Purity Wangechi was hoping she’d one day be a journalist of repute in Kenya, or even beyond, but that dream was cut short eight months after she joined the KIMC to study journalism. In October 2021, when she was 18 years old, Wangechi enrolled as a First-Year Diploma in Journalism student at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication in Nairobi.
On May 14, the body of Wangechi was found dumped in a thicket at Buriria Village on the outskirts of Kiambu Town.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) says her 24-year-old boyfriend is the prime suspect in her murder. He has since been arrested. A postmortem conducted at the City Mortuary in Nairobi indicated that the teenager succumbed to stab wounds. She had been stabbed twice in the neck.
On Thursday, May 19, students of KIMC held a memorial ceremony in honour of the late Wangechi. The event was held at the institute’s main campus in South B, Nairobi. Dressed in black, hundreds of students convened and marched at the college’s graduation square, remembering a college-mate, friend and loved one, whose life was allegedly cut short by a man she trusted. The DCI say Wangechi had discovered that her lover was into crime, and was contemplating leaving him.
Police say preliminary investigations suggest that the suspect killed her when she confronted him about the nature of his job. The KIMC students on Thursday held prayers, planted a tree and kept a night vigil in honour of Wangechi.
“She was a good person. She liked her schoolmates and friends. I lack words to eulogise a person who was so gentle and so innocent,” said John Munene, a friend of the deceased.
Munene asked police to ensure that Wangechi’s killer(s) are prosecuted. Others, who spoke to The Standard about Wangechi’s lifetime at the college, eulogised her as a happy person, who brought so much joy to the group that she was part of.
Her friends who eulogised her include Cynthia Komen, Lenah Kendi, Jerry Ominde and Anthony Muriithi. Wangechi’s family, represented by her uncle and cousins, also attended the memorial.
“We won’t rest until she gets justice,” the teenager’s uncle, Fabias Karinga, told The Standard. Wangechi’s cousin, Elizabeth Karinga, said the deceased was loved, and “will be remembered forever”. KIMC Director, Hiram Mucheke, described Wangechi as an “intelligent young lady”.
At least four people, including Wangechi’s boyfriend John Wanyoike, have been arrested in connection with her killing. Kiambu Deputy Directorate of Criminal Investigations Officer Hadick Jumba on May 14 told The Standard that when Wangechi’s body was found, she had a national identity card and a school identification card on her.
“She was dressed in a pair of blue jeans trousers and a red top,” said Jumba. Passersby spotted her body on Saturday morning, May 14, and alerted police. “We have established that she was murdered in Kirigiti and her body dumped in Buriria,” said Hadick Jumba, the Kiambu deputy DCIO. Police say the main suspect in her murder, John Wanyoike, lives in Kirigiti.