Detectives are now following leads that Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) employee, Major Peter Mwaura Mugure, may have first drugged his two children and the estranged wife before strangling them.

Police believe that soldier may have drugged and strangled the children outside the Laikipia Airforce barracks several hours before he repeated the same on his estranged wife.

The military man is said to have left his house with the two children at around 9.30am and returned later at around midday without them. According to detectives, he may have used drugs to make them fall asleep before strangling them to avoid raising any suspicion.

Detectives believe Mugure may have strangled the wife between 1 and 4pm, when he went to the gate to collect the wife’s ID, and left the barracks for an unknown destination and later returned later in the evening. Sleuths pursuing the case believe that Mugure may have hatched the plot to kill the three after the court ordered that Sh75,000 should be deducted from his salary each month for the upkeep of the two children.

Court order

The court issued the order after DNA results indicated that Mugure had fathered the two children. The army officer after disagreeing with Symobua, had disowned the children leading to a court battle that ended up with the court ordering for a DNA test.

“The man had only paid the money for three months and had been complaining to friends about being uncomfortable with the arrangement. We believe he enticed the three with the aim of finishing them,” a police source said.

The three bodies are believed to have been buried the same day at night, October 26, 2019.

Details also emerged that a casual labourer at the Laikipia Air Base senior officers’ mess who is suspected to have assisted Mugure in a triple homicide on his two children and their mother led investigators to where the three were buried in a shallow grave.

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Joyce Syombua with her children, now all deceased PHOTO/COURTESY

The labourer, Collins Pamba , 21, worked at the officers’ mess as a cleaner and is alleged to have assisted in either executing, removal or disposing of the three bodies in a shallow grave at Nanyuki’s Thingithu Estate, a site that was previously used by the defunct Municipal Council of Nanyuki as a cemetery. Investigators had spent the whole of Saturday tying loose ends into the disappearance of Joyce Syombua, 31, her daughter Shanice Maua, 10, and son Prince Michael, 5, who went missing three weeks ago after a visit to their dad and estranged husband who had sought to see them as per a court directive that he should be seeing his children regularly.

They singled out the cleaner after tracing that had been in communication with  Mugure over the phone several times during the dates that the three went missing.  In the course of investigations police received a tip off from a taxi driver who had been called through his cellphone by Major Mugure and requested him to deliver some sleeping drugs and three gunny sacks.

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The late Shanice who was to celebrate her 11th birthday on 1st November Photo/Courtesy

This information led to the arrest of the army man by the military police who was then handed him over to Nanyuki Police station. Laikipia East Criminal Investigation Officer Jacob Muriithi said they have not established whether the taxi driver delivered the commodities as he denied having fallen to Mugure’s requests after he was told he would also ferry some an identified staff from the base for disposal.

Vehicle detained

The taxi driver is however free as he had voluntarily gone to the police station to provide the information after he heard the news of the disappearance. His vehicle is however being detained at Nanyuki police station. On Saturday the office of the DCI found out about the casual labourer who it was established that had been in regular communication with Mugure during his family’s visit. The two are said to have began their day together at the barracks where they spent about three hours.

On Saturday, journalists camped about a kilometer from the Laikipia Air Base Gate after they were denied access inside the barracks.

And when a convoy of police officers’ vehicles came out of the camp they went straight to Thingithu’s Makaburi area where the cleaner who was accompanied by Major Mugure showed the investigators where the bodies had been buried.

According to a police officer who is privy to the ongoing investigations and who sought anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media, the two children may have been killed outside the camp when Mugure moved out with them leaving their mother freshening up.

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Bodies of the three family members recovered at Thingithu’s Makaburi area Photo/Courtesy

Mugure had claimed the children were at a friend’s place when he came back without them, and informed his estranged wife that he wanted to square out some matter with her in their absence.

Syombua had indicated that in her last text message to her friend Farizana Syombua whom she had been in constant communication with since their arrival in Nanyuki. She had texted her indicating that Mugure had come back without the children. “We believe Syombua may have been drugged and strangled to death in the house in the army barracks and her body ferried out using Mugure’s car. The children may have been murdered and were placed somewhere yet to be established, before being collected later for disposal,” said the police officer.

The officer said it is believed that while leaving the barracks for the second time when he was ferrying out the body of Syombua in his vehicle, he collected her ID card, which she had left at the gate as a security measure for all civilians entering the facility. The officer said when they visited the house it was sparkling clean and there was no sign of struggle or blood stains, adding that the casual labourer might have been used to do the cleaning in the house.

“The casual labourer may have been present during the killing of Syombua and in fact he is the one who went through the window to open for us the back door as the main door one was closed,” said the officer 

Mugure’s phone was also traced to have been near the Nanyuki dumping site which is located barely two kilometers from the Air Base at the time the three were reported missing and also matched reports by the site watchman who said there was a man who had sought to dump some waste but declined to allow him as he wanted to do it at night.

Syombua’s phone that was recovered from a matatu registered with 4NTE Sacco is also believed to have been planted there as a cover up since the car never made a trip to Nairobi as Mugure had claimed.

The army officer had claimed he had escorted the three to board a matatu to the city but they never made it.

Laikipia County Criminal Investigation Officer Peter Muinde after retrieving the bodies from the shallow grave where they were buried wrapped in three gunny sacks and tied carefully with nylon ropes said forensic investigations would be conducted to confirm whether the bodies belonged to the missing three. “We have to further carry out investigations to establish whether these three bodies belong to those missing three. The bodies have decomposed to some extent and only forensics examination will give the true details,” said Muinde.

Yesterday, officers from the Homicide Department at the DCI Nairobi office had taken up the matter and the scene where the bodies were retrieved condoned off under heavy police security.

After the bodies were exhumed officers returned there later to secure the site following the arrival of the homicide investigations officers.

Mugure is expected to be produced in court today where the investigators will be seeking more time to hold him for further investigations and possibly more arrests. The bodies which were taken to Nanyuki Teaching and referral hospital Mortuary might also be moved to Nairobi for forensic examination.