Julie Ward, a British traveler, passed away in September 1988 while on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve. Her father, John Ward, fought to persuade the Kenyan authorities that his daughter was murdered and to find those accountable for her death, which helped her death investigation gain attention.
In February 1988, Julie Ward left her home in England for a lengthy seven-month journey to Kenya. She spent the majority of her time in Nairobi, the nation’s capital, but in September she left for the Maasai Mara game reserve in order to take pictures of one of nature’s most amazing spectacles: the Great Wildebeest Migration.
They were driven around in a Suzuki jeep by Ward’s Australian friend Glen Burns. Burns had to return to Nairobi because the car broke down while they were traveling, which was unfortunate. While the jeep was being fixed, Ward stayed by himself at the Mara Serena lodge.
On September 6, 1988, Ward took the jeep the next day to the nearby Sand River camp to get her camping supplies. Sadly, this was the last time we saw of her.
Julie Ward was reported missing after she failed to return from her trip to the Maasai Mara game reserve. Her father, John Ward, then flew to Kenya to look for her. The areas of the reserve where his daughter was rumored to have camped alone were surveyed by a plane that he hired.
A pilot who was searching discovered Julie’s Suzuki jeep in a gully next to a river. When John Ward went to look into it, he horrifyingly discovered his daughter’s burned and dismembered body in the fire’s ashes. On September 13, 1988, almost a week after Julie was last seen alive, this happened.
At first, the Kenyan government claimed that Julie Ward had perished in the Masai Mara game reserve at the hands of a wild animal, such as a lion. This hypothesis was quickly challenged, though, as it failed to account for the body’s dismemberment and burning.
When a British pathologist was called in to look into Julie’s death, he came to the conclusion that her body had been cut up with a machete, doused in gasoline, and then set on fire. This suggested that, contrary to what the Kenyan authorities had initially claimed, Julie’s death was the result of human violence rather than an animal attack.
Julie Ward’s death sparked a slew of conspiracy theories about what happened to her. According to one theory, she was murdered by the son of a prominent politician with whom she was having an affair. This theory, however, has never been proven, and the politician’s son was never charged in Julie’s death.
Another theory advanced by Kenyan cops was that Julie had committed suicide. Her family and friends, who knew she was happy and excited about her trip to the Maasai Mara game reserve, quickly dismissed this theory.
Despite the evidence pointing to foul play, Kenyan authorities were hesitant to label Julie’s death a homicide and refused to conduct a homicide investigation. As a result, Julie’s father, John Ward, accused the Kenyan government of covering up a murder in order to protect the country’s tourism industry.
John Ward, a retired hotelier, spent nearly £2 million on the investigation and traveled to Kenya over 100 times.
Suspects and Trials
After years of campaigning by John Ward, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom ordered a Scotland Yard investigation in February 1990. The investigation led to the conclusion that two park rangers were responsible for Julie’s death, but they were acquitted in a Kenyan trial in 1992.
In 1997, a new team of Kenyan police officers reinvestigated the case, and Simon Makallah, the head warden of the Maasai Mara at the time of Julie Ward’s death, was charged with murder and tried in court. However, he was acquitted in 1999.
The failure to secure a conviction in the case has been a source of great frustration for Julie’s family and friends, who have spent decades seeking justice for her death. Despite the acquittals, John Ward has continued to campaign for answers and justice, and the case remains unsolved to this day.