Suspect ‘shot self in Maribe bedroom’
Alibi? > Joseph Irungu claimed he was shot by criminals outside his girlfriend’s house on the night a woman’s throat was slit Did Joseph Irungu, the prime suspect in the murder of a city woman, shoot himself inside his celebrity girlfriend’s house to lay
Mr Joseph Irungu, the prime suspect in the horror killing of a woman in Nairobi two weeks ago, shot himself inside his fiancée Jacque Maribe's bedroom, investigators now believe.
The bullet punched a small hole in his chest, exited through his back, and ricocheted off Ms Maribe's bedroom wall. Investigators on Saturday found a wheat flour patch over the hole in the wall while the weapon was found hidden in the ceiling of a neighbour, who has since been arrested.
It is not clear whether Mr Irungu wanted to commit suicide or lay a false trail, but detectives suspect a strong link between the murder of Ms Monica Kimani in her Kilimani apartment and the self-inflicted gunshot wound on Mr Irungu hours later on the other side of Nairobi, in Lang'ata.
Mr Irungu, his fiancée Ms Maribe, and their mutual friend Brian Kassaine, in whose house the gun was found, are in police custody. Mr Irungu was arraigned in a Kiambu court last week while Ms Maribe — a celebrated news anchor and reporter at Royal Media Services' Citizen Television — and Mr Kassaine are expected in court this morning.
A government source told the Nation yesterday that detectives are reviewing Mr Irungu's movements around the city using CCTV footage from major roads and his mobile phone signals on the night Ms Kimani was killed. This, the source added, will be cross-referenced with his statement to the police for any inconsistencies on his alibi.
At 7.05pm on Friday, September 21, Mr Irungu, in the company of Ms Maribe and Mr Kassaine, walked to the report desk at Lang'ata Police Station located about 200 metres from his residence, and told officers that he had been attacked by gunmen as he drove out of Ms Maribe's residence at 1:30am the previous night, about 19 hours earlier. The attackers, he claimed, had escaped on foot.
He said he alerted Mr Kassaine after he was shot, who rushed him to hospital. Guards at the estate have said they did not hear any gunshot or commotion on the night Mr Irungu says he was attacked.
Police officers, too, did not believe his statement as it had many circumstantial gaps. “When he was asked to produce the clothes he wore during the shooting, he did not,” an officer in the investigating team told the Nation yesterday. “The car he was driving, a Toyota Allion, registration KCA 031E, had no bullet hole, and there were just too many contradictions in his story.”
Earlier, police officers had found a live bullet under Ms Maribe's bed, and the plot thickened when, in his statement, Mr Irungu said the bullet may have been from his friend Kassaine's gun, which, he added, he used to service from time to time.
Police searched Mr Kassaine's house and found a gun, live bullets in a magazine, and a spent cartridge believed to be from the day Mr Irungu shot himself, hidden in the ceiling. None of the three, police established, is licensed to carry a civilian firearm.
“The contradictions in their statements and the fact that Ms Maribe may have cleaned the house and burnt the clothes make us believe she is an accessory to murder,” a police source said.
Police said if she lied to the authorities in order to cover up wrongdoing, then she is at risk of serious criminal charges.
The drama surrounding Mr Irungu and his fiancée started on Wednesday, September 19 this year, when the man who passes himself off as a security guard knocked on Ms Kimani's Kilimani apartment door.
Ms Monica, whom Mr Irungu is said to have dated earlier, had just flown in from Juba, South Sudan and was in the company of two men when Mr Irungu walked in.
Detectives believe two men left the apartment at around 11pm, giving Mr Irungu and Ms Monica, whom they said looked quite familiar and comfortable with each other, time and space to catch up. A few hours later, Ms Kimani lay in her bathtub, dead.
Police sources said Ms Kimani seemed to have been killed by a professional assassin. Her hands were tied at the back and her mouth taped shut. Her feet, too, were tied together, meaning she could not escape, defend herself, or shout for help. The assassin then expertly slit her throat from ear to ear and dumped her body in her bathtub. The following day, on Thursday, as news about Ms Kimani's horror killing spread, investigators started closing in on the suspects.
After Mr Irungu shot himself, detectives believe, he and Ms Maribe then called Mr Kassaine, who lives next door — Ms Maribe lives in House number 626 of Royal Park Estate, Lang'ata, while Mr Kassaine's is number 620 — and gave him the gun. Mr Kassaine then hid the pistol, bullets and the spent cartridge in his ceiling. Police said the gun is not registered, and that neither Mr Kassaine nor Mr Irungu, who has been providing bodyguard services to senior politicians, is a licensed gun holder.
Police are still combing several residential houses in the city where the key suspect has lived, among them a house in Buru Buru Phase 2's Laset Court, where he lived with three other men.
The three, police say, have not been seen in the neighbourhood since Mr Irungu's arrest.
Mr Joseph Irungu when he appeared before Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo last week in connection with the murder of Ms Monica Kimani. He did not take a plea as police requested, and got, a 10-day custodial order. Inset is his girlfriend, television journalist Jacque Maribe, who was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of trying to cover up for him. She, alongside her neighbour, will be arraigned today.