Satanists ‘likely suspects’ in ritual murders of kids

Murder site
      Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his team at the scene where a nursery school pupil of Bondeni primary school Faith Phoebe 6 years old who's body was found dumped at scheme estate in Kakamega on 15 September 2014. Police have not yet established the coarse of her death, her body was carried to Kakamega County Mortuary. By Benjamin Sakwa

A string of murders has baffled authorities in Kenyan and are stoking fears that the killers may be statanists. A horrifying pattern and nature of the killing of school-going children indicate the perpetrators are interested in body parts, besides performing ritual practices on the bodies.

The victims-only school-going children are abducted and tied with rubber straps by the killers, who later dismember their bodies. Locals say several abductions that have occurred between the 7th and 10th day of the month, and only in the morning hours. The abductors do not ask for ransom, but dump the bodies in trenches within two days after the disappearance of the children.

By the time of going to press, police were yet to confirm if the murders bear the hallmarks of ritualistic killings.

But multiple sources and witnesses at the scenes of crime have described the murders as ‘copycat killings,’ with the victims being tortured and maimed in the same way.

The descriptions of the victims’ bodies vary (although police insist on waiting for pathologists’ reports), with some claiming the children were dusted with unknown powder to make them unconscious.

A young survivor - who is still healing from the trauma - revealed that the killers are a group of men who are only interested in children.

The suspected kidnappers have so far killed four children.

In the latest incident, a six-year-old girl was found murdered and her body thrown in a trench on September 15. The nursery pupil’s hands had been tied with rubber straps.

Cases of abduction

Faith Phoebe’s body was discovered moments after she went missing. The pupil at Bondeni Primary School was last seen playing with other children at Scheme Estate in Kakamega town.

Several cases of abduction have been reported at Scheme Estate in the past months.

“We were playing with Faith in the morning. A man wearing a leather jacket approached us and called her. That was the last time I saw her,” Faith’s friend said.

Evans Barabara, the girl’s father, went to Kakamega Police Station to report her daughter’s disappearance, but officers told him a search could only be launched after 24 hours.

“I was shocked when officers claimed they can only launch investigations after 24 hours. I believe my daughter would have been found alive had the police acted swiftly,” Barabara said.

Last month, a boy aged eight escaped from his abductors. It is suspected that a neighbour may have kidnapped him at Rosterman village. The boy went missing for two days, only to be found lying unconscious at the Kakamega County General Hospital.

Kakamega police boss Richard Ng’etich said investigations were ongoing, since they cannot solely rely on the boy’s testimony.

“I am aware of the incident, and we are still gathering information because at the moment, what we have is not verifiable,” Ng’etich said.

The class one pupil at Musa Primary School is said to have been kidnapped by the neighbour as he was making his way home from a mosque. His narrative is indicative of ritualistic tendencies.

Four men allegedly grabbed him and forced him into a vehicle before speeding off.  The boy was allegedly sedated and later taken to an empty building, where he was confronted by three more men, who reportedly “attacked” him and sprayed him with a sedative, before dusting his body parts with what may have been a sleep-inducing substance.

“It was already dark and I could not tell where I was. The three men wore masks. They poured some powder over my eyes and body, then dragged me into a vehicle. I screamed and  was thrown out of the speeding car’s window. I lost consciousness and when I came to, I found myself in hospital,” the boy told The Nairobian in Kakamega.

Ritual killings

The boy’s grandfather said: “It is difficult to establish the kidnappers’ intentions. The most painful bit is that it was planned by my neighbour. After two days, we found him at Kakamega County General Hospital with bruises on the face, a missing tooth and other injuries on the body.”

Occurrences of ritual killings in Kakamega, which are linked to devil worshipping, have caused panic among residents.

Most parents told The Nairobian they are now worried their children might become victims of the suspected satanists.

Some residents said the kidnappers target school-going children who are not accompanied by adults. In June, the body of Deborah Achieng, a standard seven pupil at Nabongo Primary School, was found mutilated. Some of her body parts were chopped off and dumped at a church’s entrance in Kakamega on a Sunday morning.

The 12-year-old girl’s murder led to several protests by residents who blamed the police for laxity and failure to arrest the culprits.

A suspect was arrested and later released by police, leading to more protests from angry residents.

In March, Kakamega residents also witnessed a bizarre incident where a child aged six was found murdered and his body dumped in a trench in the town.

The other case is of a nursery school pupil at Bridge Academy, whose body was also found dumped in a trench after missing for a day.

Another child aged eight from Shikhambi estate also went missing in May and has never been found. Only her dress and the sandals she wore before her disappearance were found dumped along the Kakamega-Mumias highway two days after her disappearance.