A fugitive awaiting extradition to the U.S. on a warrant alleging that he murdered his girlfriend and ditched her body in a car at a Boston airport has escaped from police custody in Kenya, local authorities said Thursday.
Kevin Kangethe, 40, is alleged to have boarded a flight to the East African country after stabbing 31-year-old Margaret Mbitu to death in October. After three months on the run, Kangethe was arrested in a Nairobi nightclub on Jan. 30—but he’s now a fugitive once again thanks to an escape, which has also prompted the arrest of four police officers.
On Wednesday afternoon, a man called John Maina Ndegwa went to a Nairobi police station and introduced himself to officers as Kangethe’s lawyer, according to a police report reviewed by the Associated Press. Ndegwa said he wished 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,” the report said. “After a short while the prisoner escaped by running away and left the (lawyer) behind.”
The police file said that officers chased after Kangethe but they were unable to catch him before he made his getaway by jumping into a privately owned minivan. Ndegwa was detained, however. “We have arrested the officers who were on duty when he escaped to explain how it happened,” Nairobi Police Chief Adamson Bungei said. “It is just embarrassing to us.”
Massachusetts authorities had worked with Kenyan law enforcement to find Kangethe following his flight from the U.S. He had been detained pending a ruling concerning his possible extradition back to America to answer a charge of first-degree murder over Mbitu’s slaying. An anonymous police official told AP that Kangethe had renounced his U.S. citizenship, and that he would have been sent back to Massachusetts without a court process if he was still an American citizen.
Mbitu’s family had reported her missing before her body was found by Massachusetts State Police troopers stationed at the Boston airport on Oct. 31. Mibtu, who was last seen alive leaving her job in Halifax, had worked for a nonprofit that supports people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Her family said they were “overjoyed” at the news of Kangethe’s arrest last month. “The long hand of the law is finally catching up with Maggie’s murder suspect,” they said in a statement, according to CBS News. They added that they were “confident that the truth will prevail and that justice for Maggie will be achieved.”
Suspicions have reportedly been raised that bribes were paid to secure Kangethe’s release, with police in Kenya persistently ranked as one of the country’s most corrupt institutions.