Mercy Mwai, Christine Musa and Silas Mwitixy Four children allegedly killed by their mother in Naivasha last month were yesterday laid to rest in a sombre event at their family\u2019s home in Murungaru village, Kinangop, Nyandarua county. The funeral came hours after the bodies of Alvina Mutheu, aged three years and nine months, and Henry Jacktone, four, were discovered stuffed in the legroom of the rear seat of a car parked at the Athi River police station, Machakos county. The two children, who were neighbours at Athi KMC estate, a kilometre away from the police station, went missing on June 11, shortly after being spotted playing together. First born Mutheu was the last-born in a family of two while Jacktone was the first-born in a family of two. A dark cloud engulfed the homes of Clinton Odhiambo and Fenny Aoko, Jacktone\u2019s parents and Stephen Mulinge and Catherine Musembi, the parents of Alvina Mutheu, as they relived the moment police broke the sad news to them. \u201cMy daughter and my neighbour\u2019s son might have been abducted by persons known to them in broad daylight. Two weeks ago, we received calls from two different mobile phone numbers demanding money to release them. We reported the matter, but we received no response from the police,\u201d lamented Musembi. Deaths of the six minors lifted the lid on a chilling trend that has seen at least 16 children killed in various parts of the country since January this year. In most of the cases, the innocent children met their gruesome deaths in the hands of either close relatives or people known to them. The deaths appear to have spiralled in the months of May and June, which saw 11 children murdered, a surge two child rights organisations blamed on the extended closure of schools since the onset of the corona virus pandemic in mid-March. Besides the Naivasha and Athi River incidents, the other children lost their lives in Isiolo, Nairobi, Bomet, Kilifi, Mombasa and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. The Nairobi killing occurred in Kayole estate on May 3 when a 24-year-old woman stabbed her two children to death after an argument with her mother. In Isiolo, police officers are investigating the circumstances under which a woman is said to have killed her three-month-old baby. The other murder reported in Kabisoge village on the outskirts of Bomet town was of a three-year-old girl who was defiled and killed by her mother\u2019s boyfriend. In Mombasa, the body of an eight-year-old girl who had gone missing for weeks was found dumped near a river in Bamba village. On June 13, in Elgeyo Marakwet County, a man murdered his three children and seriously injured three others by shooting them while they slept in their home. Yesterday, two organisations that handle children\u2019s issues, Childline Kenya and Missing Child Kenya, attributed the surge in the murder of children to their continued stay at home due to the closure of schools to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The Missing Child Kenya founder, Maryana Munyendo, said that out of the four cases her organisation has documented, one of the victims was found to have been sexually abused before being murdered. The three other cases are being investigated, she said. Munyendo also disclosed that by yesterday, her organisation was handling 83 reported cases of missing children out of which Nairobi leads with 43, Kajiado 7, Nakuru and Kiambu five each. Mombasa had reported four cases while Kisumu, Machakos and Murang\u2019a each had three cases each, Uasin Gishu and Nyamira two each while Lamu, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui and Narok had one case each. She explained that the cases had reduced when the government ordered the cessation of movement in some counties. \u201cThere was a reduction in cases at the onset of the government order on cessation of movement and the 7pm curfew. On the extension of night time curfew to 9pm\u2026the cases have started rising again,\u201d she said. On the other hand, Childline Kenya project leader Martha Sanda said the organisation had recorded a spike in numbers of child abuse cases since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic which saw all schools closed. Susceptible This, she said, had made children susceptible to the crimes visited upon them as they lived with their abusers. \u201cThe stay at home order came with a certain challenge which the government must deal with immediately. During this period, some caregivers are getting rid of their children in a bid to \u2018spare\u2019 them from suffering brought about by the coronavirus pandemic,\u201d she said. Yesterday, the mother of the four children killed in Naivasha last month, Beatrice Mwende and who confessed to committing the heinous act, was conspicuously missing as she is being held in police custody. Her two surviving sons cried uncontrollably during the ceremony. The four murdered minors were Melody Warigia, 8, Willy Macharia, 6, Samantha Njeri, 4 and Whitney Nyambura, 2. The children\u2019s family threw a new twist to the bizarre incident, denying that the suspect was mentally unstable or had financial challenges. Mwende\u2019s elder brother, Macharia Kimotho, said they were eagerly waiting for a report of a psychiatrist on the status of the suspect. \u201cThere has been so much misinformation over the deaths but what we know is that our sister did not have any depression or financial challenges as reported,\u201d he said. He added that the family had forgiven those who posted the pictures and fake information on various social media platforms terming the minors as innocent angels. \u201cIt is shameful and barbaric for those who posted those pictures on social media causing us untold pain but we forgive them,\u201d he said. Former Nyandarua Deputy Governor Waithaka Mwangi expressed concern over the rise in marital disputes leading to such incidents. \u201cWe are calling on our youths to speak out when one has some challenges instead of committing such an act on innocent children,\u201d he said.