Liberia: LNP Must Come Clean On Odell Sherman's Murder Investigation

(file photo).

The attention of the Daily Observer is drawn to a front page story carried in its May 31 edition headlined "Odell Sherman's Guardian Wants Justice" written by Daily Observer reporter Hannah Geterminah.

According to the story, Veronica Kollie, aunt and guardian of Odell Sherman a female student was discovered unconscious in the fenced compound of the Liberia-Ghana Mission founder, Reverend Emmanuel Giddings, is calling on human rights organizations and other civil society organizations to ensure that she gets justice for her niece suspected to have been murdered by someone in Reverend Giddings' Duahzohn compound in the early morning hours of May 22, 2019.

The story narrates that young Odell Sherman, who was known to be friends with Giddings' daughter, Diana, had gone to the home of Reverend Giddings following the end of the West African Exams (WASSCE). By Reverend Giddings' own admission, upon discovery of Odell lying prostrate in the yard, he, with the help of neighbors, took her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead two hours later.

Further, according to the story, the Police later took the body to a local funeral home without having done an autopsy to determine the actual cause of death although the death certificate issued by the hospital attributes the cause of death to sexual assault or from falling.

The aunt of the deceased has further accused the Police of tampering with the investigation to shield Reverend Giddings from probe and possible prosecution for murder. There are several concerns here regarding the Police investigation. The first concern is that no arrests have been made since the incident. According to the aunt of the deceased, Odell's entry into Reverend Giddings' fenced compound was observed by the night watchman who is said to have admitted that much to the Police.

Additionally, from all indications, the Police did not protect the crime scene and neither has it arrested any suspects although available evidence suggests it is a homicide which occurred in an area (Rev. Giddings' home) that was strictly off limits to the public. Moreover, the removal of Odell's body from the hospital to the funeral home sans an official autopsy and without the acknowledgement or acquiescence of the family, has given rise to strong suspicions that the Police investigation has been compromised by incompetence and bribery intended to get Rev. Giddings off the hook.

This newspaper notes that in homicide investigations of this nature, all those who were in Rev. Giddings' fenced compound should provide answers about Odell's activities at Rev. Giddings' home on the day she was found unresponsive with blood oozing out of her ear. According to accounts given by the security, Odell walked into Rev. Giddings' compound fully conscious and not appearing distressed.

Although it is not exactly clear what happened or how it happened yet, it can be deduced from circumstantial evidence that the young Odell was murdered right in Rev. Giddings fenced compound because there were no intrusions from outside to which blame can be laid.

In this regard, Rev. Giddings and the inhabitants of his fenced compound should be considered prime suspects in this matter but the Police, just as it did in the Matthew Innis' homicide case, bungled either through deliberate and conscious action or through mere incompetence. In this case at bar, money allegedly changed hands between the Police and Rev. Giddings and for this, according to Odell's aunt, no arrests have been made and neither has any autopsy been conducted which would determine the actual cause and approximate time of death.

The Daily Observer notes that this is not the first of such cases in which incompetence, the lack of capacity and pecuniary considerations have tended to influence the outcomes of criminal investigations. This cannot be allowed to continue. A poor family today is in distress, having lost someone promising on whom the family was depending for the future.

Giddings, according to his own accounts to Daily Observer reporter, Hannah Geterminah, said, "I was informed about the incident by my nephew Abraham, after playing pool for about three hours". Later he realized there was no water in the room "and so I called Diana, my other daughter, and asked why there was no water. But I was told that Abraham, my nephew had left his room to pump water [and] that was how they discovered the unconscious body of the Odell."

How she got there before allegedly being discovered by Giddings' son is a mystery known perhaps only to the inhabitants of the compound since there were no reports of intrusion by outsiders. Against this backdrop, charges by Odell's aunt that she was murdered allegedly by Rev. Giddings or by someone in his fenced compound and that Police investigators have been compromised cannot be outrightly dismissed.

In the opinion of this newspaper, Rev. Giddings remains a principal suspect in this murder mystery and cannot be a mere person of interest. The removal of the near-lifeless woman's body from Giddings' yard to the hospital and then from the hospital to the funeral home without the conduct an official autopsy has created much room for suspicion that the Police is engaged in cover-up at the expense of the grieving families whose promising child was cut down seemingly by a sexual predator.

The leadership of the LNP must come clean on this matter. From the 22nd of May, the day on which Odell's near-lifeless body was discovered to now is reasonably enough time within which to establish cause and approximate time of death. Additionally, the Police must desist from the practice of taking homicide victims from the hospital mortuary to the funeral home without the conduct of an autopsy to determine probable cause and time of death.

Indeed the Police must come clean on Odell's murder investigation!

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