Kenya: Police Mull Murder-Suicide in Mysterious Deaths of Trio

Investigations on the bizzare murder of a woman, his son and her seminarian lover risk hitting a dead end after detectives on the case failed to find evidence on whether there were other parties in the house on the day the killings are suspected to have taken place.

Additionally, they have been unable to get any evidence showing Charity Cheboi's life was in danger prior to her killing.

Consequently, they have shifted their focus to establishing whether Ms Cheboi and her son Allan were murdered by her lover Kevin Kimaiyo who then took his own life.

This is as the Nation established that that Ms Cheboi's and Mr Kimaiyo's families knew of their relationship but have denied having any knowledge of their love.

Mr Kimaiyo, who was just a shot away from becoming a catholic priest, was supposed to be at home in Soy when the murders took place.

His semester at St Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Karen, where he had been studying theology for eight years, had just ended.

He asked his parents for bus fare. That was on February 19.

M-Pesa account

However, once the money hit his M-Pesa account, he took a bus to Government Quarters along Jogoo Road and knocked on the door of Charity Cheboi.

Neighbours have told the police that he arrived there on a Friday evening.

No one knows what transpired in the hours that followed after Mr Kimaiyo's arrival but in less than two days later, Ms Cheboi and her son Allan Kipngetich died while clutching at rosaries.

A post-mortem conducted by government pathologist Johansson Oduor confirmed that the two died from suffocation and that their deaths occurred on Sunday, February 21, on the day they were last seen coming from church.

As for Mr Kimaiyo, his death was caused by carbon monoxide inhalation but his body was still fresh and that he had been seen alive by neighbours on the day he is thought to have died.

His hands and feet were both tied when his body was found besides a charcoal jiko that had burnt out.

"When I looked at the body, there was cherry-red discoloration of the tissue. This discoloration is what we usually find when someone dies because of carbon-monoxide poisoning. So, what actually killed this man, was carbon-monoxide poisoning," Dr Oduor said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by prolonged inhalation of fumes from burning charcoal in a room with poor ventilation.

A next-door neighbour has told the police that Mr Kimaiyo had, on the night before their bodies were found, asked her to help him light a jiko.

Additionally, the door to the toilet where Mr Kimaiyo's body was found in was locked from the inside when neighbours broke into the house on realising that Ms Cheboi and her son had gone missing.

What is even more puzzling and rarely happens when homicide takes place in a home is the fact that two mobile phones belonging to Ms Cheboi and Mr Kimaiyo were found charging in a sitting room socket when their bodies were discovered.

Usually, killers in an effort to erase their trail take with them any communication devices like mobile phones that might make it easy for police to track them.

A forensic analysis of these two phones has confirmed that Mr Kimaiyo and Ms Cheboi were indeed lovers.

It is all these premises that are making the police think that the seminarian might have killed his lover and her child before killing himself.

"The priest could occasionally take some farm produce when going to Nairobi and handover to my daughter but that does not mean that they were in any relationship," Ms Cheboi's father Matther Chirchir said from his home in Kiwato village, Soy constituency, where preparations for her burial were ongoing.

Ten kilometres away in Ngobitwo village where burial arrangements for Mr Kimaiyo are ongoing, his relatives completely refused to talk to us saying they needed privacy and time to mourn their son.

"Our son was in the hands of the Catholic Church and it only them who can comment on this," said a relative who claimed Mr Kimaiyo, who was soon to be Father Kimaiyo, was a gentle soul who could not hurt a fly.

"We have been instructed by the church not to comment on anything instead we leave the whole issue to the church and the investigating team," added the relative.

Although Mr Kimaiyo and Ms Cheboi grew in the same locality and were just a year apart, they took different directions in life after becoming adults before fate made them link up through a fatal attraction.

That both of them were deeply religious in not in question. Ms Cheboi never missed attending Sunday service at Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church on Jogoo Road.

She was a member of one of the prayer groups (jumuiya) that serve during mass on rotational basis. She even took her son to a catholic-run school; Mary Immaculate Educational Complex.

As for post-secondary school studies, Ms Cheboi chose to study management at the Mt Kenya University, graduating with a second class honours degree in 2016.

She landed a job at the Registrar of Persons where she was initially posted at the Makadara DC's office before being transferred to a Huduma Centre in Mathare, Nairobi.

In between, she met Kenneth Kiptanui with whom they bore a son, Allan, who was born in 2013.

The two lovers, however, separated shortly after Allan's birth. Mr Kiptanui got into another relationship as Ms Cheboi opted to raise their son as a single mother.

"Allan's father used to come here like every two weeks to see his son. He organised all of Allan's birthdays which were attended by several of his and Charity's friends," a friend to the former couple told the Nation.

It is Mr Kiptanui who discovered that something was wrong when Allan failed to show up at school at the Mary Immaculate Educational Complex.

During questioning, he told the police that the school's management called him to enquire why his son had not come to school.

"On calling her mother's phone, she could not be reached so I decided to go to the house and find out what was wrong," he said in his statement.

On the day the bodies of Ms Cheboi and Allan were being retrieved in blue body bags from a third floor one-bedroom apartment they were living in, Mr Kiptanui unable to gather enough courage to view them sat on the co-driver's seat of his brown Volkswagen Passat.

His current partner sat on the back with a female companion trying to comfort him as tears rolled uncontrollable down his chicks.

He refused to take any media interviews and his friends who had accompanied him tried as much as possible to shield him from journalists who were trying to get a shot of him.

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The priest

Mr Kimaiyo chose to be a priest from a very young age.

After Form Four, he enrolled for a degree in religious studies in 2013, the same year that Ms Cheboi, who was in a serious relationship by then, gave birth to her first born son before joining St Thomas Aquinas Seminary for a second degree in theology.

Theologically, Catholic priests serve in the place of Jesus Christ and therefore, their ministry specially configures them to Christ.

Since Jesus was not married except in a mystical sense to the church, priests are expected to consecrate themselves to Christ.

"It is decided that marriage be altogether prohibited to bishops, priests, and deacons, or to all clerics placed in the ministry, and that they keep away from their wives and not beget children; whoever does this shall be deprived of the honour of the clerical office," says Canon Law, a set legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church.

In fact, some of the questions prospective seminarians are asked during their entry interview according to those who have been through the system are "When was the last time you had sex?" "What kind of sexual experiences have you had?" And "Do you like Children?"

It is suspected that Mr Kimaiyo and Ms Cheboi remained casual friends even during the years that Charity was romantically involved with the father of his son Mr Kiptanui.

Neighbours told the Nation that Mr Kimaiyo, though not a regular visitor at Ms Cheboi's house like her son's father, stayed for weekends or for a number of weeks whenever he visited.

"He could stay for a whole month or two without coming but everyone knew him," said a neighbour.

Being the religious people they were, Ms Cheboi took Mr Kimaiyo along with her son Allan used to attend mass at Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church every Sunday.

She even introduced him to their local prayer group in the church where she was a devoted member.

Those who bothered to ask Ms Cheboi who Mr Kimaiyo was to him were told that he was her 'cousin'.

What is coming out now is that her fellow members of the prayer group did not know was that Ms Cheboi was cohabiting with this 'cousin' of hers.

"Everyone in Church knew he was her cousin imagine for the last two or three years we saw him around Charity," Catherine Njuguna, who worked with Ms Cheboi and was her longtime friend told the Nation.

"No one would have guessed that he was a priest or anything like that or if they were in a relationship because we all knew Allan's father since he was present in that kids life," said Ms Njuguna.

Like many of his relatives, staff at the St Thomas Aquinas Seminary have told the Nation that Mr Kimaiyo was a jovial and disciplined student who has never been caught up in a disciplinary case.

What many people don't not know and what is now the centre of an investigation on whether the would-be priest murdered his lover and then took his own life a day later.

What is more puzzling is that Ms Cheboi and her son's bodies were found clutching at rosaries by neighbours who broke into the house.

Theoretically, investigators have said that when someone is being smothered to death they would by reflex try to get the hands of those suffocating them from their mouths.

Mr Kimaiyo's had some bruises and shallow cuts while his shirt had some blood.

Some injuries

Allan's body also had some injuries on the neck and mouth, same to Ms Cheboi who had superficial subcutaneous injuries on her right upper arm - an indicator that she was defending herself at the point of death.

With regards to Mr Kimaiyo's injuries, Dr Oduor pointed out that they were too minor to cause death.

This would only mean that the blood on his shirt was either his or belonging to someone else.

It would take up to a month to determine whose blood it was as samples are currently being analysed at the Government Chemist.

"They were just superficial, incise wounds, very superficial to cause any death. So, when you see such superficial wounds like that, what comes to my mind is, were they self-inflicted or were they inflicted by someone," said the government pathologist.

But if at all it is Mr Kimaiyo who killed Ms Cheboi and her son as the police now suspect, there are still several unanswered questions like why he did it.

Why would a man who had decided to dedicate is life to the church and was just two years away from becoming a priest kill a woman he had known since childhood?

Why didn't the neighbours hear any commotion when the strewn household goods found in the house with the three bodies showed there was a fight?

Who stays around after committing murder for a whole 14 hours and then kills themselves in the same house?

The answers to these questions can only be answered by the two dead adults in this case Mr Kimaiyo and Ms Cheboi.

Ms Cheboi was buried on Thursday with her relatives demanding for justice for their daughter. A date for Mr Kimaiyo's burial is yet to be set.

Additional reporting by Steve Otieno, Titus Ominde and Barnabas Bii.

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