Liberia: Odell Sherman Homicide Investigation - One Last Opportunity to Redeem a Tarnished Image

Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., M.D. is the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, DC (left) and late Odell Sherman (right) on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

The attention of the Daily Observer is once again drawn to the story carried in its June 14, 2019 edition written by Hannah Geterminah headlined,"Odell's Mother Wants Speedy Investigation in Daughter's Death"

According to the story, Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman is calling on the Liberian government through the Liberia National Police (LNP) t do everything humanly possible to bring to book those responsible for her daughter's untimely death which is reported to have resulted from a traumatic incident that occurred on the premises of Reverend Emmanuel Giddings.

According to Police spokesperson, Moses Carter, the investigation will be finalized upon completion of an autopsy which is to be conducted by a government appointee pathologist, however the mother of the deceased has insisted that owing to the lack of trust in the Police, her family has decided to invite the participation of an independent forensic pathologist to represent their interest during the conduct of the autopsy.

But Odell's mother has raised concerns about which it appears, the Police is finding it difficult to shake off. For example, since Odell's near-lifeless body was discovered in Reverend Giddings' walled compound on May 22, 2019, no suspect has been arrested. This is in view of the initial examination conducted by the ELWA Hospital which attributed the cause of death either to sexual assault or to injuries sustained from a fall.

Just why the Police has made no arrests or identified any suspect is puzzling and very troubling. For example, the Hospital report says she was pronounced dead two hours after she was taken to the hospital. It also attributed sexual assault as one of two probable causes of death, the other being a concussion incurred from a fall since blood was reported to be oozing from her nostrils and ears.

According to the mother of the deceased, Police spokesperson Moses Carter had already declared that no foul play was suspected in Odell's death, although no autopsy has ever been performed on which basis such a categorical statement could have been made.

Does the Police intend to await the outcome of the autopsy before it can apprehend possible suspects? If not, then why not exhaust every possible lead, especially those pointing to sexual assault? There appears to be so many missteps on the part of the Police that the public is left wondering whether at all justice would be served in this homicide case like others including the most recent alleged ritual killing of two young boys in which a detained suspect is reported to have escaped from custody.

This newspaper recalls that Mrs. Sherman, on June 3, 2019, told the Daily Observer that she was frustrated by LNP's public announcement that Odell was taken to the hospital by the LNP in consultation with her family. Contrary to claims that she expired at the ELWA Hospital, Odell's mother alleged her daughter was already when her body was taken the hospital.

However Police spokesperson Moses Carter has told reporters that initial reports from the ELWA say Odell's death may be attributed either to sexual assault or to a fall although he did not say who or what may have caused the fall or who may have sexually assaulted her. According to him the actual facts surrounding her death can only be established by a forensic pathologist through the conduct of an autopsy.

But, Odell's mother says she is troubled by the fact that the Police has held on to her deceased daughter's SIM card and has so far refused to divulge details of her call log which would reveal those with whom she was last in contact. It is also unclear how and at whose instance Odell entered Rev. Giddings' compound since he (Rev.Giddings) is said to have told Police that he did not know her.

Moreover, Reverend Giddings' denial is countered by accounts by neighbors who told the Daily Observer that Odell was attending a Methodist school where Reverend Giddings served as a pastor. Neighbors also averred that Odell was a friend of Reverend Giddings' daughter and they lived in the same community.

In view of intense public disquiet over this matter, this newspaper calls on Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue to ensure that no stone is left unturned to unravel this seeming mystery in which investigators appear to have lost their footing. And if the facts show they have, then they need to be recalled from the investigation and be replaced by more competent and seasoned investigators. This could vey well be one last opportunity to redeem the tarnished image of the Police.

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