A man on Tuesday morning, killed his wife and three children, then set the house on fire in Malaba, Juja within Kiambu County, Kenya.
Patrick Nderitu, a quarry broker killed his wife in the bedroom, went to each child in their bedrooms and killed them before he doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire, burning down the house.
According to police, Nderitu’s children were hit by a blunt object on their heads and had strangulation marks. Joe Muraya, 8, was in class three while the twins, Jeff Mutua and Joy Wangui, 3, were in pre-unit.
The wife, police and the area chief said, could have been suffocated but had burns. All the children’s bodies were found in their respective bedrooms, plus that of their mother.
It was gathered that a group of youths who were leaving an entertainment joint saw smoke billowing from Nderitu’s four-roomed bungalow but the gate to the compound was locked.
“They climbed over the gate, where they discovered the house was burning,” the area chief Muchui Mwiruri told Capital FM News.
But as they approached the dining room, Nderitu opened one of the windows. At that point, he was groaning in pain, before collapsing.
“Flames of fire came out from the window. He was in pain and it is like he was looking for an escape,” the first responders told police.
It was too late since their efforts to put the fire out didn’t bear fruits but they had by now informed the area chief, who in turn alerted the police and the firefighters.
Chief Mwiruri and family friends told Capital FM News that Nderitu’s family was not unique.
They would always had ‘small’ issues which would later be resolved.
His wife opted for the prayer route and would often use her pastor and other devoted friends as confidants.
“Last year in June, their pastor came to help them resolve their issues but since then, I never followed to know the outcome,” the chief said.
Tabitha Njeri, a long-time friend of the family says the wife once told her that,” she suspected her husband was cheating on her. But she was not sure. I asked her to pray and all shall be well. We used to pray a lot.”
According to Njeri and other friends, the family was not poor but a fews week ago, Nderitu needed Sh1 million, “for a certain deal to go well.”
Nderitu, a supervisor in a quarry, they said, did not divulge further details.
“He just said that he was in dire need of the cash. At that time, he had Sh700,000 and he had hoped that the wife would give him the remaining amount. They had argued about this too,” the friends who did not want to be mentioned said.
When the wife of the pastor, who is also the area assistant chief heard of the incident she screamed then yelled:
“Oh no, she was just given a Sh100,000 soft loan by my husband.”
When George Mutua reported to work on Tuesday morning, a friend asked him to rush to his brother’s homestead” said his sister, Mutua.
“They told me that he wanted to talk to me…he was our supervisor. When I arrived, I saw a crowd milling outside his home and immediately I knew something was wrong only to find out that my brother and his entire family was gone forever. I will never see them again.”
Mutua said his brother was calm and never picked fights with anyone.
“At the family level or at work, he was a calm gentleman. I don’t know what became of him, I can’t,” a remorseful Mutua said.
Mutua had been trying to call his brother since Sunday, but he was not answering his phone.
“He did not come to work on Monday. I was concerned,” he said.
Juja police commander Patricia Nasio said they are investigating the motive behind the bizarre incident.
“As for now, we cannot tell what made the man kill his wife and children, then himself. We haven’t recovered anything that could give us leads,” she said.
But Nderitu’s sister-in-law Lydiah Mueke, is of the opinion that his in-law did what he did out of frustration having been conned Sh500,000 a week earlier.
“They had promised him some contract which required him to deposit Sh500,000 at the bank, an amount that they had promised to double to raise a million shillings before they could guarantee him the contract to supply building materials. He had been borrowing money from friends to raise the amount needed and he managed to and sent it, only to later realise that he had been conned,” she said.