Missing USIU student found dead, colleagues arrested

Posted  Sunday Nation, July 8  2012 at  16:24

A university student who was abducted by her college mates a week ago was killed and her body dumped in a thicket.

The body of Ms Serah Aruwa, who was a fourth year student at United States International University in Nairobi, was identified by relatives at the City mortuary on Saturday.

Two male students from the varsity and a female student at Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Police say the students sent messages to Ms Aruwa’s family demanding Sh100,000 ransom when they kidnapped her on June 30.

Her body was found in a thicket in Ngewa, Kiambu the following day but because she was not immediately identified police had been treating the case as that of a missing person.

The three students in custody were charged in court last Friday for the kidnap of yet another student, Ms Melisa Ouko of the University of Nairobi in May.

They had demanded Sh90,000 as ransom but police rescued her after breaking into the kidnapper’s den in Kirigiti, Kimabu on May 12.

However, the suspects escaped and remained at large until Wednesday last week when police investigating Ms Aruwa’s case arrested them.

Head of flying squad Munga Nyale said: “We were trying to see if we could locate the girl.

“But we discovered that our colleagues at Githunguri police station had recovered a body on July 1 and booked it as that of an unknown person at the City mortuary.”

Ms Ouko, who was rescued in May, picked out the three students at a police identification parade last week. USIU also confirmed that the suspects in custody are students registered at the institution.

“The police arrested three university students suspected to be behind the kidnapping syndicate in Nairobi.

“These included two students from USIU and another from the Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology,” said a press statement from the varsity.

After Ms Aruwa was kidnapped, the captors used her phone to send a text message demanding ransom.

“They did not use their own phones so that they could hide their identities. They knew they would be tracked,” said Mr Nyale.

Police broke into her house in Roysambu and found a note she had written before she left.

In the note she said she had gone to visit a college mate she identified as “Daniel Murithi,” but police established it was not the suspect’s real name.

She further wrote that he lived in Savanna, Donholm and included two mobile telephone belonging to him “Her mother sent money via MPesa to the numbers and the feedback message showed the name of the recipient. It was a different name,” said a relative Mr Jim Onyango.

“The name that was received from the delivery MPesa SMS was then confirmed to be that of a USIU student. He was tracked and taken to Kasarani police station.

“Phone data sheet records from Safaricom showed that he had been communicating with the missing female student,” according to the USIU statement released by Head of Marketing and Communications Jane Muriithi-Thomas.

Another message the kidnappers had sent to Ms Aruwa’s mother read: “Tuma saa hii ama akufe. Mbwa. (Send the money right now otherwise she will die).” The SMS was received at 3pm on July 1, the day her body was found.

In tracking down the suspects, police established that one of the students had hired a vehicle on the day Ms Aruwa’s body was discovered.

Using GSM technology the vehicle was tracked down and police established that it had been driven to Ngewa area of Kiambu and remained there for hours.

“Flying squad officers accompanied us to the area. Our plan was to comb the entire area looking for her. One of the residents told us that a body of a woman had been found there a week earlier.

“We checked with the local administration police camp. Serah’s jacket had been collected at the scene had police had preserved it,” said Mr Onyango.

The officers also recognised her after they were shown her pictures.

USIU vice-chancellor Freida Brown said: “USIU has put in place stringent measures to ensure that students are protected within university grounds.

“As part of USIU security policy students are encouraged to leave contact information of their whereabouts and the person they are going out with when outside the campus premises.”

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