The family and relatives of the late Odell Sherman were, to their shocking surprise on yesterday, informed by the management of the St. Moses funeral parlors that they would not take possession of their late daughter’s remains for interment which had been planned for Saturday August 24, 2019.
According to a family spokesperson, upon arrival at the funeral parlors, they were informed by its management that the Police had not instructed them to release the body to the family.
When questioned why, according to the family, the management of the St. Moses Funeral parlors informed them that Odell’s body which was dissected by the Pathologist during the autopsy has since not been reassembled because the Police had up to Saturday not given approval to morticians to prepare the body for interment.
Meanwhile, several phone calls placed to Police spokesperson, Moses Carter between 4:40 p.m. and the closing of this story to confirm the accounts provided to the Daily Observer went unanswered. A text message sent to him also went unanswered.
It can be recalled that the body of Odell, a senior high school student of the Harriett Bailey United Methodist School, was discovered at the home of Reverend Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County during the early hours of Tuesday, May 22, 2019, shortly after she completed writing her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The discovery of her lifeless body had fueled wild public speculations that she had been sexually assaulted.
However, Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., Chief Medical Examiner for the City of Washington, DC, right after the conducting the autopsy said due to the deteriorated condition of the body, the autopsy could not establish whether Odell was sexually assaulted or not.
Dr. Mitchell recommended that swipes be taken of the deceased vaginal tissue for analysis and possible extraction of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information that could be examined to determine if she was sexually assaulted. DNA samples would also provide other critical information such as whether she had intimate contact with anyone in the Giddings’ household and identify the person.
That means, DNA samples would have to be collected from each member of the Giddings household present on the night of Odell’s death, to see if they match any of the samples collected from the body of the deceased.
And for that, he was recommending to the government one such institution, Bode Technology, based in the USA. The Bode Technology Forensic DNA services offer a forensic service that helps streamline analysis and efficiently process large volumes of untested sexual assault kits. But it remains unclear whether swipes were taken of her vaginal tissue for DNA analysis.
The full result of the autopsy conducted by Dr. Mitchell indicated that the cause of Odell’s death is “Blunt force trauma of the head due to descent from a height.”
The report added that “at autopsy, the decedent has multiple abrasions and contusions of 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.”
The autopsy report further said “there is blood coming from the left ear. Full dissection of the scalp reveals an impact site at the back of the head with a fracture radiating along the left lambdoid suture to involve the left temporal skull and internal petrous bone at its base. This is associated with intracranial hemorrhage (blood) and brain swelling”.
The report furthered that “there are no visible injuries of the external genitalia, vagina, or rectum. Nonetheless, a post-mortem sexual assault examination was performed with evidence collection. All the injuries are consistent with a descent from the upper-level platform in a single event impacting the broad surface of the tile floor.”
Dr. Mitchell said the circumstances that led to Odell’s descent from the upper-level platform is unknown, and therefore requires further investigation, which can only be done by LNP officers, but Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, Odell’s mother, in a telephone convection told Daily Observer that after the internment of her daughter, she does not want any inquiry from the government, because the entire process is not credible
Mrs. Sherman said the government cannot conduct a credible DNA examination to establish whether Odell was sexually assaulted at the home of Reverend Giddings, “because the government sided with the principal accused”, she lamented.
She said Liberia is a country where there is no justice for the poor so, “I leave my daughter business with God to fight our battle.”