The 10-day search for the four friends who went missing on April 19 ended in tragedy yesterday after three bodies that were recovered last week were positively identified.
Brian Oduor, Elly Obuong, Benjamin Amache Imbai and Jack Ochieng’, were abducted as they left a restaurant in Kitengela, Kajiado County, and were never heard from until yesterday when the bodies were identified.
The recovery and identification of the bodies revealed a distinct pattern of killing indicative of the work of a single gang.
All the bodies were stuffed in gunny bags and tied with ropes, before being dumped within a radius of about 30 kilometres.
None of them was shot; all appeared to have been strangled and were registered at the mortuaries as “unidentified male adults”.
A tattoo with an inscription “Elly” on the hand of Obuong helped his family to positively identify his body at a Murang’a mortuary.
The body of Obuong was spotted in a river along Murang’a-Iyego-Kangema while stuffed in a gunny bag on April 20, a day after they went missing.
The deceased’s younger brother, Michael Amollo, who led other family members yesterday, arrived at the morgue at 8am.
Body resembling kin
Amollo said they were informed that there was a body resembling that of their brother in Murang’a, prompting them to make the journey to the county. He, however, said they were surprised that Obuong had been branded a criminal.
“We don’t understand why someone would kill our brother in such a manner and have his body dumped into a river. Police should hasten investigations,” he said.
Despite the wide media coverage over the abductions, police who took the bodies to the mortuaries never reported the discoveries, further deepening the mystery surrounding the killings.
“When police recover such bodies, they should be thoroughly searched for any documents to identify them. If nothing is found, fingerprints should be taken as soon as possible to help in revealing the victims’ identity.
“A detailed report has to be made in the Occurrence Book (OB) indicating the sex, approximate age and height, dressing, and the general physical appearance, and a detailed brief to Police headquarters.
“A brief is then sent to all stations across the country,” said a senior officer who sought anonymity.
According to the police, the second body, Imbai’s, was collected from Kieni forest on April 20.
Records indicated that the body was taken to the morgue by officers from Kamwangi police post and booked at 10.37pm.
It was not until yesterday when it was identified by family members and friends through his beards and a mark on his body. The family members said they were eager to know what exactly transpired, adding that they were scared to speak to media over the sad incident.
The body of Obuong had few visible injuries, some scratches on the head, according to the family.
Murang’a County DCI boss Daniel Kandie said since the bodies had been identified, a thorough investigation, to be conducted jointly with their Isinya counterparts, would start.
“We now have a starting point where we can pick the matter from here to speed up the investigations,” Kandie said.
Just about 100 metres from where Obuong’s body was found, another body, also stuffed in a gunny bag, was yesterday afternoon found in River Mathioya.
The body, believed to be that of Ochieng’, was found by sand harvesters who were fetching the commodity in the river at around noon.
Francis Muriuki Karanja, one of the miners, said they stumbled on something which felt unusual under the water. He later went and lifted the gunny bag and realised it was a man’s body.
“I put it back until the area chief authorised us to remove it from the water and place it on the river bank,” he said.
Police officers collected the body and found out that the man’s hands had been chopped off at the wrist.
According to Karanja and the locals, that section of the river is a dumping site with at least five bodies dumped at the spot in the last four months.
Obuong’s mother, Caroline Obuong, said she received a call at 12pm from one of her sons who had travelled to Murang’a, confirming that he had positively identified the brother’s body.
“My son’s body is intact and only has small bruises and marks of a possible strangulation. It is true he is dead, his body was collected a day after he went missing,” said Ms Obuong.
She defended the son, saying he was an innocent victim of circumstances, who died because of having friends of questionable character.
“It is painful. It is cruel and merciless to kill such an innocent, harmless person. My first-born son has died a cruel death leaving his only other brother and us,” the mother mourned.
She maintained her son was never involved in any criminal activities, but enjoyed life with a “big spoon”.
“My son was a staunch Adventist and did not take alcoholic drinks. He enjoyed life. I know him better as a mother,” she said, adding the family plans to transfer the body to Nairobi.
The Isinya sub-county criminal investigations boss Jeremiah Ndubai, yesterday said they were still investigating the matter to establish the identity, and the motive of the killers.
The call data analysis of the missing men’s phones is yet to be concluded.
“We have been keen to trace the man who was posting matters around the disappearance of the four. His last phone signals were traced to Bungoma before it was switched off,” Ndubai said.
Investigations revealed that the families know the man, who posted about the possible deaths and only identified as “Ericko”.
Reports further indicated that Ericko and a woman who is yet to be identified, were at the Enkare Restaurant and left shortly before the abduction of the four. Stories by Christine Musa, Wangari Njuguna and Mathews Ndung’u of PD.co.ke