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Kenyan family seeks justice for last born sister who vanished

Nathan Hightman, her boyfriend, has been charged with several felonies, including allegedly transferring money from her bank account

Irene Gakwa and brothers Chris and Kennedy stand in family photo

Kennedy Wainaina, a Kenyan living in the United States delivered over 30,000 signed petitions to Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon in Cheyenne, Wyoming, seeking justice for his sister, Irene Gakwa.

Wainaina's sister was last seen on a video call with her family on February 24, 2022, and was reported missing in late March of that year.

Nathan Hightman, her boyfriend, has been charged with several felonies, including allegedly transferring money from her bank account, changing her online banking password, maxing out her credit card, and deleting her email account after she disappeared.

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Wainaina expressed confidence that the signatures calling for justice would ensure that more efforts were put in place to trace his sister's whereabouts.

He added that the petition calls for justice for all those responsible for her disappearance.

"The signatures are a testament that the public would like a speedy conclusion to this case and Irene Gakwa's whereabouts made public and known. Additionally, the petition calls for justice for all those responsible for her disappearance," Wainaina said.

The "Justice for Irene Gakwa" online petition was shared on Change.org, Kenya's largest online platform for social change.

The petition calls for authorities to make her whereabouts known and serve justice in the event that a crime may have been found to have been committed.

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Lenny Ruvaga, the country director for Change.Org, Kenya, noted that the signatures and visibility that the petition has garnered on the platform across continents is a testament to the fact that poignant issues such as the disappearance and are in the public domain will mean that decision makers are held to account.

"The Justice for Irene Gakwa Petition specifically calls for her whereabouts to be made public and justice to be served. This is significant because the platform is a safe space where issues both big and small can be articulated. Decision makers concurrently are able to act on the specific asks for the change desired," Ruvaga said.

The delivery of the petition and corresponding signatures will ensure that authorities tasked with the case make her whereabouts known and justice prevails.

Stacy Koester, a member of a team of volunteers searching for Irene Gakwa, delivered part of the petitions to the Gillette City Council and the Gillette Police Department.

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Koester said that the delivery of the petition and corresponding signatures will ensure that authorities tasked with the case make her whereabouts known and justice prevails.

"Irene Gakwa's disappearance has baffled not only her immediate family and friends but people of goodwill not only in Gillette, Wyoming but the world over. The delivery of the petition and corresponding signatures will ensure that authorities tasked with the case make her whereabouts known and justice prevails," Koester said.

The case has attracted significant attention not only in the United States but also in Kenya and around the world.

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