Posted on August 6, 2013

Gorilla Expert’s Throat Slit in Hit Ordered by Chef She Had Sacked

Telegraph (London), July 31, 2013

A British expert on gorillas was killed in her Cameroon home on the orders of a chef she had fired, an inquest heard.

Dr Ymke Warren, 40, a world-renowned primatologist also known as Imke, was bound, gagged and had her throat slit by an intruder who is believed to have hidden in her attic in wait.

The killing was ordered by a disgruntled cook, Timbu Collins, who was sacked from his job at her conservation site after getting into fights and starting an affair with an American volunteer.

The assassin, who was paid £5,000, waited for Dr Warren before tying and gagging her.

He told her “now you are going to see” and cut her throat.

Four men have been convicted of plotting her murder in June 2010.

Dr Warren’s boyfriend Aaron Nicholas, 44, returned to their home in the coastal town of Limbe just after 8am to find her lying in a pool of blood with her throat slit, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

A housemaid, Priscilla, had also been bound and gagged by the murderer.

Dr Shirley Radcliffe, the assistant coroner, said Mr Nicholas heard someone sobbing when he arrived home.

“He ran upstairs to the living room and on the other side of the door lying prone was the body of Dr Warren. She was motionless, hands tied behind her back gaffer-taped and lying in a pool of blood. A male figure stepped out holding a weapon of some sort in his hands.”

Mr Nicholas ran out to find help and stumbled into Priscilla who was “hysterical”, the inquest heard.

Priscilla had come into the house and was grabbed by a man who put a knife to her throat, the inquest heard.

“He told her he was not there for her but for Dr Warren. He pointed to Dr Warren who was standing in the living room tied and gagged and bleeding from the neck. He said Dr Warren accused him of stealing and he said, ‘You are tough, now you are going to see’ and kicked her legs from under her and slit her throat.”

Dr Radcliffe added: “Priscilla referred to the fact that when she came in Dr Warren was pushing her purse of money with her foot, but the guy said, ‘I don’t want your money, I’m not here for that’.”

The murderer, Nfor Etienne Ngwana, had hidden in the attic and waited until Mr Nicholas left for work before attacking Dr Warren. Police arrested some of the gang who said Collins had offered them cash to kill Dr Warren. Mr Nicholas, who is also a gorilla expert who had been working with Dr Warren on the Takamanda-Mone Landscape Project studying Cross River gorillas, said: “The only person with a grudge I could think about was this person Collins who we had let go. He had a relationship with this volunteer who was a volatile character. The fact that he lost his chance of a visa and his ticket to have a life overseas and have a life outside Cameroon, may be why.”

Ngwana, who was 26 at the time, and his accomplices Tampie Richard Nchanji, and Nkuissi Tchikam Blaise Duclo, who were both 30, and Timbu Collins were convicted in September 2011 for Dr Warren’s murder. They were all sentenced to 15 years and six months behind bars.

Collins is on the run and was convicted in his absence. Duclo escaped from prison and remains at large.

The assistant coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

After the inquest Mr Nicholas, who works in Britain for the Born Free conservation project, paid tribute to Dr Warren, saying her unceasing passion “was the spark that brought us together”. He added: “We really want one last push to bring these people to justice.”


Ymke Warren

Ymke Warren