Liberia: Absent DNA Test, Govt Closes Odell Sharman Case

-- Says 'No Foul Play'

The government of Liberia through the Liberia National Police (LNP) on October 15, 2019, declared that the case of the death of Odell Sherman was closed without conducting the DNA tests on swipes of tissue collected from the body of the deceased, as recommended by the independent pathologist, Dr. Roger Mitchell.

The police in their release said there was "no foul play" in Odell's death. According to LNP, Odell's death was "accidental" and not "homicide".

On August 13, 2019, Dr. Mitchell, while conducting the autopsy said, due to the deteriorated condition of the body, the process could not establish whether Odell was sexually assaulted or not. He, however, recommended that swipes taken of vaginal tissue for analysis and possible extraction of DNA could be examined to determine if she was indeed sexually assaulted. And for that, he was recommending to the government one such institution, Bode Technology, based in the USA. He said Bode Technology Forensic DNA services offer a forensic service that helps streamline analysis and efficiently process large volumes of untested sexual assault kits.

Dr. Mitchell's final autopsy report, which was shared with Daily Observer reporter Hannah N. Geterminah the same day it reached the government indicated that Odell died as the result of "Blunt Force Trauma of the Head," consequence of descent from the height."

Diagram from the Pathologist, Dr. Roger Mitchell, showing a fracture to Odell Sherman's skull, as a probable result of a fall from a height in Rev. Giddings' home.

The police in its report said the autopsy was conducted on August 13, 2019 about 11:55 a.m. with the following representatives who witnessed the process: Rev. Christopher W. Toe and Arthur F. Bease of the Liberia Council of Churches; Alphanso O. Sherman, Stepfather of the deceased; Philip S. Manwue, Bernice Freeman, CSO, WANEP; C. Moses Washington, Coroner, Ministry of Justice; Hannah N. Geterminah, family member; and Vally M. Sheriff, LNP Forensic.

As a Liberian journalist who has interest in knowing the reality of the death of Odell, Hannah Geterminah disguised herself as a family member to the deceased and was in the room to witness the autopsy performed by Dr. Mitchell, which is how her name surfaced in the Liberia National Police (LNP) final report. However, she is not related to deceased.

Dr. Mitchell told the police, while conducting the autopsy, that while it is true that Odell died as the result of "Blunt Force Trauma of the Head," it was important for them to further investigate how she got in the house with her friends not around and what lead to her falling.

He also disclosed that, based on the information given to him by the police before conducting the autopsy, Odell was pronounced dead on arrival (DOA) at the ELWA hospital (ELWA), contrary to earlier reports that she expired hours after arriving at the hospital. Also, besides Rev. Giddings, Dr. Mitchell found out that there were two other males, only identified as John and Wilson, in the house the night she died.

But the police final report said that Odell was pronounced dead while she was being treated at the ELWA hospital.

Dr. Mitchell's autopsy report added that the deceased had multiple abrasions and contusions on her back at her shoulders; the back of her left arm, and the front of her right leg. She also has a large bruise on the back of her head that is only visible after scalp reflection.

Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman told Daily Observer that she was not surprised at the police final report because they dubiously joined with the ELWA hospital to give three conflicting reports about Odell's death.

Mrs. Sherman said her daughter's case has opened her eyes to how people hide under the canopy of God to do evil and be protected by their "so-called wealth."

She said even the pathologist the government is claiming to be 'family independent pathologist' was not because he was directly contacted by the government.

Mrs. Sherman said for the government to even accept to conduct an autopsy on Odell took three months of confusion that ended into protest by her and the Liberia National Student Union (LNSU) before her family could be "fooled by the government" to get her silent.

Mrs. Sherman said to her surprise, on Monday, August 12, her husband received a call from the government informing him to get ready to pick up the pathologist from the Roberts International Airport. According to her, they refused to go because the CV presented to the government was not intended for them to make arrangements without he involvement of the family, but approve his CV and send it back for them to get in communication with him.

The police report has said "it was widely speculated that the deceased student died as a result of being allegedly gang-raped on May 21, 2019 when she went to hang out after completing her West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) exam. However, according to the death certificate in the possession of the LNP from the ELWA hospital, it revealed that the late Odell Sherman was bleeding from the ears, which suggests that she may have died as a result of sexual assault or falling."

The police urged the public to desist introducing sentiments into ongoing police investigations and allow the due process of law to take its course void of speculations.

It may be recalled that Odell Sherman, a 21-year-old student of the Harriet Bailey United Methodist School, was discovered unconscious inside 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).

Rev. Giddings said he personally rushed Odell to the ELWA Hospital after she was found in his home.

Meanwhile, he told the Truth Breakfast Show on Wednesday, October 16, that he is consulting with both God and his lawyer to take action against those that were spoiling his his character, including Mrs. Sherman. Because he knew that he was innocent of the allegation against him.

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