At around 10am on Saturday morning, two lovers set off to find each other in a bid to resolve a conflict that had distressed them.
But, as dark fate would have it, Joseph Kori Karuwe, 41, and Judy Wangui Mungai, 36, cruised past each other, heading in opposite directions along the five-kilometre stretch between Garden Estate in Nairobi where Kori lived with his family and Wangui’s house at Fourways Junction on Kiambu Road.
And so started a series of events that, by the end of the day, would leave Kori’s wife, Mary Wambui Kimangara, 39, dead and her white Mercedes Benz saloon car missing.
On Tuesday, Kori and Wangui were arraigned in a Kiambu court but did not take plea. Police were allowed to hold them for 14 days for investigations.
The murder raises concern about the increasing cases of family killings, especially where multiple partners are involved. It is also a commentary on the rising culture of “sponsors”, where young women are accorded expensive lifestyles by married men.
According to different people who spoke to the Nation, the shocking story starts a few minutes past 10am on Saturday, when a taxi hired by Wangui reached Kori’s home. She rang the bell, the gate was opened, and Kori’s six-year-old son stepped out.
Wangui offered to buy the boy pizza at the nearby Thika Road Mall, ostensibly in a bid to establish the whereabouts of his father. The boy agreed to accompany her, but returned to the house to seek permission from his mother, telling her it was “Auntie wa Dad”.
Wambui stepped out to see who this “Auntie” was, only to come face to face with her former employee Wangui, who had worked at her hardware shop in Kahawa West, a bustling settlement off the road to Kamiti in Nairobi.
She had for a while suspected that Wangui was having an affair with her husband, but she did not show it when she met her. Instead, the two women greeted each other warmly, and even agreed to go out on a lunch date together.
At the heart of the police investigations is the mystery of how the two women rivalling for Kori’s heart joyfully spent an afternoon together before Wambui was murdered inside the mistress’ apartment and her body dumped in a dam off Toll Station on Thika Road, next to Courtesy Beach Hotel.
“Wambui invited Wangui into the house as she dressed up for the lunch date, but she declined the invitation, opting instead to wait outside the gate to the homestead,” Wambui’s sister Esther Kamangara told the Nation yesterday. “They then drove out together inside Wambui’s car as Wangui’s taxi had stalled.”
Police corroborated Esther’s version of events, saying the two women left Garden Estate in the Wambui’s car, a white Mercedes Benz, had a brief stopover at Thika Road Mall, where Wambui had scheduled to pick up a parcel, and headed to Homeland Inn, still on Thika Road just after the Garden City Mall turn-off, for lunch.
Those who saw them at Homeland Inn said Wambui, known to her friends as Mama Derrick, ordered some githeri, which she shared with Wangui in her car before the two women joined two gentlemen for roast beef inside the restaurant.
“The men had arrived separately and also left separately after having some nyama choma and wine with the two women,” a source at the restaurant said. “Both women appeared to be on good terms. They even took selfies sharing a piece of meat. Nothing seemed unusual. And they left the restaurant together.”
Wambui’s sister added that, while at the restaurant, Wambui called her househelp to inform her that a mechanic would go to fix Wangui’s taxi.
At some point, Wambui spoke to her mother over an update on their uncle’s burial ceremony, which was to take place in Rongai on Tuesday.
That is why it was such a shocker when Kori called Wambui’s parents later in the evening to inform them that his wife, their daughter, was missing.
“He reported that she had been kidnapped,” said Esther.
According to police sources, at around 5pm, after a long day of merrymaking, Wambui is said to have convinced Wangui to take her to her (Wangui’s) house at Fourways Junction.
Wangui has lived at Fourways, where the monthly rent is about Sh60,000, for two years. Residents said a two-bedroom unit like the one she lives in costs roughly Sh12 million.
They found Kori at the house. Inside the small apartment, his pictures hang on the wall, confirming Wambui’s worst fears that her husband was also the man of the house she had visited.
The furniture in the house also matched that which Wambui had espied on her husband’s mobile phone a while back.
“An argument ensued, leading to a fight that lasted till darkness set in. In the end, Wambui was fatally injured. Her body was discovered on Sunday morning, dumped in a dam in Juja. Police believe the body was dumped that same night.
“Wambui had a deep cut on one side of her head and multiple bruises on both hands, indicating she had struggled before her death,” said Juja DCIO Obed Kiio.
Police say the body was wrapped in bed sheets and put in a sack. It was then put in her car and driven to the dam at around 1am.
Apparently, an earlier plan to carry the body in a taxi fell flat after the driver chickened out after realising what the assignment was. Police were looking for him.
Kori was arrested at the scene on Sunday morning. Police say they saw him walk in as they collected evidence from the dam.
Asked why he was at the scene, he said he was searching for his wife, who had disappeared the previous night. He added that he had been led to the scene by a post on the Kilimani Mums Facebook page indicating that a woman’s body had been found in the area, family sources said.
Juja OCPD Simon Thirikwa said Kori led them to Wangui, who was found in her house. Bloodstained clothes were also found in the house.
Family and friends of Wambui described her as an outgoing, successful and humble businesswoman. Images of her on social media show a woman never shy of sharing her fun, family and travel escapades with the world. In one shot, she is seen posing behind her sleek car, in another she is intimately holding her husband, while in yet another shot she is having fun with her two sons.
“As we mourn, we know she is gone forever,” said Esther. “All we ask now is for justice to be served.”
Police were looking for Wambui’s car and mobile phone, which were still missing. They have already taken blood samples from Wangui’s house for DNA testing.
Detective Cornelius Arwasa told Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Stella Atambo that they were also seeking to retrieve CCTV footage at Homeland Inn and Fourways Junction to establish Wambui’s last moments and how her body was removed from the house to the boot of her Mercedes Benz.
According to neighbours at Fourways Junction, Kori was a regular visitor at the estate, his Toyota Lexus a regular feature in the parking bay. The car is now detained at Juja Police Station.
Friends described Kori as a “cool guy”. On his Facebook page, which was last updated on December 16 last year, Kori says he studied business communication at Kenyatta University and is self-employed.
Wangui has been a resident of Kiambu for a while, with those who know her saying that she used to live in Thindigua before moving to Fourways.
Those who know her said she used to to sell clothes, but her fortunes changed after moving to Fourways, allegedly after hooking up with Kori.
She is described as a boastful person who always tells her friends how she is living a good life, and how her “husband” bought her a new car.
On her Facebook page — Danyque Gaberiel — she has been posting photos of herself with Kori, some of them showing her on vacation in Singapore during Christmas.