Suspect was jailed and awaiting a ruling on a US extradition request after being accused of killing his girlfriend in Massachusetts.
A Kenyan national awaiting extradition to the United States after being accused of killing his girlfriend and leaving her body in a car at a Boston airport has escaped from police custody in Kenya, police say.
Kevin Kangethe, 40, slipped out of the police station and jumped into a privately owned minivan, Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei said on Thursday. A search for him began immediately.
Four police officers who were on duty at the station are in custody and have recorded statements, according to a police report seen by The Associated Press.
The officers said that about 4pm (13:00 GMT) on Wednesday, a man named John Maina Ndegwa introduced himself to the officers as Kangethe’s lawyer and said he wanted to speak with his client.
“The officers agreed to his request and removed the prisoner from the cells and took him to [an] office … leaving them there. After a short while the prisoner escaped by running away and left the [lawyer] behind,” the report said.
Officers pursued Kangethe but did not catch him, the police report said, adding that Ndegwa was arrested.
Bungei said he rushed to the station when he learned of the escape. “We have arrested the officers who were on duty when he escaped to explain how it happened. It is just embarrassing to us,” he said.
Kangethe had been detained pending a ruling on whether he should be extradited to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Margaret Mbitu on October 31.
Mbitu, a health care aide in Halifax, a town in the US state of Massachusetts, was last seen leaving work on October 30 and was reported missing by her family. The preliminary investigation showed Mbitu had left her workplace and travelled with Kangethe to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he lived, the prosecution said.
Massachusetts State Police said in early November that Kangethe had left her body in a car at Logan International Airport and boarded a flight to Kenya. Massachusetts officials said they were working with Kenyan authorities to locate him, and he was arrested in a Nairobi nightclub on January 30 after being on the run for three months.
A Kenyan court approved a police application for him to be detained for 30 days while an extradition request was heard.
Police have been ranked as Kenya’s most corrupt institution for decades, and his escape raised suspicions that bribes were paid for his freedom. Other suspected killers have escaped police custody in the past.
On October 14, 2021, Masten Wanjala, who had confessed to killing 10 children in his hometown of Bungoma in western Kenya, reportedly escaped from police cells in Nairobi under unclear circumstances. A mob in his hometown traced him to a house and beat him to death a couple of days later.