Granny by day, gangster by night
During the day, 80-year old Wambui Muturi was a devout Catholic and an unassuming granny.
At night, the grandmother ran a kidnapping ring that had terrorised Mt Kenya residents and whose tentacles, police believe, extended to Nairobi.
She was gunned down alongside her accomplices in Gatundu village, Murang’a County, on Friday.
A woman they had kidnapped was rescued.
Ms Muturi, Mr John Mwangi and Mr Samuel Kang’ethe were demanding Sh5 million as ransom from their victim’s family.
Mr Kang’ethe was the elderly woman’s nephew. Ms Margaret Waithera had been held for six days when police stormed the compound and killed the three.
“The cucu (granny) was the one cooking for me. She also threatened to have me circumcised,” Ms Waithera told the Nation.
Chatting with neighbours and administrators reveals an old woman with a complicated personality.
Crime runs in Ms Muturi’s family.
According to Gatundu chief John Wachira, two of the woman’s sons died at the hands of lynch mobs while another was shot dead by police officers in Nairobi.
Another died after a short illness, leaving behind two daughters. Ms Muturi’s husband died years ago. Mr Wachira said the killing of her sons changed the granny completely.
“She became reclusive,” the administrator told reporters.
Mr John Mwangi, a Gatundu resident, said the granny did not get along with villagers.
“She did everything in secret. In fact, some people thought she was a witch,” Mr Mwangi said.
Ms Waithera said the old woman would prepare dry rice or boiled maize and tea for breakfast.
“She would threaten to circumcise me or cut off my hands if I did not cooperate with the kidnappers,” Ms Waithera said.
Murang’a County police boss Mohammed Farah said signals from the kidnappers’ mobile phones helped track them.
Mrs Muturi’s daughter, Margaret Wanjiru, said she did not know her mother was a criminal.
“I call on well-wishers to assist the family bury her. Despite the circumstances, she was still a mother and needs a proper sendoff,” she said.