Diaspora: Kenyan Suspected Of Murdering A White Grandma
Bail was set at $1 million Saturday for a 24-year-old nursing assistant who is being held on suspicion of strangling a 75-year-old woman after she left a Federal Way nursing home last month.
Joseph Njonge, of Kent, who has no criminal history, worked for nearly a year as a certified nursing assistant at Garden Terrace Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence, where Jane Britt’s body was found in the trunk of her car March 19. She was last seen alive the evening before, when she left the nursing home after visiting her 77-year-old husband, who lives there.
Njonge was arrested Thursday after the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory said that it had matched his DNA to that found under Britt’s fingernails, according to court documents released Saturday.
He was booked in King County Jail for investigation of first-degree murder and robbery.
In the documents, Federal Way police said that Njonge denied killing Britt or having any contact with her that could have resulted in his DNA being under her fingernails.
Njonge is scheduled to return to King County Superior Court by Tuesday, said Pro tem Judge Karli Jorgensen, who set bail.
About 20 members of the suspect’s friends and family appeared at the bail hearing. A woman who identified herself to the court as his sister declined to be interviewed.
Two relatives of the victim also were in court but wouldn’t comment, citing a statement they released Friday. That statement read, in part: “We were shocked by the sudden and senseless crime that took the life of our beloved mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother.”
According to court documents released Saturday, Federal Way police said the only DNA found under Britt’s nails belonged to her and Njonge. Investigators had collected DNA samples from several people who worked at the nursing home.
Police also said they found Britt’s husband’s Costco card in Njonge’s wallet.
When Britt’s body was found in her car trunk, she was fully clothed but her shoes were missing and her pockets were turned inside out, court documents said.
According to police, Britt’s family said she usually did not carry a purse but kept money and identification in her pockets.
Britt’s family began looking for her March 19 when she did not pick up her grandson that morning, police said.
Britt’s son discovered that a phone message he had left for her at 7:30 p.m. the evening before had never been played because the message light was still flashing, court documents said.
The family found her Mercedes-Benz parked at the nursing home, but they didn’t have a key. A Mercedes-Benz employee opened the trunk.
Investigators interviewed Njonge and other nursing-home employees March 28.
According to police, Njonge said he worked until 10:30 p.m. on the night Britt disappeared and last saw her at 5:20 p.m., when she left the area where her husband was. She was seen leaving the nursing home at 7 p.m.
Njonge said the only time he left the facility was at 10:15 p.m. to take out the trash.
State records show Njonge has been a certified nursing assistant since Jan. 23, 2005. No complaints against him are on file, according to the state Department of Health.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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