In May 2019, Irene Gakwa moved from Kenya to the United States to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. However, Gakwa is now missing under mysterious circumstances and her family is searching for answers.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, Gakwa fell in love with a man she met on Craigslist named Nathan Hightman and moved nearly 800 miles from her home in Idaho to be with him at Gillette. , Wyoming.
Her family say that after she moved, communication with her slowly declined until it stopped completely in February 2022.
Since she was reported missing on March 20, 2022 and Hightman has been accused of withdrawing money from her checking account, maxing out her credit card and deleting her email account, but has not not yet been charged for her disappearance.
Hightman used missing woman’s credit card to buy shovel and boots after she disappeared
It was later discovered that Hightman had used Gakwa’s own credit card to buy boots and a shovel.
However, Hightman insists that Gakwa left him and he has no idea where she might be. Could there be more to this disappearance than meets the eye? The Shade Room investigates…
In 2019, Gawka moved to the Boise, Idaho area for a better life. She had several brothers who already lived in the area, and she began taking classes to eventually become a nurse.
After meeting Hightman through a Craigslist personal ad, one of his brothers said he immediately had a bad feeling about him, compounded by the fact that his demeanor began to change soon after.
Rarely one to act on impulse, she moved 800 miles to live with Hightman, and didn’t even tell anyone she was moving or who she was going to live with.
Family say they had a ‘bad feeling’ about her boyfriend even before the missing woman disappeared
That’s when communication started to fade, according to her brother Kennedy Wainaina.
Wainaina said his sister regularly contacted him via text message daily, but it all stopped on February 24, 2022.
He then received a call from his father, who still lives in Kenya, who told him that he too had not heard from Gawka for some time.
“He said, ‘Well, I’ve tried calling her, video calling her, texting her, and she hasn’t replied to my messages, so I’m worried,'” he said. Wainaina told Justin Carter of TSR Investigates. “I called her 10 or 15 times myself and she never answered. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
Wainaina said that was when he called the Wyoming police for a check on his sister’s welfare.
“Her boyfriend opened the door and (told the cops) ‘Yeah, Irene left about a week ago. She just came home one night after dinner and said, ‘I’m sick of it. from this town, I’m moving.”
A boyfriend told cops she packed two plastic bags of clothes before driving off in an SUV
According to court documents obtained by The Shade Room, Gawka had packed two plastic bags containing clothing and said she was leaving Hightman’s home in Wyoming.
Hightman reportedly told officers she drove away in a dark-colored SUV and was never heard from again.
However, court documents also show he withdrew money from her bank account, telling cops his reason for doing so was to “force her to contact him in case she needed the money”.
But his family isn’t buying Hightman’s claims.
“If she had to have left him, she would have at least called,” her brother continued. “She was at least saying, ‘Hey guys, can you pick me up or help me? I move.'”
Wainaina says his sister first communicated with him via WhatsApp, but something was wrong.
He says she usually used Swahili and Kenyan slang in her messages, but suddenly everything stopped and her texts were sent in English, and the Kenyan slang words that were used seemed to be mentioned. through Google Translate.
The siblings actually shared a phone plan, allowing Wainaina to browse through her records. He finally learned that his phone last rang on March 4 at Gillette.
His WhatsApp account was deleted a few days later, with his phone being disabled on March 10. Gawka was reported missing ten days later.
The same goes for Gawka’s laptop.
Her brother added that Gawka’s bank account login details were changed from an IP address at Gillette, where Hightman lived, just a day after her family reported her missing in February.
Authorities say he used his accounts to buy a shovel and boots at an area Walmart after he went missing.
Hightman was not charged in the disappearance of a missing woman, but was slapped with a felony robbery account for stealing her credit card
Hightman has not been charged in connection with Gawka’s disappearance.
However, he was arrested on two counts of theft, one count of unauthorized use of a credit card and two counts of theft of intellectual property, two months after he went missing for his unauthorized use of his credit and debit cards, after changing his passwords and deleting his Gmail account.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges and was released on $1,000 bond.
Gillette Police are asking the public for any information regarding Irene’s disappearance and so far have received a number of tips.
Authorities are also asking the public to be on the lookout for a 55-gallon metal drum that may be burned or abandoned in the area.
TSR Investigates explores cold cases and underrepresented special interest reporting in mainstream media.
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