Liberia: Princess Cooper’s Family Seeking Help from ‘Voodoo Priest’?

This government autopsy report comes just weeks after Police spokesman Moses Carter disclosed that the Liberia National Police preliminary report revealed no foul play.

— All out of options to find out what really caused the death of Princess Cooper, her family is contemplating unorthodox measures to find the answers they so desperately need.

In their quest to ascertain the cause of their beloved daughter’s death, the family of the late Princess Cooper has decided to seek the help of a traditional priest.

Their latest decision comes after they have continuously  rejected the government’s pathologist report, which said the young lady died of mainly progressive secondary pulmonary tuberculosis, ruling out any suspicion of foul play.

“To conclude,” said Tony B. Harrison, brother to the deceased, “we are still demanding justice for Princess Cooper, so we are going to seek the help of a voodoo priest to tell us what killed our daughter.”

Harrison, who read his sister’s life sketch at her funeral on Saturday, August 6 at the Resurrection Power Ministries International Life Church, said since the government has failed to ensure justice is served, they will seek help elsewhere.

“We will not rest until justice is served for Princess and all other Liberians, who died mysteriously, have justice. Princess, we love you and we will always celebrate you,” he said.

Cooper’s lifeless body was found face down with blood oozing from her mouth and nose, behind a Lebanese-owned building materials store at the ELWA junction, says the Liberia National Police. 

Her death led to a series of protests and statements of indignation, with many citizens and advocates calling for justice and ensuring that her killer be found and prosecuted. 

Advocates and activists, including other disenchanted Liberians, stormed Capitol Hill, visiting both the Capitol and the Executive Mansion — the seat of the Legislature and the presidency respectively — to present petitions and vent their frustration over how the government was handling the situation.

The Liberia National Police (LNP) said, following a physical examination on Princess’s corpse by its forensic team, there was no foul play in her death. 

“Our forensic team conducted a physical examination on the body of the late Princess Cooper. From the physical examination, [it was] observed that there was no laceration, and there were also no bruises,” said police spokesperson, Moses Carter. He said a coroner’s inquest was also conducted on the body at the John F. Kennedy medical center and “that coroner’s inquest that was conducted… for now, there has been no foul observed. Our investigation is continuing.”

On April 18, 2022, pathologists who conducted an autopsy on the deceased said that she died mainly of progressive secondary pulmonary tuberculosis, a report the family outrightly rejected. The family argued that the deceased had no medical history of TB.

“In our professional and expert opinion, the manner of death is NATURAL,” the pathologists wrote. 

Before the autopsy, the family of the deceased demanded a forensic autopsy on grounds that the cause of death may have been criminal, a request that was denied by the government.

The government had accused the family of trying to distort the pathologists’ report, which the family denied.

As a result, the family did not attend the March 27 clinical autopsy that was conducted by the government.  

“As a family representation, the family authorized me not to attend the autopsy because what they requested was not met,” said Dr. Abel Momo, family spokesperson. 

President George Weah later offered to conduct a second autopsy for the deceased and offered the family to source a pathologist of their choice, since they had rejected the first report. 

The pathologist appointed by the family to conduct a second autopsy on her remains was unable to fly to Liberia due to the outbreak of monkeypox in 23 countries across the world, including Nigeria, where at least one person had died of the disease.

The pathologist from the Philippines, in an email response to the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, cited the “outbreak of Monkeypox in West Africa as one of the reasons for my inability to travel to Liberia to conduct the second autopsy”, as agreed upon with the family of the deceased, along with their lawyer, Tiawan Gongloe, and the former president of the Liberia Council of Churches, Bishop Kortu Brown.

The pathologist, Dr. Servillano Ritualo, according to a government release, also mentioned several issues he deemed concerning, mainly his displeasure with the government’s request for a medical license that qualifies him as a pathologist. 

But Liberia’s Information Minister, Ledgerhood Rennie, noted that the government’s requirement of a recent medical license from Ritualo’s was necessary, “even though a medical license is renewed annually by the country in which one practice — in this case, the Philippines.” 

At this, the family demanded the body of Cooper for burial since they felt they could not get the answers they needed from the Government of Liberia. However, the government agreed with a caveat, that the family accept the government’s autopsy reports as final. 

This proposition the family flatly rejected, threatening to leave the body with the Government of Liberia and conduct their own memorial service for Princess.  After many stand-offs between the family of the deceased and the Liberian government, the body was released to the family for final rites and interment. 

However, after the proactive battle — the government released the body to the deceased family — leading to her finally being interred on August 6, in Johnsonville.  With tears flowing profusely, the family spokesman asked, “Could this be justice when we were flogged, disgraced, and humiliated all because we protested for our sister? Will there ever be justice for Princess?”