A 32-year-old Kenyan woman named Irene Gakwa has been missing since Feb 24, after getting involved with a man she met on Craigslist in the U.S.
Craigslist is an American classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, and services. It also features personal ads.
According to her parents, Gakwa moved to the U.S. three years ago to attend nursing school. Her family said they had no idea she had moved in with a man she met on Craigslist. They have not heard from her since. Her father, Francis Kambo, told CNN that Gakwa spoke to her parents almost daily, but “now [he doesn’t] know if [he’ll] ever see her again.”
Kambo also told CNN that their last chat via WhatsApp video was not normal, that Gakwa looked skinnier than usual and tired, and that her usually braided hair was disheveled. “Make sure you drink hot milk and relax,” Kambo said during the call.
“She’s always been a daddy’s girl,” he said. “She was supposed to come home for Christmas this year. I was going to buy that ticket myself for her to come if she couldn’t afford it,” her father added.
The following month, her parents reported her missing. Her bank account has also been emptied.
Gakwa’s family later learned that she’d met a man on Craigslist and moved in with him in Gillette, Wyoming, Revolt reported. He was identified as 39-year-old Nathan Hightman.
The man Gakwa lived with was accused of deleting her email account, changing passwords, taking money from her bank account and maxing out her credit cards, accounting to law authorities. Hightman transferred nearly $3,700 from Gakwa’s bank account to his own and spent an additional $3,230 on her credit card, Black Enterprise reported.
In May, the Gillette Police Department charged Hightman with two felony counts of theft, one felony count of unlawful use of a credit card, and two felony counts of crimes against intellectual property for allegedly changing her banking account password and deleting her email account after she vanished.
Gakwa’s oldest brother noted that her text messages were strange right before she officially went missing. Typically she mixed Swahili and Kenyan slang in her text, but these did not, as if, family members said, someone was using Google Translate to send the messages.
When Gakwa’s family asked Hightman for her belongings, he refused.
Police questioned Hightman the same day Gakwa went missing for a separate criminal case. Hightman has since been considered a person of interest in her disappearance, Revolt reported.