A second female athlete has reportedly been killed by her partner in a Kenyan town known for its cross-country running, just six months after Olympian Agnes Tirop was stabbed to death there.
Damaris Muthee Mutua, who competed for Kenya as a junior athlete before switching to represent Bahrain, was found dead by local police on Tuesday in the high-altitude town of Iten, which is used by top-class athletes world as a marathon training camp. Police say the 28-year-old was discovered “in a state of decomposition” in the Rift Valley town of Iten, just one kilometer from where Tirop was killed in October.
Police have launched a nationwide manhunt for Mutua’s Ethiopian boyfriend, Eskanda Hailemariam, who was training at the same high altitude center but is believed to have fled the country.
Mutua’s death, coming so soon after Tirop’s and representing yet another apparent case of violence against women in the same city, further shocked the international athletics community. The Women’s Athletic Alliance, a Kenya-based group that supports women’s empowerment in sport, wrote on social media: “We must do more. We will do more.”
Tirop, a two-time world bronze medalist in the 10km who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, was found stabbed to death in October. Her husband, Ibrahim Rotich, was arrested and charged with the murder shortly thereafter. Her family claimed she was killed “because of her wealth” as ownership of her property changed hands three months before her murder. He remains in custody and denies the murder.
Commenting on Mutua’s case, Keiyo North Sub-County Police Commander Tom Makori said: “We are pursuing several avenues to bring the suspect under investigation. There were no visible wounds on the body. We think she was strangled. Further inquests will reveal the exact cause of death.”
Authorities said Mutua visited the suspect on Saturday and her body was discovered after the Ethiopian suspect allegedly phoned her neighbors from Ethiopia to say he had killed her.
“The suspect called a friend they were training together and informed him that he had killed a girlfriend and the body was in the house,” Makori said.
Local athlete Christine Kambua said she was a down to earth runner but did not know her Ethiopian boyfriend. Mutua, who was training for a half marathon, won the 20km race from Marrakech to Morocco in 2018.