• Ochieng was found on Thursday, dumped in a thicket next to Uranga Anglican Church, not far from the shop.

Police line

More than 10 mysterious deaths have been reported in Siaya in two years. No one has been apprehended.

None more horrifying than the latest death. Brian Ochieng Odhiambo, 19, had just sat his KCSE exam and was staying with in-laws in Uranga, Alego Usonga.

He was minding their store.

Ochieng disappeared Monday night and was found Thursday in a thicket near the store. His head was bashed to a pulp, his eyes were gouged out, a stick was shoved up his anus. His back and buttocks were slashed with a sharp object.

The police have been on the firing line for not investigating the missing person right away, not securing the crime scene, not questioning neighbours who heard him scream, not following leads and for allowing the victim's clothes to be burnt at the mortuary.

They advanced a theory that he was in the robbery of the grocery store. Ten, 20-litre jerricans of cooking oil and two, 50kg sacks of sugar were stolen.

So were M-Pesa funds and the day's cash.

This is how it unfolded:

The youth's death came barely a fortnight after he wrote his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams at Machakos Boys High School.

Afterward, his sister Eunice Adhiambo, arranged for him to stay with her and her husband, not his parent in Alego Kaluo.

Adhiambo says the idea was to have the youth help with chores at their retail shop in Uranga. Her husband, teacher Kevin Osanda, was leaving for Nairobi to mark the KCSE exams.

The shop is heavily stocked at the trading centre.

Usually, a woman named Elizabeth Anyango would attend to customers during the day and leave in the evening when Ochieng would come for the night shift.

He had a bed inside the shop where he would sleep after closing at night. 

On Monday, April 11, Elizabeth left at 6pm and Ochieng started work. Adhiambo, who lives nearby, brought him supper at 7.30 and returned home.

Because there was a power blackout, Adhiambo instructed him on the phone to close the shop, both front and rear doors.

That was the last time Ochieng spoke to anybody.

The following morning, a bread supplier found the front counter closed. This was unusual.

The supplier phoned the brother-in-law in Nairobi.

After the alarm was raised, the sister and some neighbours found the rear door closed but unlocked. The youth was not inside.

About Sh15,000 cash from the M-Pesa business was stolen, as were the day's sales.

An axe was missing. Adhiambo and Anyango made a burglary and missing person report at Uranga police station, under OB No. 05/12/03/2022.

Notably, the OB number was erroneously written – 03 to mean March, instead of April. It is suspected that Ochieng was attacked between 8pm and 11pm on Monday night.

The police had not tried to trace him on Tuesday and Wednesday, the family said.

Ochieng was found on Thursday, dumped in a thicket next to Uranga Anglican Church, not far from the shop.

His hands were tied and his mangled head was wrapped in his blue T-shirt.

Family and friends said police should have started looking for him at once.

“The police did not do their best to locate Brian, only to behave as if they were shocked when Brian was found murdered,” Archbishop James Opiyo, said on behalf of the family.

Opiyo said police insisted on being provided with the IMEI number of the phone that Ochieng was using, which was unavailable.

The family said the police did not visit the scene or even secure it.

Instead, the family said, police came up with a theory that Ochieng could have orchestrated the burglary.

The family said the police did not interrogate neighbours who reportedly said they heard the youth screaming on the night of his abduction.

A retired police investigator and a family friend, said the site should have been secured for forensics technicians and guarded until investigations were complete.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the scene ought to have been visited at once.

He said the IMEI number is not the only way the police can trace a phone.

Archbishop Opiyo told the Star the morgue attendant in Siaya informed them the dead youth's clothes have already been burnt.

The family is wondering who ordered the torching of the clothes and why they could not wait for the completion of investigations.

Siaya county police commander Michael Muchiri on Saturday dispatched a team of officers to help investigate.

Ochieng's sister told the Star that early on Wednesday, more than 24 hours after the youth went missing, she spotted four strangers in the area where Ochieng was later found.

She said all wore heavy jackets and behaved "slyly".

"One of them was baldheaded and heavily bearded. I was tensed upon seeing them. They made well calculated moves; whenever I turned to walk, I would notice, they were stopping to look at me and when I looked at them, they would pretend to be moving," Adhiambo recounted.

She said she passed the spot that has since become the crime scene at about 2pm on Thursday. Nothing was unusual.

But when she returned an hour later, there was a strong stench emanating from the thicket.

Adhiambo went home, thinking someone had killed a wild animal. Later that evening, police told her the victim was Ochieng.

The retired police officer said it was around 2pm when the sun is hot and the stench would have been stronger, yet Adhiambo smelt nothing.

"It means that by that at 2pm, the body had not been dropped there," he said.

Traders in Uranga Centre reported seeing a grey double-cabin vehicle dash from the crime scene towards Nyadorera.

They speculate that it is the vehicle that had dropped the body.

Questions remain: the door had no marks of forced entry.

Was Brian lured by a friend or familiar voice to open the door to his abductors? Had Brian not closed the rear door by the time his abductors invaded?

Anyango, who worked with Ochieng at the shop, observed Brian had bathed inside the shop and changed from a yellow T-shirt to the blue one that he had been found with.

Where was Brian the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday? Were Brian's tormentors 'just' robbers

"Why did they kill him only after torture? What or who did his killers want? Why have his clothes been burnt, they were evidence.

The rope that was used to tie him was taken from a neighbours borehole. Were Brian's abductors people familiar with the terrain?

The retired investigator said robbers would steal more than whatever they took, and possibly not kill a harmless teenager.

Siaya-based human rights activist Ojiro Odhiambo told the Star that cases of murder in the county are increasing.

"Here in Uranga, it is not Brian alone. Leonard Odhiambo, 30, went missing and is yet to be found.

Today, Saturday, police in Kogello have dropped a 20 year-old man, Boncliffe Odhiambo, from Pap Nyadiel village, at Siaya Referral Hospital Mortuary with bad wounds," Ojiro said.

Ojiro said that more than 10 mysterious deaths have been reported in Siaya over the last two years and no one has been brought to book.

"We doubt the ability of your officers to conduct meaningful investigations," Ojiro told the county police commander Michael Muchiri.

The family, in-laws and neighbours want justice.