An American fugitive wanted for the murder of a billionaire in Kenya is living large in Florida despite two warrants of arrest against him, the Sunday Nation can reveal.
Tomorrow, as a Mombasa court hears the case on the murder of Jimmy Paluram Jagatrum Baburam, who was found dead in a swimming pool at Medina Palms Resort in Watamu on July 26, 2015, the American suspect linked to the killing will not be present.
Mr Jacob Will Schmalzle, who fled Kenya after he was tipped off by a rogue investigator that he would be arrested over the murder, will probably be busy doing his sales job at Castle Church Brewing in Orlando, Florida.
In Kenya, Mr Schmalzle, 33, left behind his alleged lover and co-accused in the murder case, Ms Amina Shiraz Yakub — who is also Mr Baburam’s widow.
Officers investigating the matter suspect that Mr Baburam was murdered in a love triangle during a family vacation in the Coast where Mr Schmalzle was present.
A case was filed against the duo a year after Mr Baburam was murdered.
Postmortem results showed that he died as a result of drowning and chronic kidney disease. Mr Baburam also had cerebral oedema, which is an accumulation of fluid in spaces inside and outside the brain cells.
Ms Yakub is out on a Sh10 million bond with two sureties of the same amount. In her bail terms, she was ordered to report to Gigiri Police Station in Nairobi once every week until the end of the trial. However, Mr Richard Mungwai the OCPD Gigiri said “no officer is aware of such a lady reporting”.
Kenyan authorities had indicated they had issued an international warrant of arrest against the fugitive, but Interpol told the Sunday Nation they were not aware of any such request. It took us just a few days to track down Mr Schmalzle using information from a US-based anonymous source, publicly available personal data held by American authorities, online search tools and social media posts.
Mr Schmalzle currently lives in a Sh30 million luxury home which stands on a 0.28-acre land in Hunter Isle Drive, Orlando. The property is registered in the name of his father Mr Robert Schmalzle who is a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kissimmee, Florida.
A source in the USA told the Sunday Nation that the fugitive is a known golfer and also plays key roles in the Lutheran church in Florida.
In August 24, 2015 — just a month after the death of her husband — Ms Yakub was part of the 250 guests who witnessed the suspect’s brother, Aaron and Ms Joelle Palzer walk down the aisle at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Florida.
Mr Schmalzle first came to Kenya in 1998 when he was 12, arriving with his parents and siblings. Their mission? To spread Christianity through the Lutheran Church of Kenya.
He would later leave for the US where he went to further his studies but later returned in 2007 after he graduated from Wittenberg University.
He was previously associated with various companies, including Eco Pallets Kenya Limited, Village Markets of Africa and Dr Bones. A company registry search this week indicated the files were not immediately available.
In a magazine published on October 11, 2012 by the Central States Syroid Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mr Schmalzle described the Village Markets of Africa as a Lutheran fair trade organisation that “brings handmade crafts from developing countries across the world to the USA.”
Dr Bones was a company that used to deliver dog food within Nairobi. Ms Yakub is associated with Very Impawtant Pets (VIP) Spa Limited. The two are said to have initially had work-related meetings.
When the Sunday Nation called VIP company, which is based along Kitusuru Road in Nairobi and deals with providing care for pets, an official who picked the call said Ms Yakub was no longer a director.
However, records at the registrar of companies accessed on Friday list Ms Yakub as a director.
The first arrest warrant against the American was issued on December 8, 2016 by the Mombasa High Court but it was too late because the suspect had already fled to America.
The warrant was issued by Judge Asenath Ongeri after the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said that without the warrant of arrest it could not commence extradition proceedings.
Again, on March 2, 2017, a second warrant of arrest was issued against Mr Schmalzle by the Malindi Chief Margistrate Julie Oseko.
Investigations further revealed that Mr Schmalzle’s exit from the country was not without drama.
A video clip that is loaded on YouTube shows how Mr David Jagatram, a retired brigadier who is the late Baburam’s father, followed him to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and caused a fracas that saw Mr Mr Schmalzle’s departure delayed.
Mr Schmalzle filed a complaint at the JKIA police station claiming assault. He told the police that he was hit with a walking stick and had his complaint recorded as OB number 13/18/5/2016.
The late Baburam’s family through their lawyer Maru Nishit said that all they were interested to find out was the circumstances that led to the death of their kin.
“All the family is interested in is to find out what caused the death of Mr Baburam, that is all,” the lawyer said.
The legal pact between Kenya and America allows for extradition if one is accused of murder or manslaughter in either country. It is, however, not clear why Mr Schmalzle remains a free man in Florida despite the warrants.
The American Embassy this week said that no one was above the law and that the protection and assistance of American citizens in Kenya was its highest priority.
“No American citizen is above the law, whether in the US or in Kenya. A fair and speedy investigation and trial is in order for anyone accused of or arrested for such a serious crime,” said the American Embassy, adding that Kenyan immigration maintains passport control for all travellers.
Questions remain on why the Kenyan authorities allowed him to leave. It also remains a mystery why an alleged international warrant mentioned in court appeared not to have been brought to the attention of Interpol. “We advise you to contact the national authorities in the country where you believe an arrest warrant has been issued for this individual,” Interpol said when contacted by the Sunday Nation.
It further said that its duties are not issuing arrest warrants and therefore there was no way Mr Schmalzle could be “wanted by Interpol”.
Police in Florida told the Sunday Nation that they did not have any records about the fugitive. “Orlando Police Records has no responsive records on the mentioned individual,” Mr Nicole Bologna the records unit deputy boss said.
The Sunday Nation contacted Mr Schmalzle using his listed telephone and e-mail contacts in Florida, but he did not respond.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.