Husband of murdered Kenyan Olympic sprinter is arrested

Husband of Kenyan Olympic sprinter who was stabbed to death is arrested 500 miles away after police tracked his mobile phone

  • Agnes Tirop, 25, found stabbed to death at house in Iten, Kenya, on Wednesday 
  • Police subsequently named husband Emmanuel Rotich as the prime suspect
  • He was arrested late Thursday in Mombasa, 500 miles from the home he shared with Tirop, after police tracked his cellphone  
  • He is due in court today where police will ask for time to build a case against him 

The husband of a Kenyan Olympic sprinter found stabbed to death in her home is due in court today after he was arrested over the killing.

Emmanuel Rotich has not yet been charged with killing 25-year-old wife Agnes Tirop, who was found dead at home on Wednesday, and police are expected to ask the court to detain him while they ‘firm up the case against him’.

It comes after Rotich, who had previously been named as the prime suspect in the case, was detained late last night in Mombasa, more than 500 miles from the home he shared with Tirop.

Police cornered Rotich using mobile phone data, tracking an old SIM card he had inserted into his new phone after spending days offline.  

Emmanuel Rotich (right), the husband of Kenyan runner Agnes Tirop (left), has been arrested three days after his wife was found stabbed to death at their home

Police say Rotich was cornered in Mombasa, 500 miles from his home town, after inserting an old SIM card into a new phone which they were able to track 

Tirop was one of Kenya’s most-promising athletes before being found dead from stab wounds to her abdomen in the bedroom of her home on Wednesday.  

In the Tokyo Olympics this summer, Tirop advanced to the final of the women’s 5,000m where she finished in fourth place.

Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan won the gold medal, with Hellen Obiri from Kenya coming in second place and Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay crossing the line in third place in a time of 14:38.87 – less than a second off Tirop. 

The star athlete also won bronze medals at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships in the 10,000m, and won gold the 2015 World Cross Country Championships when she was just 19-years-old.

Just a month ago, she smashed the women’s 10,000 metres world record at an event in Germany. 

Athletics Kenya said it was postponing events for two weeks in honour of Tirop and another runner who was found dead at the weekend of an apparent suicide.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said Tirop’s death was a ‘huge blow’ to athletics, describing her as ‘one of the fastest rising stars’. 

Her family told reporters she was their breadwinner, paying for children’s school fees and clothes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to Tirop, who would have turned 26 later this month, saying she had ‘brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage’. 

Kenyan Olympic athlete Agnes Tirop, 25, was found dead with stab wounds to her abdomen at her house in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County on Wednesday (pictured in 2019)

A crime scene remains in place at Tirop’s house as police investigate the circumstances surrounding her death

Her tragic death was confirmed by Barnaba Korir, the chairperson of Athletics Kenya in Nairobi Region. 

In a heartfelt statement on social media, he wrote: ‘Athletics Kenya are this afternoon distraught to learn about the untimely death of World 10,000m bronze medalist Agnes Tirop.

‘Tirop was found dead at their home in Iten after she was allegedly stabbed by her husband. We are still working to unearth more details surrounding her demise.

‘Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track.

‘Just last month, she broke the women-only record in the women’s 10km at Road to Records Race in Germany, timing 30:01.

‘Last week, she finished an impressive second, timing 30:20 at the Valencia Half Marathon.

‘Tirop’s decorated CV also includes a World Cross Country title in 2015 during which she made history as the second youngest medalist at that level.

‘She also won the Africa Cross Country Championship in 2014 in Kampala, Uganda as well as the World Junior Cross Country Championship in 2013 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

‘We pray that God may grant strength to family and friends at this difficult time.’   

Her tragic death was confirmed by Barnaba Korir, the chairperson of Athletics Kenya in Nairobi Region, in a heartfelt statement on social media

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also paid tribute to the young athlete, who would have turned 26 later this month, and urged the police to track down those behind her death.

‘It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we’ve lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, she had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage,’ he said in a statement.

‘It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people,’ he said.

The US embassy in Nairobi also expressed its condolences, describing Tirop as ‘a figure of hope for women in sports’.

On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country’s record-breaking world cross country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide.

Macharinyang, 35, had competed for Kenya in both cross country and 5,000m and 10,000m races.

He won three consecutive titles for Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.

Kenya is the most successful nation in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles. 

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