• Thursday, 13 June 2024
What we know,  Shakahola cult: Autopsy shows four more people were killed

What we know, Shakahola cult: Autopsy shows four more people were killed

An ongoing autopsy on bodies recovered from Shakahola forest in Kilifi shows four more people were killed.

The revelations strengthen a murder case police are building against pastor Paul Mackenzie and his seven co-accused persons.

The four- three children and an adult- were either hit by a blunt object or suffocated, the Wednesday autopsy showed.

 

The findings came from 36 bodies that were examined by pathologists working at the Malindi subcounty mortuary.

The exercise continues Thursday ahead of its conclusion and planned resumption of exhumations on Friday, officials said.

It is believed there are more mass graves in the forest as officials have identified 15 of them which could see more bodies found.

"Sixteen of the examined persons were children while 19 were adults. We could not ascertain the specific age of one of the victims. The number of males was 17 while females were 19," chief government Pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor said.

"Four of them had asphyxia before death. Three were children while one was an adult. There were obvious signs of strangulation on their bodies."

The autopsy results also show that 23 of the deceased died of starvation.

The autopsies further showed a variation in the times of death of the victims, leading to difficulties in determining the causes of death in seven of the bodies.

The process of DNA sample submission also continued for the second day on Wednesday with 22 families giving their samples.

This was as more families showed up to search for their missing kin. Officials say more than 400 cases of missing persons have been reported in the area.

 

Autopsies had by Wednesday been done on 76 out of 109 bodies from the shallow mass graves at Shakahola.

The exercise is expected to be completed by Friday, May 5 to pave the way for the resumption of exhumation at the Shakahola forest.

So far 110 bodies have been exhumed and the operation is going on in Shakahola forest using technology and aerial surveillance.

Dozens more bodies are believed to be buried in shallow graves therein.

Some 49 people have been rescued from starvation.

Mackenzie, who is in police custody, is being investigated for influencing his followers to starve to death to meet their maker.

Police also suspect that some of the victims did not starve to death and may have been killed and then buried on the property.

He and pastor Ezekiel Odero are under arrest over the accusations.

They are in court seeking to be released on bond even as the cases continue as the prosecution says this will interfere with their probe.

A ruling is set to be issued on the issue.

Mackenzie has denied wrongdoing but has been refused bail. He insists that he shut down his church in 2019. The followers say he told them to starve themselves to "meet Jesus."

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