Shantel Nzembi, an eight-year-old girl who went missing on Sunday and later found dead on Monday could have been a case of mistaken identity, according to preliminary investigations.
According to witnesses who discovered the Grade Two pupil’s body in Orata Noonkopir area of Kitengela, Kajiado County, the girl’s naked body had been wrapped in a bedsheet and stashed in a gunny bag.
Reportedly, the sheet had blood stains while her body bore injuries, indicating that she could have been defiled before being killed.
The girls’ similarities behind the confusion
According to Isinya DCI boss Jeremiah Ndubai, Shantel could have been mistaken for her friend, Sharon, the daughter of a police officer.
Shantel and Sharon were allegedly close friends, almost of the same height, complexion and even wore similar hairstyles. Furthermore, they were schoolmates.
However, their parents did not know each other, nor their specific home addresses.
Shantel’s parents, although living separately, both worked at the Export Processing Zone in Athi River. According to their colleagues, the two related amicably despite their separation. Sharon’s mother on the other hand, was a police officer.
On that fateful day, the deceased went out to play at around 3 pm, expecting to find her playmate, Sharon.
However, at the field, she did not find Sharon, and instead played with another girl. A woman called her and asked whether there was a vacant house in the area.
Ngina got worried when, after an hour, her child had not returned home, which was unlike her.
“I went to look for her. I asked other children to direct me to Sharon’s house because I only knew the apartment she lived in but not the specific house,” Ngina told the police.
By 5pm, Shantel was still nowhere to be seen, throwing her mother into a state of panic. She reached out for Sharon’s parents’ contacts from their caretaker to enquire about Shantel’s whereabouts.
“Sharon’s mother picked the call but told her that her daughter was away visiting a relative,” Ngina said.
Kidnappers confused about the girl’s name?
Shortly after, she reportedly received a call from a private number, informing her of her daughter “Sharon’s” whereabouts.
“The caller referred to me as Mama Sharon and asked if I was aware where the girl was. I told her my daughter was called Shantel and that she was missing,” she answered the caller.
The caller allegedly demanded for a ransom of KSh300,000, which was impossible for Ngina to raise at the time.
““I was devastated and made frantic calls to neighbours and reported the matter at the Kitengela Police Station at around 7.30pm,” Ngina added.
She told detectives that the caller made more than 50 calls from that time until around 11 am on Monday when her daughter was found dead. Most of which she did not answer.
Detectives advised her to send the caller some money, who was seemingly desperate for it. Ngina reportedly sent some cash to an Airtel line provided by the unknown caller.
However, from the succeeding events, it seemed that the kidnapper(s) were not satisfied. At around 8:47 am on Monday, the callers threatened “to do the worst.”
A boda boda rider discovered a body stashed in a gunny bag at around 11 am that day, later identified to be Shantel’s. Meanwhile, the unregistered Airtel SIM card went off around the same time.
“I believe I have no enemies and my daughter was just a victim of circumstances,” Ngina said.
Ndubai assured that investigations would reveal the killers and their motives. “We will get to the bottom of this. As of now, every one is a suspect. We are recording statements from many people, including children who last saw the girl,” he added.