Balconies of Death: Rise in tragic falls of women and unresolved murders

A crime scene

Balconies, historically and culturally significant, offer modern users private outdoor spaces, enhancing the architectural landscape. Yet, these spaces have become death traps, with an alarming rise in women falling to their deaths, either by suicide or foul play.

Mysterious deaths and suspected murders involving young women falling off balconies have become a worrying trend, with cases being reported almost every month. These tragic stories, where love turns fatal, have left many families crying for justice for their daughters and mothers whose lives were abruptly ended after plunging from balconies.

While some cases remain unresolved, the police, who have spoken to The Nairobian several times, suspect a mix of suicides and murders fueled by relationship disputes.

One such case involves Vince Juma, a 22-year-old woman who fell from the second floor of a building in Lolwe Estate in Kisumu. Her death, suspected to be the result of a love triangle, adds to the growing list of controversial deaths. As detectives probe Juma’s death, questions arise about how a failed relationship and deceit could have led to her untimely demise.

Two suspects, Cecil Wilson Omondi and Ashley Jemima Atieno, have been arraigned in connection with Juma’s death. Arrested on May 28, 2024, the suspects are believed to be involved in her murder. Investigating officer Naboth Otieno Ondoro from DCI Kondele Police Station filed a miscellaneous criminal application leading to their detention.

“If the accused are detained at Kondele Police Station, they will assist us in establishing the cause of death of Vince Juma. The lives of the accused are also at risk, and if released immediately, they could be harmed by the public,” stated Ondoro.

The suspects, currently detained for 14 days, are believed to pose a flight risk. Witnesses claim Juma stormed the apartment and engaged in a heated argument with the suspects, an argument which turned physical. It remains unclear whether Juma jumped over the balcony or was pushed. The police are investigating the circumstances leading to her fall.

Kisumu Central Sub-County Police Commandant Peter Mulai said the incident was likely a relationship dispute. Moments after Juma fell, a suspect hired a taxi to take her to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

“It seems she died on the spot,” Mulai told The Nairobian, noting a pool of blood at the scene.

Marcus Ouko, a neighbour and friend of Juma, gave an insight into the couple’s turbulent relationship. “Vince has always been a party girl since I met her. She loved a good time and was always experimenting and exploring all types of weird things,” Ouko said.

He added, “The relationship between Vince and Cecil was toxic; they always fought and exchanged nasty words, sometimes in public.”

Ouko also mentioned that Juma’s experimental lifestyle, including dating same-sex partners, often created rifts in her relationship with Omondi. The couple had supposedly broken up, but Juma was in denial about the breakup and was unsettled by Omondi moving on with his new girlfriend.

On the day of her death, Juma had returned to the apartment block after a neighbour let her in. Neighbours reported hearing screams as Juma confronted Omondi and his new girlfriend, leading to a physical altercation that ended with her falling off the balcony.

This tragic incident is not isolated. In March, a university student named Edah in Thika, Kiambu County, fell to her death while attempting to access her locked apartment through a neighbouring balcony. Eyewitnesses recounted that Edah slipped and fell while trying to retrieve her keys. Friends and classmates expressed their grief and raised questions about the circumstances leading to her death.

In April, two women died after falling from balconies in mysterious circumstances. Since the beginning of the year, over five cases of women falling to their deaths have been reported.

In a March incident, a 19-year-old woman died after falling from a 10th-floor apartment in Kasarani, following an argument with her partner, who was found with stab wounds. CCTV footage showed the couple entering the building holding hands shortly before the fall.

Last year, 26-year-old Cynthia Mboya survived a fall after she was allegedly pushed by her boyfriend and his friend during a dispute in Kasarani. Despite her survival, she sustained severe injuries and filed a police report, leading to the arrest of the two men involved.

These incidents highlight a disturbing pattern. Last year, a man received a five-year sentence for pushing his girlfriend off a 12th-floor building in Nairobi’s CBD after she rejected his sexual advances. The two met on Facebook and decided to go out on a date. The date kicked off well, but hell broke loose when the woman reportedly rejected the man’s sexual advances.

In yet another case, Nelvin Museti’s death in Lang’ata, where she allegedly fell from a balcony, remains unresolved. A post-mortem report indicated blunt force trauma, leading to the arrest of a police officer in connection with her death.

The recurring theme of relationship disputes turning fatal necessitates a deeper examination of the social and legal measures to protect vulnerable individuals and ensure justice for the victims.

Kisumu Central Sub-County Police Commandant Peter Mulai emphasized the importance of addressing these tragic incidents. “The safety and security of women in relationships, especially in the context of domestic disputes, are paramount. We need to implement stricter measures and provide more support to prevent such tragedies,” he said.

As the number of such tragic incidents grows, the call for justice grows louder. Many families, like Vince Juma’s, are left in anguish, demanding answers and seeking closure. The police continue to investigate these cases, but the public’s frustration and outcry for action are evident.

In January, a 28-year-old woman died after reportedly jumping from the balcony of her third-floor apartment in Nairobi’s Lang’ata area. The caretaker of Ascort Apartments informed the police that the woman, who lived alone, leaped from the balcony just before 6 a.m., drawing the attention of neighbours with the sound of her fall.

Police discovered her body at the back of the apartment block and have classified the incident as a suspected suicide. “The scene has been processed by crime scene personnel, and the body, which had no physical injury but blood oozing from the nose, has been moved to the city mortuary awaiting postmortem,” read a report from Lang’ata Police Station.

A senior detective accused of throwing his girlfriend off the balcony of his fourth-floor apartment in Ngumba Estate in mid-2021 denied the claims. Kevin Amwayi, a DCI officer, denied allegations that he pushed his girlfriend, Jackline Muthoni, off the balcony, resulting in her death.


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