How online love ended in agony for a Kenyan woman in the US

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When Ms. Irene Gakwa arrived in the United States in 2019, her mission was clear: to study.

She disappeared in February and her husband, identified as Mr Nathan Hightman, 38, has been arrested in connection with her disappearance.

Mr. Hightman was arrested on May 10 by Gillette police officers.

Police said in a statement that Mr Hightman was not cooperating with investigators.

“Hightman declined an interview request from the Gillette Police Department. Information obtained through the investigation suggests that she disappeared under suspicious circumstances. She was last seen in a video call made to his parents on February 24,” police said.

Police also said she was driven in a gray or silver Subaru Crosstrek with Idaho license plates.

They asked members of the public to let them know if they see the vehicle, which “trespasses on private property or appears to be out of place since February 24.”

“The Gillette Police Department is also requesting information regarding the possibility of a 55 gallon metal drum, which may have been burned and/or abandoned in the county.”

the Nation established through family and police inquiries in the United States that Ms. Gakwa’s relationship with Mr. Hightman had deteriorated and that she had told her family members in the United States about it.

Ms Gakwa and Mr Hightman reportedly met on an online dating platform and agreed to live together. They then moved from the state of Idaho to Gillette, Wyoming.

Mr Hightman allegedly used his credit cards and other information belonging to Ms Gakwa after her family reported her missing.

Addressing the Nationhis brother, Mr Chris Gakwa, said the family believed something horrible might have happened to him.

“We have reason to believe that something terrible may have happened as she instantly fell silent after speaking to her Kenyan-based parents on February 24,” Mr Gakwa said.

He said they had received disturbing messages from his phone, which they passed on to the police.

Court documents seen by the Nation reveal that Mr Hightman was questioned by police about his involvement in Ms Gakwa’s disappearance.

He said he hadn’t interacted with her since she said goodbye to him before boarding an SUV.

Detectives asked him why he was in possession of his personal information, including using his email, phone and money from his bank accounts, but they were not on good terms.

Detectives say Mr Hightman spent Ms Gakwa’s money to buy various items from a local supermarket and also to pay bills at home.

He initially denied being in possession of bank details and having used his money to carry out transactions.

“The suspect was captured carrying the belongings from the supermarket after paying the money using his bank details,” police told the court.

In an interview with the Nation, Mr. Francis Gakwa, Mrs. Gakwa’s father, urged the police to speed up their investigations.

He said the details made public showed Mr Hightman knew something about her disappearance.

“If he had closed his social media accounts, he would have used my daughter’s bank details. What else are we looking for? said Mr Gakwa, who lives in Nkoroi, Kajiado County.

The family opened a Facebook page, Find Irene Gakwa, and the public was invited to share any information that would help the family find their relative.

*Written by Nyaboga Kiage


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