Morgue attendants lifted the body out of the cold storage chamber and set it on top of a gurney, bringing the search for Ms Mildred Odira, who had been missing for six days, to an inexplicable end.
And as family and friends entered the City Mortuary to identify her body, leaving with piercing screams, a taxi driver, Mr Davies Ochieng’, was being arraigned in a Milimani court, two kilometres away.
The injuries on Ms Odira’s body — a wound on the forehead, another on the cheek, a cut on her abdomen and fractured legs — were not enough to explain what might have caused her death. And the state of her underwear indicated that she might have been raped.
Ms Odira, 32, a switchboard operator with Foresight Company but based at Nation Centre, left her Kariobangi South home at 4am last Tuesday, January 29.
“She was not well. She had been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension just two days earlier, so she wanted to go to hospital. When she left the house, the security guards at the court’s gate helped her hail a taxi to take her to Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital,” said her sister, Ms Maureen Anyango.
When they did not hear from her, Ms Odira’s family visited the hospital later that day to find out whether she had been admitted.
“She was not at the hospital, so we thought she might have gone to a different one. But records at all the hospitals around showed that she had not visited any,” Ms Anyango said.
What they did not know was that just three hours after Ms Odira left the house, her badly mutilated body was taken to City Mortuary. It was entered in the registry as number 178, an unknown female adult. The cause of death in the registry was “accident”.
An incident report at the Kasarani Police Station said the body was found on the side of a road, near the GSU footbridge at Allsopps.
The family said they reported the matter to the police but their report was shrugged off, since the law stipulates that a person can only be declared missing after 48 hours. Come Thursday, the family reported her missing at the Kasarani and Buruburu police stations.
The matter was handed to investigators, who interviewed the taxi driver who had picked up Ms Odira. Mr Ochieng’ told the police that he had, indeed, taken Ms Odira to Uhai Neema Hospital in Ruaraka, waited for her for an hour and 20 minutes, and then left.
Detectives demanded CCTV footage from the hospital when the hospital said it had not received a patient called Mildred Odira. The CCTV footage from exterior cameras showed the taxi, a black Mazda Carol, arrive at 4.33am, make a U-turn in the hospital compound and leave without dropping off anyone.
The footage clearly shows the driver leaving the hospital patting his chest, with a client believed to be Ms Odira in the back seat. The car’s full lights were on. Notably, the guards at the hospital recorded that the car left the compound at 5.57am.
The contradictions in the driver’s statement and the fact that they did not tally with the investigators’ findings led to his arrest on Saturday. His vehicle was also towed to the Kasarani Police Station.
Mr Ochieng was taken to the Milimani Law Courts, but the investigators were allowed to hold him until February 14 to complete investigations into the incident that has sent shock waves across the country.
Kasarani Divisional Criminal Investigating Officer (DCIO) Douglas Chikanda said a number of people had recorded statements, including the guards who helped Ms Odira call a taxi.
“Investigations are active but we will not divulge much at this time,” Mr Chikanda told the Nation.
But even as investigations continue, the family is asking many questions, among them, why the police, even after the family made a report and considering several media reports, did not notify them that the body had been found, why the taxi made a U-turn without dropping off Ms Odira, and whether she was raped.
“What does the taxi driver know? Why did he not drop her off at the hospital?”, Ms Odira’s brother, Mr Erick Odira, said with rage.
By the time we went to press, Ms Odira’s family was planning to have a post-mortem to determine whether she was sexually assaulted and to ascertain what killed her.
Following the discovery of Ms Odira’s body, the Nation Media Group sent a condolence message to her family and her employer.
“We are deeply saddened to have learnt of the tragic death of Mildred Odira, who until her untimely demise, served as a switchboard operator at Nation Media Group (NMG), seconded by Foresight Innovations Ltd.
“We pray that Mildred’s family finds fortitude to bear this great loss,” Mr Clifford Machoka, the head of corporate and Regulatory Affairs, said yesterday.
By Daily Nation