Skip to main content

The Murder of Father John Kaiser

Knowing he was state's enemy, and thus his life in danger, Father John Kaiser penned a letter to his family and friends. The letter read: “I want all to know that if I disappear from the scene, because the bush is vast and hyenas many that I am not planning any accident, nor, God forbid, any self-destruction.”

He reiterated the same warning of his life being in danger in his book, 'If I Die.'

On August 24, 2000, Fr. Kaiser's body was found lying dead below two acacia trees at Morendant - located at the junction of Nakuru-Naivasha road. On what would have been the back of his head was a big gaping hole from a shotgun bullet.

His body was found at six in the morning by a butcher. The first police officers who arrived at the scene thought Fr. Kaiser was murdered. Were their observation far-fetched from the investigative conclusion derived by FBI that Fr. Kaiser had committed suicide?

unsolved-murder-of-john-kaiser
unsolved-murder-of-john-kaiser

1Carolita Mahoney, Kaiser’s sister, was presented with the final report in relation to his brother's death following FBI's investigation into Fr. Kaiser's death. The report was tiled, 'The Final Report into the Death of Father John Kaiser.'

During their investigation, the FBI relied heavily on statements made by Kaiser's family members, friends and colleagues.

According to the report, Fr. Kaiser exhibited several strange behaviours. This implies his mental state was questionable. For instance, crying during mass, sleeping with a shotgun by his side, and uttering names of senior officials in Moi's government while asleep.

Despite FBI's conclusive statement Fr. Kaiser committed suicide elicited by his unstable mental state, Mahoney disagreed with the verdict of the report. According to her, her brother was murdered.

Father Kaiser's Enmity with Moi's Government

Fr. Kaiser received numerous threats, and had come close to death on several occasions during his over 35 years missionary work in Kenya. He had been beaten and tortured, and at one point dumped in a bush to die from the heavy beatings he received.

He was known as a fearless man. A man who wouldn't be swayed by threats, beatings, and tortures, to remain silent on evils committed by Moi's government.

Fr. Kaiser believed President Moi was the one who staged tribal war between the Maasai and Kikuyu. The two tribes were living peacefully following Maasai's acceptance for Kikuyu people to live on their land. However, knowing Kikuyu people wouldn't vote for him in the coming General Election (1992), and wanting to grab the land that was given to Kikuyu people, he sent hooligans to attack Kikuyu people. Fr. Kaiser believed Moi hired mobsters to attack Kikuyu people so that it would appear to Kikuyu people, and the nation, the Maasai are the ones who attacked them. Their reason: to drive the Kikuyu people away from their land.

Following the 1992 General Election, more than 30,000 Kikuyu people had lost their homes on the Maasai land, and were living as squatters at Maela's camp in deplorable conditions.

Scroll to Continue

Fr. Kaiser would load up his van with food such as soybeans and maize since the ratio provided by U.N. wasn't sufficient. For his generous act he found himself in trouble.

Despite Kaiser's appeal to U.N. to improve the condition of the squatters at Maela’s Camp, nothing was done. He decided to take the matter in front of the cameras. This was the beginning of his trouble with the Moi's government.

The international community was made aware of the deplorable living condition of the

squatters. This led to the Kenyan government losing foreign assistance. As a result, Moi closed the camp. On December 24, 1993, soldiers arrived at the camp in trucks. The squatters were hauled in the trucks and dispersed in open lands and in empty stadiums.

Fr. Kaiser refused to leave. He offered children and mothers a place to stay in his church. He stood at the door to prevent the soldiers from entering and taking the rest of the squatters. For his trouble, he was beaten and left to die in a bush. He survived.

During the 1998 Akiwumi Commission investigating the cause of the violence - between Maasai and Kikuyu - and closure of the Maela Camp, Kaiser blamed the ministers in Moi's government, including the president. However, his statement was nullified.

How Fr. Kaiser Was Murdered

An inquest on the murder of Fr. Kaiser commenced in 2003. During the quest, which lasted until 2007, more than 100 witnesses testified. The FBI were summoned, three times, by Magistrate Maureen Odera but they never appeared in the court.

An inquest on the murder of Fr. Kaiser concluded he was murdered somewhere else, and his body dumped at the location it was found by butcher. In her ruling, the magistrate was unwavering Fr. Kaiser was killed somewhere else and his body dumped at the location that was found by a butcher.

What led to the FBI concluding Fr. Kaiser committee suicide which doesn't align with the inquest that concluded Fr. Kaiser was murdered?

Three FBI agents arrived in Kenya a month after Fr. Kaiser was murdered. During their investigation they interviewed several people including the coroner who did an autopsy, and the police who arrived at the scene.

They also sought the opinion of a gunshot expert situated in Texas, USA, to shed light what might have ensued leading to the death of Fr. Kaiser. The expert provided his thoughts from analyzing the photographs handed to him.

Two pathologists conducted autopsy on Kaiser’s body. One was signed up by the human rights group and the other one by the church. According to the pathologists the bullet entered the back of his head through the right ear at a distance of which he couldn’t be able to do so through suicide.

According to an article by Daily Nation Newspaper, something was fishy. It's stated, “A lawyer, Mbuthi Gathenji, was enlisted by the family and the catholic Church. As Mr. Gathenji saw it, something crucial was missing from the scene where Fr. Kaiser’s body was discovered: the pellets and wadding that his shotgun would have discharged when he was killed.” It is further noted the above two were not found in the cadaver of his skull. They were not found in the surrounding area including nearby shrubs.

© 2017 Alianess Benny Njuguna

Related Articles