Mystery of Thika Landless estate dead granny stuns DCI detectives

One year after detectives opened investigations into the mysterious death of an 82-year-old grandmother, whose body was discovered nine months after she went missing, the findings are inconclusive. On June 2, last year, at a homestead in Thika’s landless estate, crime scene investigators from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) discovered a badly decomposed body.

The home belonged to a widow, Leah Njeri Githua, whose children kept wiring money for upkeep to her mobile phone without checking on her, only for it to later emerge she had been long dead. The body was lying next to the carcass of a dog. A further search by the DCI at the home revealed at least 20 dead chicken in the compound. Homicide investigators were called in to help unravel the mystery death after the shocking discovery.

After an extensive probe by the DCI that went on for close to six months, the investigators have now concluded that it is not possible to establish if Njeri was killed or died of natural causes. Sources said that investigators have now recommended that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions recommends an inquest into the death of the granny.

A granddaughter of Njeri, who had visited the home, reported that she was missing and could not be reached on her phone. The investigators combed the homestead for clues and also recorded statements of 10 individuals. Among those who recorded statements were her children and neighbours. At the time, she was believed to be missing and not dead.

Digging into the family history, investigations revealed that Njeri had been living alone after all her children left home. Some of the children who are doing well in life, had been sending their mother cash for her up keep every month. But none of them had visited her for about nine months before she was discovered dead. At the start of the probe, the investigators picked some bones and clothes believed to belong to Njeri.

The samples were taken to the Government Chemist in Nairobi for analysis and DNA testing. Neighbours interviewed told investigators that the last time they had seen Njeri alive was nine months prior to her body being found. They, too, said they were stunned by recovery of the body parts believed to be her remains. Also questioned by the detectives is a Nyumba Kumi official who provided insights into what may have transpired. When the Nation visited the homestead last year, neighbours said they did not think anything amiss even after they failed to see Njeri in the neighborhood.

“We thought that she had gone to visit one of her sons in the city until we learnt of her death,” said Michael Njuguna, a neighbour. Detectives who spoke to the Nation at the start of the investigations said the police were pursuing, among other leads, the possibility that Njeri was killed. “It is highly likely that whoever killed her was well-known to her, and was aware that the home was not frequented by people. So it was not easy for the body to be discovered,” a detective said at the time.

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