Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still a Mystery: Secrets in the DNA’ features the mysterious deaths of Jane Kuria and her two teenage daughters — Isabella and Annabel — in late July 2007. The trio was found brutally slaughtered inside their Powder Springs, Georgia, apartment, while her then-minor son, Jeremy Kuria, was found unconscious. Even 16 years after the heinous crime, the authorities and the family members have questions that remain unanswered. If you’re interested in discovering more about the case, here’s what we know.
How Did Jane, Isabella, and Annabel Kuria Die?
Originally from Kenya, Jane Kuria relocated to Georgia with her three children in 2001 following the death of her husband the year before. Reports claimed she and her family moved to the Powder Springs suburb near Atlanta in 2002. By 2007, the 42-year-old mother worked at a local hospital and nursing home while Isabella, 19, was a college student and Annabel, 16, and Jeremy, then 7, were school students. Jane’s sister-in-law, Lucy Ngugi, recalled, “Jane was unique. She was very bubbly and the life of the party.”
The energetic Jane always had a big, generous smile as the single mother drudged on to give her children better lives in an alien country. Lucy recollected how the two daughters spoiled their baby brother, Jeremy, and took care of all his needs. Jeremy stated how her loving mother was extremely hard-working, while Jane’s nephew, Mark Kimata, reminisced, “Isabella was a calm, cool, and collected individual. Annabel was my age and gave me a quick orientation of the US since she came to this country earlier than I did.”
On July 29, 2007, the Kurias’ cousin, Peter Thande, then 10, visited his relatives in Georgia with his mother, Pauline Thande, from Kenya. She dropped Peter off at the Kurias’ residence so he could play and spend time with his cousins. Peter and Jeremy played outside the whole day before sleeping early since they were tired. However, Pauline was unable to reach Jane on July 30 despite repeatedly calling her. When no one picked up her calls at the Kuria residence on July 31, she and Jane’s niece, Diana Maina, drove together to the house.
While Pauline found the front door locked, Diana went to the back and noticed a sliding door slightly ajar. Upon entering, she discovered the house pitch dark and massive amounts of blood on the floor. Police sources said the bodies of Jane, Isabella, and Annabel were in the kitchen, the front door entrance, and her bedroom, respectively. Their autopsy reports stated all three died from multiple injuries to their heads. Retired Cobb County Cold Case Unit Detective John Dawes described the crime scene as “one of the most vicious” he had ever seen.
Who Killed Jane, Isabella, and Annabel Kuria?
While three female members were dead, the police found Jeremy lying unconscious in his bed and Peter senseless next to a couch in the living room. Both the boys had serious head injuries but eventually survived the ordeal. The investigators worked to secure and catalog the crime scene at the Kuria residence. The officers found no signs of forced entry, and the blood spatter on the kitchen floor indicated Jane had put up a struggle with the killer(s). They also surmised the younger sister, Annabel, was attacked when she stepped out of her bedroom.
Isabella’s body position showed she had been on the landing at the top of the stairs when she was assaulted. From the evidence, Detective Dawes hypothesized Jane was the primary target. According to the show, the minor boys were asleep when attacked, and their soft pillow or mattress took in some of the blows and helped them to survive the brutal assaults. Based on the physical injuries, the detective further stated the murder weapon was 12-15 inches long, had a small diameter, and at least one end of it was forked.
The police went through 60 days of Jane’s phone records and found she spoke daily with a friend at church named Patrick. Mark Kimata recalled seeing Patrick hanging about all day but did not think much of it since he was married. While they repeatedly called each other multiple times a day for two months, the officers were alarmed when they discovered Patrick had not called Jane since 10:00 pm on July 30. But Patrick failed to provide “satisfactory answers” to the detectives and was identified as a person of interest.
However, Patrick offered a theory about what might have happened and asked the police to scrutinize the Mungiki gang. Often referred to as the Kenyan mafia, Patrick told the officers Jane had allegedly revealed that the mob had murdered her husband. The investigators obtained the late husband’s death certificate and interviewed family members to learn he died naturally of pneumonia. They believed Patrick tried to send them on a wild goose chase to distract their focus on him.
Peter regained consciousness a week after the attacks while Jeremy lay in a coma for several weeks more at the Atlanta Children’s Hospital. However, neither of the boys had any memory of the murderers or any details of the incident. While the deceased mother and daughters were buried in Kenya, another member of the Kenyan diaspora, Elizabeth, stepped up and snatched Jeremy’s custody from his paternal relatives. Elizabeth allegedly earned Jane’s mother’s confidence, and the paternal relatives lamented losing Jeremy.
The relatives alleged Elizabeth isolated Jeremy from them and sold her house, car, and all other belongings. The police found no link between Patrick and Elizabeth, barring them belonging to the same church. However, they discovered he had borrowed $5,000 from Jane, though he claimed she never pressured him to return the loan. A local news report cited that Jane and her daughters had applied for asylum because of their opposition to female genital mutilation in Kenya.
Her immigration lawyer claimed Jane had told them their lives were in danger if they returned to their native country. The asylum was denied, and she wanted to appeal when she and her two daughters were murdered. Detective Dawes claimed they had found bloody towels around two miles from the crime scene and were looking at advanced forensic technologies to find some DNA evidence that would help them solve the crime. Some 2018 reports claimed Peter had faint recollections of a man wearing an African shirt at the house that day, though nothing panned out, and the case remains unsolved even after 17 years.
Read More: Jeremy Kuria: Where is the Survivor Now?