Detectives investigating the murder of a Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) video editor have narrowed down to Betty Barasa's change of lifestyle and forensic investigation of her smartphone as they continue to piece together clues in the hope of cracking the puzzle of her killing.
This is after police started pursuing clues that Ms Barasa's killing was most likely the work of professional assassins, who were after her life or something she had and not a case of a robbery gone wrong.
Ms Barasa was killed on Wednesday night in Oloolua, Ngong, after robbers armed with AK-47 rifles accosted her as she drove into her compound from work and forced their way into the house where they demanded for money and other valuables.
They then terrorised Ms Barasa's husband and children as one of the robbers went with her upstairs, where the KBC editor was shot dead in unclear circumstances. The robbers, who were wearing gloves and balaclavas, then disappeared on foot into a nearby forest, leaving no clues that could lead to the tracing of their identities or motive. They only stole her mobile phone, which they dumped shortly after escaping from the compound, and a laptop belonging to her husband.
Neighbours and Ms Barasa's colleagues at work have told the Sunday Nation that apart from her job at the State broadcaster, Ms Barasa was also involved in running companies that were doing business with government and seemed to have been doing well. One source described her as generous and with a lot of money to spend.
"If you had a birthday and was among her friends, Betty would finance like 90 per cent of the party," one of her friends told the Sunday Nation. "She was a really generous person. Everyone at work knows this."
Companies under scrutiny
A few days before Ms Barasa was killed, police say, her family had bought furniture worth at least Sh300,000. The family had moved into the house in 2018 while it was incomplete.
Ms Barasa's husband, Geoffrey, is a finance director at the National Museums of Kenya.
It is said that both husband and wife jointly owned various companies -- and both were thought to be well-connected.
Some of these companies are now under scrutiny as detectives seek to find out the kind of businesses they were doing, mostly with the government, and if there were any big payments made recently.
Additionally, they are analysing Ms Barasa's Samsung mobile phone which her killers dumped in a field less than 50 metres from her house. It is the results of this forensic analysis which were supposed to be released last night that would establish who Ms Barasa was communicating with during her last days alive.
"Any pattern of communication that would be found on that phone will be the first clue on who her killers are if we manage to find out if the victim had a conflict with anyone," said a detective pursuing the case.
What is further cementing the theory that Ms Barasa was the target of an elimination is the fact that family members who were present on the night of the murder have told the police that the person who pulled the trigger told his colleagues he had finished 'the job' after shooting her.
"Huyo nimemalizana naye (I am done with her)," the killer is said to have told his colleagues as he came downstairs from shooting Ms Barasa.
Detectives are, however, finding it had to come up with clues on the identity of the killers after discovering that they are not pursuing ordinary gangsters but professional assassins on a mission.
Apart from hiding their faces behind hoods, the three gunmen were wearing gloves, which means they left no fingerprints on anything that they touched inside the house.
Their choice of weapons, two AK47s and a G3 rifle, are not ordinary guns which are easily accessible in Nairobi unless one hires them from rogue police officers as these weapons are mostly used by State security.
Additionally, the gunman who pulled the trigger made sure he collected the spent cartridges from the two shots he fired before leaving the scene.
A spent cartridge collected from the scene of a shooting is a crucial piece in solving the crime since it enables the police to create a profile of the killer -- because analysing it can tell if the gun that fired it has been used in another crime. It can also lead to tracing where the gun came from.
The killer shot twice at close range, with one of the bullets killing Ms Barasa.
Had the two cartridges been found, investigators would have received the much-needed head start needed to crack the case. Ordinarily cartridges expended from a shot do not fall to the ground in any particular pattern and they are likely to ricochet and lend a few metres to any direction.
Finding them in a bedroom where there are likely to be shoes or personal effects on the floor and furniture within a few seconds and still manage to escape from the scene is not as easy as it appears unless one is an expert in dealing with weapons.
Statements recorded with the police indicate that the killers were specific that they wanted money from Ms Barasa and they were keen on her from the moment they accosted her while she was waiting for the gate to be opened.
"Where is the money?" one of the killers is said to have barked to Ms Barasa before leading her upstairs where she was shot less than two minutes later. The fact that the killers were not interested in her husband at all or Ms Barasa's male friend Anthony (Tony) Osome has also led investigators to pursue the line that they were assassins. Ordinarily, robbers target the men who are present during a robbery because it is naturally assumed that they are not only a likely threat but they also know where the money is in a house.
Both Tony and the househelp, who opened the gate before fleeing into the darkness when she realised the presence of the robbers, have recorded statements. It was also puzzling that the robbers took a lot of time searching for the househelp.
Ms Barasa's family members had initially told journalists that Tony had come with Ms Barasa because they were supposed to work on an academic thesis.
"If I was to be killed it would have been last night," Ms Barasa's husband told the Sunday Nation on Thursday morning. Another person of interest is the househelp who police are wondering why the gun men were really interested in looking for her after she escaped on sensing danger when she opened the gate for her employer. In her initial statement filed with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the househelp told detectives that she does not know why the killers were specifically looking for her.
Tony, the househelp and Ms Barasa's husband are likely to record further statements in the coming week as detectives seek to find out if they had noticed something sinister in the days leading to the murder.
On Friday, the Law Society of Kenya joined other professional bodies in demanding for speedy investigations into Ms Barasa's murder.
"This is just one of the many such heinous acts of gangs of criminals that is leading to loss of lives of innocent Kenyans and puts to question the efficiency of the security measures put in place by government," said LSK chief executive Mercy Wambua.