Initial autopsy findings:
- Fractured skull indicates a ‘high’ fall in Giddings’ home;
- Two other young men were present at Giddings’ residence the night of the incident;
- Odell expired before her body reached ELWA hospital
Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of Washington, DC, on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, conducted an autopsy on the remains of the late Odell Sherman at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor along the Somalia Drive, in Monrovia.
Following the close of the exercise, Dr. Mitchell disclosed that he is going to examine the specimens taken from Odell’s body and the autopsy results will be made known to both the family members and government early next week.
The autopsy was conducted in the presence of family members of the deceased, a representative of the women group, two representatives from the Liberia Council of churches and the government lead investigator on the Odell Sherman homicide case.
The autopsy showed deep fractures on the skull, something that is believed to be the major cause of death but the pathologist, Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., told the family that he cannot give full account about what happened to her until the body parts are carefully examined and findings are arranged before giving family and government his report.
There was no injury to the spine, the heart, liver or womb. However, how her skull got fractured remains unclear and it depends on the Liberia National Police to conduct a full investigation about what went wrong at the home of Rev. Giddings. However, during the morning of July 3, 2019, Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, mother of the late Odell Sherman, in a peaceful protest at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor, said with the conflicting information from both the Liberia National Police (LNP) spokesman, H. Moses Carter, and authorities of the ELWA Hospital, the family no longer trusts the government to conduct the autopsy and investigation about the mystery surrounding the death of their daughter.
Dr. Mitchell said due to the deteriorated condition of the body, the autopsy could not establish whether Odell was sexually assaulted or not. He however recommended that swipes taken of vaginal tissue for analysis and possible extraction of DNA could be examined to determine if she was indeed sexually assaulted. And for that, he was recommending to the government one such institution, Bode Technology, based in the USA. He said Bode Technology Forensic DNA services offer a forensic service that helps streamline analysis and efficiently process large volumes of untested sexual assault kits.
Investigations show that Odell may have fallen from the top of a high stairway in the home of Rev. Emmanuel Giddings not in an unfinished building as was claimed earlier on. According to the investigation, Odell was pronounced dead on arrival (DOA) at the ELWA hospital (ELWA), contrary to earlier reports that she expired hours after arriving at the hospital.
A Daily Observer investigation has also established that, aside from Rev. Giddings there were two other males in the house, only identified as John and Wilson, on the night that Odell met her untimely fate.
It may be recalled that Odell Sherman, a senior high school student of the Harriett Bailey United Methodist School body was discovered at the home of Reverend Emmanuel Giddings in Duazohn, Margibi County during the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 22, 2019, after the completion of her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
On Tuesday morning, August 13, the family of the late Odell Sherman said they were abruptly informed on Monday, August 12, 2019, that their recommended pathologist, Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., had arrived in Liberia around noon the same day, though they were expecting approval of the pathologist’s credentials as per their communication with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
“To our surprise, on Monday, August 12, my husband received a call from the government informing us to get ready to pick up our pathologist from the Roberts International Airport. We refused to go because the CV presented to the government was not intended for them to make arrangements behind our back with the pathologist, but approve his CV and send back to us and we were going to get in communication with him,” Mrs. Sherman said.
Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr. is the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, D.C., a position he has held since February 2014. He is licensed to practice medicine in Washington DC. Dr. Mitchell has performed over 1,400 autopsy examinations in his career and has testified as an expert on numerous cases.
He also is board certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology and a Fellow with the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). Dr. Mitchell has recently served as the National Co-Chair for the National Medical Association’s (NMA) Working Group on Gun Violence and Police Use of Forces.
Meanwhile, in a related development, Dr. Mitchell has disclosed that prior to the conduct of the autopsy he conducted a survey and appraisal of the crime scene, which he noted was located within Rev. Giddings’ home, contrary to initial Police reports quoting accounts by Rev. Giddings that Odell’s body was discovered outdoors in his yard.
So far, the Police have not disclosed what possible role the two other males present in the Giddings’ residence hat fateful night may have played in the death of Odell, a development which has raised questions about the fairness and transparency of the Police investigation which, according to Police spokesperson, Moses Carter, had earlier ruled out foul play as a possible cause of death.