumours circulating on social media, saying he had never heard of her being associated with any incident that would portray her in bad light.

“This is a girl we all knew as very quiet, disciplined and serious with her work. I’m shocked by the junk being shared about her on social media, which we categorically want to deny as falsehoods and something that nobody should believe. It is not fair to the family,” said Mr Muthiini.