- It gripped the country for the whole year from the moment Captain Judy Kambura Angaine, the daughter of Lands and Settlement minister Jackson Angaine, was found strangled in a bathtub in her house, No. 64 Ngei estate on March 30, 1978.
- In the dock was Major David Kimeu Kisila, a military colleague of Capt Angaine and boyfriend, who was arrested and charged the day after her body was found.
- Justice Hancox said Kisila could only have committed the murder in the short space of 30 minutes when he returned to the house between 10.30 am. and 11 am.
It was an intriguing and tragic drama. Three senior politicians. An army officer. A company executive. And the murder of a minister’s daughter.
It was a story of love, lust and passion.
It gripped the country for the whole year from the moment Captain Judy Kambura Angaine, the daughter of Lands and Settlement minister Jackson Angaine, was found strangled in a bathtub in her house, No. 64 Ngei estate on March 30, 1978.
Mr Angaine’s colleagues in the Cabinet Paul Ngei and Jeremiah Nyagah -- who were adversely mentioned in connection with her death -- testified in the subsequent murder trial.
In the dock was Major David Kimeu Kisila, a military colleague of Capt Angaine and boyfriend, who was arrested and charged the day after her body was found.
Three months later, on November 1, 1978, he was acquitted.
Police pathologist A.L. Ribeiro told the court that Judy was sexually assaulted before she was killed.
Who killed her and why?
Thirty-five years later, this question has never been answered.
It emerged during the trial that although Mr. Angaine had turned down Maj Kisila’s request to marry Judy, the two lived together in a come-we-stay arrangement.
They operated two joint bank accounts and held a joint mortgage. In the later she entered her name as Mrs Judy Gloria Kimeu.
On the night of March 29, a day before she died, the court was told Capt Angaine had arrived from running an erand in Molo and had gone to see her father in his Ardhi House office.
That day, Mr Angaine had left for his farm in Meru. Mr Ngei, who was in the Cooperatives docket, and had an office in the same building, offered to give her a lift to her house in the estate named after him.
Hours later Maj Kisila found the two in the house “drinking whisky”.
Later that night, Mr Ngei is alleged to have left with Judy for more drinks at Langata Club and then to Woodley Club.
“It was on the way back that Ngei, while still driving, touched Judy on the breast and told her he loved her,” Angaine quoted Maj Kisila as saying.
She was said to have resisted the advances causing a struggle that made the car to roll three times.
The two were rescued by “a European woman” who gave Judy a new dress because hers was torn. It was the Good Samaritan, according to Kisila, who took Judy back to the house.
Maj Kisila had decided not to accompany Mr. Ngei and there was little he could do when the Minister went with his would-be wife.
“Ngei is a big man. There was nothing I could do…Ngei is a fearful man,” Kisila had apparently told Mr Angaine, shortly before the body was collected from the house.
That night, after Judy was brought to the house by the rescuer, Maj Kisila took her to Armed Forces Memorial Hospital where she was treated by Mrs Rachel Mwandonyia, a nurse.
Judy, the nurse told the court, complained of “pain on the left arm and heaviness of the head following a road accident. She had a bruise on the left arm near the shoulder, with abrasions over both knees.”
That night, as Kisila was to tell Commanding Officer of Forces Memorial Hospital, Dr. Samuel Waruru, Judy “complained of pain but slept alright.”
The court was told that in the morning of March 30, Maj Kisila persuaded Judy to go to hospital “but she said she would go to the office first.”
That morning, at about 7.30 am, Maj Kisila drove out of Judy’s house as her driver, Lance Cpl Patrick Gichovi was parking.
The driver told the court that Capt Angaine was not ready for work as she was still in her night dress.
She gave him a letter and a key to a safe to take to her boss, the Commanding Officer of the Women Service Corps in Eastleigh, Maj Phyllis Ikua. In the letter, which was read in court, Judy informed Maj. Ikua that she was “involved in a car accident on my way from Nakuru.
I was not seriously hurt but I am reporting to FMH (Forces Memorial Hospital), for X-ray at 0900hrs this morning. Please sign cheque for me I will see you later. Judy”
Why would she tell her boss that the accident happened on her way from Nakuru yet, according to her boyfriend in occurred in Nairobi? Was she hiding some information?
After leaving the house, Maj Kisila passed by the DoD, and a Col Chana, saw him at 8.30 am.
When he reached the city centre, Kisila is said to have called a neighbour to check whether Judy had left.
Declined to go to hospital
“The neighbour said they could not tell whether she was in the house or not as the car was still outside and the doors locked,” Dr Waruru told the court of what Mr Kisila told him.
Kisila returned to the house once again and found Judy in a worse condition and tried to persuade her to go to hospital. She declined saying she was waiting for a visitor at 10.30 am.
That visitor remains the missing link to her death.
What is known is that Kisila left again and drove to town to look for either of Judy’s sisters, Joyce Mwari or Ann Charity Kanamu, hoping they would be able to persuade her to go to hospital.
He arrived at Nairobi Hospital, where Ann worked, some minutes before noon but since she could not leave she suggested that her sister Joyce should accompany him.
Joyce, who worked at Cooper Motors in Industrial Area, knew Maj Kisila as Judy’s boyfriend.
That day, at about 12.25 pm, Kisila arrived at her office and told her that Judy “was seriously sick…she wanted me to accompany him to persuade my sister to go to hospital,” Joyce told the court.
“Kisila told me that he had gone to the house at 10 am to check on Judy’s condition and had also gone to Buru Buru Estate to take his mother to hospital.
When we arrived at the house, Kisila parked outside the gate and said he was not taking the car inside. I asked him for the keys to open the main gate.
I remarked that she had not left for hospital because the car was parked inside the compound.
He remarked that she could not have left since (Kisila) had the car keys. “On reaching the main door, we found water flowing through the doorway.
I asked Kisila if they had left the tap running. I told him maybe it was the toilet (cistern) which was overflowing.
I asked him to open the door and flush the toilet to save the wastage of water.”
According to Joyce, Kisila “rushed to the bathroom, on the second door from the toilet and I heard him shout: Ooh! Ooh! I rushed there and found my sister’s body floating in a bath full of water.”
Judy was dead and Kisila and Joyce, both distraught and crying, called Mr. Angaine and the police from a neighbour’s phone.
“They were both shaken and crying”, recalled a Kenya Police executive officer, Nelson Mutua who had gone for lunch and found Joyce and Kisila.
When the police arrived, Joyce said she entered Judy’s bedroom: “It was very disorderly. I could not believe that my sister could leave the room so disorderly.
My sister has always been neat and clean...”
It is possible that Judy’s killer attacked her in the bedroom.
There was a struggle as she tried to defend herself but was overpowered. The killer then carried her lifeless body to the bathroom, put her in the tub and turned on the tap.
Mr Angaine arrived at the house at 6.15 pm from Meru and asked Kisila what had happened.
He told him that Judy had been given a lift by the Minster for Agriculture, Jeremiah Nyagah who had allowed his driver to take Judy to Molo.
Then, Kisila told Angaine, Judy had met with Ngei on the stairs of his (Angaine) office and the two ended up in Judy’s house.
Mr Angaine – after listening to Kisila’s story told the court that he remarked: “Unbelievable! You are the one who killed my daughter.”
The minister said Kisila asked him how he could kill a woman whom he dearly loved and whom he intended to marry. Kisila then started weeping, according to Angaine.
Next day, Friday May 31, 1978, Maj Kisila was charged with the murder of Capt Angaine.
Mr Angaine, it emerged during the trial, did not like the union between Judy and Kisila.
When Kisila’s parents had gone to seek his blessings he told them his daughter “would serve the Republic until she retired. I told them that is when I would give my decision.”
He told the court that he had been told by Mr. Kisila that Ngei had attempted to rape Judy on the night before she died and that they two had an accident as a result.
Kisila hired Nairobi’s top lawyer Byron Georgiadis to lead his defence and the prosecution was led by Senior State Counsel William Mbaya.
When Ngei took the witness stand he denied giving Judy a lift that night, though he admitted he knew Maj Kisila and Judy.
The unanswered question is why Maj. Kisila mentioned Mr. Ngei and the rape attempt. Could Judy have hidden from her boyfriend what transpired that night?
And if Mr Nyagah’s car was not used to take her to Molo and back, whose car was used?
Nyagah told the court that on that day he was in Rome, and neither did he order his driver to take Judy to Rift Valley nor was his car used.
However, he admitted that he knew Judy and Kisila and that he had once visited them in their house.
So, did Judy lie to her boyfriend about the Molo trip?
During their investigations, police failed to question Ngei.
The judge lamented that his finger-prints were not taken until mid-September 1978 and he was not asked to submit to a medical examination.
He said Judy’s father “undoubtedly entertained a suspicion against Kisila.”
Kisila told the court that Judy may have used Ngei’s name to protect somebody else. ‘‘What she was hiding and who she was hiding, I don’t know,’’ he said.
The other man
But there was another man: Joseph Lithimbi, a general manager of a Lonhro company and who had a son with Judy but the two had “agreed to disagree about marriage in 1971.”
Mr Lithimbi lied to the court that he had never entered Judy’s house – though he had been there more than three times.
It also emerged that Judy was still dating Lithimbi and had on February 14 sent him a Valentine card (Lithimbi denied receiving the card) which showed an intended meeting that night.
Justice Hancox said that Lithimbi’s letter to Judy dated March 18 showed they had met at his house on Saturday, February 25, and that Judy had been put in the position of choosing between Kisila and Lithimbi, and had clearly preferred the accused.
The judge said he found Mr Lithimbi to be “a witness completely unworthy of credit.”
So was the murder a case of sour grapes? That was not addressed and neither was the Ngei rape angle pursued.
All what is known is that Judy Angaine had an accident that night and was treated at the Memorial Hospital.
That on the following day, her boyfriend went looking for her sisters to persuade her return to hospital.
Justice Hancox said Kisila could only have committed the murder in the short space of 30 minutes when he returned to the house between 10.30 am. and 11 am.
He said there was no way he could have hit Judy over the head, overcome any resistance, strangled her, put her in the bath and turned the taps on – and yet emerge unscathed. Kisilu had no injuries upon examination.