By Gboko Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monrovia-A second search of the residence of Cheeseman Cole yielded no results nor clues into the whereabouts of Dominic Renner and Winston Kortee.
On Friday, October 16, a team from the Liberia National Police accompanied by Emmanuel Renner, father of Dominic, searched the nook and cranny of Cole’s isolated home along the Robertsfield Highway, returning empty-handed with more questions than answers.
The search came a week later following Cole’s arrest after much dillydallying and shillyshallying by the Liberia National Police.
Nestled in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, the three-master bedroom house had already been swept clean of further evidence linking the ex-soldier to the commission of the attributed crimes when the Police arrived.
Cole’s room, according to an eyewitness present during his arrest over a week ago, was filled with an abundance of evidence directly linking him to his crimes, including cell phones of victims, single barrel, pistol, etc.
But during the second raid, nothing could be found, including Cole’s mattress.
And this, Emmanuel Renner, father of Dominic, and Alpha Jones (a victim of Cole whose name has been changed to protect identity), said must be blamed squarely on the lead investigator of the case, Jerry Wymah.
Wymah, according to Renner and Jones, had been pussyfooting and forestalling a second search of Cole’s residence which, they contended, should have happened on Friday, October 9 to further prevent others from entering the house as it was/is a crime scene and the whereabouts of Dominic and Winston are still a mystery.
Furthermore, another eyewitness on the scene when Cole was arrested said Wymah took US$500 found in the possession of Cole which was never reported as part of pieces of evidence submitted to the court.
And the older Renner believes the money may have belonged to his son, Dominic, who had in his possession US$2,800 when he was lured and kidnapped by Cole.
This was verified by Cole’s accomplice in his testimony to the Police that his “Daddy” (Cheeseman Cole) took Dominic’s money as well as his cell phone and that the money found with Cole was part of the larger amount taken from the missing man.
However, the Police charge sheet indicated that US$160.00 was found with Cole, though it was not included in the number of pieces of evidence submitted to the court.
Further absent in the Police’s charge sheet was Cole’s admittance to chatting with Dominic Renner on the phone of another victim.
Besides, Jones said, he (Wymah) gave his phone in his presence to Cole who called his house and gave specific instructions to someone on the other end of the line to “pack his clothes.”
This violated the code of ethics of the investigation, said Renner, a former officer of the Liberia National Police. According to him, Cole should have been allowed to call his lawyer only and his residence—a critical part of the investigation—should have been cordoned off until further notice.
The investigative team had earlier cried over lack of vehicles to transport itself. And when vehicles did become available, Emannuel Renner, father of Dominic purchased 10 gallons of fuel to facilitate the trip.
But Police spokesperson, H. Moses Carter, in an earlier interview stated that the suspect is entitled to many calls as it fell under his Miranda rights. He also stated the issue of lack of transport had not been brought to his attention.
Cole, 39, ex-personnel of the Armed Forces of Liberia 23rd Infantry Brigade who was discharged dishonorably, is at the center of a slew of allegations of brutalizing, torturing, and kidnapping of 27 persons (including the missing Dominic Renner and Win Kortee) over unfounded suspicion they are gay.
Using the social media accounts of his victims, the ex-soldier, according to survivors, lured them to his residence where they were tortured under the guise of cleansing their soul to “go and sin no more.”
And in an interview with journalRAGE using the Facebook account of one of his victims, Cole stated that he received a revelation from God to annihilate Liberia’s LGBT population.
“I’m a servant of God and God spoke to me to get rid of all the gays in Liberia, especially Monrovia. Two months ago. I have gotten 27 gays and they underwent deliverance.
LGBTI persons continue to come under threats and record instances of assault, harassment, and hate speech, according to the 2019 U.S. State Department Human Rights report on Liberia. Last November, a group of people celebrating at a party in Sinkor were attacked and brutalized by community dwellers over unfounded suspicion it was a gay wedding.
LGBTI victims were sometimes afraid to report the crimes to police due to social stigma surrounding sexual orientation and rape as well as fear police would detain or abuse them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the report stated.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) activists reported LGBTI persons faced difficulty in obtaining redress for crimes committed against them, including at police stations, because those accused of criminal acts used the victim’s LGBTI status in defense of their crime.”
Liberian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Article 14.74, 14.79, and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider voluntary sodomy as a first-degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.
And though there has been no publicized case in recent years, harassment and discrimination abound.
Identifying as gay is not illegal in the country. However, it could lead to unprovoked physical violence in a country still living in denial over the existence of its LGBT population and acknowledging their rights which encompass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)—a document which Liberia is an original signatory to.
The Liberia National Police continue to come under a barrage of criticism for its incompetence in handling cases.
Over a fortnight ago, the Police came under a blistering public attack for destroying evidence at the crime scene of discovered bodies of two employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority.
Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, blamed his underlings’ incompetence on pressure. Though he did not indicate the source of emanation.
Jerry Wymah, according to Police sources, is a retired detective of the Crimes Services Department (CSD) of the Liberia National Police. Sources say Wymah was rehired due to being the only professional legal statement taker the Police can boast of, a capacity which the force lacks. Police spokesman, Moses Carter, could not be reached for comment.
For Emmanuel Renner and the family of Winston Kortee, the question over the whereabouts of their sons remain unanswered by apparent lack of interest from the men and women who promised and took an oath to serve and protect.
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