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How young men with secret dark lives were lured and killed

For a month, the gruesome murders of Joseph Gakubu, Alex Mwangi and Evans Maina appeared to be random acts of crime. Today, investigations by the Nation reveal otherwise.

Gakubu, 32, a mechanic from Mathira in Nyeri County, received a phone call on July 9, with the offer of a “welding job” in Nyeri town.

He asked two of his friends, Mwangi, 18, and Maina, 39, to join him. And just like that, the trio disappeared mysteriously.

Three weeks later, relatives identified their badly disfigured bodies at the Thika Level Five Hospital mortuary, Kiambu County.

According to police reports, their bodies were found in Masinga Dam, Machakos County, and transported to Thika.

Postmortems show Gakubu drowned with his hands tied while his friends were beaten to death and their bodies dumped in the dam, more than 200 kilometres from their home.

Maina lived in Karindundu village while Gakubu and Mwangi hailed from Muchohi and Mbogoini villages, respectively. Multiple interviews with relatives of the deceased revealed the three were close friends.

As their kin struggle to come to terms with their brutal murders, fresh details have emerged, suggesting the three could have been living dark secret lives, with dirty dealings that could have led to their deaths.

In a rather interesting turn of events, police sources speak of a well calculated plot to kill the three, gangland execution style. At the centre of the plot is a mystery woman and a highly secretive killer squad of officers.

Authorities have since denied the involvement of Nyeri police in the murders, saying there is no special squad of officers tasked with such operations.

KILLER SQUAD

“I am not aware of the existence of any police unit of that kind in Nyeri,” Nyeri County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara told the Nation. “It’s a matter we are investigating,” he added.

Nevertheless, there are concerns over suspected extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances after a fourth man from Mathira vanished.

In the case of the first three, police sources told the Nation that the men had allegedly been hired to abduct and possibly kill a tycoon in Karatina Ward.

Details of the alleged abduction plan remain scanty but it is said that they were to use a woman to lure the businessman into a trap.

The unidentified woman, however, fell out with one of the gang members before they could execute the mission. She tipped off the businessman who alerted police.

The woman then laid a trap for her former accomplices, leading them to their death.

The Nation could not independently authenticate these claims and police maintain they only had missing-persons reports to investigate.

Gakubu, Mwangi and Maina were last seen in Jambo area of Karatina at around 6pm on July 9. A woman only identified as “Marion” allegedly called and offered Gakubu a welding job in Nyeri town.

UNMARKED CAR

When Maina and Mwangi joined him, they were picked up by unknown people in an unmarked car. This would mark a three-week-long search for the men after relatives reported them missing at Karatina Police Station.

On July 28, relatives were called by police to identify three badly disfigured bodies at Thika Level Five Hospital morgue.

“They were in bad shape. It’s as if they had been subjected to extreme torture. I couldn’t understand the motive behind such killings. Their bodies had acid burns. I cannot imagine the pain they went through,” Ms Esther Wanjiru, Mwangi’s grandmother.

The mother, Peris Waithira, described her son as “humble and obedient”. Recalling her last moments with him, Ms Waithira said Mwangi had requested for Sh100 fare to Nyeri town where his two friends had been offered a job.

He was always at home and she became suspicious when he failed to return that night. His phone was switched off.

“Mwangi was my only son and was very humble and obedient. Whoever took his life will one day pay for it. What you do in darkness, God will bring to light,” she said.

The distraught mother claimed the detectives investigating her son’s ‘disappearance’ frustrated her.

DISAPPEARANCE

“I was hopeful that I would find him alive but the investigating officers were uncooperative. I visited the station almost daily but all they told me was that investigations were still on,” Mwangi’s mother said.

At Muchohi village, Ms Irene Wangui, Gakubu’s mother, is also mourning.

Ms Wangui said on the day his son disappeared, he had earlier joined a group of youths to help dig a grave for a neighbour. Later, Gakubu said he was joining his friends for a job in Nyeri town.

She wished him well.

Karatina police now say investigations into the killings have been moved to Kiambu County.

Mathira East Sub-county Police Commander (SCPC), James Barasa, and area DCI boss, Jackson Muriuki, said they were no longer involved in the investigations.

“We initially handled the matter after the disappearance was reported to us but the investigations have now shifted to where the bodies were discovered,” Mr Barasa said.

Karatina police are however investigating yet another mysterious disappearance of a 25-year-old resident of Ruguru Ward in Mathira, Charles Mwangi Kioho, who went missing on July 16.