Police in the US state of Wyoming believe the boyfriend of a missing Kenyan-born woman may have been involved in her disappearance.
24-year-old Irene Gakwa was reported missing on March 20th this year and the last time she was seen was on February 24th when she had a video call with her parents, who live in Kenya.
Cowboy State Daily reports that Gakwa was in a nursing school and had moved to the city of Gillette, Wyoming with her boyfriend in July last year.
Gakwa’s boyfriend, who police say is not cooperating with the investigation, is now considered a “person of interest” in her disappearance. Investigators declined to reveal the identity of the boyfriend.
Officials from the Gillette Police Department say that digital evidence, including location data, has provided promising leads, one of which indicates that Gakwa may have been ferried to a rural area, mine site or oil or gas location in a passenger vehicle or crossover SUV between February 24th and March 20th.
Gakwa’s elder brother Kennedy Wainaina, who works as a pharmacist in Boise, Idaho, filed a missing person report after his sister stopped communicating with her family regularly. He told Cowboy State Daily that his sister would video chat with his parents in Nairobi almost every day.
Wainaina and his younger brother Chris moved to the US in their late teens to attend college but their sister remained and studied in Kenya where she also worked in the tourism industry. She moved to the US in her late 20s to join up with her brothers and broaden her experiences.
The brother says Gakwa studied and worked in Idaho before meeting her boyfriend on an online dating website. The two lived together in Idaho for about one and one-half years before the boyfriend suggested they move to Gillette and she agreed.
“We were all shocked. She was going to school and doing very well. We are a close family and have always kept an eye on each other,” Wainaina said of his sister’s decision to move to Wyoming.
Wainaina, who described the boyfriend as “controlling”, says his sister was struggling to settle in Gillette due to its small size, colder weather and the fact that she missed her family.
On March 3rd, the family received strange messages from Gakwa’s phone which announced her intention to relocate to Texas as she was unhappy with her life in Gillette. Her family said the texts were not in Kenyan language.
They also reported that her WhatsApp account was deleted on March 8th, ending group conversations with her family. A timeline provided by the family showed the last activity on her phone was on March 4th.
“I sit at home wondering if I’m doing all I can. I wake up at 3 am in the morning worrying and thinking of my sister,” Wainaina said.
Gakwa is described as a Black woman who is 5-feet, 1inch tall and weighing about 100 pounds. Anyone with information is requested to contact Gillette Police Department at (307) 682-5155.