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Secret life of murder suspect John Matara that puzzled his family and friends

John Matara, the prime suspect in the murder of Starlet Wahu, rarely went to his rural home and the last time he was seen by neighbours, they wondered how he had joined the Rastafari community, several interviews by the Nation can now reveal.

The suspect, who will be in police custody for 14 days as investigations continue and more victims come forward to report alleged violent encounters with him, is also said to have been briefly involved in campaigning for a candidate in Kisii County last year before being kicked off the team. He is believed to have met most of his victims through online dating apps.

Matara’s mysterious ways caught the attention of his neighbourhood when he was asked to speak at his brother’s funeral.

When given the microphone, he prayed in a language none of the mourners could understand, crowning his prayers with a Rastafarian quote.

“I did not believe that it was Matara who had prayed because I used to know him as a staunch SDA (Seventh Day Adventist),” the neighbour said.

The Nation has also established that Anthony Nyongesa, the man arrested alongside Matara, was a boda boda rider who took him from the AirBnb apartment to Mbagathi County Hospital on January 4, 2023 when Wahu died.

Starlet Wahu Mwangi whose body was found at an apartment in South B, Nairobi.

On Saturday, his friends, neighbours and family members described Matara as a man brought up in a religious family. His father sings in a Catholic Church choir in Kisii, while his mother is a staunch SDA.

According to a neighbour, Matara attended Genesis Preparatory Primary School in Kisii town and was a bright student.

“He was bright and also used to go to church with his mother. He was very active in the church until he did his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations,” said the neighbour who spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

He later joined Butere Secondary School in Kakamega County where he performed well before joining the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Design.

During the last elections, Matara joined the campaign team of a political leader who was eyeing the senatorial seat. But they parted ways after Matara picked a fight with another man in the campaign team.

“That is when he was sent away and asked never to join the team again. If I remember well, that was the last time I saw him in Kisii,” the source said.

Violent

Matara used to live in an apartment near Kenyatta University (KU) where women visited him almost daily. He was allegedly evicted after the women and neighbours complained that he was violent towards them.

This week, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) visited his home in Kisii County and his house in Kahawa West to find out more about Matara. The raid was aimed at securing further evidence vital to the forthcoming court case against Matara, who has attracted public attention following the gruesome murder of Wahu.

The investigators, attached to the DCI’s Homicide Wing, made a grim discovery at Matara’s modest one-room house.

Among the items found were HIV testing kits and condoms, raising questions about the nature of Matara’s interactions with his victims.

A DCI officer, who spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, revealed that officers also found other items believed to have been used by the suspect to assault his victims.

Following the murder of Wahu, who was buried three days after her death, the Nation established that Matara was also a musician.

Earlier, information had surfaced that Matara, known by his musical alias ‘Rebelius Monk’, uses music to express social grievances.

A man of many talents, Matara not only pursued a musical career but also identified himself as a graphic designer.

Under the pseudonym ‘Rebelius Monk’, he created a YouTube channel in March 2018, featuring 10 original releases that explored themes of a broken system and societal issues.

His second most popular track, Time Has Proven, with over 19,000 views, explores the challenges faced by the youth and the broken social structure.

His most viewed single is Tribulation, which has over 33k views.

His poignant lyrics address the persistence of crime, violence and the prevalence of HIV in society.

“In 2016, HIV still persists, mass murdering… why invest in injecting violence?” Matara sang in one of his songs, reflecting on the ongoing societal struggles.

His lyrics boast of his ‘immortality’ and justify why crime is on the rise.

Slavery and oppression

“Time has proven that I cannot die. Even time shall surely die,” Matara sings in the reggae song.

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