Tob Cohen, the Dutch tycoon who went missing for two months before his body was discovered inside a septic tank in his compound on Friday afternoon, had expressed fears for his life to the Director of Public Prosecutions eight days before he disappeared. It was the second time he was expressing such fears.
His last letter to the DPP on July 12, which was also copied to the Inspector-General of Police, reveals in startling detail how broken his marriage to his estranged wife Sarah Wairimu Cohen had become, and how his love life had become his greatest source of fear.
The letters also shine a light on the last days of the former Philips Kenya CEO and reveal the tell-tale signs that something tragic was about to happen to him. He complained that police bosses from Westlands Sub-county were colluding with his wife in a plot to prosecute him for assault, which would lead to his deportation and loss of property.
“Unless your offices act speedily and accordingly, our client will continue to suffer humiliation, discrimination and persecution because he is not a Kenyan national, which is wrong, distasteful and unfortunate,” said Mr Cohen through Musyoki Mogaka & Co advocates on July 12.
“My client is astonished at the manner in which the law is being applied to his disadvantage since no step has been taken by police officers at Parklands Police Station to prosecute Ms Wairimu despite enough evidence demonstrating her guilt.”
This perhaps explains why Mr Kinoti decided to have the case investigated by the homicide department at the DCI headquarters instead of the detectives based in Gigiri, who cover the Westlands region. The claims could also explain why officers from the Gigiri unit arrived at Mr Cohen’s home on Friday long after Mr Kinoti and his team had retrieved the tycoon’s body.
Police sources told the Sunday Nation that a number of senior officers from Parklands and Gigiri are under investigations over Mr Cohen’s complaints.
Former Gatundu North MP Patrick Muiruri has said he spoke to Mr Cohen, who was his friend, the night before he disappeared, and that Mr Cohen had expressed fears about his life.
“I spoke to him for 15 minutes and he was concerned about his life. He said that should he be found dead, a close relation should be held responsible,” said Mr Muiruri.
From Mr Kinoti’s address to the press on Friday night, it appears Mr Cohen never made it to the morning of July 20, when he is said to have gone missing.
“The people who killed him had a lot of time that night,” said Mr Kinoti.
Mr Cohen, who came to Kenya in 1987, met Ms Wairimu in the course of his work and hired her as his personal assistant. They then fell in love and got married in 2007 and she moved into his house in Kitisuru.
Years into the marriage, a property row ensued as the two disagreed on the ownership of properties acquired before and during their matrimony, including a multi-billion-shilling hotel in Nyeri.
With the marriage gone, the two separated and filed for divorce. Meanwhile, Ms Wairimu quickly moved on and started a relationship with Mr Peter Karanja, the estranged husband of an MP, who is also in police custody in connection with Mr Cohen’s murder.
Ms Wairimu had initially told the police that the businessman had travelled abroad to rest and get treatment. Since the CCTV cameras in their expansive Nairobi residence had been changed a day after he disappeared, it was impossible for detectives to tell if he had really left the homestead.
But while the CCTV system offered no clues, Mr Cohen’s mobile phone indicated that his last location was in the neighbourhood of the Westlands district of the city. Mobile phone signals can only be traced to the nearest tower but not the exact location in a process known as triangulation, which is used by detectives to track people of interest.
The businessman’s two white Mercedes Benz E250s were still parked at the property when his body was retrieved from a septic tank on Friday. It would have been the perfect murder had the investigations team not decided, after two months of combing for clues, to rummage through the Kitisuru property.
Police suspect that Mr Cohen was strangled using a rope inside his house, with his hands tied behind his back. The body was then wrapped in bedding and nylon sheets to stifle the odour from his decomposing body, which would have otherwise attracted the attention of the neighbourhood. To further prevent any stench, the metallic cover of the septic tank was sealed shut with cement.
Then all went quiet as detectives hit a series of dead ends. Just a the case was about to go cold, detectives discovered that a worker who had been fired two weeks before Mr Cohen’s disappearance had lied to the police that he was there when the tycoon left his house in a white taxi.
Triangulation of the worker’s mobile phone signals showed that he was in fact in Kayole at the time he claimed he was in Kitisuru. Upon realising that the lie had been discovered, the worker told the police that he had been coached to lie. Detectives then decided to call back Ms Wairimu for questioning, after which she was detained. She, and Mr Karanja, remain suspects in the murder until police provide enough evidence in a court of law to convict them.
Mr Kinoti on Friday warned that “there is no perfect murder” as “criminals will always leave a speck that investigators will use to crack the case”. To him, that speck in the Cohen case was the worker who claims he was coached to lie.
It was not clear last evening whether he will also be charged alongside Ms Wairimu Cohen for the murder, or if he will be turned into a State witness through a plea bargain.
Ms Wairimu Cohen is set to appear in court Monday to answer to charges of murder together with another person whose identity the DCI has not disclosed.