Serial killers on the prowl in Rivers
Police Mount Survelliance To Unravel Criminals
Fears that serial killer(s) targeting vulnerable women and girls might be on the loose in Rivers State are mounting, following the grisly murder of over eight victims in the last two months.
In what could be a temporary relief, however, one such serial killer was arrested last Thursday. He had reportedly checked into a hotel with a young lady and was captured by the hotel’s CCTV leaving the following day without the lady, who was later found dead, legs bound, in the room they had checked into.
The heinous activities of the mystery and ruthless serial killer(s) have kept Police and other security agencies in the state on their toes and residents terrified.
The murder of these women has continued to baffle even security agencies and residents, as the victims were never dispossessed of any personal belongings or their body parts harvested, as normally happens in cases of ritual.
But their remains were often abandoned in hotel rooms, with a white cloth tied around their necks, waists and ankles, depicting ritualistic motive, according to the Police.
The first unsettling, or better still, bizarre, homicide targeted at women was recorded on August 1, following the murder of Ms. Maureen Ewuru, a 23-year-old lady, who was strangled to death in a hotel room at D/Line axis of Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The unclad body of Maureen, who hailed from Abia State and a mother of one, was found on the hotel bed, with a white pillow cover tied around her neck. It was presumed that the white cloth was used to strangle her. The killer, who left the hotel undetected, probably forgot his cap and a black leather slippers, which the Police has classified as exhibits.
Her friend, Lera Kpalap, told The Guardian that Maureen was a loving, tender-hearted person who had a lot of dreams.
Lera said: “She was up and doing. In her own little way, she was working hard to make ends meet. She had prospects. When you sit and discuss with her, you will know she had plans for the future and she was working towards achieving her dreams in life.
“My brother went to her house in the evening she was killed, but she was not at home. It was the next day that we saw her photo on the social media.
“She was the first victim of this serial killings. She does not deserve to die or be killed by strangulation. She had a right to life. She has not done any wrong for having a relationship with someone. She has left a little baby. What will the little girl do?”
While people were still trying to come to terms with this bizarre incident, exactly two weeks later, on August 15, a young lady, identified as Jennifer Nwokocha, said to be in her 20s, fell prey to the predator, who also strangled her to death in a hotel room along Woji Road, Government Residential Area (GRA) in the state capital.
Jennifer, said to be from Umuekenyike, Obirikom in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Council of the state, wrote the last university entrance examination. Her body was discovered in the hotel room with a piece of cloth tied around her neck.
The mystery killer had disappeared from the hotel by the time housekeepers discovered Jennifer’s body.
As residents were trying to come to terms with the reality that serial killers might be on the loose, following the murders, the decomposing body of another woman in her 30s, identified as Ms. Patience Hamo, a mother of two from Benue State, was found along Aggrey Road in the Old Township axis of Port Harcourt on August 21.
Her friends, who identified her remains, which were wrapped in a black nylon bag, claimed she had been missing for about four days earlier.
A source close to the victim suspected that she may have died in an undisclosed hotel and in a bid to conceal the incident, her remains was driven to a dumpsite where it was eventually found.
While these unresolved murders raised tensions, security agencies appeared to be so far “clueless” about the serial killer(s). It was not surprising therefore, when on September 4, the body of an unidentified girl, wearing a black dress, believed to be in her 20s, was discovered in another hotel at GRA, Port Harcourt by housekeepers who had gone to clean the room.
And in what appears to be current modus operandi of the killer(s), her legs were tied with a piece of white cloth.
The rising violence took a twist on September 7, with Ms. Precious Steve, dumped around Abuloma Junction along Peter Odili Road, unconscious.
A source close to the victim said she had prepared and eaten dinner with her children before leaving home that fateful day about 9.00p.m to deliver a product a customer ordered online. She was later found lying on the road, unconscious, by a man who happens to know one of her friends.
It was gathered she was taken to several hospitals, which claimed they didn’t have oxygen to resuscitate her. And she died in the process. It is assumed that her killer(s) probably drugged her.
Her neighbour in Woji town, an outskirt of Port Harcourt, Mr. Williams Chinwo, who described Precious as an easy-going and humble lady, said: “She sold shoes and other products online and was a hardworking woman.
“Though a single mother of two, she was proud that she was a single mother. She had strong bond with her sons. I pity the boys and wondered how they would survive without the woman, because she was their strong pillar.
“Her death has really diminished me. I am really pained by her sudden death. Government must unmask her killers.”
Among the statistics is 31-year-old Ms. Fabiawari Samuel, who was also found dead in a hotel at Oyigbo in the outskirt of Port Harcourt.
The series of grisly slaying of women in hotels continued on September 10, as the mutilated body of Miss Blessing Mary Effiong, from Akwa Ibom State, was discovered in a hotel room at Rumuomasi in Obio/Akpor Council, days after she had gone missing.
It was gathered that the deceased had gone to render service to an unidentified man who lodged in the hotel where she worked.
Just as already panic-stricken residents of Port Harcourt were still pondering what might have instigated the killer(s) to go on killing spree, on September 12, another young lady, identified as Dorcas Francis, was found dead in one of the hotels in Omoku, headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Council.
The victim, who was in her 20s, was had her arms tied backwards and both legs tied together with a piece of white cloth.
Dorcas’ death has left her friends devastated, with one of them, Jessica Maxwell, lamenting how depressing it was to learn of her demise, just as she bemoaned that since Dorcas parents’ death, the victim had been saddled with the responsibility of fending for all her siblings.
Another friend, Tracy Patrick, explained that she had been crying inconsolably since hearing of the tragic circumstance of Dorcas’ sudden death, adding: “I can’t stop crying about your dead…poor orphan.
“All the efforts, pain and sacrifice you went through to keep your siblings going, all went in vain, without you seeing them become what you wanted. I can’t forget these your words, ‘If I don’t buy it for them, who will buy it?’ Now, tell me, who did you leave them for to suffer and face challenges of life alone, painful?”
Her cousin, Prince Kay, with tears running down his cheeks, said he never believed she could succumb to death, recalling how he had on her last birthday on March 3, wished her long life and prosperity.
“It is unfortunate it didn’t last. God, what has this poor orphan done to bear this? Ever since her parents left, she has been struggling for her daily needs.
“I will miss you forever, my sweetest cousin. Finally, you just left that your fine brother, as you always called me,” he said.
Another friend, Titus Obadiah, prayed God to ensure her killer(s) is/are brought to justice, adding: “She was an orphan and you are the God that fathers the fatherless and the motherless. Will you sit and watch the killers of your daughter go unpunished?”
On the same fateful day, the body of an unidentified young woman was discovered at Waterlines area of Port Harcourt, presumably killed elsewhere and dumped where she could be easily seen and identified.
On Sunday, September 15, yet another unidentified young woman was found dead in a room in Rumuola, Port Harcourt, half naked and facing downward, showing signs of strangulation.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, last Tuesday confirmed what many in the state had suspected and feared for months: a serial killer is on the loose, assuring that the Command had launched a major manhunt for elusive killer.
“If the hoteliers had complied with guidelines and installed CCTV cameras in their receptions and corridors leading to the rooms, there is no way somebody will come and book for a room and enter without being captured,” he said.
He revealed that a young girl, fortunately, escaped being strangled in a hotel room in Port Harcourt on Wednesday by a man who was later arrested.
The Police boss said the man attempted to suffocate the girl with a pillow about 2.00p.m while she was deep asleep, but she woke up, screamed and vehemently resisted him, adding that due to her strident cry, both workers and lodgers in the hotel alerted the policemen, who then forced the door open and rescued the girl, who was sweating profusely, and arrested the suspect, whose name was yet to be revealed.
It was gathered that the suspect was later handed over to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCID) for thorough interrogation.
While the Police are investigating all these murder cases, civil society and human rights groups have raised concern, even as they demanded an end to the unsettling incidents and action by the security agencies.
Chairperson of Rotary Club, Port Harcourt South, Mrs. Sandra Akarolo, who was among those that stormed Government House on Wednesday to demand action from the state government and security agencies, said their action was altruistic, because it has to do with lives.
“In our constitution, everybody has a right to live. I don’t know why women who bring people into this world should become victims of death. We should not fold our arms and wait till a direct relative is affected.
“Women are being killed and the killing is on going for two months. We decided to be heard. We want to make sure government sits up.”
A former commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said well-meaning citizens and residents of the state are concerned that nothing was being done to assuage the fear that has gripped residents for two months.
“We are concerned because it appears no action has been taken. We are demanding that action taken, that the killers should be found and that the killings must stop. We are demanding that people must be held liable when our daughters die in their premises. We are insisting that action must be taken.”
Ken Henshaw, Executive Director of Centre for Social Studies and Development, observed that the state has witnessed disturbing cases of killings perpetuated by state and non-state actors since the beginning of the year.
Even more disturbing, he added, is the fact that virtually all the time, the perpetrator(s) of the heinous crimes go unidentified and as such, do not face the consequences of their actions, as prescribe by law.
Sadly, these atrocious killings, including the serial killing of women, continue on a regular basis and are further reinforced by the seeming unwillingness or incapacity of law enforcement in the state.
“We noticed, sadly, that after similar cases have been reported more than seven times in the state within a period of three months, no adequate steps have been taken to identify, track, apprehend and prosecute perpetuators.
“Instead, citizens are occasionally assured that the cases are under investigation, while the lives of young women continue to ebb in the hands of vicious serial killers,” he lamented.
Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG), Dr. Tammy Danagogo, assured that the State Security Council was working assiduously to finding lasting solution to the menace.
He explained that Governor Nyesom Wike had put in place, measures to secure the lives of young women who have been the latest targets of serial killers, while government, through relevant agencies, was embarking on mass sensitisation of the people on the need to be security conscious.
“Let us begin to educate ourselves. Let’s begin to re-orientate our daughters and our children generally on the need for vigilance now more than before. Everybody needs to be vigilant, because it is clear that either there is a serial killer or a ritual killing gang on the prowl.
“There is no way anybody can run away from that reality. Knowing that this is what is happening. All of us need to be vigilant,” he said.
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