The Nation can now piece together the events leading to the plot against Ms Kimindiri, how it failed and why it led to the killing of Mr Mbuthi.
Texas Bar in Ruiru Kimbo, Kiambu, is a fairly quiet establishment whose ambience makes it attractive to those seeking a nice place to have a meeting over a round of beers and meat, rather than a night of merry-making.
Those familiar with the entertainment scene of Ruiru, a sub-county that is bigger in population than all its equals across the country, insist that it was once a very famous bar only that it has seen its better days amidst stiff competition from bigger and newer establishments.
On one drizzling Friday evening, Joseph Kariuki Njuguna, a tout in one of the matatus plying the Ruiru – Nairobi route, left his house at Murera, a stone throw away from Texas for the bar where he was to meet three other people for a dangerous mission.
One of the persons was Isaac Ng’ang’a, who hailed from Gatundu and Mrs Muthoni, the principal of Icaciri Secondary School also located in Gatundu. Mr Kariuki, alias Karis, had been introduced to the two – Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu and Ms Muthoni just five months earlier at a meeting which took place at Tree Top Resort.
The June 2016 meeting organised by a Mr Nelson Njiru set in motion events that would eventually lead to the meeting at Texas Bar on November 11, the same year, and a very famous murder.
Ms Muthoni and Gikuyu are currently in custody awaiting sentencing after a four-year trial found them guilty in the murder of Mr Mbuthi, the principal of Kiru Boys High School. Mr Mbuthi was Muthoni’s former husband. Mr Njiru, who played a key role in the murder, remains a fugitive.
A thorough perusal of dozens of investigation files, witness statements and court filings, plus talking to detectives involved in the case, however, shows that it was a murder that was never meant to happen. It only happened because it was difficult to kill the initial target.
Additionally, Mr Mbuthi could have been alive today had it not been for his overzealous wife who was not only going through his phone on suspicion that he was cheating but was also collecting information from people around him.
Certainly, it was a poorly executed homicide. It was so easy for investigators to narrow down to who they suspected did it in two weeks and for prosecutors to nail two suspects in court by relying mainly on a confession by one of them who turned into a witness, mobile phone tracking and analysis.
But to get a thorough understanding on why the murder took place and how all actors came together, the Nation’s Investigation desk decided to dive back to the very beginning before things fatally started going south between the Mbuthis.
Mobile money shop
Ms Kimundiri, a beautiful, light-skinned, bespectacled young woman who was 27 at that time was minding her own business when she suddenly received a call from a strange number on January 12, 2016. On the other end of the line was Ms Muthoni who in addition to throwing profanities asked her to “keep off her husband”.
Ms Kimundiri, who from her social media profile, prefers to be referred to as Margaret said she decided not to engage the caller but talk to Mr Mbuthi to sort out the matter with his wife insisting that she was not having an affair with him.
At the time when all this drama that would eventually lead to Mr Mbuthi’s murder was starting, Ms Kimundiri operated a mobile money shop called Mount Com Ventures at Kiriaini town, some 36 kilometres away from Murang’a town.
Mr Mbuthi had in 2015 been transferred to Kiru Secondary School as the head teacher from Rogamano Secondary School, almost 60kilometres away. It was in all essence a promotion since Kiru was a provincial school and Rogamano was a district one.
Before the promotion, Mr Mbuthi was happily married to Ms Muthoni and they had three children, one of whom was already in university, the other in high school and the last born almost finishing primary school.
Due to the nature of their jobs, Mr Mbuthi would stay at the staff quarters in Kiru and visit his family in Gatundu during the weekend. Being a mother, Ms Muthoni stayed with the children at the staff quarters of Icaciri where she was also a principal.
As fate would have it, the 110 kilometres between Gatundu and Kiriani would over time cause a strain in their marriage. The suspicion between the couple increased when Mr Mbuthi took a Sh10 million loan towards the end of 2015.
It didn’t help matters that Kiru Secondary School, where Mr Mbuthi had been posted to, was just three kilometres from Kiriani town, where Ms Kimundiri operated a mobile money shop. Her shop was actually the biggest in the town and was even recommended by mobile companies and banks.
Apparently, Mr Mbuthi who used to transact large sums of money naturally found Ms Kimundiri’s shop convenient. His wife who had heard of the rumours that he was frequenting Mount Com Ventures, however, thought otherwise.
In her defence, Ms Kimundiri told detectives investigating Mr Mbuthi’s murder that he was only a long-time customer and there was nothing more than that. She claimed that she even informed Mr Mbuthi of the call she received from his wife in early January of 2016. He promised to “deal with it”.
From our analysis of the situation, the Nation now understands that either Mr Mbuthi did not deal with the problem or his wife did not trust whatever he told her. Instead of dealing with her husband whom he suspected of cheating on him, Ms Muthoni first decided to go for her perceived competition.
“You are only 27 years old I hear. I wish you could respect yourself as a lady. May be you are desperate for a husband but having an affair with a man twice your age is shameful. You seem to be cheap,” Muthoni fired a text to Ms Kimundiri at 9:33pm on January 12, 2016.
Ms Kimundiri did not answer. Nevertheless, a second text arrived a few minutes later. Again from Muthoni.
“You don’t have to tell the whole Kiriani about your immoral ways just because you think you have hit a jackpot. Having an affair with a whole principal of a secondary school? Since when did a thief own what she’s stolen?” wrote Ms Muthoni.
“You have been bragging to his sister, friends’ n colleagues saying that you control his finances. My silence is over and please note that you are like my own daughter. If there is an iota of personal and moral respect remaining, stay away. Let’s imagine that you never slept with my husband, you never hid your brassier in my car.”
But even as she fought Ms Kimundiri, Ms Muthoni also confronted her husband with the stories she had heard and the messages she had seen in his phone. Boxed into a corner with “evidence” that he was cheating, Mr Mbuthi defended himself like any man in his situation could.
And since his wife was away in Gatundu at the time and was accosting him using text messages, Mr Mbuthi responded using WhatsApp; reassuring her that she was the only one in his life.
“My beautiful wife, sweet Jyn, always know you are special to me and I love you so much. I am your only and I assure you. Do not ever doubt that forever,” Mr Mbuthi told his wife on January 13.
And on the perceived sighting of Ms Kimundiri in his car, Mr Mbuthi also had a ready defence.
“Sweet Jyn. I have kept assuring you it’s a ghost that has always been in my car, very insignificant in my life, seeking for attention, association or anything. You are my life and kids. I love you always.”
But even with these assurances of love, Ms Muthoni did not completely trust that she was the only one in her husband’s life. Interestingly, as it would later turn out, immediately after Mr Mbuthi’s disappearance and three years later during the murder trial, Ms Muthoni, despite accusing her husband of infidelity, also had a boyfriend.
It is this boyfriend, whom we now believe was a police officer, that she turned to. Mr Njiru, whose whereabouts are still unknown, would turn out to be the mastermind of the whole plan that led to Mr Mbuthi’s murder.
Apart from being a police officer, Njiru was a businessman known to both Ms Muthoni and Mr Mbuthi. Each had even given Mr Njiru tenders at the schools they headed. This means that he was a person who was known so well to the couple.
Like at Icaciri school, it is Mr Njiru’s company that had been given a contract to install CCTV’s at Kiru school. This was done without following procurement procedures, according to the deputy head teacher Pauline Munyiri.
“I was the chair of the procurement committee. The procurement for that installation did not follow the normal procurement process since it was not approved by the committee,” Ms Munyiri would later tell the court.
But first things first, Ms Muthoni, who was living separately with her husband due to work, wanted someone who would help hack into Mr Mbuthi’s phone and extract text messages exchanged between him and Ms Kimundiri.
As it turned out, Mr Njiru knew the perfect person for the job. Damaris, whose second name we still don’t know, was that person. Mr Njiru introduced Damaris to Ms Muthoni at Icon Hotel along Kenyatta Road in Ruiru sometime in late January of 2016.
“She wanted to trace some messages she thought were exchanged between her husband and a woman she suspected was having an affair with him,” Damaris would later tell investigators and the court of her initial meeting with Ms Muthoni.
“She also told us that she had quarrelled with the woman and the matter had been reported to the DCI at Murang’a,” recalled Damaris.
For this job, Ms Muthoni was willing to pay Damaris Sh200,000. It is still unclear what Damaris did for a living and why Mr Njiru thought that she had the capability of extracting messages remotely from someone’s mobile phone. All we know is that Damaris and Mr Njiru had been long-time friends.
Running into more trouble
But in court, Damaris said that she was skeptical on whether she was able to carry out Ms Muthoni’s request. Interestingly, the next morning after the meeting at Icon Hotel, Mr Njiru called Damaris saying that he had managed to get the messages that Ms Muthoni was looking for and that they should meet.
“I met with Mr Njiru at Ruiru Kimbo and he gave me an envelope to deliver to Muthoni at Icaciri school and collect the Sh200,000,” Damaris told investigators.
“I drove to the school and when I got to the gate, I called Ms Muthoni who instructed the security guard to let me in. We met at her office where I gave her the envelope. In return she gave me Sh100,000, which I split equally with Mr Njiru when we met later that day,” recalled Damaris.
Two days later, Damaris said she received a call from Ms Muthoni who told her that the messages she had delivered were not sufficient to confront her husband. She wanted more detailed messages. From that day she kept calling Damaris demanding for more messages to the extent that she started avoiding her calls.
Meanwhile in Kiriaini, more than 100 kilometres away, Ms Kimundiri was running into more trouble. What had started as accusations that she was in a sexual relationship with Ms Muthoni’s husband was being turned into a criminal matter.
By using the connections she had within the police system, Ms Muthoni wanted Ms Kimundiri to be refrained from talking to her husband, otherwise she would be arrested.
As recalled by Ms Kimundiri to investigators, she received a call from the OCS Kiriaini towards the end of January, 2016 summoning her to the police station.
When she got there, she met Ms Muthoni and the Kiru High School principal seated with the OCS in his office. After listening to all the parties, the OCS released Ms Kimundiri saying that, “It was a family dispute between Ms Muthoni and her husband.”
The matter died down just like that but it didn’t take long before resurfacing. Less than a week later on January 21, DCI officers from Murang’a went to Mount Com Ventures purporting to arrest Ms Kimundiri on suspicion of being a member of the Mungiki. Along the way to the police station they were taking her, the reason for arrest was suddenly changed to “she was stealing someone’s husband”.
“When I arrived at the DCI offices in Murang’a, I met Ms Muthoni. The officers forced me to admit in her presence that I was having an affair with her husband,” recalled Ms Kimundiri.
Recruited for the job of killing
“When I refused, they forced me to record a statement, took my Infinix mobile phone and asked me to report to the station the following day,” she told investigators and later the court.
On arrival at the station the next day, Ms Kimundiri found Ms Muthoni had already arrived together with her husband. Fed up with the trouble she was undergoing, Ms Kimundiri told Mr Mbuthi in front of his wife and the DCI officers that she would rather he never comes to her shop again.
As agreed during the meeting at the Murang’a DCI offices, Mr Mbuthi kept away from Ms Kimundiri for the next six months until August when he went to deposit money to a Samuel Karanja. He disappeared and returned three months later in November to ask for a print out to confirm whether the money he had sent to Karanja had gone through. That is the last time the two suspected lovers saw each other.
What Ms Kimundiri did not know was that during the months that Mr Mbuthi was keeping away, Ms Muthoni was planning on how she would eliminate her for good and keep the Kiru principal to herself. This was even after both Mr Mbuthi and Ms Kimundiri agreed that they would no longer see each other in front of Ms Muthoni and inside a police station.
At the centre of the plan was Mr Njiru, Ms Muthoni’s lover policeman. As recalled by Damaris, Mr Njiru had around February, 2016 called her and asked for Mr Kariuki’s contacts. Damaris had known Mr Kariuki, alias Karis, for about five years when she owned a matatu plying the Ruiru-Nairobi route. He was a tout.
“I told Karis that Mr Njiru was looking for him and on the day the two had agreed to meet, I dropped him in Kimbo where he was to meet Mr Njiru. Njiru called me to confirm they had met,” recalled Damaris.
The second person who was recruited for the job of killing Margaret was Mr Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu. Both Gikuyu and Karis agreed to carry out the job. They immediately left for Kiriaini for a reconnaissance survey at Ms Kimundiri shop where on arrival they pretended that they wanted to buy sodas.
Their immediate assessment was that it would be too difficult to execute the murder since Ms Kimundiri shop was too close to Kiriaini Police Station. They relayed this message to Mr Njiru, who in turn told Ms Muthoni that it was not possible to kill Ms Kimundiri.
Having heard this, Ms Muthoni organised for a meeting at Tree Shade Hotel between her, Karis, Njiru and Gikuyu where she was to inform them the next cause of action. The meeting took place sometime in June 2016.
“I want my husband to be killed,” she said.