The soldier who is accused of killing his estranged wife and two children could have suffered depression after crashing a plane, his colleagues have said.
Major Peter Mugure, 36, has been detained at the Nanyuki police station. On Saturday, the bodies of his 31-year-old wife Joyce Syombua and children were exhumed from a shallow grave on Thingithu estate in Nanyuki town, Laikipia. Mugure led detectives to the site.
The children were aged 10 and five. The bodies were taken to Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary.
The murder was a classic case of love gone sour. But Mugure’s colleagues at the Laikipia Air Base believe he suffered depression. One of the officers said Mugure had portrayed peculiar behaviour.
At one point, he stood in the rain for hours, something that disturbed his fellow soldiers, he said.
“At one time while driving in the camp, I spotted him standing in the rain for over 30 minutes. He was being rained on and was constantly looking at his watch,” the colleague said.
He said Mugure was ‘grounded’ after he crashed an aeroplane as a trainee pilot, adding that that could be the source of his personal and mental problems.
Mugure was transferred from Moi Airbase in Nairobi to Nanyuki a year ago. On October 26, Joyce reportedly received a communication from him that he wanted to meet them at his work station in Nanyuki. The trio was in Nairobi.
Multiple sources told The Star that Syombua and the children used public transport to travel to Nanyuki to meet Mugure. They said Joyce was in constant communication with her relatives to inform them of every move she made.
An investigator who did not want to be named told The Star the deceased did not spend the night in Mugure’s house.
“Major Mwaura [Mugure], who is the prime suspect in the murder of the three people and who is in police custody, lives in a single room in the camp. We suspect he poisoned them and maybe killed them elsewhere,” he said.
The bodies were stuck in gunny bags, with the children placed on top of their mother in a cemetery formerly owned the defunct Nanyuki Municipal Council.
Laikipia DCI officer Peter Muinde who led his officers in the recovery operation that lasted for 21 days said multiple sources helped them piece together leads that eventually made their mission successful.
He said the prime suspect will help them with investigations so they get other suspects who might have been involved.
Another source said a taxi driver in Nanyuki town was hired by the suspect to identify the site where the bodies were buried.
“It is informative that a taxi driver was approached by the prime suspect to identify where the bodies would be dumped so he is paid handsomely,” the source said.
It is not known how the woman, who had a court case against the estranged husband, decided to visit him.
“The woman supposedly had to deposit her national identity card at the main entrance to the camp and pick it while leaving since she was a civilian according to military procedures. It is evident that the officers who were manning the gates will have questions to answer” the source said.
Syombua’s phone was recovered from a 4NTE matatu that had departed from Nakuru to Nanyuki and the driver handed it over to the office.
The suspect has another wife, who is also an Air Force officer. He is expected to be arraigned in Nanyuki today to answer to murder charges.
Meanwhile, Nanyuki residents have demanded that the old cemetery, which had been turned into a dumpsite, be fenced and managed by the Laikipia county government.
The Star/ Eliud Waithaka