NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan authorities began an investigation Tuesday into Samuel Wanjiru’s death in a balcony fall, while the Olympic marathon champion’s mother accused his wife of killing him to gain control of his property.
Officials said the 24-year-old Kenyan runner died from a fall off his bedroom balcony after he was allegedly found by his wife with another woman.
Ann Wanjiru alleged her son was killed in the bedroom and his body dumped from the balcony to the ground to cover up the cause of death. She accused Wanjiru’s wife, Triza Njeri, of killing her son and denied claims that Wanjiru was found with another woman in his home.
“Njeri killed my son. Why didn’t she come to my home, which is a five-minute walk from her home, to report that Wanjiru had fallen?” Ann Wanjiru asked.
“I am sickly, but even if I fall from that height I will not die. I will only get a dislocation,” she said.
She said Njeri wanted control of Wanjiru’s property.
National deputy police spokesman Charles Owino said the inquest will explore whether Wanjiru deliberately jumped, was pushed or intended to commit suicide. Owino said officials will close the case if the police find overwhelming evidence that Wanjiru’s death was caused by his own actions.
“If we find that somebody was involved in committing the offense is when the matter goes to court before a magistrate and the magistrate reviews the case and makes recommendations that we arrest the person,” Owino said.
Following Wanjiru’s death late Sunday, police officials gave differing accounts. Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said “initial reports indicate that Wanjiru committed suicide.”
But police in Wanjiru’s hometown of Nyahururu said the runner jumped from his balcony after his wife locked the bedroom door and ran away after he found him with another woman. Jasper Ombati, the police chief in Nyahururu, said he believes Wanjiru may have jumped from the balcony to stop his wife from running out of the compound.
Wanjiru had a history of domestic problems. Last December, he was charged with wounding his security guard with a rifle and threatening to kill his wife and maid. The runner denied all charges and was released on bail. On Valentine’s Day, the couple announced they were working out their differences and Wanjiru’s wife dropped the charges.
On Monday, two other women claimed they were also married to Wanjiru. Polygamy is common practice for many Kenyan tribes.
In 2008, Wanjiru’s victory at the Beijing Games was Kenya’s first Olympic gold medal in the marathon.