By Gboko Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monrovia-The mystery into the whereabouts of Dominic Renner and Win Kortee continues to deepen as the Liberia National Police appears to have make a break in the case.
The disappearance of the duo has been strongly linked to Cheeseman Cole, ex-personnel of the army who was dishonorably discharged for acts of criminality, journalRAGE has gathered from Police sources.
But their whereabouts remain unknown, prompting fears that they may be dead.
Dominic Renner has been missing since Thursday, September 24 while Win Kortee was last seen on Sunday, October 4.
Cheeseman Cole, also a member of a church (chorister and organist) pastored by businessman George B. Kailondo, has been behind the alleged catfishing and torture of 27 men over unfounded suspicion they are gay and his actions were a revelation from God. He was arrested on Friday, October 9 based on a writ of arrest and search and seizure from the family of Win Kortee.
During the Police probing, Cole admitted to tying seven of the victims who showed up to give Police evidence but strongly refuted claims of torture.
He has also denied knowing the whereabouts of Dominic Renner and Win Kortee, saying he never met them but rather chatted with Dominic on a phone of victim Gbada Flomo.
But an accomplice of Cole who was also arrested by the Liberia National Police during the initial arrest on Friday, October 10 has admitted that Dominic and Renner were indeed their captives, Police sources told journalRAGE.
Further to that, Dominic’s call log, according to his family, revealed that Cole’s number—saved as AFL Cole—was the last number called before his disappearance. And, the coordinates of Dominic’s last calls placed him around the suspect’s residence at Palm Wine Station on the Robertsfield Highway.
Police sources said Cole took away US$2,000 + from the missing Catholic laity who was set to travel on Sunday, September 27, to take up an assignment in Ghana as a Marist Brother.
And according to Dominic’s father, Emmanuel Renner, the money was meant to kickstart his son to settle in Accra until his allowance from the Marist Brothers could start rolling.
The accomplice, according to Police sources, furthered that Dominic, like several of the victims, was tortured by Cheeseman Cole and that missing laity repeatedly begged to be spared. It is not known whether he was.
Police sources added based on the accomplice’s revelation, Cole, following the torture of Dominic and his subsequent release, walked the missing Catholic laity to the road. However, it took him a long time to return which was very unusual for his accomplice.
For Win Kortee who has been missing since Sunday, October 4, Police sources revealed that Cole’s accomplice admitted seeing Win—whose hands were tied and was being tortured—when he returned from the market. Sources say he did not explain further.
This revelation means Cole’s faces a slew of charges ranging from kidnapping, grievous bodily harm, assault, and battery, according to a legal expert. The lawyer (name withheld) stated it would be difficult to prosecute Cole for murder if the two missing men are not found.
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.
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.
Family Aghast Over Manner of Investigation
But despite the recent break in the case, the family of Dominic Renner says they have been disappointed in the pace and manner of the investigation. Emmanuel Renner, the father of Dominic, stated that at a point in time he saw Cheeseman Cole on a call telling someone at his house to pack his clothes.
“Telling someone to pack your clothes could mean many things,” said the older Renner. “What if he’s telling them to destroy evidence. It’s his house—where he got to go that he wants to pack his clothes?”
He said when he accosted one of the investigators in whose presence the call was made, he was told it was a lawyer the suspect had called. When contacted, Police spokesman, H. Moses Carter, said a suspect is entitled to many calls he can make.
The older Renner feared that Cheeseman Cole maybe swaying the investigation as he was reportedly arrested with US$500 and handed it to one of the investigators, a claim which could not be independently verified.
The investigation further hit a snag on Saturday, October 10 when a search of the suspect’s residence was aborted due to a lack of vehicles to transport officers of the Crime Services Department (CSD) of the Liberia National Police.
When contacted over the lack of vehicles to transport officers, Police spokesperson, H. Moses Carter, said he would follow up with the investigative team to ascertain as it has not been brought to his office.
The search of Cheeseman Cole’s residence was rather postponed to Tuesday, October 13, and later to the 14. But on the day of the search, Dominic’s father said R6 (leader of the search team) said he was in Duport Road and thus the search has been postponed to Thursday, October 15.
Dominic’s father, also a former Police officer, said he asked the investigative team to transfer Cole’s accomplice to another cell in order for his statement to not be interfered with. However, he added, he remains unsure whether it was done.
AFL Distances From Cole
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense, in a brief statement to journalRAGE has distanced the Armed Forces of Liberia from the actions of the ex-soldier. According to the statement, Cheeseman Cole was dishonorably discharged from the army since 2019. “The Ministry of National Defense takes seriously the continuous linking of the soldier’s action to the Armed Forces of Liberia by FrontPage Africa [journalRAGE].
As the case of the missing men lingers and with Cole set to be charged and forwarded to court, the family of the missing men and the victims of Cheeseman Cole’s brutalization wrapped as proselytization continue to hope on the Liberia National Police to bring justice and serve closure. Investigation continues.
Since you’re here…
… we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting journalRAGE’s independent journalism on LGBT issues in Liberia and the media. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all.
Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. journalRAGE’s journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.
We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support journalRAGE from as little as $5 – and it only takes probably less than a minute. To donate, click here.