Husband of Kenyan athlete and main suspect in her death arrested

Kenyan police announced Thursday the arrest of Emmanuel Rotich, the main suspect in the murder of runner Agnes Tirop. Husband of the victim, he was detained in Mombasa while trying to escape.

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A star in Kenyan athletics, Agnes was stabbed to death at the age of 25. Crime mobilized his country and the world of sport.

“The suspect is in custody and was arrested while trying to escape,” George Kinoti, director of criminal investigations, told AFP, adding that Rotich will appear in court on Friday.

Agnes’s husband had disappeared after calling her parents crying and asking for forgiveness for “an accident” he had caused. Local police chief Tom Makori has reported that initial investigations indicate that Rotich is the prime suspect in the crime. Or that, at the very least, he would know the details that led to the runner’s death.

“Since her husband is missing and because of the call he made to her parents asking for forgiveness, we’re treating him as the prime suspect,” Makori said.

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Agnes’ disappearance was recorded by her father on Tuesday night. The next day, he returned with his wife to the police station and told him about his son-in-law’s call. The police then went to the athlete’s house and found her body in her bedroom bed, with a knife wound in the neck – the first reports said that the blow would have been in the abdomen. According to Makori, there was a lot of blood at the crime scene. Security cameras and other items were collected from the house to be analyzed.

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Agnes won two bronze medals at the World Championships in the 10,000 meters (2017 and 2019). At the Tokyo Olympics, she finished fourth in the 5,000 meters. The crime took place in the city of Iten, known for being a place where many long-distance and semi-deep runners train.

Agnes’ death came just days after that of another Kenyan runner: Hosea Mwok Macharinyang. He had been considered a suicide victim. At 35, the athlete owned three world team titles.