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Julie Ward was a 28-year-old publishing assistant and amateur wildlife photographer from Bury St Edmunds in England.

At the beginning of September 1988 she had been in Africa for seven months photographing wildlife and was due to return to England.

She was travelling to the Masai Mara game reserve with an Australian friend, Dr. Glen Burns.

On 5 September 1988 the vehicle they were driving, a Suzuki jeep, broke down; Dr Burns returned to Nairobi while Ward spent the night alone at the Mara Serena lodge.


On 6 September the vehicle was repaired and Ward left to drive to the nearby Sand River camp to recover some camping equipment. This was the last time she was seen alive.

Julie was reported missing and her father John Ward flew to Kenya to find his daughter. He hired a plane to search the areas of the game reserve where his daughter was known to have camped alone.

A pilot sighted the Suzuki Jeep in a gulley next to a river and Mr Ward went to investigate in person. Julie Ward’s burned and dismembered body was found in the ashes of a fire by John Ward on 13 September.

The original theory put forth by the Kenyan officials was that Ward had been eaten by lions and struck by lightning; however, they later accepted that she was murdered after her father’s efforts uncovered further evidence.

The Kenyan coroner’s report had been altered to disguise the fact that her bones had been cut by a sharp blade rather than gnawed by animals.

A British pathologist found that Ward had been dismembered with a machete then doused in petrol and set alight.

John Ward, a retired hotelier, spent nearly £2 million on the investigation and made over 100 visits to Kenya.

Ward accused the Kenyan government and former President Daniel arap Moi of trying to cover up his daughter’s murder to prevent damage to the tourist industry.

In 1992, two park rangers were charged but cleared in court. In 1998 Simon Ole Makallah, chief park ranger at the time, was arrested. He was cleared the following year. John said all three were scapegoats.

John said that he believed that his daughter was killed by Jonathan Moi, son of then Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi.

He claimed Moi and his drunken pals came across Julie when she stopped to photograph the wildlife near the Serena Lodge.

He said that Moi then raped her as his cronies stopped farm manager Ibrahim Choge stepping in to stop him. Moi’s men were then ordered to dispose of her body, according to John.

Jonathan Moi claimed he was not at the scene and denied any involvement whatsoever.

John Ward died in 2023, and his daughters murder still remains unsolved.

His son’s, Bob and Tim vowed to continue their parents’ tireless work.

—Washington Post 

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