By Justin Fenton, Kayla Bawroski and Kevin Rector, Baltimore Sun Media Group
8:34 p.m. EDT, May 31, 2012
The 21-year-old college student allegedly told detectives that he hadn’t just killed the man who’d lived with his family for months, but had eaten his heart and portions of his brain. The victim’s severed head and hands were found in the men’s Harford County home; more remains were left in a trash container outside a church.
Authorities outlined the macabre circumstances Thursday in charges against Alexander Kinyua, an electrical engineering major at Morgan State University and member of his school’s ROTC program, of first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, a Ghanaian national and a former master’s degree student.
Kinyua’s father reported that Agyei-Kodie went missing last Friday after going for a jog, but the investigation eventually led back to the family home. Kinyua was being held Thursday without bond, and authorities were exploring whether others participated in the crime or knew about it, based on what they called inconsistencies in statements made by the suspect’s family.
Harford authorities said the killing was among the most brutal — and bizarre — they’d seen. The case comes on the heels of grisly incidents in Miami — where a naked man believed to be high on synthetic drugs known as “bath salts” ate another man’s face — and New Jersey, where a man disemboweled himself and reportedly threw his intestines at police officers.
Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane said of the allegations against Kinyua: “I’ve been with the agency 40 years, and I would say this is the first time I can remember … where someone was placed under arrest in Harford County and as part of his crime he consumed the victim.
“I’ve not encountered that in this county, and I hope we never encounter it again,” he added.
Despite Kinyua’s alleged confession, which a spokeswoman described as “matter-of-fact,” police said they did not know of a motive for the crime and said they would not speculate on his mental state or whether drugs played a role. They were consulting with the FBI's behavioral analysis unit for guidance.
But accounts from Morgan officials and classmates, as well as social media postings by Kinyua, suggest he was growing increasingly troubled as his third year of school came to a close. In January, he was dismissed from the ROTC program after an outburst, and in May he was arrested for allegedly fracturing the skull of a classmate with a baseball bat. The classmate was blinded in one eye as a result of what campus police called a “random” attack.
His Facebook page includes commentary about the “destruction of the black family” and “mass human sacrifices.”
“THIS IS THE BRUTAL BASIS, AN EVIL & TERRIFYING METHOD OF THIS DEATH CULTS,” he wrote in one message.
Students familiar with Kinyua said he was well known around campus but regarded as odd. Jasmine Bloomfield said he was “always in his own little world, preaching everywhere he went and talking about how he was writing a book.”
Natalie Fabien, 21, who had mutual friends with Kinyua, said his behavior was often unusual and he was prone to outbursts, but also showed genuine concern for others. “If anything ever happened to me, he’d be like, ‘Who did it and why?’ He always wanted to protect people from bad stuff,” Fabien said.
Word of Kinyua’s arrest was a hot topic Thursday around Morgan’s campus, even though most of its 7,000 students are on summer break. “If you’re part of the Morgan family, it’s a big family, so word goes around fast,” said Stephen Copeland, 28, a senior. “Everybody’s in shock.”
The victim, Agyei-Kodie, had also attended Morgan State on a student visa. He was dismissed by the university after a 2008 conviction in Baltimore County for a fourth-degree sex offense, harassment and stalking, resulting in an 18-month jail term. He also had attended Towson University for a time, a spokeswoman for that school confirmed.
Agyei-Kodie had lived with Kinyua’s family in the 500 block of Terrapin Terrace in Joppa for about six months and did not know anyone else in the area, according to police reports. Kinyua’s father, Antony, told police that Agyei-Kodie had recently been “depressed” after being apprehended on an immigration warrant and was facing likely deportation.
Police issued a public appeal Monday for help in finding Agyei-Kodie, who was said to have left for a jog at 5:30 a.m. on May 25 wearing a T-shirt and black athletic shorts. Monica Worrell, a county police spokeswoman, said investigators had concerns about statements made by Kinyua’s family.
Late Tuesday night, Antony Kinyua notified police that his son, Jarrod Kinyua, had found what they believed were human remains in the basement of the house, according to charging documents. Upon their arrival, Jarrod Kinyua told police he found a human head and two human hands inside metal tins under a blanket in the laundry room.
When he asked Alexander Kinyua about the remains, Jarrod Kinyua said, his brother denied that they were human and said they were animal remains, according to charging documents. After calling his father downstairs, Jarrod and Antony Kinyua discovered that the remains had been moved and Alexander Kinyua was washing out the metal tins.
With a search-and-seizure warrant for the location, deputies were able to locate the head and hands on the main floor of the house, according to charging documents.
They also interviewed Alexander Kinyua, who allegedly admitted that he had killed Agyei-Kodie by cutting him up with a knife and then eating his heart and portions of his brain.
Kinyua also directed police to Towne Baptist Church, about a mile away in the 500 block of Trimble Road, where the rest of the remains were found in a trash container on the property, according to charging documents.
Bane said the remains were being sent for further analysis, to assure investigators that “we’re dealing with one victim,” Bane said. But officials said they did not have any reason to believe there were additional victims.
At Kinyua’s first court appearance Thursday at Harford District Court in Bel Air, defense attorney Lynne McChrystal requested reasonable bail in the case, adding that Kinyua has been in Harford County for six years and in Maryland for nine years. She said he was self-employed, performing “consulting work.”
Appearing via live video feed from prison, Kinyua wore a Harford County Detention Center uniform: a black-and-white striped pair of pants and matching T-shirt. Upon questioning by Judge John L. Dunnigan, Kinyua said that all of his family members lived in Maryland and that he was originally from Nairobi, Kenya.
Assistant State’s Attorney Trenna Manners cited those out-of-country ties, as well as the “grisly” nature of the crime, when she asked for Kinyua to be held without bail, and the judge agreed.
Before May, Kinyua had no prior criminal record. In January, he was dismissed from the ROTC program after 2 1/2 years of participation, said Lt. Col. James Lewis, a professor of military service who oversees the program. Officials said it followed a disciplinary incident.
Then on May 20, Kinyua was charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment. In that case, according to police, Kinyua attacked another Morgan student in a doorway of the on-campus Thurgood Marshall apartment complex with a baseball bat, then fled into a nearby wooded area.
The victim, listed as Joshua Ceasar, suffered fractures to his skull, arm and shoulder, as well as blindness to his left eye. The first responding officer saw Ceasar stumbling toward her with blood coming from his forehead, and the officer noted a large amount of blood in the doorway.
Fabien, who said she knew Kinyua, said she saw him in the moments before the attack. She said he was sitting in a chair, clutching the bat. “He kept saying, ‘Somebody has to protect the kids. I gotta protect the kids,’” she said.
Kinyua was ordered held on $220,000 bond in that case, and university officials said the school was in the process of expelling him. According to court records, two Baltimore residents posted property to secure bond for his release on May 23.
On May 25, what appeared to be a plea from his parents for help paying Kinyua’s legal fees in the case was posted on Mwakilishi.com, a Kenyan news website. The post, which has since been removed, said Kinyua had been arrested for “being involved in a fight in his dormitory room at Morgan State University.”
The online plea said, “In order to get him the best defense possible, we need to secure an attorney who will take his case and leave no stone unturned.”
It also stated that a fundraising event was scheduled at the International Christian Community Church in Baltimore. The church was locked Thursday afternoon, and nobody answered a knock on the door.
Pictures on Facebook taken before this past semester show Kinyua with a wide grin at a laser tag event and showing off a blue jacket for the National Society of Pershing Rifles, a fraternal group for students in ROTC programs. Another shows him in military fatigues, standing at attention.
More recent posts to the social networking site reflected a shift. In the two most recent posts, Kinyua uploaded “QR Codes,” bar code images that, when scanned with a smartphone, lead to a Web page. They both led to a message about something called “Project Crack the Code,” promising “more information on survival of the human family.”
Attempts to reach Kinyua’s family have been unsuccessful. A man who answered the phone Wednesday night at a number listed for Antony and Beatrice Kinyua said they were resting and that the family did not wish to speak to the news media without an attorney present. On Thursday, no one answered the door of the Joppa townhouse.
On tidy, well-kept Terrapin Terrace near Joppatowne High School,Mary Ellen Murray, who lived several houses down from the Kinyuas, said the parents, Beatrice and Antony, were quiet, “wonderful” people.
“They would give you the shirt off their back,” Murray said. “Nobody has anything bad to say about them.”
Harry Olson, the family’s next-door neighbor and a physics professor at Morgan who once taught Kinyua, said police squad cars and two hazardous-materials vehicles were stationed on his street Wednesday, and investigators brought “lots of stuff” in bags out of the home.
Investigators also took an entire toilet from the home and dug up a garden in the front of the house, Olson said.
“It’s shocking,” another neighbor, Kenny Day, said of the allegations of cannibalism. “You don’t want to hear about that stuff, but you certainly don’t want to hear about it in your neighborhood.
“You can’t be scared of stuff like that, though, because you can’t run from crazy, and that’s total crazy,” Day added.
Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article. Aegis reporter Bryna Zumer also contributed.