A mob in western Kenya has killed a self-confessed serial killer who escaped from custody two days ago, police say.
Masten Wanjala, 20, was traced by villagers to a house in Bungoma town and beaten to death, they say.
Authorities had launched a massive manhunt for the fugitive who admitted to killing more than 10 young boys during a five-year period.
He also confessed to drugging them and in some cases drinking their blood.
He reportedly returned to the home of his parents – who have disowned him – and was subsequently strangled by neighbours who found out he was there, an eyewitness told Kenya’s Standard newspaper.
He tried to stave off suspicious locals by moving to a nearby house, Bungoma’s police commander told the paper.
It is thought his family identified the body, although a police spokesperson said they are still doing “basic verification” to make sure the deceased is indeed Wanjala, according to Reuters news agency.
“We are not sure how he managed to travel all the way from Nairobi to his rural home,” Musyoki Mutungi said. “It is the curious villagers who first identified him and went ahead to kill him even before the police could be informed.”
The mother of one of the victims told the BBC she wanted to know why he did what he did.
“I would have loved to see him in court, so that I get to know why he did this – why he brutally killed our children and left us with pain,” Grace Adhiambo said.
The badly decomposed body of her teenage son Brian Omondi was one of four recovered by police on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi in July.
A post-mortem carried out by the government pathologist showed they had been strangled and hit on the head with a blunt object.
Wanjala killed his first victim when he was just 16 years old, a similar age to some of his victims.
He posed as a football coach to lure his victims to secluded areas, after which he attacked them.
In some cases he took them as hostages for ransom.
The killings took place in Nairobi, and areas of eastern and western Kenya.
Three police officers who were on duty when he escaped on Wednesday have been charged with aiding the escape of a suspect and negligence.
Police say they noticed he had disappeared during the morning roll call. There was no sign of a break-in at the prison cell.
In a series of tweets, the Kenyan Directorate of Criminal Investigations expressed regret that Wanjala did not face justice.
It said “the law of the jungle as applied by irate villagers prevailed”.
There are growing calls for the resignation of Kenya’s police chief over the escape, which shocked the nation and and led many on social media to ridicule the police.
Wanjala’s killing by mob justice two days later however is a tragic reminder of the deep anger, hate and frustrations that many Kenyans feel for the National Police Service.
Kenyans saw this as an open-and-shut case, which the police bungled.
After more than three months of investigations, Kenyans are asking why was Wanjala never taken to court to face murder charges?
It raises questions about Kenya’s judicial process – whose wheels often grind slow, and in this case, were completely broken, destroying the hopes for justice for families of the victims. BBC