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Accused Maryland cannibal, victim both had legal troubles

HealthSciencePoliticsMedia IndustryBusinessFinanceMorgan State University

As an electrical engineering student at Morgan State University, Alexander Kinyua was described by a professor as "docile" and dedicated, always looking to improve himself. On the Internet, Kinyua — now accused of killing a family friend and eating his heart and parts of his brain — donned green-and-white face paint and warned of impending strife.

A fuller picture began to emerge Friday of both Kinyua and the victim, 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, a man facing legal troubles of his own who was reportedly invited to stay with the Harford County family by Kinyua's father, a professor at Morgan State.

Online accounts linked to Kinyua offer a glimpse into a promising student whose future threatened to be derailed by what classmates and court records describe as bursts of confounding anger and strange behavior.

Agyei-Kodie was a well-educated foreign national, according to court documents, who was facing deportation, unable to get back on track after a criminal conviction.

Kinyua was arrested May 19 for assault after an incident on the Morgan campus and had recently posted online commentary about the military, cosmic meaning, and feelings of oppression and emptiness. But before he got in trouble, had a 3.8 grade-point average, one relative said.

One of his former teachers, Lawrence Walker Jr., said he was a "docile student."

"He was always smiling," said Walker, a lecturer in Morgan's electrical and computer engineering department, who said Kinyua used to visit his office for career advice and to chat. "He really cared about his schoolwork [and] looked like he wanted to seek after good role models."

A motive hasn't been determined in Agyei-Kodie's killing, and Kinyua, a third-year student, remains held without bond. Police say he confessed to killing Agyei-Kodie, chopping up his body with a knife, and eating his heart and parts of his brain. Agyei-Kodie's head and hands were found in the family's home in the 500 block of Terrapin Terrace in Joppa. Other remains were found in a trash container outside a nearby church.

Classmates who knew Kinyua described him as unusual and intense. The face paint shown in his profile on one website was not a one-time occurrence; Natalie Fabien, 21, a student who had mutual friends with Kinyua, said she recalled an instance when he painted his face and went outside, where he could be heard chanting.

Other students told similar stories of confrontational or bizarre behavior, including Kinyua commenting about "human sacrifices" at a campus event hosted by Morgan's president, David Wilson.

Kinyua spent more than two years in his school's ROTC program and was part of a fraternity associated with the program. Photos show him smiling at campus events, but he was kicked out of the program in January after an incident in which property was destroyed.

More recently, he appeared obsessed with the military and spirituality, according to online writings posted under the screen name "COREeye67," which The Baltimore Sun linked to Kinyua by cross-referencing it with other information he posted online. His social media accounts show bursts of activity, including more than 200 messages on Twitter in one day. A Facebook post from February refers to "mass human sacrifices" and discusses the survival of the "black family."

For an image to accompany his "Warrior Syndicate" Internet radio show Kinyua selected a picture of himself in face paint and wrote an ominous introduction: "Prepare yourself for a demanding and long-term engagement in the coming age if there is to be any hope for a positive outcome in the current … environment."

An album on Kinyua's Facebook page refers to a trip to New Mexico in August 2011, and shows him in his bedroom surrounded by posters of wolves, eagles and nature scenes, as well as a phoenix. One image is a poster of a ghoul with fangs who is covering up his victim's mouth and preparing to bite.

"It's a nightmare — one of my posters by my bed," the caption reads.

The victim, Agyei-Kodie, had been reported missing last week by Kinyua's father, who told police he was last seen jogging in their Joppa neighborhood.

James Holt, who described himself as a friend of Agyei-Kodie's for 10 years, told the Associated Press that the victim met Kinyua's father, Antony Kinyua, while pursuing a doctoral degree. Antony Kinyua teaches physics at Morgan.

"Dr. Kinyua was extremely kind in taking Kujoe into his house while Kujoe got his feet back under him," Holt told the Associated Press, noting that Agyei-Kodie hadn't worked for three years. "And I think Kujoe was on his way to re-establishing his educational status and completing his Ph.D. when this happened."

But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said he was in the process of being deported to Ghana when he was killed. According to charging documents, Agyei-Kodie, who was "very knowledgeable with computers," had assaulted another graduate student at Morgan State.

After the assault, the graduate student told police, he demanded that she become his girlfriend and "became persistent and began to scare her by providing details of her personal information," including her Social Security number and a new phone number she had obtained in an effort to avoid him. He was convicted of a fourth-degree sex offense, stalking and other charges, and was sentenced to an 18-month jail term.

An ICE spokeswoman, Nicole Navas, said Agyei-Kodie's student visa was revoked in March 2010, and he had been ordered by an immigration judge to be deported. Navas said officials were waiting for travel documents from his native Ghana needed to send him back.

He had fought his deportation and detention in Texas, according to court documents. The proceedings are all sealed, as is the rule for immigration cases.

Agyei-Kodie contested the judge's ruling before the Board of Immigration Appeals and represented himself instead of obtaining a attorney. He lost the case on May 20, 2011, when a judge denied his motion to reconsider the ruling. Back in Maryland, Agyei-Kodie also appealed his conviction in the harassment case, which was pending at the time of his death.

Monica Worrell, a spokeswoman for Harford County's sheriff's office, said that until Friday afternoon, police did not believe the victim had any relatives in the U.S. Detectives were ultimately able to locate an uncle who traveled to Maryland and helped to identify his nephew's remains. Worrell said the Ghanaian embassy was trying to find other relatives in Africa.

Worrell said Kinyua is a U.S. citizen and has been in the country since he was a child. Kinyua attended Loch Raven High School and later Joppatowne High School, where he graduated. Kinyua's senior yearbook photo from 2008 shows a well-groomed, angular young man, with just a hint of chin beard stubble.

Kinyua's father has been a part-time lecturer at Morgan State in the physics department for nearly a decade. Investigators said Thursday that they had questions about whether others in the house knew about the crime, but said Friday that the investigation is continuing. The family has not spoken publicly about the case.

Court records show that the Kinyua family is in financial trouble. Attorneys representing a debt collection agency filed a lawsuit in Harford County Circuit Court in January seeking to foreclose on the house because of missed mortgage payments. The documents do not detail how much the Kinyuas allegedly owe. Their $267,784 loan was issued through now-defunct Countrywide Financial.

Agyei-Kodie's disappearance came just two days after Alexander Kinyua was able to post $220,000 bond in connection with a first-degree assault case last month in which he was accused of "randomly" attacking another student with a baseball bat in a Morgan campus apartment building, according to charging documents. The student suffered a fractured skull and blindness in one eye.

A man named Harold L. Madison helped post some of the bail, putting up a vacant, boarded-up rowhouse in East Baltimore as collateral, according to court records. Reached by phone, Madison said he put up some of the bail money for Kinyua "because he is my nephew," and spoke of his good grades. But he cut the conversation short and couldn't be reached for additional comment.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article. Aegis reporter Allan Vought also contributed.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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