Detectives probing the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno have come across a distress message she had sent Migori Governor Okoth Obado as abductors drove away with her and to her death.
They also unraveled the triangular communication before her, Obado and his personal assistant Michael Oyamo.
Detectives privy to the investigations said they were also following leads from mobile service provider data indicating that she may have sent two texts messages to Obado and Oyamo shortly after 8pm asking; “What is happening? We have been left in the hands of strangers who are very rough.”
Thereafter, Otieno’s phone reportedly was switched off. It has not been recovered since.
Sharon and Nation Media Group journalist Barack Oduor were kidnapped moments after being lured out of Graca Hotel in Rongo around 7.35pm by Oyamo. Oyamo has since been arrested.
Oduor escaped death by a whisker after jumping out of the kidnappers’ speeding car at Nyangweso market on Homa Bay-Kisumu road.
Police in Homa Bay county secured a court order to detain Oyamo at Homa Bay Police Station as they conduct further investigations. The officers had asked the court for 14 days to detain the suspect but were instead granted three days. “I notify this court of the arrest and due to technicalities involved in the investigations, I pray to the court that he be detained at Homa Bay Police Station for 14 days to enable us complete the investigations,” said Hassan Siyad, an officer at the DCI.
But Homa Bay Deputy Registrar Lester Simiyu directed the police to present Oyamo before court on Monday next week.
And last evening, Nyanza Regional Criminal Investigations Coordinator Michael Barasa said Obado was a “person of interest” to the detectives pursuing the case.
“We have already handed over the case to the investigating team from Nairobi, but the governor is an obvious person of interest to the investigators. We shall reach a stage where we shall summon him to come and tell us what he knows about the whole saga, his communication with the girl and what he knows about her,” Barasa told the People Daily without divulging further details.
And as the team from Nairobi led by Chief Inspector Martin Nyanguto (head of Homicide Unit at DCI Headquarters) landed in Homa Bay, it emerged that the four murder suspects may have been hired members of the Gaza criminal gang from Nairobi’s Kayole area.
As Nyanguto’s team picked a number of samples from the scene in Kodero forest for analysis, another group of detectives visited Kayole where they were informed one or two suspects could be hiding but no arrest was made.
Oyamo, who is being treated as a key suspect, is a former soldier who has been to Afghanistan but grew up in Kayole.
He quit Kenya Defence Forces before he moved to Afghanistan and later to South Sudan reportedly for greener pastures.
Oyamo came back and ventured into transport business, acquiring one bus that plied Nairobi- Migori route. He then served as a security manager at a hotel in Nairobi’s Riverside area until 2016 when he joined Obado as a personal assistant.
Police were pursuing the four men who included the driver, the co-driver and the two hooded men who entered the car after Oyamo had alighted. The car is also yet to be found. Police suspect the vehicle used in driving the woman to the scene of the murder could have been driven to Tanzania.
Detectives privy to the investigations say sleuths were trying to crack the communication between Otieno, Oyamo and Obado on the fateful Monday before the abduction and subsequent murder
Whereas Oyamo was constantly in touch with Obado after making every call to Otieno (an indication of giving feedback), the latter is also said to have been communicating with the governor through SMS and calls. Detectives are also going through all the calls that Sharon made on the fateful day and the last distress SMS.
“Although we have not come to any conclusion about the cause and whoever is responsible for the murder, we have so far prioritised the communication between the three as one of the possible leads that could unravel the killing,” a detective told People Daily.
Homa Bay County DCI boss Daniel Wachira said the postmortem on Otieno’s body will be done today after it was postponed yesterday because government pathologist Johansen Oduor was not available.
“We are waiting for the government pathologist who will conduct an autopsy to determine what exactly caused the death of Sharon. The exercise will be witnessed by the family of the deceased,” he said.
Meanwhile, detectives from the homicide department sealed the crime scene where Sharon’s body was found.They took photos and collected blood samples at the scene, some 50 metres from the road. Journalists were barred from both the mortuary and forest where the body was found.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Raila Odinga condemned the murder, terming it brutal and despicable. Raila, who was leading a funds drive for ODM Party’s candidate for the Migori Senate by-election Ochillo Ayacko described the murder as an act of thuggery. He called on investigating agencies to move with speed and bring to book all the people behind it.