Guilty as charged: Widow plotted and executed murder of Kiru Boys principal
At about 10pm on November 4, 2016, Solomon Mbuthi was about to go to bed when he received a surprise guest.
As the principal of Kiru Boys High School in Kiriani, Murang’a Country, he lived at the teachers’ quarters, usually well protected.
It was a Friday after a long week of preparations for national exams when his wife Jane Muthoni arrived home. She was the principal of Icaciri Secondary School.
Unbeknown to Mbuthi, his wife was on a mission to terminate his life. As it would be later discovered, she had brought along two hit men to kill her husband over alleged infidelity.
Muthoni suspected her husband was having an affair with a woman at a nearby M-Pesa shop.
After exchanging pleasantries, she went to the kitchen to prepare a glass of milk for her husband. The plan was to lace it with sedatives to render him unconscious, then call her accomplices to finish the job.
The two men, Joseph Kariuki alias Karis and Isaac Ng’ang’a, sat patiently in her tinted car, awaiting the signal. But things did not go according to plan. About a couple of hours later, Muthoni came out of the house, appearing rather disturbed. She said the drug had failed and called off the mission.
She drove them to Kiriaini town where they were joined by one Nelson Njiru, the chief coordinator of the murder plot. They agreed to go their separate ways as Muthoni returned home at around 2am.
As police found out, the quartet had first met in June 2016 to find a solution to the couple’s domestic problems and their initial plan was to eliminate the other woman in the love triangle.
But the plan was dropped as her M-Pesa shop was close to a police station and a bank.
At the time, Muthoni gave the hit men a down payment of Sh50,000 each and urged them to wait for the next assignment. It wouldn’t take long as four months later, she decided to go after her husband.
After the sedative failed, Muthoni put together Plan B. She convinced her husband to join her on a drive to Kiambu to survey a parcel of land they had an interest in.
The unsuspecting Mbuthi agreed and the couple travelled to Icaciri on November 5 where they spent the night at Muthoni’s house.
Meanwhile, she kept in touch with the hit men for the assignment the following day. To avoid mistakes after two failed attempts, they procured a stronger sedative.
On November 6, just after the children had gone to church, the couple drove towards Ndarugo at Uriithi. Muthoni had already drugged her husband and the drug was slowly taking effect.
Strangled to death
At Ndarugo, she introduced him to Kariuki and Ng’ang’a, who were to act as the ‘land agents’. The men jumped in the car to lead the couple to the plots on sale.
After driving for a while towards Karakuta Coffee Estate, Muthoni suddenly stopped the car and signalled Mr Ng’ang’a to act.
Without hesitation, he grabbed a sisal rope, tied it around Mbuthi’s neck and strangled him to death.
Once lifeless, they dragged him to a thicket in the coffee plantation where they sat him upright, tied his hands from behind and fastened the rope to a tree.
They also covered his head and some parts of the body with a gunny bag.
N’gang’a took the principal’s pair of shoes and left his at the scene. A five-day search by the police following a missing-person report led to the discovery of the decomposing body at the plantation.
Investigations led to the arrest of Muthoni, Kariuki and Ng’ang’a, who were jointly charged with the principal’s murder. Njiru, however, vanished into thin air, never to be seen.
Guilty of murder
Muthoni and Ng’ang’a denied the charges and the matter proceeded to trial. Kariuki, however, pleaded guilty and agreed to be a state witness. Justice Joel Ngugi sentenced him to seven years in 2017.
The prosecution lined up 21 witnesses to testify against Muthoni and Ng’ang’a, among them Mr Kariuki, the principal’s family, and staff and experts from Safaricom and Airtel.
Chief Inspector Clement Mwangi of the homicide department was the last witness to testify. Though based at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Nairobi, he was the investigating officer.
He pieced together the testimonies of the 21 witnesses who linked the accused to the murder. He said investigations had proved that Muthoni and her three accomplices were together at Witeithie in Urithi, Kiambu County, on the day he was killed.
Phone records presented by experts from Safaricom and Airtel showed that the suspects were in constant communication before and at the time of Mbuthi’s death.
The data also placed the suspects at the same point during the murder.
“Mr Kariuki’s detailed account of the murder plan and their activities from June 2016 to the date of Mwangi’s death corroborate the Safaricom and Airtel IT experts’ testimonies,” said Mr Mwangi.
Yesterday, the court found Muthoni and Ng’ang’a guilty. They will be sentenced on May 18.