5 March 2016

Liberia: 2nd Autopsy - Liberia Gets Cold Feet After Greaves Family Pathologist Arrives

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Carrying the dead body of Harry Greaves.

The mystery surrounding the mysterious death of Mr. Harry A. Greaves, the former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company(LPRC) has taken yet another surprising turn with the government reneging on its pledge to conduct a second autopsy after the family of Mr. Greaves brought in a forensic examiner of their own to observe the second autopsy.

FrontPageAfrica reported in its online edition last Friday that the Liberian government had brought in a pathologist from the Ivory Coast to carry out a second autopsy of Mr. Greaves. But just as the government was about to perform the autopsy, FrontPageAfrica has learned, a second pathologist, reportedly brought in by Mr. Greaves' family showed up.

Family Guy Experienced in Forensics

The government apparently had no knowledge that the family had brought in a pathologist to carry out its own autopsy. Upon seeing the pathologist brought in by the family, the government reportedly called off their plans. "The family brought their own pathologist unknown to them...now they can't do their so-called second autopsy, they are exposed," said a family member speaking on condition of anonymity Saturday.

Dr. Roger Mitchell, MD, FASCP, was brought in by the family to observe the second autopsy. The government apparently got cold feet upon seen the family expert.

Dr. Mitchell is board certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology. He is a graduate of Howard University, Washington DC, and UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ. Dr. Mitchell is licensed to practice medicine in Washington DC and New Jersey. He has performed over 1300 autopsy examinations in his career and has testified as an expert on numerous cases. He began the study of forensic science and violence prevention as a Forensic Biologist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - DNA Unit in January 1997.

For the last 2-1/2 years Dr. Mitchell has worked as the Regional Medical Examiner in Newark, NJ serving large cities such as Patterson, Jersey City, Irvington and Newark. Prior to his tenure in the NJ Northern Regional and NJ State Offices, Dr. Mitchell served 4 years as the Assistant Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, in charge of Medicolegal Death Investigations, at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. Harris County is the third largest county in the nation.

He is also well versed in Mass Fatality Management and pledges his commitment to the preparedness of the local municipality within his jurisdiction.

Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, Minister of Justice had notified the family last week that the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration was doing everything possible to have a second autopsy and forensic investigation completed in a bid to satisfy the desires of the family to hold the funeral of Mr. Greaves on Saturday, March 5, 2016.

The communication sent to the family and obtained by FrontPageAfrica dated March 3, 2016 noted that the government had submitted to the family the names of three qualified pathologists along with their CVs for your review and comments but had not heard any response from the family.

The family, according to sources was uncomfortable dealing with pathologists chosen by the government owing to the controversy which followed the first autopsy conducted by two US-based pathologists Dr. Thomas Bennett and Dr. Mathias Okoye.

Minister Sannoh in his communication to Mr. Greaves' widow, Precious Andrews, appeared frustrated that the government did not get a response from the family. "Up to date, we have not received any formal response from you. Notwithstanding, we are aware that during the discussions that ensued between the family and the government liaison following the delivery of my letter of February 28 referred to herein, views were expressed by some family members that two of the pathologists are old and retired and that the third pathologist is "a celebrity". In our opinion, these characterizations and views are inconsistent with acceptance of the three pathologists."

The government had turned over Mr. Greaves' body to the family following the first autopsy report but was forced to order a second autopsy after public and media backlash over the conclusions from the two pathologists that Mr. Greaves died from drowning.

Based on the government's own decision, the family went ahead with plans to lay Mr. Greaves to rest on Saturday, March 5. Several family members, including one of Mr. Greaves' daughter took time off from work in the U.S. to attend the funeral. However, at the last minute, the government through the Ministry of Justice requested that the family return the body for a second autopsy.

'Time if of Essence'

The government through the Minister of Justice expressed a willingness to work with the family in a bid to accommodate family members who had flown in for the funeral. "I am also informed that the family is desirous of having the funeral services of Mr. Harry A Greaves on Saturday March 5, 2016 since some family members have arrived from abroad and have job obligations and travel schedules that require them to return over the weekend. Hence time is of the essence," Minister Sannoh wrote.

The minister added: "Against the aforesaid, we have requested the Government of Morocco, the government of Cote d'Ivoire and the Government of Egypt, individually through diplomatic channels to second autopsy to Liberia for the purpose of the review of the records and where appropriate to conduct a second on or before Thursday, March 4. This afternoon, we receive confirmation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Ivorian Government has agreed to send four persons, two pathologists, one technician, and one official from the Ivorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Liberia for the aforesaid purpose. The team will arrive in Monrovia on tomorrow, February 3, 2016 at about 3: 45pm. Accordingly, we are pleased to confirm to the family that the Government will be prepared to handover the body of Mr. Greaves to the family by close of day on Thursday, March 3, 2016. This will enable the family to have funeral services on Saturday, March 5 consistent with the desire of the family."

FrontPageAfrica has now learned that a lot of those family members who came for the funeral are preparing to leave on Sunday, March 6 because the government has suddenly got cold feet and reneging on conducting the autopsy. "Many of them are leaving on Sunday because of the first plan for the buria," said a friend of the family Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sources say that the although the pathologists from the Ivory Coast are in town, the government is yet to carry on with the autopsy "No autopsy happened. For some reason, the pathologists are in town but did not turn up. The family members are protesting and they want the body. We have not heard anything from the government. The Justice Ministry officials are refusing to answer their phones. We have been calling the Gould boy who brought the message last night to assure us of a decision by 10am today(Saturday, March 5, 2016) but he cheekily told us to call the minister."

The family concerns stem from the fact that the government's pathologist from the Ivory Coast has been in the country since 3:40 pm Thursday and the family members including Mr. Greaves widow, were assured that the second autopsy would be completed by 6 pm Friday. But by 9 pm, the Ministry of Justice called the JFK morgue attendant to open the morgue. "They looked around and said they would do the autopsy in the morning. The family asked for a delay until today at 4pm so that their representative can be present. The government agreed to do it at 6pm," the source explained.

Family Pathologist Confused Govt, Sources Say

The source said the government did not know that the family had brought in their own pathologist from the U.S. at 2:40pm so about 5 pm, they called that they were ready to start only to renege later. "Our pathologist dropped his lunch and ran to JFK. But up to 8pm tonight(Friday), no autopsy has been carried out. They were turning around confused when they realized it as a licensed pathologist. A source from the mansion then called to say they couldn't do the autopsy because the body had formaldehyde in it. Shortly after, we received a call that MoJ was sending a rep to speak with Precious(Mr. Greaves' widow). A Lafayette Gould claiming he was special assistant to the Solicitor General, came and said the Ivorian pathologists are reviewing the first autopsy report, the first autopsy photographs and the police reports. They should be done by 10 am tomorrow to determine the next course of action.

The family source continued: "We told him to tell his bosses we are not stupid. The purpose of this second autopsy was to provide an independent report; so why has MoJ refused to give us the police report that we wrote to ask for but they gave it to the new pathologists? MoJ previously wrote to designate Chris Massaquoi and Wheatonia Barnes to liaise with the family now they come send an errand boy, somebody's Special Assistant? We told him to tell his bosses that we feel disrespected having to deal with someone at his pay grade and we are tired now and were are ready to go to war. Pathologists see pathologists, pathologists jerk"

More on This

U.S.investigators Interview 'Persons of Interest'

As the ongoing criminal investigation into the death of Harry Greaves, former Managing Director of Liberia Petroleum… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 FrontPageAfrica. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,200 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.