Did Monica Njeri’s Killer Kill Three More Women?


When US marine was fined Sh500 for brutal murder

ILLUSTRATION | J NYAGAH Monica, who was killed by US marine Frank Sundstrom in 1980, aged 29.

ILLUSTRATION | J NYAGAH Monica, who was killed by US marine Frank Sundstrom in 1980, aged 29. NATION MEDIA GROUPADVERTISEMENT


The murder of Monica Njeri by a US marine in Mombasa in 1980 reminded the country of selective justice that had bedevilled Kenya from the colonial times. That a foreign national could murder a Kenyan, plead guilty and get away with a slap on the wrist courtesy of the colour of his skin, caused outrage.

Frank Sundstrom pleaded guilty of intentionally killing Njeri , a 29-year old Mombasa prostitute, but walked to his freedom with a Sh500 fine and a two-year good behaviour bond.

The 19-year old apprentice on the USS La Salle later fled the country and re-joined the navy, but the September 1980 judgement caused outrage among Kenyans who started calling for judicial reforms.

The court heard that Sundstrom and Njeri met in Mombasa and after a couple of drinks, they had sex.

Later, the American took money from her purse. A quarrel ensued during which Sundstrom smashed a beer bottle on her head and jabbed her with a broken bottle. 

Most legal commentators argue that Sundstrom could have received the death sentence under the robbery with violence law.

Then Attorney-General, James Karugu, said in Parliament that he was not satisfied with the verdict.

The American was tried by a white British judge, the 74-year old LG Harris, while the prosecutor was Nicholas Harwood, another Briton, who appeared to have assumed the role of defence counsel. 

Twenty-nine years later in 2009, Tom Cholmondeley, the scion of the famed Lord Delamare, was handed an eight-month sentence after shooting to death stonemason Robert Njoya at his Soysambu farm in Nakuru.

To be continued

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