By DCI SLEUTH
It’s 30 years behind bars for man behind Embu Priest killing, Judge rules.
On Friday, the main suspect in the brutal killing of Catholic priest Michael Kyengo, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, at the Embu Law Courts.
The suspect, Michael Mutunga who brutally murdered Fr Kyengo by strangulating him before slitting his throat open, confessed to killing the clergyman on the night between October 8 and 9, 2019.
The priest’s body was discovered in a shallow grave on the riverbed of Mashamba seasonal river in Makina location, about 15 kilometres from Gategi shopping centre in Mbeere, Embu County.
In yet another murder puzzle cracked by DCI’s homicide division, a blow-by-blow account of how the cleric’s killer planned and executed the murder most foul was documented and presented before lady justice Lucy Njuguna, at the Embu high court.
Confronted by the overwhelming forensic evidence, cyber crime analysis from our cyber sleuths, backed up by expert opinions from scientists based at the DCI forensic lab and the government chemist as well as witness accounts, from over 10 witnesses, the mastermind of the killing had found himself in a tight corner and opted to plead guilty.
On October 8, 2019, 40-year-old Father Michael Kyengo, who until his untimely demise was serving at Thatha catholic parish in Masinga, Machakos county, left home in Tala at around 5pm, headed to Gategi shopping centre in Embu, approximately 128 kilometres from Tala. He was on his annual leave from his workstation and was overseeing the construction of a perimeter fence at his home.
The cleric was driving his vehicle, a dark blue Toyota axio and was in constant communication with his killer Michael Mutunga, whom they had known each other for a period of time. Unbeknownst to him, Mutunga who had planned to kill him for over two months was leading him to a death trap. He had bought a gunny bag and a sharp knife way back in August, and was only waiting for the perfect time to strike. Father Kyengo arrived at around 9pm and met with Mutunga.
Moments later, the priest was forced into his vehicle with his hands tied using a rope. He was driven to Mashamba seasonal river, 15 kilometres from Gategi shopping centre where the suspect strangled him before slitting his neck using a knife. The killer knife was one of the key exhibits secured by the homicide detectives, who rummaged through the sludge of a pit latrine and recovered it.
After killing the man of God, Mutunga stuffed his lifeless body in the gunny bag and buried his remains in a shallow grave before driving off using the deceased’s vehicle.
The suspect, using the clergyman’s vehicle then proceeded to Mwea town where he made an Mpesa withdrawal of Sh69,000. The suspect had in a bid to conceal his actions registered a new sim card, using a stolen identity card belonging to a woman based in Kirinyaga.
The newly registered line transferred and received over Sh280,000 from the priest’s Mpesa accounts immediately after his death. Detectives had earlier established that the suspect had demanded for the clergyman’s personal identification numbers moments before he killed him. To confirm whether the PIN numbers were correct, the suspect had sent Sh1,500 to an accomplice.
Mutunga then drove to Embu and hired a driver to take him to Kilifi, since he did not have a driving licence and didn’t want trouble with traffic cops along the way. He had planned to start a new life in the coast, using the money in the priest’s accounts. Upon arrival in Kilifi on October 10, he paid the driver Sh3,000 for the ride.
The suspect who was determined to cover all his trails in the murder proceeded to a garage in the town and had the vehicle’s colour changed from dark blue to white. But as fate would have it, the suspect was arrested a week later at Kiboko along the busy Nairobi – Mombasa highway, as he tried to sneak to Nairobi.
Detectives who had already profiled him as a suspect in the murder arrested and questioned him, before they were led to the spot where the priest’s remains had been buried in a shallow grave on a seasonal riverbed. His remains that had already decomposed were identified through DNA sampling.
The suspect also led our officers to the pit latrine where he had disposed the murder weapon. He also led them to his newly rented house in Mnarani, Kilifi county where more exhibits in relation to the murder were recovered. A mechanic in the town confessed to changing the colour of Father Kyengo’s car from dark blue to white at a cost of Sh18,000.
Forensic evidence gathered by a combined team of detectives from homicide, scenes of crime, photographic and cyber divisions placed the suspect at the scene of the crime at the time the priest met his death. A detailed analysis from the crime research and intelligence bureau, further reinforced the forensic findings.
However, when the suspect was presented in court after his arrest and was released on a Sh300,000 cash bail, he disappeared for one year forcing detectives to launch a manhunt for him once again! He was finally cornered on May 10, this year, in one of Nairobi’s informal settlements as he tried to escape our dragnet.
In an expansive and well documented case as displayed by our detectives, every aspect of the murder was well captured including the recovery of a spade that the killers used to dig his shallow grave and cover his remains. The trail of evidence gathered revealed that the suspected had indeed been planning the murder since August 2019, and had been looking for the perfect opportunity to strike.
Father Kyengo’s dissapearance left his family distraught, seeking answers into the whereabouts of their son. His mother Wayua Maingi had tried in vain to reach her son through his phone, prompting her to report his disappearance at Tala police post 3 days after he left home. When she later learnt of the discovery of his son’s remains, she was torn apart and overcome with grief.
At Thatha catholic parish where the deceased was the parish priest for seven years, parishioners could not come to terms with the brutal killing of their beloved priest. They mourned him as an amiable and charming man of God.
We hope that the sentencing of his killer today has given his family and congregants of Thatha catholic parish some sense of justice.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations assures the public that we shall not relent in playing our role, towards ensuring that justice is served to every victim of crime, their families and loved ones.