Liberia: Autopsy Amid Claims of ‘No Foul’

Preliminary  investigation from the Liberia National Police so far indicated “no foul play in the death of Ms. Cooper (right) despite being found face down in a pool of blood that had oozed from her mouth and nose.   

.... ANC and LP says unresolved mysterious death threatens country peace 

The Ministry of Justice has requested the “immediate conduct” of an autopsy on the body of Princess Cooper, the lady whose lifeless body was found facedown in a fence behind the  FAWAZ Building Construction Company at the ELWA Junction, Paynesville City. 

Ms. Cooper was a resident of the Tweh Farm, Bushrod Island Community. She was 25-years old. Her lifeless body was found face down in a pool of blood that had oozed from her mouth and nose, according to the Liberia National Police.

The call for autopsy by the Ministry of Justice comes after police spokesman Moses Carter claimed that the preliminary investigation shows no indication of foul play against Ms. Cooper. In a live video update over the weekend, Carter disclosed that preliminary investigations into the mysterious death of Princess Cooper show no foul play.

He added that the physical examination conducted established no laceration and bruises on Ms. Cooper’s body. Carter told a news conference that a portion of the fence in which the corpse was found is currently under serious police surveillance, but the investigation so far shows no foul or cause of suspicion.

But after much public outcry, especially venting vexation with the police’s initial preliminary investigation, the Ministry of Justice has moved, in a bid to calm tension and assure the public that the investigation will be credible, regardless of Carter’s remarks.

“Although an initial report by the police coroner and forensic team is available, the conduct of an autopsy will help establish the actual cause of deaths,” The Minister of information, Ledgerhood Rennie, said in a statement. “Liberian pathologists Benedict S. Kolee and Zoebon K. Kparteh have therefore been asked to carry out independent post-mortem examinations on the remains of the two.”

The autopsy called by the government will also be conducted on the body of Melvin Togba to establish what led to their deaths.

‘Update based on inquest’

Meanwhile the police, via its spokesman, has clarified that it has not brought to closure the ongoing investigation into the mysterious death of Ms. Cooper, who was found lying unconscious in the compound of the FAWAZ Building Material Company at the ELWA junction.

The police noted in their statement that some individuals have been parading with posts that the Police Spokesman has brought the case to a close by declaring that there is “no foul play”.

The LNP clarifies that its spokesman’s information was based on the Coroner's inquest as conducted by the Coroner of the country in the presence of two medical doctors and a family member of Ms. Cooper at the John F. Kennedy hospital.

“Carter intimated that, as of yet, no cause of death has been established and that the Coroner's inquest conducted revealed no laceration (cut) or bruises on the body of the deceased, contrary to reports that the body of the late Cooper was bruised and lacerated. The LNP assures that it takes this investigation very seriously and will explore every means possible to investigate the circumstances of the death of the late Princess Cooper.”

Ms. Cooper, according to the police, died at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, on March 24, after she had been rushed there by security officers responding to an emergency call in the Fawaz fence.

Her remains, the police said, had been deposited at the JFK morgue for preservation while the investigation continues in establishing facts and circumstances surrounding her death.

“Three private security guards were taken at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police and are currently undergoing interrogation while residents of the Compound, as well as employees of the company who were present in the compound before and during the incident, are all being considered as Persons of Interest to assist the investigation,” the police said.

For Togba, the LNP said the deceased was observed lying in his room with minor bruises on his face and leg on March 24, the same day Ms. Cooper's death occurred.

Togba was 36 and lived in Jallah Town, according to the police.

“Our team immediately responded to the scene and conducted a physical examination of the body. The deceased was observed lying on his bed with no stabbing wound or laceration on his body. The team also observed that there was no breakage in the deceased's room. He was then rushed to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center where he was pronounced dead by doctors on duty.  The remains of the deceased had been deposited at the JFK Morgue for preservation, while the investigation is continuing in establishing the facts and circumstances which led to his death. “

ANC, LP Condemns 

The Alternative National Congress of Alexander Cummings has joined many other Liberians, warning that “the frequency of mysterious deaths, unsolved murders, ritualistic killings and disappearances which have characterized the nearly five-year rule of the CDC-led government under President George Weah, is alarming, worrisome, and frightening.

The ANC leader further said that the many unsolved deaths have increased fear, insecurity, and heightened panic amongst the general citizenry.

“No responsible government would allow its people to live in a state of fear and rising crimes,” Cummings says. “President Weah's administration's actions and inactions have shown that they are irresponsible, and they do not care about the Liberian people.

“The mysterious deaths of Princess Cooper, 25, and Melvin Togba, 36, both of which occurred on March 24, 2022, have joined the long list of unsolved cases over the last few years. Citizens do die in every country. Murders do occur. But governments have a sacred duty to solve it — to catch the murders and punish them,” Cummings argued.

“Even this,” he noted, “we cannot trust President Weah and his administration to do. Since the inception of this government, there have reportedly been more than 20 mysterious deaths, gruesome murders still unsolved, ritualistic killings, and disappearances, with little or no reasonable information to the public on the results of announced investigations, if any.”

Meanwhile, the faction of the Liberty Party loyal to Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County has also said that they are reminded of several other cases of murders counting up to 20, inclusive of four auditors, since the inception of this government. 

“All promises of investigation to bring the culprits to book, have all hit the rock. To say the least, these incidences and their poor management, are abysmally an indictment on the image of our country, and certainly a disincentive for the building of investors’ confidence,” the Nyonblee’s Liberty Party said in a statement signed by its secretary-general, Jacob J. Smith. 

It added: “The Police and other national security institutions must therefore realize that a national security philosophy, rather than a narrow inclination to protect individuals over the state, must serve as our guide in the exercise of our respective national duties.”

The LP said the deaths and their poor management, are abysmally an indictment of the image of our country, and certainly a disincentive for the building of investors’ confidence.