Kenny Mukendi, who disappeared in Rio de Janeiro on April 13
Police believe a British rapper who went missing in Brazil threw himself into the sea.
Kenny Mukendi, 22, disappeared in Rio de Janeiro on the afternoon of April 13 after leaving a music studio in Barra Sul following a long recording session.
He took an Uber to popular beauty spot Mirante do Roncador west of the city. His belongings, including his passport and laptop, were found washed up on the shore.
His 20-year-old girlfriend Renata Lima raised the alarm after his social media accounts mysteriously deactivated at 2pm and his phone was switched off.
A huge search operation was launched, with lifeguards scouring the water for seven days and helicopters flying over the sea in the hope of spotting a body.
But now police have called off the hunt for the hip hop artist, who went by the name Kenny Vulcan – concluding he took his own life while suffering from depression.
Chief of Rio’s Missing Person’s Department, Ellen Souto, said: ‘We are working on the hypothesis that Kenny threw himself into the sea off rocks at Mirante do Roncador on Friday 13 after leaving an amateur recording studio, run by friends, where he worked overnight on new tracks.’
Mukendi leaving his home for the recording studio on the day before he went missing
Footage shows him getting into a silver car just outside his from door
Chief Souto said officers reached the conclusion after questioning Mukendi’s family and friends, and after their extensive search.
She added: ‘CCTV shows Kenny took an Uber around 1:46pm on Friday from Barra Sul to this location off Prainha beach.
‘A bank transaction on his account confirmed the journey. He was last seen by the driver walking down a path that heads to the rocks high above the sea.
‘He told his parents he had thought about taking his own life in London.’
Chief Souto said Navy and fishing communities along the Rio coast and as far as Sao Paulo had been alerted in case his body appears.
‘The sea currents change directions frequently in this vicinity and the body of someone who’s drowned can take up to 20 days to emerge,’ she said.
Mirante do Roncador, a beauty spot west of Rio de Janeiro. Mukendi took a taxi here before he went missing
Mukendi with his girlfriend, who he had been living with in Brazil when he went missing
Assault was ruled out after the musician’s backpack containing his laptop, passport, bank cards, wallet, pen drives and headphones were recovered.
Surfers handed them in to police after finding them washed up on the shore more than eight miles from Mirante do Roncador the day after he went missing.
Police believe Mukendi, who arrived in Brazil on December 4, was trying to escape personal problems linked to depression in London and make a fresh start in Rio.
Detectives believe the rapper shut down his social media accounts before ‘voluntarily throwing himself into the sea’.
But Mukendi’s relatives argue that no one saw him fall into the water so it is premature to assume he committed suicide.
They say he did not suffer from mental health problems and had everything to live for, and he may have been involved in an accident.
Mukendi’s laptop and laptop case were among the possessions found washed up on the shore
Mukendi’s bag and some of the possessions found inside it when it was handed in to police by surfers, including his passport and bank cards
Mukendi’s headphones and a waist belt were among the belongings found in his bag
Some of the memory stick found in Mukendi’s bag after it was found washed up on the shore
His father Ken, who flew out to Rio five days after his son disappeared, said the family believe he is alive but perhaps ‘doesn’t want to be found for now’.
‘We are deeply disappointed with the outcome of the Brazilian police’s investigation,’ he said.
‘They made the press announcement without our consent and we believe they have reached a conclusion based on inaccurate and misleading information.
‘We also believe they should have looked more in land and not concentrated their search only on the sea.
‘And we believe more research needs to be done into why his bag was found so far away.’
Mukendi’s girlfriend sent these anxious messages to him after he disappeared and his Instagram account deactivated
Mukendi recording in a music studio in Brazil, where he had been hoping to secure a record deal
Mukendi’s father Ken, who believes his son is alive. He said the family are ‘deeply disappointed’ the police have called off their search
Mukendi, from Woolwich in south east London, was a promising actor, model and musician
He had been to Brazil once before in 2016 and made friends with other rappers
Mukendi, from Woolwich in south east London, was a promising actor, model and musician.
He featured as an extra in a number of high-profile music videos, including Mary J Blige, James Blunt, Sam Smith and Lethal Bizzle.
He also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s movie Ready Player One and JK Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’.
Mukendi’s girlfriend Renata Lima, who was the last person to speak to him before he vanished
The rapper was in his final scholarship year at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in Kilburn, north west London.
He decided to devote the latter four months of the course to creating an international collaborative project bringing together musicians in the UK and Brazil.
Mukendi went to Brazil once before in 2016 and made friends with other rappers. He ended up featuring in MC Tony Mariano’s music video Pocahontas.
His girlfriend Ms Lima, a tattoo artist and performing arts student, was the last person to speak to him before he disappeared. She alerted police on April 14.
‘I spoke to Kenny on WhatsApp on the day he disappeared. He was his usual self, happy and positive,’ she told The Sun Online.
‘He never ever showed me that he had any suicidal thoughts.’
Mirante do Roncador, frequented by fishermen and tourists, has seen 20 accidental drownings during the past ten years with people slipping to their deaths, say lifeguards.
Mukendi is six feet tall, albino and has dyed blue hair. He speaks little Portuguese.
He was last seen wearing a Flamengo red and black football shirt, black trousers, black Nike sneakers and a blue baseball cap.