In 2009, Philip Onyancha who was 32 by then, hit the media headlines after he allegedly confessed to having killed 19 women and children.
Onyancha, who is now serving his jail terms in Kamiti Maximum Prison, was a former G4S security guard who was introduced to a cult by his teacher, Elizabeth Wambui.This cult was to make him rich after completing his duty, which was to kill 100 people within 5 years.
Confessing during a police interview, Philip Onyancha admitted that he would lure the victims who were women and children due to their weakness in his secret hideouts where he would kill them and suck blood.
He found his victims in various parts of the country including Nyeri, Nakuru, Thika Naivasha, and Nairobi. Speaking to Case Files (KTN) in February 2018, Philip Onyancha said that his stay in prison was safer compared to life outside the prison because his cult members want him dead because he exposed them.
During his trials, he denied raping the women before killing them stating that his mission was only to drink blood. Close to ten years in Kamiti, the serial killer Philip Onyancha is a preacher whose ministry is to change the lives of his inmates. Catherine Chelengat was a 32-year-old mother of one, in 2008, when she disappeared.
She had just finished college at the Kabete Technical Institute earlier that year, in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Catherine lived in a suburb of Nairobi called Karen, where she had several family members living nearby. The day that Catherine disappeared – November 2nd, 2008 – seemed like every other Sunday.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the neighborhood that Catherine was staying in, according to one of her relatives, a man named Wesley Rotich. Wesley was the last relative to see Catherine alive, as she left his home in the early evening: Catherine departed to visit with another family member but never arrived.
Worried friends and family tried to retrace her steps in the coming days, weeks, and months, but they found nothing.
Wesley Rotich, the same relative that saw her last, described what happened next:“We heard nothing from her captors for the next three months. They called us on [the] phone and demanded Sh30,000 (shillings). We pleaded for time as we did not have the money. We reported [it] to police at Karen.”The extortion attempt came three months after Catherine’s disappearance, in the early months of 2009.
The family of the missing mother did not have the money on-hand, so they begged for time. The figure on the other end seemed to show very little pity but ultimately allowed them to pay a smaller amount: Sh15,000.
The ransom was paid through M-Pesa, a money transfer program. Sadly, it did not result in the safe return of Catherine Chelengat. The young mother had already died, killed months beforehand by a killer who worked just down the block from her family.
Philip Onyancha was a security guard, who worked at the local water utility office building, which was less than fifty meters away from the home where Catherine had last been seen. He would later claim to have encountered the woman walking along the road when he approached her and held out an open hand.
The body of 32-year old Catherine Chelengat would not be found for over two years; during which time, the killer continued to lash out at women and children, ultimately amassing near two dozen victims over the span of a half-decade. All of which, he claimed, was sacrificed as part of a cult ritual – a cult, he had been forced into against his will.
When a killer strikes, they usually lash out close-to-home. Most investigators start their investigation inside the family and work their way out. Occasionally, though, it becomes apparent that these crimes are not done by anyone with a personal motive. These are people driven by something within, and they usually attack those who can’t fight back.
In June of 2009 – at around the same time that Philip Onyancha’s wife began to suspect something was going on in his life that she didn’t know about – a boy in Nairobi went missing. The boy, named Samuel Wanyonyi, was a lot like Philip had been in his youth: enthusiastic about his education. In fact, he had moved to Nairobi to live with his aunt, because he was attending a prestigious school in the region.
But after only three months, Samuel went missing. He was gone for only three days before a note was left on the doorstep of his aunt’s home. The note demanded Sh40,000 be sent to a phone number through M-Pesa, a money transfer program.
Sound familiar? Because it is. This is the exact same thing that had happened to the family of Catherine Chalengat, a missing mother that had disappeared from the region months prior, in November of 2008.
The family of Samuel Wanyonyi refused to pay the ransom because they simply didn’t have it. That was when a second letter arrived at their Nairobi home, along with some items of Samuel’s clothing, which he had been wearing when he went missing. This time, the price had been reduced to Sh10,000. Still, though, the family couldn’t – or wouldn’t – pay it.
After this, the letters stopped arriving. So did the harassing phone calls, which had been tormenting the family into paying a ransom for a family member they believed was already dead.
All the while, a local man named Philip Onyancha had been helping out with the neighborhood searches for the Samuel, offering to help with the large mobs of volunteers looking for the boy. Philip Onyancha even told the family of the victim that the handwriting on the hand-written letters looked like that of a female; which, we know now, was an attempt to remove himself from suspicion.
In 2010, the city of Thika – which sits about an hour north of Nairobi – experienced a significant uptick in violent deaths. In particular, eight six workers were killed over the span of the year, but a couple of high-profile deaths early on put this industrial city on high-alert.
In January of 2010, the body of an s3x worker named Hellen Nyambura was found in a room at the Rwambogo Bar and Restaurant. Her body had been left there for several days.
It would later be learned that the killer stopped by to view her body close to a dozen times before it was finally discovered. Even then, the killer waited in a gathering crowd outside to watch the police extract it from the room it had been lying in.
Police originally stated that they believed she had died of epileptic shock, before learning the shocking truth months later.Then, just about a week later, a similar crime happened in a separate area of Thika.
On February 2nd, 2010, 25-year old Jacquelin Wambui met up with a client, before heading to the Suitable Lodging House: a low-scale motel mostly known for s3x work. There, she also met her unfortunate fate, and her body was found the next day: naked, and with her neck broken.
Throughout all eight of these murders, police struggled to identify any leads. They were able to trace back the victims to particular places and times, but because of the seemingly random nature of the crimes, there was little for detectives to do.
They remained unsolved for the foreseeable future.n June 5th, Philip Onyancha was arrested by police, after multiple pieces of evidence put him in their sights for a recent abduction.
Using Safaricom call data records, investigators were able to track the money being paid to the alleged kidnapper of a nine-year-old boy. When they found the suspect, they were then able to determine that a handwritten ransom note left at the scene of the abduction was written by Philip Onyancha himself.
Following his arrest, Philip Onyancha confessed to killing nearly twenty people. This number varies based on the publication, but it has consistently been reported as being at least seventeen, with the most recent speculation settling around nineteen victims.
All of which were women and children, whom Philip described as being weak and vulnerable to his attacks. In Philip Onyancha’s confession – which you heard a piece of before the break – Philip Onyancha described how his crimes had escalated over the years, originating from his time in high school.
He claimed that in his first year at Kenyatta Mahiga High School, a female teacher had recruited him into a murderous cult. Once initiated into the cult, he was responsible for killing one-hundred people; at which point, he would be blessed with an untold amount of riches.
As part of the cult’s practices, however, he said he had engaged in practices deemed barbaric and audacious. After killing each of his victims, Philip Onyancha described drinking blood from their bodies; usually, from their necks.