• Mwende on August 25 left her salon while talking over phone, and never returned.
Phyllis Nzula Mbithi gained prominence due to the horrifying case of a deadly love triangle and the police's thorough investigation into the murder and disappearance of hair stylist Jennifer Mwende.
This comes after a police report revealed that Mbithi had threatened Mwende several times over a married man they were both seeing.
When Mwende stopped showing up to her job for several days, her friends and fellow saloonists started to worry, leading them to report her as missing to the police.
Following a contact from an unidentified individual, Mwende's brother informed the OCS that she had been missing since August 25 when he filed the official report at the Mlolongo Police Station on August 29, 2023.
The key suspect, Mbithi, was apprehended on Friday night in a matatu headed towards Namanga just after 9 p.m., following weeks of unrelenting pursuit by crime research detectives acting on forensic-led intelligence.
She will face murder charges at her arraignment on Monday, according to the police.
Following Mwende's disappearance, the Mlolongo OCS sent out a missing person's signal to all station commands across the nation to begin a search for her.
Mwende allegedly left her salon on August 25 while on the phone with someone, and she never returned.
Following days of ineffective search efforts, the matter was transferred to the DCI, who launched new investigations and took statements from a number of people who might be of interest.
Detectives from the Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau, supported by units from the DCI National Forensic Laboratory, got right to work.
When Mwende's caretaker for the room she had hired was questioned for an investigation, she revealed that on August 22 and 24, some unidentified women had stopped by Mwende's house while she was away and asked where she was.
A well-planned scheme to take Mwende's life, masterminded by the main suspect and assisted by two other women, was discovered by forensic research that tracked down her final moments rather than a random absence.
Investigators discovered that the main suspect, Mbithe, had tricked Mwende into her death trap by pretending to be a client at a place she would be sent to over the phone. Mbithe's neighbour, Faith Nthenya, was the one who had done this.
According to the DCI, during the chat, Nthenya led Mwende to Mbithi's residence, which was purportedly the client's home.
The two ladies subdued Mwende once she was inside, and then Evelyne Wanza Katumbu, the major suspect, called a third lady.
Januaris Musau Mulwa, the man involved in the affair, was married to Wanza. Wanza was reportedly blaming Mbithe for stealing her lover away because she had grown possessive of him.
Mbithe planned to entice Mwende, whom she knew to be her fellow paramour, to Musau in order to save her skin, and she contacted the wife to accuse the helpless woman.
Following their physical altercation and threats of murder if she was discovered in Musau, Mbithe, and Wanza were afraid that Mwende would report them.
According to the DCI, Mbithe smothered her with bits of fabric while they horribly strangled her with a bedsheet to stop her from screaming.
Mbithe, the main suspect, had intended to have the body secretly transported from the property to a forest by an unidentified taxi driver, but the plan fell through when he forgot the key to the main gate that the car was supposed to drive through. Wanza and Faith, who had since been arrested, were questioned about this.
They eventually turned to throwing the body into the pit toilet at that point.
Since then, Mbithe—who was still under police surveillance—hunkered down and fled to Mombasa and Kibwezi, where she was apprehended and taken into custody on October 27, 2023.
On Monday, October 30, the suspect is expected to be arraigned. At that time, she will appear alongside her accomplices Faith and Wanza, who have already entered pleas to counts of murder.