A 17-year-old girl’s trip from Nairobi to Mumias to join her family for the school holiday ended tragically after she was abducted, killed and her body thrown into a river.
Cynthia Makokha, a high school student studying in Nairobi, went missing on October 4, leaving her family in Kakamega worried about her whereabouts.
But worry turned to agony days later when her body was found dumped in River Lusumu, some kilometres away from Mumias town.
The Form Four candidate was headed to her home in Shianda, Mumias for the short October holiday when she was reportedly abducted under unclear circumstances.
Cynthia’s journey began when she left Nairobi where she lived with her aunt on Monday October 4, 2021. She promised to be back after four days to prepare for reopening of schools on October 11.
She boarded an Eldoret Express bus at 6am, and was to alight at Shianda market in Mumias East sub-county later in the day.
Her mother, Florence Makokha, said she had spoken to her daughter the previous day on phone and that the teen seemed eager to get home and see her siblings.
“We talked a lot and she told me how much she missed her sisters and brothers because it was three years since she had seen them when she last came in 2018,” said Ms Makokha.
“I told her to carry her books so that she could carry on with her studies at home and she agreed,” she added.
As the bus traversed various towns and counties, Cynthia updated her mother and uncles in Mumias as well as her aunt in Nairobi on her journey.
After reaching Kapsabet in the afternoon, all communication stopped. The family reports that Cynthia was no longer picking calls.
According to her mother, the relatives assumed she had fallen asleep during the long journey.
At around 8pm, after several attempts to reach her, she finally began to pick calls and informed her worried family members that she was in Butere, about 13 kilometres away from Mumias town where she was meant to alight.
Worried about her, an uncle, Mr Victor Wanga, rushed to Butere but he could not trace her. She was no longer picking calls.
“While I was searching for her in Butere, a message was sent from her phone to her aunt in Nairobi confirming that she was safe. I returned home around 11pm hoping she would join us the following morning,” said Mr Wanga.
Strange Facebook post
On October 5, just hours after her disappearance, friends noticed that Cynthia’s Facebook page was updated with the picture of an unknown man.
Her family quickly reported her disappearance and the strange man’s photo to police in Mumias town.
They discovered that the man, only identified as Johny, hailed from Maraba, a village in Mumias East.
Relatives and the police began a manhunt for Johny. When he was found, a search of his house uncovered Cynthia’s bag and mobile phone.
However, if the family and police were hoping to finally get answers on her whereabouts, they would be disappointed. The suspect was tight-lipped and offered no information.
“The man denied knowing my daughter even after he was arrested. This left us confused because he had her phone and bag containing her clothes and books,” said her mother.
Six days later, as the family and police made frantic efforts to find Cynthia, a body was discovered floating in River Lusumu, some 200 metres from the home of the suspect.
It was later identified as the missing teen’s.
A heartbroken Ms Makokha says the death of Cynthia, the first born out of five children, has shattered the family’s hopes of a bright future for her.
“She was my inspiration and a ray of hope to our family. She aspired to be a journalist and we had invested all we had in her because we knew she would uplift her brothers and sisters in the near future,” she said.
The family is now crying for justice for Cynthia.
Mumias West sub-county police commander, Mr Stephen Muoni, confirmed that a suspect was in custody in connection with the murder.
He said the suspect was assisting the police with investigations and will be arraigned once the probe into Cynthia’s brutal murder is over.
“Currently, he is our prime suspect and we are sure of getting a lot of information from him,” said Mr Muoni.
Her body was moved to Kakamega County General Hospital mortuary for a post-mortem.