Police Searching for Missing Woman Are Looking for a Drum


Irene Gakwa moved to the US from Kenya in 2019, with dreams of becoming a nurse. She last spoke to her parents in Kenya via video chat on Feb. 24, and they noticed she seemed tired and withdrawn. Her dad reminded her to “drink hot milk and relax.” They haven’t seen or spoken to her since. In the latest in a series of articles on the missing woman, CNN reports that one focus of the search for Gakwa, whose 33rd birthday was in July, is a 55-gallon metal drum. “We believe that barrel is a key part of the investigation,” says one member of a team of women profiled by CNN who have devoted many hours and logged hundreds of miles searching for Gakwa in Wyoming, where she lived at the time of her disappearance. (One of them has actually been hit with a protective stalking order by the person of interest in the case, NewsNation reports.)

While police haven’t confirmed this, one of Gakwa’s brothers says the family was told by police that a neighbor saw what appeared to be a fire burning in a drum in the backyard of Gakwa’s boyfriend between late February and March. All police have said is that they are “requesting information regarding the possibility of a 55-gallon metal drum, which may have been burned and/or abandoned within the county.” In its last piece on Gakwa, CNN reported that she met Nathan Hightman on Craigslist and had been dating him off and on since 2020; she was living with him when she vanished. Hightman is considered a person of interest in the case, and is separately charged with five felonies for allegedly transferring money from Gakwa’s bank account, changing her password, maxing out her credit card, and deleting her email account after her disappearance. He’s pleaded not guilty. (Read more missing woman stories.)