By Lincoln G. Peters
The Liberian Government has released two autopsy reports detailing the cause of deaths of two young Liberians-Princess Cooper, 25 and Melvin Togbah, with Pathologists disclosing that the former died of tuberculosis, while the latter from unnatural death linked to severe head injury, severe intoxication with cannabis, and bilateral hemothorax.
But President Weah has ordered that another autopsy be performed on the remains of Ms. Cooper.
The autopsies were conducted by two government-trained pathologists Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kparteh.
“The scientific cause of the death is also named progressive secondary pulmonary tuberculosis. In our professional and expert opinion, the manner of death of Princess Cooper is natural death. Her body had nostrils, oral cavity with clotted blood and sunken eyes,’’ said Dr. Benedict B. Kolee.
Princess’ lifeless body was discovered in a pool of blood inside the Fawaz Building Material store compound at the ELWA junction in Paynesville in March this year.
Releasing the autopsy report Monday, 18 April 2022 at the Ministry of Information’s special press briefing, Dr. Kolee said “it’s clear that she died as a result of natural death caused by tuberculosis.”
Kolee said the report was based on their professional, expert opinion and the comprehensive autopsy that they have conducted on the body of the late Ms. Cooper.
But Princess’ family has rejected the government report, saying what was reported by the government is not consistent with the normal happening to their daughter, describing it as totally unacceptable.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Kolee said their autopsy report is out and available to the public for appraisal and review.
He indicated that they are having all of the information and the remains are available for further examination.
Dr. Kolee boasted that no other autopsy conducted by any pathologist will go contrary to their finding.
On 24 March 2022, Ms. Cooper’s unresponsive body was found outside at about 1320hr lying on the floor in a pool of blood in the fence of a building hosting the Fawaz Building Materials Store in Paynesville.
The building is located at the ELWA Junction on the right of the road toward the SKD Sports Complex about one block away from the ELWA Junction.
Ms. Princess Cooper was rushed to the emergency room of the John F. Kennedy memorial center where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
The late Ms. Cooper had long dreadlocks on her head, length of 167cm and an estimated weight of 68kg.
She was said to have been engaged in markup and catering, prior to her death, and she was widely known for that.
According to Dr. Kolee, three days prior to the death of Ms. Cooper she was presented to the New Community Clinic in St. Paul Bridge complaining of fever, non-productive cough and chest pain.
Dr. Kolee explained that physical examination shows crepitation and wheezing over the lung and laboratory work shows elevated white blood cell count.
Pathologist Kolee disclosed that Ms. Cooper’s stomach was markedly distended and contained blood of (2 L, 410g) while the mucosa and walls of the stomach had no gross lesion and the small intestine, appendix, caecum, colon, and anus had no lesion.
Speaking on the autopsy of the late Melvin Togbah, the government-trained pathologist Dr. Kolee said Togbah died an unnatural death, explaining that the scientific cause of death established that he died of severe head injury, severe intoxication with cannabis, bilateral hemothorax.
The autopsy report disclosed that there was no sign of medical treatment because there was skin slippage around the gluteal region 23 cm across, lateral wall of left thigh 13-12cm and occipital region 3 cm across and several others which indicated that he died an unnatural death.
The Liberian National Police said it received a call from a resident of Jallah Town Community on 24 March 2022 at about 1700hr, informing it that there was an unresponsive body of Melvin Togbah lying in his room with multiple wounds.
Receiving the report from Dr. Kolee, Deputy Minister of Justice Cllr. Nyanti Twan expressed thanks and excitement over the comprehensive report on Ms. Cooper and Mr. Togbah’s deaths.
Cllr. Twan said the reports were released by government – trained pathologists, saying it’s now time that Liberians respect their own.
“We are happy [with] this report and what is done here has demonstrated that we have well – trained pathologists in this country that we can depend on,” said Cllr. Twan.
“I am impressed by what I say here today. We will make sure that justice is served and those that need to be prosecuted will be [prosecuted] after investigation,’’ he concluded.
The press conference brought together officials of government, including Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sude, Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Deputy Minister of Justice for Codification, Nyanti Twan, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, and Montserrado County Electoral District #16 Representative Dixson Seboe, among others.
Also in attendance were civil society organizations, women groupings, activists and family members of the late Melvin Togbah.
The family members of the late Princess Cooper were never seen at the press conference.
When asked about the Cooper Family’s absence, the Director of Press and Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information Mr. Lawrence Fahnbulleh said general invitation was given to the public.
However, the family of the late Princess Cooper has rejected the government report, saying there was no official communication from the Government of Liberia given to the bereaved family or their lawyer informing them about an autopsy report that was due to be released Monday, 18 April 2022 about their daughter’s death.
The official spokesperson of the Cooper Family, Dr. Abel Momo said they just received the information on social media platform Facebook.
“Following the autopsy report on the media, we feel that what was reported by the government is not consistent with the normal happening of our sister and we think the report … is [totally unacceptable and we cannot take such a report from the government,” said Dr. Momo.
“However, we are still discussing as a family what is the way forward because it’s consistent with the pattern of death,” he added.
Momo said he got hint that his sister, Ms. Cooper took treatment at the Clinic in St. Paul Bridge, but what Ms.Cooper presented was a case that is not consistent with tuberculosis.