Police mistake that let serial child killer walk out of cell

He mixed with petty offenders arrested for violating Covid-19 rules and walked out

In Summary
  • Three police officers were arrested over the escape of Wanjala
  • A hunt on the suspect is ongoing amid fears he may be killed by either the public or police 
Masten Milimo Wanjala, the self-confessed serial killer of at least 12 children. He escaped from custody in Nairobi on October 13.
VAMPIRE KILLINGS: Masten Milimo Wanjala, the self-confessed serial killer of at least 12 children. He escaped from custody in Nairobi on October 13.

A move by police to round up petty offenders and lock them up at Jogoo Road police cells gave child serial killer Masten Milimo Wanjala a chance to escape.

Statements recorded by some of the suspects and police officers who were on duty showed at least 50 suspects had been arrested Tuesday night and thrown into cells without entering their details into the Occurrence Book.

Most of those arrested were picked up for violating Covid-19 curfew rules. The curfew starts at 10pm and ends at 4am.

At about 11pm, the suspects were told to “sort” themselves by paying bail. Those who were able to pay a fee of between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000 walked to their freedom.

It was in this confusion that Wanjala walked out unnoticed. Apart from the 50 who had been arrested, eight other suspects had been detained in the same cell with Wanjala.

Wanjala's disappearance was discovered on Wednesday morning. An alarm was raised and a search was conducted. But he had gone.

Wanjala had apparently learnt the routine at the station for the time he had been there. He was not in an isolation cell.

Hours later, three police officers were arrested and locked up over the escape of the child serial killer.

Officers Phillip Mbithi, Boniface Kamakia Mutuma and Precious Mwinzi were arraigned on Thursday. They said Jogoo police station had a blackout the day Wanjala escaped from custody.

“Your honour, on the day the suspect escaped from police custody, there was no light. The state failed to provide light, so the police officers on duty took shifts at 7pm in total darkness using the spotlight on their phones to count suspects,” lawyer Danstan Omari told senior resident magistrate Jane Kamau.

At least 20 people were questioned over the escape of Wanjala. They included suspects, who were in custody, and police officers. 

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has offered Sh200,000 to anyone who will help police rearrest Wanjala.

Authorities said Wanjala was expected in court for a murder plea in connection with his case. 

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution said during the last court appearance, the prosecution made an application for Wanjala to undergo a mental assessment at Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital for purposes of presenting him to the High Court to face murder charges.

“Wanjala was due to face charges for the murder of three children. Further investigations are ongoing into similar murders involving other children where he is a suspect,” the ODPP said.

On Wednesday, court summonses were issued to OCS Jogoo police station and Division Criminal Investigations Officer Buru Buru to report on the matter.

Police said they had so far linked him to 14 murder incidents in Nairobi, Machakos and Western Kenya.

He confessed to killing 12 children when he was arrested earlier this year. Wanjala was arrested in Kitengela, Kajiado, in mid-July by detectives after he sent a text message to the parents of a child he had abducted and killed before dumping his body in Kabete, Kiambu county.

He was demanding a ransom for the release of the child when police were informed and captured him. 

Wanjala is accused of killing the children between 2019 and 2021. He has so far taken police to at least 10 murder scenes, including Nairobi (five), Kajiado (two), Machakos (two) and Bungoma (one).

Postmortems showed they were strangled and hit on the head with a blunt object. Brian Omondi and Junior Mutuku died of strangulation, while Charles Opindo suffered a head injury inflicted with a blunt object.

The autopsy on a fourth victim was not done because it was a skeleton.

Omondi's parents could not identify him positively because his body was badly decomposed. Authorities had to take samples for further tests and analyses.

Edited by A.N