The interrogation of a worker at missing Dutch billionaire Tob Cohen’s Kitisuru home for the umpteenth time led to the arrest of another suspect in the murder of the tycoon, leading to the discovery of his body in a septic tank in his compound Friday afternoon.
With time running out for the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to charge Mr Cohen’s estranged wife, Ms Sarah Wairimu, detectives were hard-pressed to find answers on the whereabouts of the tycoon who had been presumed dead after missing for more than 6o days.
Ms Wairimu was set to appear in court on Monday next week to answer for the murder of her husband after the court on Thursday ordered that she be taken for a mental exam. In the absence of a body, there was an inch of doubt, which Ms Wairimu’s lawyers had been using to their advantage since their client was arrested.
Unknown to Ms Wairimu’s defence team, detectives had made another arrest hours before she was brought to court on Thursday. This time it was a man identified as Mr Peter Karanja, who is suspected to be Ms Wairimu’s lover.
It is said that one of the workers who had initially told the police that he was around when Mr Cohen allegedly left his house on July 20 in a blue jeans and white T-shirt only for his mobile phone’s geographical location at the time the tycoon disappeared to show otherwise decided to spill the beans after the pressure became too much.
Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti consoles Tob Cohen’s sister Grabrielle Van Straten after the late Dutch businessman’s body was found at the Cohen home in Kitisuru, Nairobi Friday.
Armed with this information, detectives on Wednesday arrested Mr Karanja. It is the interrogation of Mr Karanja and the worker that led detectives to the septic tank out of which Mr Cohen’s body was pulled out Friday.
DCI George Kinoti said his team stuck to their instincts that Mr Cohen had been murdered in his house and they were right after all. “I told you we will get to the bottom of this,” Mr Kinoti told Cohen’s sister Gabriella as the two hugged.
The tycoon’s body was found in a sealed metal drum sunk in a septic tank at the far end of a garden in his half-acre piece of property believed to be worth half a billion shillings.
His hands were tied and a rope fastened around his neck. The body was in a blue jeans, which Mr Cohen’s wife had told police he was wearing on the day he disappeared.
“We widened out net as far as possible to make sure that this crime is not covered,” said Mr Kinoti. “True to our instincts, it is unfortunate that it had to end this way but there is no perfect crime.
A speck is always left behind which detectives follow until they crack the crime. This is what has happened today,” he said.
Detectives now believe that they have on their hands a classic homicide case driven by greed where an estranged wife to a rich tycoon plans with her lover to kill her husband and bury him in his compound hoping that the body would never be found.”
“I don’t know what to say. It is disgusting what happened. We are in shock but we are very grateful to the police, they have done an incredible job,” said Mr Cohen’s sister Gabriella.
The DCI confirmed that they will also charge a second person in the murder on Monday but declined to divulge who that person is. He only said that all these details will come out in court.
“Even if it is about money, it cannot move someone to that extent where you kill your husband in that manner. It was gruesome,” said Mr Kinoti.
Ms Wairimu’s lawyer Philip Murgor protested against not being called to witness the pulling out of Mr Cohen’s body from the septic tank. He claimed that the septic tank had what looked like fresh cement, a fact Mr Kinoti disputed.
“Those who have been saying that Cohen was dead, ask the police how they knew that he was dead and we were still looking for him. Even before pulling out the body, Kinoti called the media and said they had found him. We were not there as the defence,” said Mr Murgor.
“We have no obligation to move around with the defence during our investigations. Let us meet in court,” Mr Kinoti replied when asked about Mr Murgor’s claims.
But even as the DCI and Ms Wairimu’s lawyers prepare to meet in court, the authenticity of two letters alleged to have been written by Mr Cohen, one to the police withdrawing assault charges he had filed against Ms Wairimu, and another to his lawyer from Judy Thongori & Co Advocates, withdrawing a divorce case just a day before he disappeared is yet to be determined.
The results of an authentication test by forensic experts are yet to be released. Sources say the letters have already been taken to forensic experts for authentication. Mr Cohen also disappeared days after his wife wrote a letter to the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi saying that her husband required medical attention.
Days later, she told friends and the media that Mr Cohen had left the country for Thailand to seek treatment. But she has never revealed whether Mr Cohen was accompanied by anyone on the supposed trip.
Police are also investigating an entry into the Occurrence Book (OB) at Kilimani Police Station, which shows that Cohen was also reported missing at the same time. It is alleged that Ms Wairimu filed the report.
In what detectives now believe was an effort to clean herself Mr Cohen had posted a video on YouTube, in which she painted her husband as a cruel man with alcohol and substance abuse issues.
“Tob is not a young man. He is going to be 70 soon. He is a chain-smoker and that is slowing him down. And for a long time Tob has been abusing substances. That is why, unknown to many, he had all this aggression and couldn’t handle situations,” says Ms Wairimu in the video posted on August 9, some 20 days after the billionaire disappeared.
In the clip, she also alleges that their problems began on December 18 last year during a traditional wedding for her daughter, when Mr Cohen suddenly lost his cool and started shouting that he was going to divorce her in front of guests.
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