How police were able to recover human head believed to be late Rita Waeni's

• Mystery surrounds the killer's actions of clipping off her fingernails. A postmortem revealed missing nails, raising questions about potential evidence concealment.

Rita Waeni Muendo.
Image: Courtesy

Detectives made a grim discovery on Sunday, recovering a human head believed to be that of the slain university student Rita Waeni Muendo.

The head was found in a dam in Kiambaa, Kiambu County, shedding light on the possible direction the killer took after the murder on January 13 in Roysambu.

The rest of her remains were found wrapped in a plastic bag and sheet, and placed near a dustbin.

"We have a human head believed to be that of the slain woman, but we will say more after the probe," stated an officer involved in the investigation.

The head and some of Waeni's belongings, including her mobile phone, were picked up by the police for preservation and analysis.

The detectives handling the case are pursuing crucial leads on the killer, expressing hope for an arrest. However, they noted that the murder seemed to be committed by a professional.

A detective carries a paper bag containing a human head believed to be that of slain university student Rita Waeni from a dam in Kiambaa, Kiambu County, January 21, 2024.
Image: Handout

According to the police report, Mr. Simon Kang'ethe, Chief of Karuri, reported that he received information from the village elder, Joseph Thara of Kimuga village.

The statement added that a human head had been observed floating in Ite Dam at Kimuga village, Kimuga sub-location, Kiambaa location (Map Ref BJ 505705), approximately 6 kilometers Northeast of the station.

Upon reaching the scene, police officers discovered a decomposed human head of an unknown adult female, floating about 5 meters from the dam's surface.

The head was wrapped in a purple female blouse and placed in a green carrier bag, secured with a stone.

Mystery surrounds the killer's actions of clipping off her fingernails. A postmortem revealed missing nails, raising questions about potential evidence concealment.

Government pathologist Johansen Oduor commented, "This person who did all these also tried to clip off the fingernails for reasons which I might not be able to know, but for us scientists when we see fingernails clipped off, we think probably the person was trying to hide evidence."

Oduor highlighted that although there were remnants of some fingernails, samples were taken for further analysis.

The autopsy confirmed the dismemberment of the body, with the head and legs detached from the trunk in a manner suggesting the use of a sharp object and a hacksaw.

Samples were collected from various organs for toxicology analysis, as suspicions arose about the victim being drugged before the murder. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations joined the probe, focusing on the elusive killer.

Contrary to initial reports, detectives believe the killer might be Kenyan, citing Swahili communication during interactions with witnesses.

The preliminary findings indicate that the killer purchased a mobile phone using a fake line registered in a woman's name to communicate and lure Waeni to the scene.

Police are delving into the motive for the murder, considering that the victim had recently acquainted herself with the killer.

Interviews with family, fellow students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), and friends aim to uncover the reason behind her killing.

The family revealed that the killer demanded a ransom of Sh500,000, sending pictures of Rita using her phone and indicating his intent to murder her with a hacksaw.

Tragically, the family did not receive further details about the ransom, and the demands were made after she had already been murdered.

Waeni's body parts were discovered inside a trash bag in the apartment, with her head missing. The family believes she was lured by the killer, who attempted to extort money from them even after her death.

Waeni, described as "an intelligent, smart girl," was due to start her fourth year at the university. Detectives found evidence suggesting that Waeni and her killer had connected on Instagram.

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