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Tech-savvy unit at the DCI resolves over 50 cold cases

Sunday January 19 2020

George Kinoti

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DOMINIC WABALA
By DOMINIC WABALA
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A new unit at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters is sending shivers down the spines of criminals. The crack team, which uses technology to unravel complex cases, has so far managed to resolve more than 50 cold cases.

VIOLENT CRIMINALS

The Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau (CRIB), which was  established by DCI boss George Kinoti, is credited with resolving decades-old crimes using DNA, forensics, ballistics and criminal profiling.

In one case, an eight-man gang’s 10-year reign of terror in Nairobi and neighbouring counties came to an end after CRIB specialists led detectives to the group’s hideout in Kitui.

The CRIB has so far linked the eight violent criminals to over 40 unresolved crimes from as far back as 2012, including the murder of a United Nations diplomat and a Dutch journalist in Gigiri. It has also linked the gang to a robbery at Citizen TV editor Linus Kakai’s Ongata Rongai residence, among others.

Four members of the gang, which has been linked to murder, robbery and kidnapping incidents in Nairobi, Kitui, Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado counties, have been arrested while four others are being sought.

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The four are being taken around the five counties for identification parades before being arraigned on robbery with violence, kidnapping and murder charges.

WIKILILYE GANG

The meticulous nature of their work has been made possible by the use of intelligence-based crime research and analysis.

Detectives from the unit tracked the Wikililye gang that first shot into the limelight in December 2012 when it committed one robbery in Nairobi and four others in Machakos.

After a decade-long reign of terror, police finally caught up with the gang at about 7.45pm on  November 10, 2019, during a violent  robbery incident at Nguuni market.

The five-man gang, armed with a gun, machetes and a metal rod, attacked Festus Musembi Wambua’s shop at Nguuni market and beat the shopkeeper before robbing him of Sh70,000, three mobile phones and Safaricom and Airtel airtime cards worth over Sh8,000. The gang then escaped in their getaway car towards Kitui.

Detectives from Mutomo, Kisasi, Katulani and Kitui who visited the crime scene later intercepted a silver Toyota 110 registration number KAT 570K at Wikililye about 50 kilometres from the robbery scene with four occupants namely Musyoka Musembi (42), Kasola Nzulya (46), Sylvester Onyango (35) and Peter Mwendwa (43).

BALLISTIC DATA

A Pachet sub-machine gun with three rounds of 9mm ammunition, a mobile phone and two machetes were also recovered. However, when the sub-machine gun and spent cartridges were taken for ballistic and forensic examination, it was established that the same gang had been involved in a similar robbery at Yongela market on November 9 2019 at about 9:30 pm. Four men armed with a sub-machine gun, a pistol and knife had confronted Kavatha Mutie and two clients at her shop and ordered them to surrender all the money.

The robbers stole Sh60,000 in cash, Safaricom airtime worth Sh7,500 and mobile phones and stuffed them into a bag before escaping on three motor cycles towards Mbitini.

Ballistic and forensic evidence yet again linked the same gang to a robbery with violence incident at Kisasi filling station on October 28 2019. The gang allegedly robbed Koki Mbithuka and her employees Anthony Musyoka and Kamute Muli of an unknown amount of money and a mobile phone. The robbers fired in the air to scare away residents before escaping.

According to CRIB’s forensic and ballistic data analysis, the same gang on October 22, 2019, at about 10.30pm, accosted Onesmus Munyao and his wife Angelina Kanyiva Munyao as they were entering their Kasevi village home at Mbitini location in Kisasi sub-county, Kitui County.

CRUDE WEAPONS

The couple, who were driving home in the company of Stephen Munyoki, Francis Muya and another person only identified as Nyamai, were confronted by a six-man gang armed with a rifle and other crude weapons who demanded all the money and other valuables at gunpoint.

They were robbed of Sh146,000 and six mobile phones by the gangsters who fired five times in the air as they escaped. One of the arrested suspects has since been identified as Peter Mwendwa Musyoka, who has previously served time at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for robbery with violence and was released from prison in June 2019.

He hails from Mbeu Kaiso Ulungu in Ngangani location, Kitui County. The other suspect is Nicholas Musyoka Musembi from Usanga Katwala sub-location, Kanzau location, who was released from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in May 2019 where he served time for robbery with violence.

LINKED TOMURDERS

A third suspect, Antony Kasyula Nzula from Nguluni sub-location in Mwala, Myanyani division, was also released from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, in June 2019, after serving time for robbery with violence.

The fourth suspect, Sylvester Onyango Obonyo, hails from Upper Kakwajuok location in Homa Bay County. He was a mechanic in Kitui town.

One of the other suspects who is still at large is Bismarck Kiema Jane from Ithumula village. He is among those being sought together with 49-year-old Peter Kyalo Mbithuka from Kaseve village in Kitui Central. Following an analysis of evidence gathered from crime scenes, CRIB detectives have linked the Wikililye gang to the November 17, 2013 murder of Australian national Patrick Richer in Runda estate, house number 12, the murder of watchman Paul Moloten and injury of his Dutch boss Koen Toonen at Thigiri Rise in Gigiri on March 27, 2014. The gang was also behind the murder of Thomas Gwandaru, who was shot in the head in Gigiri and died on January 12, 2017.

Other crimes the gang has been linked to include the murder of Jared Ondiko, who was shot in Muthaiga estate as well as the murder of security guard Charles Ekelo in Langata on June 4, 2013 during a robbery.

STRING OF ROBBERIES

The same gang has also been linked to the attack on journalist Linus Kaikai’s Ongata Rongai residence on November 27, 2013 during which he was robbed, as well as the murder of Jackson Mwania Wahome in Machakos on December 13, 2012.

In 2012, the gang carried out one robbery in Nairobi and four in Machakos in December 2012. In 2013, the gang carried out one robbery in February in Kiambu, seven robberies in Nairobi in April, May, June, July and November 2013 and one in Kajiado.

In 2014, the gang carried out five robberies and murder in Nairobi and another robbery in Machakos. It has also been associated with one robbery in 2016 in Nairobi.

In 2017, the criminals are linked to one robbery in Nairobi in January, one in Kiambu in May and another in July in Nairobi. This is besides three robberies in Kitui in October and November 2019.

Other incidents include an attack on Hussein Changa and Erastus Maloba in Nairobi’s Industrial Area on April 14, 2012, during which the gangsters robbed them of more than two million shillings before shooting Maloba in the chest and thigh.

DATA ANALYSIS

On December 13, 2012, two members of the gang shot dead Jackson Mwania Wahome in Machakos. Ten days later, on December 22, the gangsters attacked M-Pesa operator Pauline Mwende at Tumba market in Mutituni, Machakos County, and robbed her of Sh75,000.

On April 24, 2013, the gangsters, using the same Pachet sub-machine gun attacked Kenya Medical Research Institute researcher Dr Nelly Mugo at Muthaiga North estate. On May 23, 2013, the gang yet again attacked Everett Aviation managing director Simon Everett in Karen and robbed him.

Five members of the gang on October 26, 2014 robbed Samuel Muiruri Wanyoike and his wife at their Syokimau estate residence. They have also been linked to the shooting of James Njoroge Njorori in the thigh in Gachie village, Kiambaa, Kiambu, on May 1, 2017.

CRIB detectives have also linked the same gangsters to the robbery of Onesmus Munyau at Kisasi in Kitui of Sh146,000. Mr Kinoti told the Sunday Nation that detectives are embracing science and technology in fighting crime, including research and data analysis.

CRIME SCENES

He revealed that the detectives will concentrate on intelligence, research and analysis using the Crime Research Information System (CRIS) that links all DCI offices countrywide to resolve crimes.

“My goal with the establishment of this unit is to ensure no crime ever goes unresolved. Evidence collected from crime scenes will undergo forensic, DNA and ballistic analysis to speedily assist investigating officers with their work. For a long time, police have stuck to the archaic procedures to resolve criminal cases, some of which have remained unresolved for decades. On the other hand, criminals have embraced technology in committing murder, cyber-crime and fraud. This will be a thing of the past,” Mr Kinoti said.

The team, which is credited with the Dusit Hotel terror attack and tycoon Tob Cohen’s murder investigation, is currently linked to all DCI offices countrywide and will synchronise crime data and link criminals to crime scenes.

COLLECT EVIDENCE

CRIB officers collect intelligence and evidence from scenes of crime, analyse the data, conduct criminal profiling, crime research and advice investigating officers handling the cases.

It will now be mandatory for police officers to collect spent cartridges, soil and DNA samples and triangulate mobile phone locations to place suspects at crime scenes, according to the DCI boss.

The team has been concentrating on terrorism, corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, organised crime, robberies, kidnappings and cybercrime.

The officer in charge of CRIB, Mr Paul Mumo, says his unit has helped resolve many cold cases and current ones in the recent past include the Dusit hotel terror attack, the Westgate terror attack and the killing of transit truck drivers.