Liberia: Govt Releases Odell Sherma's Body to Family for Interment

The late student Odell Sherman

The Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Liberia National Police (LNP), in a communication dated August 15, 2019, have released the body of Odell Sherman to her family for interment (burial).

The body of Odell, a senior high school student of the Harriett Bailey United Methodist School, was discovered at the home of Reverend Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County during the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 22, 2019, after the completion of her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, Mother of the deceased, told Daily Observer in a telephone interview that the body release letter is the first communication the family has received from the Government of Liberia since Odell's lifeless body was discovered at the home of Rev. Giddings.

She said though the family has not acknowledged receipt of the government's letter, they are going to a family meeting to decide what their next steps would be.

According to Mrs. Sherman, the way the government is handling her daughter's death case only tells her that the justice system ignores the poor and further indicates that people with money do evil and walk away with impunity.

The government's decision to turn Odell's body over to family members for interment has left many questions unanswered, some of which, only the DNA samples collected by the American pathologist, Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr., would be able to explain. However Dr. Mitchell, upon examining Odell's body parts, extracted some DNA samples and turned them over to the Government of Liberia through its chief investigator, saying that the Government must source the DNA test on its own.

A letter addressed to Mrs. Sherman, signed by LNP Inspector General Patrick T. Sudue, reads:

"Dear, Mrs. Sherman,

We present our complement and deepest sympathy and condolences on behalf of the Administration of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for the demise of your daughter, Ms. Odell Sherman, who passed on May 21, 2019.

Predicated on the postmortem examination that was conducted on the remains of your deceased daughter by your family pathologist on August 13, 2019, Liberia National Police wishes to inform you that you can take delivery of daughter's body from the St. Moses Funeral Parlor for interment while we await the result from the analysis of the autopsy.

Once again, we extend our condolences for the loss sustained."

It may be recalled Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of Washington, DC, on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, conducted an autopsy on the remains of the late Odell Sherman at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor along the Somalia Drive, in Monrovia.

Dr. Mitchell following the close of the exercise disclosed that he is going to examine the specimens taken from Odell's body and the autopsy results would be made known to both the family members and government early this week, but the government has informed the family to carry on interment why they await the result.

The autopsy showed deep fractures on the skull, something that is believed to be the major cause of death but the pathologist, Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., told the family that he could not give a full account of what happened to her until the body parts are carefully examined and findings are arranged before giving family and government his report.

He said because of the deteriorated condition of the body, the autopsy could not establish whether Odell was sexually assaulted or not. However, Dr. Mitchell recommended that swipes are taken of vaginal tissue for analysis and possible extraction of DNA could be examined to determine if she was indeed sexually assaulted.

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