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Man wanted in Massachusetts for murder rearrested in Kenya after a week-long escape

Fugitive wanted for Massachusetts murder captured again after escaping police in Kenya
Fugitive wanted for Massachusetts murder captured again after escaping police in Kenya 00:38

NAIROBI, Kenya - A man wanted in Massachusetts to face murder charges has been rearrested, a week after he dramatically escaped from police custody in Kenya, police said Wednesday. 

Kevin Kangethe, 40, of Lowell, escaped while awaiting extradition on a Massachusetts warrant alleging he killed his girlfriend and left her body in a car at Logan Airport in Boston last fall. Last week, he slipped out of a police station in Nairobi and jumped into a privately owned minivan. 

Kangethe was arrested in Embulbul, Kajiado County on the outskirts of Kenya's capital city on Tuesday evening as he sought refuge at one of his relatives' homes, Nairobi police boss Adamson Bungei said. 

"We have rearrested him and we thank all that helped in this," he said. 

"With this suspect's recapture we are once again on track to seek justice for Margaret Mbitu and her family. It is our hope that Kevin Kangethe's return to Boston will proceed in a timely manner and without further incident," Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokesman for Hayden later said that U.S. government officials told them that Kangethe is being held in a maximum-security prison in Nairobi. He's due back in court on February 19.

Kevin Kangethe in court in Nairobi, Kenya, February 14, 2024. CNN

In a country where corruption endemic and the police force has been ranked for decades the most corrupt institution in the country, Kangethe's escape raised suspicion the police officers on duty that day may have been bribed to allow his escape. 

The four officers who were on duty at the report office that day have been suspended awaiting disciplinary action and may face prosecution. 

The officer's report seen by the Associated Press said that on the day Kangethe escaped, a man named John Maina Ndegwa introduced himself to the officers as Kangethe's lawyer and said he wanted 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. After a short while the prisoner escaped by running away and left the (lawyer) behind," the report said. 

Officers pursued Kangethe but did not catch him, the police report said, adding that Ndegwa was arrested. 

Maggie Mbitu Courtesy photos

Kangethe had been detained pending a ruling on whether he should be extradited to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Maggie Mbitu on Oct. 31, 2023. 

Massachusetts State Police said in early November that Kangethe had left her body in a car at Logan International Airport and boarded a flight to Kenya. Massachusetts officials said they were working with Kenyan authorities to locate him, and he was arrested in a nightclub on Jan. 30 after being on the run for three months. 

A police official told the AP that Kangethe said he had renounced his U.S. citizenship. The police official, who insisted on anonymity in order speak freely about an ongoing investigation, said if Kangethe were an American citizen he would have been repatriated without a court process. 

The court approved a police application for him to be detained for 30 days while the extradition issue was heard. 

Mbitu, 31, of Whitman, was a health care aide in Halifax. She was last seen leaving work Oct. 30 and reported missing by her family. The preliminary investigation showed Mbitu had left work and traveled with Kangethe to Lowell, where he lived, the prosecution said. 

Mbitu's family said they are thankful Kangethe is back in custody.

"We are cautiously cheering the news that Kevin Kangethe, Maggies Mbitu's murder suspect, has once again been arrested by the authorities in Kenya," Mbitu's family said in a statement to WBZ-TV.

"We hope that he will be extradited without delay back to the USA to face justice for his crimes. Meanwhile we hope that the Kenyan government will not spare any resources to keep him in custody. We are thankful to God, the media, those in law enforcement who worked around the clock to apprehend him once again and anyone else who played a part in his arrest." 

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