The death of former president Daniel Arap Moi’s first born son Jonathan Moi has brought the mysterious death of Julie Ward back into focus. This is because at one point, Jonathan Moi was accused of raping and brutally murdering the young tourist at the Maasai Mara by her father John Ward.
Well, the Julie Ward murder case shook Kenya in the late 1980s. A trial with twists and turns has kept the nation guessing on who could have been involved in the gruesome murder.
Now, over 30 years after the horrific killing of the wildlife photographer at the Masaai Mara, her unrelenting father is still on a quest for justice as he seeks to find out who killed his daughter and why?
Julie had traveled to Kenya on February 7, 1988 for a seven-month wildlife photography excursion. A week before her return home, she took one last trip to the Maasai Mara for the wildebeest migration but went missing on September 6, 1988.
Sensing that something was wrong, Julie’s father John Ward, now 85, took a plane and went searching for her in the Mara.
He recounts how they found remains of her body: the jaw and the lower left leg, that had been burnt, deep in the bushes of Maasai Mara.
That part of her body proved invaluable proof of Julie’s murder as it was taken through three forensics and all the pathologists agreed that she died as result of foul play.
The leg had also been chopped off by a blow from a panga or something sharp. From the crime scene, detectives could tell that the suspects were very sloppy but since then, no one has been convicted.
Julie’s father explained that there were immediate attempts to try concealing the murder and make it look like something else.
The postmortem report was destroyed by a senior government Pathologist with orders from up high in the then Kenyan government.
”Our government sensing that Moi didn’t want this to be a murder decided to help him in the cover up,” he added.
John Ward later persuaded the Scotland Yard Investigators to pursue the case and in 1990, two park rangers were tried for the murder of Julie Ward. The two were acquitted in 1992.
The files of the case were revisited in 1997 and the head-warden Simon Makala was charged with murder, he too was acquitted in 1999.
5 years later , Kiratu Murungi the then Minister of Justice admitted that there was a grand cover up that derailed justice for the Ward family and vowed to reopen the case.
This shone a glimmer of hope for The Ward family as Mawi Kibaki’s government was investigating Ouko’s case which was similar to Julie’s in many ways.
In the same year, a former Kenya Intelligence Service officer in an anonymous interview claimed that he had witnessed the murder of Julie Ward. He claimed that Julie had been gang-raped and brutally killed by three men but the case still didn’t move forward.
Up until now, the John Ward family is yet to get justice over the gruesome murder of their daughter. Despite prominent mentioning of key names such as Jonathan’s, no detailed investigations into the murder, and, or prosecutions have been undertaken in serious pursuit of justice.