Kenyans in Minnesota held a vigil in the city of Vadnais Heights, Minnesota on Wednesday October 20 to mourn the death of Bilha Omare, 32, and her two children 12-year-old Kinley Ogendi and 9-year-old Ivyn Ogendi.
The three were allegedly killed by Bilha’s husband, Justus Kebabe, 43.
The community was led by local Kenyan pastors in praying and remembering the three that were slain in a moving vigil held outside the apartment building the three were killed.
The alleged killer, Justus Kebabe, appeared in court on Friday, October 29 pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree intentional murder for the deaths of wife and two of their three children.
In a chilling confession that has shocked the community, Kebabe, admitted in court that he hit his wife, Bilha Omare, with a golf club, then strangled her with electrical wire in their apartment. He then gave son Kinley and daughter Ivyn cranberry juice laced with Tylenol PM pills. He then killed Kinley by holding his head in water in the bath tub. He then suffocated Ivyn using a pillow before strangling her to death.
Their bodies were discovered on October 14 after Mr. Kebabe’s brother, Evans Kebabe, called 911 expressing concern about his brother’s behavior.
Mr. Kebabe was arrested on interstate 35 fleeing with his 3-year old daughter who was unharmed.
The killings have sparked intense discussion within the Kenyan community in the U.S. about domestic violence after reports emerged that the couple had a history of domestic violence well before coming to the United States and that it continued even after they settled here.
Kebabe came to the U.S. in 1996 and Bilha followed in 2003. He came off probation earlier this year following a December 2008 domestic violence conviction where he had pleaded to charge of disorderly conduct and put on one year probation.
Bilha had reported to a Sheriff’s deputy that Kebabe had abused her repeatedly and at one time had knocked her unconscious in Kenya.
In the latest incident that resulted in the killings, Kebabe told investigators that he was angry because he suspected his wife was cheating on him.
After his arrest, Justus Kebabe was put on suicide watch while in custody. Local press reports said that while in custody he reportedly tried to kill himself by stuffing toilet paper in his airway and was discovered before losing consciousness.
Justus Kebabe will be sentenced on January 14 by District Judge Elena Ostby.