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She got him drunk – how wife plotted and managed husbands murder

By Eric Wainaina
Friday, April 23rd, 2021 00:00 | 6 mins read
Forensic experts collect evidence from Solomon Mwangi’s murder scene at Karakuta Estate in Juja in November 2016. Photo/PD/FILE

Like in the She-devil blockbuster movie where a wife plots her husband’s death over infidelity claims, former Icaciri Principal Jane Muthoni plotted the chilling murder of her husband Simon Mwangi.

This was after she became fed up with his alleged infidelity and relationship with a local female M-Pesa operator.

And like Ruth, the star in the movie who ends up in a miserable life in behind bars, Muthoni, was yesterday convicted of assembling a gang she commandeered to terminate the life of Mwangi on November 6, 2016 with the promise of a half a million shillings “for a job well done”.

It was at long last justice for the family and friends of her late husband, Mwangi, after four years of a trial that was full of drama and intrigues.

Muthoni had accused Mwangi, who was a Principal at Kiru Boys School of having an affair with a Murang’a based M-Pesa attendant, who she initially plotted to kill before the plan turned to her spouse.

The accused would later intoxicate the deceased, deliver him to the gang for the eventual strangulation and helped in dumping the body in a thicket at Karakuta Estate in Juja.

Overwhelming evidence 

Justice Prof Joel Ngugi said there was overwhelming evidence demonstrating that Muthoni, Isaac Ng’ang’a alias Gikuyu and Joseph Kariuki aka Karis, an accused-turned state witness went into an unholy trinity, and struck dealings that ended up in Mwangi’s brutal murder.

Ngugi, who slated her sentencing for May 18, in his own words said: Muthoni “principally instigated” the homicide saying she “was the author of the plot and likely administered the Xylamine that rendered the deceased intoxicated hence more vulnerable to the strangulation.”

Evidence from Karis, who was sentenced to seven years in 2017, a Ms Damaris who disclosed to the court she had helped Muthoni in contacting the would-be Mwangi’s killers, placed her and Ng’ang’a at the centre of the planning as well as the scene of the murder.

Jane Muthoni with her co-accused Isaac Ng’ang’a Wambui alias Gikuyu at a past court appearance. Photo/PD/FILE

“I find and hold that both accused persons Jane Muthoni Mucheru and Isaac Ng’ang’a Wambui alias Gikuyu, are guilty of the murder of Simon Mbuthi Mwangi (deceased) contrary to Section 203 as read together with Section 204 of the Penal Code. I hereby convict both of them accordingly,” Ngugi ruled.

Constant communication

Communication data from mobile service providers also helped pin down Muthoni to the murder. Sergeant Faisal Juma, a Safaricom Law Enforcement Liason Officer and Vincent Mbaabu, a Security Liason Officer at Airtel produced data which showed that the four were in constant communication as they planned the murder. The communication data also placed the four at the murder scene together.

For instance, at 8:43am and 3:08pm on November 4, 2016, Karis talked to Gikuyu on phone six times and between 9:10am and 5:12pm, he spoke to Njiru 14 times while between 9:12am and 7:54pm, Njiru and Muthoni had at least seven conversations over the phone.

The case was marred by intrigues with Muthoni on several times attempting to have Ngugi recuse himself and have the matter heard afresh.

This was better summed up by prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki, who was the lead prosecutor, when she described the case as one of the toughest she has ever handled.

“This was one of the toughest cases I have ever prosecuted because of the intrigues involved. We had to overcome several hurdles on the way to win the conviction, ” Mwaniki said. 

Alarm bells over the safety of the deceased started ringing on November 7, 2016 when Mwangi failed to show up at the Murang’a County Education Officer’s offices where he had been scheduled to pick up national examination papers at dawn.

His body was to be discovered at Karakuta Coffee Estate covered in a soiled gunny bag five days later.

Following uproar from the teaching fraternity, an investigation was launched leading to the arrest of Karis and later Muthoni who was initially arraigned in Murang’a Court before the matter was transferred to Kiambu.

Karis, who was linked to Muthoni by Damaris through Nelson Njiru who was a teacher at Murang’a Technical College for a “well paying job”, accepted a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years.

Damaris told the court that early in 2016, Muthoni had sought ways to track his phone communication with the woman, so that she could catch him in his adulterous behaviour and had at one point confronted her. The matter was later handled by detectives in Murang’a.

Two days later Damaris met Njiru and Muthoni at Ikon Hotel on Kenyatta Road, off Thika Superhighway and after negotiations, the principal offered to pay Sh200, 000 if the job was done perfectly.

Karis in his testimony told the court that he was approached by Damaris, who was well known to him in July 2016, with a promise of a “well paying job” although she never gave details of the contact person to him.

The next day, he received a call from Njiru requesting that they meet “over the job”, and at around 10 am, he met Damaris who drove him to Tree Shade Hotel in Kimbo, Kiambu county  where he was told of a plan to kill a girl who operated an M-Pesa outlet at Kiria-ini.

She disclosed to him that the head teacher’s wife , later introduced to him only as Mwalimu (teacher), was the person behind the execution plot, and that she had made a Sh100,000 down payment which they had received before they agreed to travel to Kiria-ini the following day.

Hard to execute

Before they left, Njiru remained behind together with Damaris waiting for another passenger identified as Gikuyu, but in the meantime, he and Mwalimu left for Kiambu.

Njiru later returned without Damaris. Njiru, Karis and Gikuyu took off for Kiria-ini and by midday, they had arrived and parked outside an MPesa shop, which was opposite Equity Bank and adjacent to Kiria-ini Police Station, which Njiru pointed to them as the target.

“At the time Gikuyu and the accused (who had alighted from the car) asked for sodas (at the shop) and the girl who had been pointed to them served them. And once they finished, they left,” Karis said in his confession. 

They told Njiru that it was impossible for them to kill her at the shop since it was opposite a bank and adjacent to a police station.

They were forced to return to Kiambu, where they later met Muthoni and explained the difficulties of executing the plan.

Change of plans

Njiru later called him in October 2016, and informed him that they were all to meet at Texas Bar where Muthoni said he had changed the plot to killing her husband and outlined the plan she had.

“She announced that she had “Mchele” which she would find a way to administer to intoxicate her husband.

The 2nd Accused Person (Gikuyu) and Karis would then kill the deceased using a rope which the 1st Accused Person also announced was in the Toyota Sienta,” the court was told.

The plan was to sneak Gikuyu and Karis into the compound of Kiru Boys in the Toyota Sienta and have them remain in the vehicle while Muthoni administered the “Mchele” on her unsuspecting husband.

When the drug took effect, Muthoni would then call the 2nd Accused Person and Karis to come with the rope to “finish the job” by strangling Mwangi.

With the plan in place, the four headed to Kiria ini in the Toyota Sienta, dropped Njiru at Kiria ini town before the three proceeded to Kiru Boys where they arrived at around 10pm but their plan flopped after Muthoni told them that “he was not reacting to the “Mchele” as expected” and that, therefore, they needed to change course. 

They had to return to Kiambu again.

The following day – Sunday, November 6, 2016 – Karis received another call from Njiru telling him to travel to Kenyatta Road because there was “work” to be done on that day, which he did, only to be instructed by him to meet Muthoni at Ndarugo at Urithi Plots.

Shortly thereafter, Karis said Muthoni arrived driving the Toyota Sienta, with the deceased sitting on the front passenger seat.

She asked him to “maliza kazi” which he understood to mean to complete the task of killing the deceased and when he declined, she got angry and said to him in Kiswahili: “Kwanini humalizi kazi? Kwani wewe in muoga?” as she drove off. 

However, she says Muthoni returned and told him that Mwangi was already drugged and she could not go back with him in that state. She asked him to look for Gikuyu so that they could execute the murder.

Karis said that Gikuyu, after turning up at the scene, suddenly took the rope, which was in the vehicle, put it round the deceased’s neck and pulled it, killed him, before they both removed the body from the vehicle and dumped it in a thicket where it was found.

 After killing Mwangi, Gikuyu took his shoes, which were part of the evidence produced in court. Muthoni cut communication and never paid the pending Sh400,000 she had promised.

 Justice Ngugi said Karis gave his evidence “in a straight-forward manner devoid of irrelevant details and self-serving statements typical of an untrustworthy witness,” and exuded full confidence in his testimony” over his role in the murder.

 Abby Njeri, their daughter had told the court that her father arrived at their home at Icaciri Secondary School together with their mother on November 5, 2016 in the evening and the following morning, she and siblings went to church, leaving the parents behind. 

Later in the evening, Muthoni said he had dropped her husband in Thika, and that was the last time they saw him.

Eric Wainaina