Person of interest identified in ‘suspicious’ missing woman case

Irene Wairimu Gakwa, 32, went missing from the Gillette area in late February and is believed to have lived with a man up until her disappearance. (Gillette Police Department/City of Gillette)

GILLETTE, Wyo.— A Gillette woman who has not been heard from since February is believed to have disappeared under suspicious circumstances, the Gillette Police Department (GPD) said on Thursday.

The investigation into the now suspicious disappearance of 32-year-old Irene Gakwa is well underway; detectives have executed 24 search warrants and interviewed multiple family members and friends in their attempts to locate her, GPD said in an April 14 statement.

Gakwa, described as a black woman approximately 5’1” tall and weighing approximately 89 pounds, was reported missing on March 20 by a family member who told police she had not been seen since a video call on Feb. 24. Her phone is not pinging on any network, and she has not been heard from since March 4, according to multiple law enforcement agency reports.

The primary goal is to ensure Gakwa’s safe return, GPD said in a statement, adding that the investigative team continues to explore all possibilities.

“[We] have been able to confirm that Irene lived with a man in Gillette up until her disappearance,” GPD said in a statement. “The man is considered a person of interest; he has not made himself available to detectives looking to resolve questions that still exist in the investigation.”

The GPD is following a variety of leads, the statement continued, and the department is requesting the public’s assistance with a particular lead that suggests Gakwa was taken to a rural area, mine site, or oil and gas location between February 24 and March 20 in a passenger vehicle or crossover SUV.

Residents with information relating to Gakwa’s disappearance, regardless of how insignificant it may appear, are urged to contact the GPD at (307) 682-5155.