THE SEARCH FOR IRENE: Fiancé of Missing Kenyan Appeals Sentence for Financial and Intellectual Property Crimes

Nathan Hightman receives greenlight to appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court

Nathan Hightman, 39, is planning to appeal his sentence to the Wyoming Supreme Court. He was sentenced three to six years for stealing from his missing fiance, Irene Gakwa, as well as deleting her password. (Courtesy photo from the Campbell County Detention Center)

By Jennifer Kocher

Special to the Wyoming Truth

GILLETTE, Wyo.– The fiancé of the missing Kenyan nursing student plans to appeal his sentence on financial and intellectual property crimes to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Campbell County District Judge James M. Causey granted Nathan Hightman’s request to proceed with his appeal on Tuesday, including all associated fees and court costs to obtain counsel from the State Public Defender’s Appellate Office.

Hightman, 39, was sentenced to three to six years in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to three felonies related to financial and intellectual property crimes against his missing fiancé, Irene Gakwa.

Gakwa, 33, has been missing under mysterious circumstances since February 2022. She was last seen on a video call with her parents in Nairobi, Kenya, and was officially reported missing by her family in March 2023.

Hightman, who is considered by police to be a “person of interest” in her disappearance, has not been charged with any crimes related to Gakwa’s whereabouts. He maintains she left on her own accord one evening with her possessions packed into two plastic bags before exiting in a dark-colored SUV.

Following Gakwa’s disappearance, Hightman was arrested on five felony charges in May 2022 related to financial and intellectual property crimes against her. The original five charges include using her debit card without permission and maxing out her credit in excess of $5,000. He also was accused of deleting her email account.

Hightman pleaded guilty to the three of the charges with two dropped as a result of his plea deal.

Hightman is currently being detained in the Wyoming medium correctional facility in Torrington.

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