Veronica Kollie, aunt and guardian to Odell Sherman, the high school student whose corpse was discovered early Tuesday, May 22, 2019, at the home of Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County, has called on women’s groups, human rights organizations and civil society organizations to ensure the family get justice for their deceased daughter.
Left in the dark
Madam Kollie says she sees no reason why authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) freed those that were arrested in connection to Odell’s death. She added that inasmuch as the security on duty at Rev. Giddings’ residence confirmed that Odell passed through the gate consciously, “that alone confirmed the speculations that she was murdered from the yard.”
According to her, the police are not relating to her about the outcome of the investigation proceedings to bring to book the perpetrator(s) of the act, rather the officers are working directly with Rev. Giddings, who is also a “person of interest to the case.”
Madam kollie informed the Daily Observer that she was not informed about how the girl’s remains were taken from the ELWA Hospital to the St. Moses Funeral Home along the Somalia Drive.
She accused Rev. Giddings of using his financial influence to “tamper with the case to save his own reputation, but we will not allow Odell’s death go down the drain without getting the required justice.”
“If it causes me remain naked, and sit on that main road, without eating and drinking, as a way of protest to seek justice for the person, who I felt could have lifted me out of poverty, I will do it. I strongly believe that the community will support my case,” Madam Kollie said.
Madam Kollie said since Odell was discovered unconscious at the home of Rev. Giddings, he has paid a visit at their residence once, which occasion he went to arrange the funeral rites of Odell, promising to take full responsibility of the burial expenses.
“It is unfortunate to hear Rev. Giddings saying on the radio that he does not know Odell, who was one of the direct beneficiaries of his Liberian Ghana Mission (L-GM) scholarship program,” Madam Kollie said.
She recalled how Odell’s class sponsor informed her (Kollie) that Odell went to him begging to allow her benefit from L-GM scholarship program, because her parents could not afford to pay the full cost of her tuition, which the sponsor accepted.
Rev. Giddings is the chief executive officer of the L-GM. In an exclusive interview, he told the Daily Observer that his organization awards scholarship funds to thousands of students in liberia and therefore he could not be expected to know Odell Sherman personally.
Madam Kollie said the death certificate that was given to her by the ELWA Hospital, which is in Odell’s stepfather’s possession, established bleeding from the ear, and that she either died as a result of sexual abuse or from falling; something the Police said is confusing, and might only be established by a pathologist, who will determine the main cause of death.
Madam kollie said the late Odell lived with her for five years in Duazohn in a very deplorable condition, but still managed to pay the girl’s secondary school fees, “without knowing that she was going to die in an unexplained situation” upon completing her West African Senior Secondary Examination (WASSE).
She identified the late Odell as a submissive child, who was the daughter of Madam Kollie’s older sister, who lives around the Congo Town belt. Prior to her death, Odell and four other children lived with Madam Kollie for the past five years.
Madam Kollie said though they lived in a zinc shack, the late Odell was a decent child who knew the importance of education. She added that due to Odell’s efforts, Madam Kollie invested in the girl’s education, made her to strongly believe that Odell could one day improve their living condition, “but her life was taken away without the least notice to the family.”
“When my friends were going out, I remained home just because of my children… people called me ‘oldma’, because of my children. Then it when it was time for me to celebrate my first graduation, Odell’s life was cut off. God, you are in the highest of Heavens, but you are seeing us oh! Fight for me and give my daughter justice,” Madam Kollie wailed as she recalled he great expectations she had for Odell.
“My bluffer-jo,” she said trying to remember with fondness, “whenever she is dressed and going out, I can say to myself that my dream is coming true, not knowing that some devilish-minded person(s) have planned to take her life from us. Oh God… she was to give me my first celebration, but it has turned this way.”
Rev. Giddings: ‘No response to Odell’s mom’
Rev. Giddings at a news conference on Monday, May 27, 2019, denied any wrong in Odell’s death, saying that he did what any parent would do by taking Odell to the hospital after seeing her lying unconscious.
“I was informed about the incident by my nephew Abraham, after playing pool for about three hours,” Giddings said.
He said that after leaving from the pool room, he realized that there was no water in the room, “and so I called Diana, my other daughter, and asked why there was no water. But I was told that Abraham, my nephew has left his room to pump water [and] that was how they discovered the unconscious body of the Odell.”
Rev. Giddings said he has no response for Odell guardian’s accusation that he is using his financial influence to tamper with the investigation to save his reputation, “because that is what she said. It is an accusation.”
He said the only involvement he has with the police is just to make himself available when requested by the police for questions, and answered. He added that the police visited his home on Thursday morning, May 30, but did not disclose the outcome of the police visit.
Rev. Giddings said the state took Odell’s body from the hospital to the funeral home, which “I am not aware of because I am just a person of interest, not the investigator.”
He said Odell’s benefiting from his scholarship should not be brought into the case, “because I have over 8,000 children on the L-GM program, which makes it impossible for me to know all of them by faces and names.
The LNP has, however, revealed that an autopsy is expected to be conducted on Odell’s corpse to establish the exact cause of death, because the current death certificate produced by ELWA Hospital is “confusing.”
“We cannot say anything further to this,” LNP spokesman H. Moses Carter told the Daily Observer via mobile phone on Thursday.