Liberia: Police Struggle to Identify Suspect in 7 Year Old Death

Lomel Davis and his late daughter

Officers of the Liberia National Police say they are having difficulty in identifying any potential suspects in the death and alleged rape of the seven-year-old girl, whose lifeless body was discovered floating in an abandoned sewage tank in the Nimba United, Mount Barclay Community.

The deceased met her untimely death when she was sent by her step-grandmother to buy pampers in a nearby Jalloh shop on July 24, and never returned.

The family, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, and the Liberia National Student Union met yesterday at the LNP headquarters in Monrovia with the heads of the crimes division, who revealed that the police have not yet identified any potential suspects, but vowed that they are working assiduously to find the murderers.

“For us, we are going beyond Montserrado County. Maybe that crime was perpetrated elsewhere. We are doing everything possible for this case, but there has been no potential suspect yet,’’ said Prince Mulbah, LNP Deputy Inspector general for the Crime Service Division.

The family had gone to meet with police investigators to know how far the investigation was and if any arrests made. Maminah Gorlon Carr-Gaye, Assistant Minister for Children at the Ministry of Gender, acted as a liaison between the family, LINSU, and the police.

The victim's father, Lomel Davis, claims that after the child was found, officers from the Mount Barclay police station contacted the Ministry of Justice coroner, who then asked a community medical practitioner to do an examination — a process which confirmed that the child had been sexually abused. “[The medical practitioner] inserted her four fingers in the child’s vagina and it penetrated and she said the girl was tampered with sexually before her death,” Davis said. 

However, according to Mulbah, the medical practitioner has now declined to appear for additional questioning over how she arrived at her assessment.
“Let the medical practitioner who said the child was raped come forward for questioning. We need to know where she works, whether she is a certified medical practitioner,” Mulbah said. 

“I am burning inside me. When this thing happened we took it to the Mount Barclay police station, which informed us that Central had already been notified. So how far is the case now,” the mother of the child, Joelline Nehwon, asked.

The victim’s grandmother claimed in an interview with Mae Azango, a FrontPage Africa reporter, that when they called the police to the scene where the body was found, the officers claimed they lacked a vehicle to round up people of interest but asked for money to buy four gallons of gasoline. She only gave them three.

“The police came and carried a few persons of interest for questioning, and some of the people who the police carried are back in the community because we hear their lawyer stood for them. Since then, we have not heard anything from the police yet,” the grandmother said. 

“When I left the Jalloh shop,” she continued, “I asked at the carpenter shop, the block factory, and small business people selling on the road near Jalloh shop if they saw my granddaughter, but they told me no. I was surprised that nobody saw the child walking on the road when they all were sitting near the same road when the child passed.”

LNP spokesperson, Moses Carter, said the lawyers for the suspects stood for them until probable cause can be established.

“It was established by a medical person that the child had been raped or tampered with before she was murdered. But you know rape is a very sensitive matter. We cannot keep the people of interest beyond 48 hours, so their lawyers stood for them until we can conclude the investigation and, if need be, we will call them back,” Carter said.

When asked about alleged extortion on the part of the police, Carter said police officers who are accused usually deny taking money from victims, but said it is very wrong for the police to take money from distressed citizens.