NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A man awaiting extradition on a Massachusetts warrant alleging he killed his girlfriend and left her body in a car at a Boston airport escaped from police custody in Kenya, police said Thursday.

Kevin Adam Kinyanjui Kangethe slipped out of the police station and jumped into one of the privately owned minivans that are the main transportation source in Kenya, Nairobi police chief Adamson Bungei said. A fresh search for him began immediately.

The police chief said he rushed to the station when he learned of the escape. “We have arrested the officers who were on duty when he escaped to explain how it happened. It is just embarrassing to us,” he said.

Kangethe, 40, had been detained pending a ruling on whether he should be extradited to face a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Margaret Mbitu on Oct. 31, 2023.

Massachusetts State Police said in early November that Kangethe had left her body in a car at Logan International Airport and boarded a flight to Kenya. Massachusetts officials said they were working with Kenyan authorities to locate him, and he was arrested in a nightclub on Jan. 30 after being on the run for three months.

A police official told the Associated Press that Kangethe told them he had renounced his U.S. citizenship. The police official, who insisted on anonymity in order speak freely about an ongoing investigation, said had Kangethe been an American citizen, he would have been repatriated without a court process.

The court approved a police application for him to be detained for 30 days while the extradition issue was heard.

On Feb. 2, prosecutor Vincent Monda asked the court to endorse the U.S. warrant for Kangethe’s arrest and issue directions for the extradition proceedings.

The suspect’s lawyer sought directions on surrendering Kangethe to the U.S. and opposed his continuing detention as disregarding his rights.

Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina was to give further directions on the matter and issue orders related to the bond issue on Monday, February 9.

Mbitu, a health care aide in Halifax, was last seen leaving work Oct. 30 and reported missing by her family. The preliminary investigation showed Mbitu had left her workplace and travelled with Kangethe to Lowell, where he lived, the prosecution said.

Police have been ranked as Kenya’s most corrupt institution for decades, and his escape raised suspicions that bribes were paid for his freedom. Other suspected killers have escaped police custody in the past.

On Oct. 14, 2021, Masten Wanjala, who had confessed to killing 10 children in his hometown of Bungoma in western Kenya, reportedly escaped from police cells in Nairobi under unclear circumstances. A mob in his hometown traced him to a house and beat him to death a couple of days later.

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