, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – The charred bicycles belonging to the twins stood in the middle of what was their dining room.
But the riders are no more; it was just less than 12 hours when they last used them.
The ceiling is also sagging and notably, a lavish chandelier hangs loosely in the quiet house.
The raging fire however spared the family album, which coincidentally is opened, their good old days photos clearly visible.
In one of the pictures, the three-year-old twins can be seen holding a folk together as they feed their widely smiling mother with a cake while their firstborn son, who was eight, is standing on one side, smiling too.
In another photo, their father is seen holding the twins, the mother seated beside him while holding their firstborn son.
Outside, the chicken shed is still intact, and one can see more than 20 eggs lying on the floor.
It is in Malaba, Juja within Kiambu County at the residence of Patrick Nderitu, the man who on Tuesday morning killed his wife and three children, then set the house on fire and sat on the couch as it consumed his family and all his lifetime investments.
– What happened? –
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, they said.
“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.
It was around 1.30am according to the chief.
– State of the bodies –
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.
– Past disagreements –
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.”
– Financial struggles –
According to Njeri and other friends, the family was not poor but a few 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.
– The week-old loan –
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.”
She dropped the call.
– I last saw my brother last week on Friday –
When George Mutua reported to work on Tuesday morning, a friend asked him to rush to his brother’s homestead.
“They told me that he wanted to talk to me…he was our supervisor,” Mutua said.
“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.
– Case studies –
A worrying trend of murder, where spouses are involved is on the rise in the country, Tuesday’s case being the latest.
In 2014, a lawyer killed his entire family in Kiambu County.
Lawyer Paul Magu was to later be found dead after he was hit by a bus on the Thika-Garissa highway in a suspected suicide case.
Though the reason was never established, Magu was said to have been a member of a cultic church, whose preacher was arrested, arraigned in court but was later released.
Prior to the incident, the lawyer had started systematically transferring his prized properties including their family house to the preacher.
On January 1, a Kibera man killed his wife and proceeded to rape his 21-year-old step daughter, for borrowing Sh50 to buy fish for dinner, a move he said was embarrassing him.
He is still in police custody.
Financial hardships and infidelity have been attributed as some of the reasons but psychologists believe it is more than that.