Monrovia — The family of the late Odell Sherman said it they were abruptly informed on Monday, August 12, 2019, that their recommended pathologist, Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., the Chief Medical Examiner for the City of Washington, DC, arrived in Liberia around noon the same day, though they were expecting approval of the pathologist’s credentials as per their communication with Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Dr. Mitchell Jr. is expected to conduct the autopsy today on the remains of Odell at St. Moses Funeral Parlor along the Somalia Drive, in Monrovia.
After President George Weah assured a feminist group that the government would cover the expenses of any independent pathologist of the Sherman family’s choice, to conduct an autopsy on the remains of the deceased, the family sent forward the credentials of Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., M.D.
“The reason for us bringing in an independent pathologist was because the police were not being forthcoming with us about the investigation of our daughter’s death. We could not trust them, therefore we opted to bring in our own pathologist, which the Ministry of Justice consented,” Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, Odell’s mother, explained. After submission of our pathologist’s credentials, the family was waiting for the government to respond to our letter but, unknown to us, the government was communicating with Dr. Mitchell Jr. without our family’s consent, while we kept running up and down, doing follow-up and awaiting government’s response.
“To our surprise, on Monday, August 12, my husband received a call from the government informing us to get ready and pick our pathologist from the Roberts International Airport. We refused to go because the CV presented to the government was not indented for them to make arrangements behind our back with the pathologist, but rather approve his CV and send back to us and we were going to get in communication with him,” Mrs. Sherman said.
She said after they were informed that Dr. Mitchell was to enter the country by 7 PM on Monday, they were later informed by their family source that he had arrived in the country since noon.
Mrs. Cynthia Rivercess Sherman, Odell’s biological mother
“With the way things are right now” Mrs. Sherman said, “I am only hoping in God for the result I will get today but I do not trust the process,” Mrs. Sherman said. However, she noted that the friends who helped her locate Dr. Mitchell in the United States advised her that the pathologist is a professional and can be expected to conduct a thorough, unbiased investigation.
It may be recalled that Odell Sherman, a senior high school student of the Harriett Bailey United Methodist School near-lifeless 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).
She was later pronounced dead shortly after doctors at the ELWA Hospital, where she was rushed, examined her. But Mrs. Sherman reports that the hospital has so far issued three separate medical reports on Odell, in one of which they gave the deceased the wrong name.
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 Force.
A letter addressed to the Minister of Justice from Odell’s family, signed by Alphonso O. Sherman, father of the deceased, reads: “Dear Cllr. Dean, Greetings from the Sherman’s Family. The family is grateful to the GoL for the attention and commitment made to pay for the independent pathologist that will be hired to conduct an autopsy on the remains of our late daughter, Odell P. Sherman. We acknowledged receipt of your letter stating that, according to the Liberia Medical Council, Dr. Rockefeller Cooper is not licensed to practice in Liberia, thereby disqualifying him from conducting an independent autopsy on the remains of our late daughter. In said regard, please see attached the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Dr. Roger A. Mitchell Jr., an independent pathologist, with whom negotiations will be concluded, based on your feedback after the perusal of his credentials by you and the Liberia Medical Council,” the letter concluded.