Late Otu-Jaywheh family accuses police of foot-dragging on investigation and holding onto properties retrieved from crime scenes
Months after the brutal murder of Madame Joyce Otu-Jaywheh the Liberia National Police (LNP) appears no where close to apprehending the culprit and have reportedly left the grief-stricken family of the late Joyce Otu-Jaywheh on their own to decipher for themselves the mystery surrounding the brutal murder of their daughter, mother and wife.
Family sources have told the Daily Observer that since the incident and the subsequent identification of the suspect, who is still at large, the LNP does not appear to be helping to thoroughly investigate circumstances surrounding Otu-Jaywheh’s death. The family further claims that the police have refused to give back properties officers took from the crime scenes.
The head of the family, Toman T. Gboyah, told the Daily Observer that aside from apparent foot-dragging on the investigation which would clearly establish prima facie evidence in the case, the Police have yet to return the properties from the crime scenes by officers assigned to the case . He also stated that officers, including those in the hierarchy, demand money from him before attending to his case.
“We, as a family, are now frustrated by the actions of the LNP. They want to extort money from us whenever we go to do follow up on our case. Seeking justice in this country is very frustrating because the people who are supposed to help you in the process are the ones killing the system. The LNP is of no help to the justice system in this country. They lack sincerity,” he said.
Mrs. Joyce Otu-Jaywheh was brutally murdered in her self-contained fenced residence in the Zoewloh neighborhood of ELWA Community. Preliminary investigation revealed that the victim’s assailant(s) split her head and sliced her throat in her bedroom. Her son, Beko Freeman, now cleared of all charges, was initially declared a prime suspect.
The LNP later declared one Francois Browne wanted for the gruesome act, and called on the public to provide information on his whereabouts. That pronouncement was triggered by a tip-off reportedly received from the mother of suspect Browne, Tellewo Jallah, from her Kakata residence, alleging that he had killed a lady.
But since April this year, the LNP is yet to provide any update on the case, not just to the family but to the public.
No Account of properties taken from Deceased residence
The LNP is yet to give account of items they took upon their arrival at the crime scenes in Paynesville though they have been engaged for over four months now, family sources said.
LNP officers took custody of a Techno-smart phone and US$30.00. The police later retrieved the deceased’s Ford-Explorer jeep and a big generator that were taken and abandoned in Thinker’s Village by her killer(s). The LNP had initially demanded legal documentation that could prove her ownership of the seized items.
But, despite a Power of Attorney presented to the legal team of the LNP by Mr. Gboyah, the police is consistently reneging on the turnover of these items. According to family sources, the husband of the deceased, William Bowee Jaywheh, sent the documentation long time ago. It was he who did all of the documentations for the corpse of the deceased to be flown to the US.
“We, as family members of the late Joyce Out-Jaywheh have come to the realization that the LNP lacks sincerity in its operations. They are not fair to the people they are supposed to serve and this is disturbing for a country like Liberia,” Mr. Gboyah said. “You cannot say you are a protector of lives and properties and you cannot give account for a life that was taken and properties that you took charge of. There is a serious trust problem in this country. And if we cannot trust our security apparatuses then where are we headed as a country?”
He noted that numerous calls and engagement with the Chief Detective on the case, Abu Daramy and the Assistant Commissioner and chief criminal investigator, Alvin James, have yielded no positive results. A member of the LNP legal team, who he only identified as Gbanyah, who is supposed to sanction the release of the items, is also making the case difficult with too much demands. “He is now dodging me,” Gboyah said, adding “They are practically playing fool out of me. I’m being sent all around but nothing is happening.”
Investigation conducted revealed that with the exception of the vehicle, other items that the LNP took custody of cannot be accounted for.
There were several visits paid to the headquarters of the LNP to ascertain the status of the properties but without concrete results yet.
Top officials in the LNP’s Legal and Criminal Investigations Department who asked not to be named as they are not clothed with the authority to speak to the media, said it is a long process that needs to be exhausted in order to have the properties turned over to the designated person.
Though procedures prescribed by the LNP such as obtaining a Power of Attorney and legalizing same have since been done two months ago, the LNP say they have to do due diligence before turning the properties over according to the officer (name withheld).
“We just can’t turn over another person’s property to someone just like that. We have to do all we can to ensure that we are doing the right thing. We have to speak to our counterparts in the US [Interpol] to verify that the information actually came from the deceased’s husband who is in the US,” the Police source said.
However, documents in the possession of the Daily Observer indicate that the USNCB Interpol Washington has since acknowledged receipt of the inquiry from their Liberian counterparts and has since acted upon same.
Asked about the allegations from Mr. Toman that some officers were demanded money in order to relinquish the items, the LNP source said he could not speak on that. When contacted, LNP Chief Criminal Investigator Commissioner Alvin James and the head of its legal department, Cllr. Gbanyah said they could not speak to the media as they are not authorized to do so. “Only the LNP Public Affairs Department is authorized to speak to you people,” both men said.
Efforts made to get in touch with the LNP Public Affairs before press time yesterday proved unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, according to family sources, hopes for justice for the deceased are dwindling by the day with family members fearing that nothing might likely come out of the case. Some family members of the victim, especially her husband, say they are frustrated by the fact that the alleged killer, though identified, is yet to be arrested and the LNP has since remained tightlipped on the case.