Catholic priest murder suspect to be held 10 more days

Michael Mutunga was arrested on October 15

In Summary

• The state said Mutunga was willing to volunteer more information that could lead to the recovery of other valuable assets and arrest of more suspects.

• Investigators had sought 14 days but senior principal magistrate Hellen Okwani reduced their request by four days.

The slain Father Michael Maingi
The slain Father Michael Maingi
Image: Courtesy

The suspect in the recent murder of Catholic priest Michael Maingi will be detained for 10 days pending investigations.

He will be held at the Kilimani police station. Investigators had sought 14 days but senior principal magistrate Hellen Okwani reduced their request by four days. The case will be mentioned on November 6.

The police said 25-year-old Michael Mutunga, a trained nursery school teacher, was willing to provide more information that could lead to the recovery of other valuables belonging to the priest and help the police arrest more suspects.  

Corporal Julio Mutembei said Mutunga was arrested on October 15 for being in possession of a vehicle that had been circulated as a wanted in respect of a missing person — Maingi, 40. The cleric had been in constant communication with his brother on the better part of the week leading to October 12 when his phone went off. Mutembei said Mutunga admitted knowing the whereabouts of the slain priest whose body was found buried in a riverbed in Embu. The body was taken to a mortuary.

“The respondent volunteered the information that he, with others, abducted the victim... and did rob him of the mentioned vehicle and other valuables,” Mutembei said.

Mutunga said that after the robbery, together with others at large, they killed the priest and ferried him to a far place for disposal. He agreed to lead the officers to the site where it is believed they had disposed of the priest’s body.

According to the police, Mutunga has so far led them to a place namely Mashamba, a seasonal river between Makima trading centre and Mathare market in Makima ward, Embu, where they the deceased was buried. 

“That the respondent after showing the officers the point of interment, an order for exhumation was got from a court,” Mutembei said.

The priest disappeared from his parents’ Tala home on October 5 and his body recovered on October 16 from a riverbed in Mbeere South, Embu. His disappearance was reported to the KBC police station on October 7. The body was mutilated, stashed in a sack.

Elders said he was a humble, selfless and devoted to the church. They had gathered at his home and said Maingi ‘donated’ himself to the church. Last Friday, investigations took a dramatic twist after the main suspect, Mutunga, said he had been in a romantic relationship with the deceased.

On Thursday, a postmortem conducted at Montezuma Monalisa Funeral Home in Machakos confirmed that he died of stab wounds.

Police sources said detectives are contemplating conducting a second autopsy to confirm claims of the romantic relationship. “Just like in cases where claims of sexual nature are made, we are considering a second round of examination on his body to confirm if there was any intercourse,” a source said.

A forensic examination of the suspect’s phone reinforced his claims after the police discovered romantic text messages alleged to have been shared by the two. In one of the conversations dated October 6, the two referred to each other in romantic terms of “Hi dear” and “Hi my love”.

Special Crimes Prevention Unit officers on Thursday last week travelled to Gaitegi village in Embu. They recovered a knife from a pit latrine in the suspect’s home. This is the knife police believe was used by the killers to slit Maingi’s neck and stab him twice in the stomach.