The first few murders went almost unnoticed "perhaps because the victims are all low-income women, and women are never a priority in this country", said Sandra Nassali, a representative of the local organisation ACFODE.
When the police did start investigating, the reasons they gave for the murders were varied and contradictory.
Kasingye, the police spokesman, told Al Jazeera that he was "99 percent certain that there is no organisation with a political or economic agenda" behind the killings, and that the rumours have taken hold because "people in this area support the opposition, and this rumour works for them".
Jude Kagoro, a researcher based in Germany, has spent more than a decade studying Ugandan security services and police.
At first, Kale Kayihura, an inspector general, blamed domestic violence.
Later, he blamed unemployment, drug abuse and criminal gangs.
"I hoped that maybe she had slept at her sister's place, but when we went to look, she wasn't there," said Noah, "so we started searching all the hospitals"."This is something deeper, something political," she said. Like other activists, Muduru is outraged by what she sees as a lack of action by the authorities to protect women, and by the way in which cases are being discussed.Muduru believes that the timing of these murders - as the political situation in the country deteriorates with greater repression - is not a coincidence. "The trend is always to taint the character of women, and this is why the police are claiming that the victims are prostitutes, even though our research shows that the majority are not ...Several more - put that number at at least 10 women - some of whom remain unidentified, were found in banana gardens and cassava fields in the following weeks.In early June, the murders had spread to Katabi Town, in Entebbe district, where Harriet lived with her family.To date, there have been a total of 23 murders, according to the Ugandan police, although many believe the number may be higher.The last body, that of 22-year-old waitress Sarah Neliima, was found on September 20.Although he did not believe police are involved, he said the spiralling of rumours is unsurprising. Different security agencies must vie for the attention of the president, for resources, for recognition.If you don't compete you're out of the game," he said.Another theory points to a widely reported clash between leaders of different security agencies - Kahiyura, the police inspector general (IGP), and Henry Tumukunde, the security minister."One of the rumours is that someone is doing this to discredit the IGP and make him look bad", says Bakitte, the Democratic Party member. "The police are doing this to get more resources and funds," she said.