Over the last decade, in addition to other critical issues; Liberia has faced a series of questionable death cases. With a newly democratic-elected government under the leadership of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah installed into the office just two years shy of the said era being concluded, many Liberians clung on to the slogan “Hope for Change” as if it was an old rugged cross. Unfortunately, it would seem as though such societal ills have found a path for continuation as we Liberians can relate to the unsolved cases of decedents Joyce Jaywheh, Tyrone Brown, Matthew Innis, Odel Sherman, Yatta Kamara and a host of other decedents who apparently were of non-prominence.
In commemoration of the first anniversary since the controversial death of Mr. Mathew J. Innis, Deputy Director for Micro-finance in the Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia ,this paper will discuss the implausibilities of Innis’ death in relationship to a possible “hit and run” motor vehicle accident (MVA) which occurred barely 3 days after the release of the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) and Kroll Report (KR) on the missing $16 Billion LD Saga and the US$25m infusion exercise.
Coincidentally, as it was alleged that Matthew Innis had opposed both the idea and decision by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah to execute the said infusion exercise, due to its inconsistency with the guidelines of conventional banking procedures and practices, primary focus will be placed not only on the synopsis of eyewitness testimonies, but also on the forensic opinion of the author as it relates to standard death investigation for the establishment of the true cause and manner of Innis’s death. Viewers’ discretion is also advised, due to the nature of the graphic content embedded in this publication to support the facts may be found offensive.
Statement of Fact
Decedent Matthew Innis was found near his vehicle on the 72nd Broad Street during the early morning hours (1:30-2:30) on Sunday, the 3rd of March 2019. To enable the Liberian National Police (LNP) support their conclusion of a “hit and run” incident, three eyewitnesses, in an interview with KMTV, provided accounts at the LNP’s Headquarter on March 8, 2019.
To have a clear understanding of the misinformation, disinformation and inconsistencies embedded within the accounts of these witnesses (Matthew Farkollie , Christian Kennedy and Henry Davis), I would first present a regurgitation of their accounts in the order of their interview with KMTV which would then be cross-referenced with the expected forensic findings as it relates to photographs of the decedent.
Matthew Farkollie who resided on the 72nd Broad Street stated that on that fateful morning (3/3/19), between 1:30-2:00AM, whiles in bed, he was informed by his twin brother that a car had just killed “Skip” [Matthew Innis’s Alias]. He then stated that upon his arrival at the scene, he did not see the decedent as expected, but noticed pieces of a vehicle’s broken headlights and dust cover. He was then informed by others present, that Innis was taken by the police to Peace & Hope Clinic, located at the 72nd junction. At this point, he then called his brother who indicated that he was in the vehicle with the police transporting Innis who was laying basically on his laps to ELWA Hospital after the clinic denied admission.
After receiving this information, he then proceeded to Innis’s residence to have his family informed about what had transpired. He, Innis’s son (referred to as Jay) and another person from Innis’ resident were picked-up by a friend as they proceeded to the ELWA Hospital. Upon arrival, he noticed Innis’ jeep and met some family members who were already aware of the situation. This eyewitness also stated that, he was informed that Innis was pronounced dead upon arrival, a statement which he verified by viewing the body of Matthew Innis with blood oozing from his mouth as he laid on the backseat of his own jeep [an indication that Innis was transported from the crime/death scene using his own vehicle]. When quizzed by journalist, he denied Matthew Innis being a drunkard.
Christian Kennedy, another resident of the 72nd Broad Street Community, stated that around 2:05 AM he came out to “fetch of cool breeze” and use the restroom where he noticed an individual identified as Ahmed seated in the front of the residence charging his phone. As he stepped over the cross-walk in anticipation of cooling off, he noticed a white vehicle in front of the former Mount Zion fence from which Mr. Kennedy claimed that decedent Matthew Innis disembarked from the driver seat, walked around the vehicle, shook his head and got back into the vehicle.
In about 10-15 minutes later, after he retuned inside his home by 2:11 AM, he heard a sound (uurrhhh-boom!!) as in tires screeching, followed by an impact. As he was partially asleep, he was awakened by this sound at which point in time, he heard Ahmed across the road screaming for help [in Liberia Colloquial]- Big brother Handful, Y’all Come, somebody been hit by a car. [This “Big brother Handful” will also be identified as Henry Davis, whose account will be discussed below].
Kennedy then proceeded to the scene where he noticed a taxi without a licensed plate parked right before a gasoline sale location which was occupied by a male driver and a female in the front passenger seat. Moments later, he heard the female occupant say to the driver- “Ooh!! You hit somebody, let’s go” and away they took off. After failing to chase this unidentified vehicle on foot, he then rushed to his room, took note of the time, grabbed his recorder so as to secure evidence and proceeded to Mr. Innis who was now a victim of a hit and run motor vehicle accident. At this point he took a picture of Innis lying on his back with blood gushing out of his mouth as he gasped for air. As he and others contemplated as to how they could assist victim Innis due to his physique, fortunately for them, three officers were already approaching the scene. With this being a boost to their manpower, they proceeded to use Innis’ own vehicle to have him transported for medical attention at which point in time, he instructed his nephew [later identified as Henry Davis] to sit on the back seat and provide support to Innis’ head whiles he also ask a friend of Innis, referred to as Eric Vah to accompany the party. He then instructed an individual referred to as Lucky Boy to alert Innis’ family and remained awake until the break of daylight whiles in constant contact with those who had carried Matthew Innis.
To support the “hit and run” theory as he concluded his account, Witness Kennedy further added that he saw a vehicle coming from the Jacob’s Town/Red light Junction and headed towards the Kpelle Town Health Ministry in conjunction with the loud sound he heard as described above, was a clear indication that a person was hit by a vehicle.
When quizzed as to how the police got involved, Kennedy stated that an unidentified individual with a blue Nissan car that was parked on the road, rushed to the Jacob’s town Road and brought three (3) LNP officers who were assigned at the Jacob Town Police Depot.
Henry Davis (AKA Handfull), the third and final witness who also resided in the 72nd Broad Street Community in a house opposite the alleged accident scene, stated in his narrative that between 2-2:30AM while laying down with his uncle Christian Kennedy [a journalist by profession, also mentioned in this paper as eyewitness #2]; a friend of his referred to as “Bravo” came knocking at his room window, saying “Handfull, Handfull, car had hit somebody!!! Upon inquiring who the victim was, Bravo could not verify but indicated that the person’s vehicle was parked at the scene.
After delaying for a few minutes as he anticipated this incident being a result of a Friday, March 1, 2019 confrontation with some neighborhood thugs who were in the habit of disguising themselves and harassing residents of the community, he then came outside, went across the street to the scene, asked for the victim and was directed to the back of Innis’ vehicle. After noticing that it was an injured person and based on the physical condition, witness Henry Davis decided not to make physical contact but instead, ran to his room to obtain his notepad, phone and ID card so he could contact the police. This was ironic, giving the fact that his uncle Christian Kennedy, also mentioned taking similar action for the purpose of securing a record of the incident. According to Davis, it was upon his initial return from the scene that he woke up his uncle to make him aware that something serious had happened, a statement which by itself contradicts the account given by his uncle [eyewitness #2].
Upon their return to the scene, they met three (3) LNP officers whom he [Davis] had asked what they could do since Innis had shown signs of life. In response, the officers were trying to inquire the whereabouts of the unidentified Innis’ residence and family, at which point in time, someone stated that he resided in the barracks on the army camp field. From there, two (2) of the officers, a community “block maker” known as Eric Vah and himself (Henry), around 3:00AM as he noted, transported Matthew Innis to the Peace & Hope Clinic as he sat on the back seat of Innis’ vehicle in order to provide support as the victim’s head rested on his lap.
Henry also stated that upon arriving at the clinic, Innis was denied admission due to the lack of space. As they left with the anticipation of getting Innis to the ELWA Hospital, he made it emphatically clear that it was at the 72nd Junction that Matthew Innis “gave up the ghost”. However, he did not raise any alarm until they arrived at the hospital, at which point in time he disembarked from the vehicle, called the officer who was driving along with Eric and told them in a lingo that Innis had “tango-five”; meaning, he was dead.
Henry stated that he then called his uncle (Christian Kennedy) and informed him of Innis’ passing but had also cautioned him not to alert the decedent’s family as his corpse laid on the back seat of his own vehicle and awaited to be attended to by a medical staff. In a matter of minutes, the body was examined by a doctor who immediately pronounced him dead upon arrival. Shortly after, his sister-Esther Innis, close family friend-Oldada Deshield and his wife- Victoria Deshield, arrived at the hospital and were informed by the witness that Matthew Innis was hit by a vehicle and in an attempt to seek medical attention, they brought him to the hospital.
With Innis’ death being confirmed by the doctor (name not mentioned) who pronounced him, the family then found itself in a debate when they decided to request a death certificate due to their adamancy over a $6,500 LD fee that was being charged for the certificate.
Witness Davis further stated that he then suggested to the police that they do a search of Innis’ vehicle before leaving the premises of the hospital out of concern that his death would undergo investigation by the government. During the search, he retrieved Innis’ regular workbag, laptop, phones, 14 compact discs and $1,140 LD in $20 denominations which were inventoried and turned over to Mrs. Victoria Deshield, sister-in-law to the decedent.
After a brief family argument, it was suggested by Mr. Oldada Deshield (Innis’ very close friend) that his remains be taken to the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home, which was around 6:00AM. Since it was early, the body of Innis was not received until 6:15-6:30 AM upon arrival of the authority. Oldada Deshield, Pastor Abel T. Washington and a host of other relatives remained at the funeral home as he [Henry] retuned home.
Whiles at home, he decided to visit the alleged accident scene where he noticed pieces of broken headlight from a vehicle. He then called some individuals from the community to the scene, showed them the broken pieces next to a spot with stagnant water, which he attributed to being urine from Innis which he believed was an indication that Innis got down from his vehicle to urinate at which time he was struck by a vehicle. Shockingly, Henry claimed to have told the police about this discovery when they were all at the ELWA Hospital.
In the conclusion of his interview, Henry stated that all along, from the accident scene to the hospital, he never knew that the decedent was indeed Matthew Innis until he remembered Innis’s vehicle and his residential area whiles talking to Victoria Deshield at ELWA Hospital. After the recognition, as they were about to take the body to Stryker Funeral Home, he decided to join a different vehicle as he was no longer comfortable riding the same vehicle with the deceased. He further added that it was Oldada Deshield who insisted that the body be taken to Stryker after a failed negotiation for the obtaining of a death certificate, since they the family members did not have the requested amount of $6,500 LD at hand, giving the circumstances.
Contradictions & Inconsistencies of Eyewitnesses Accounts
- Witness Christian Kennedy never stated that it was his nephew Henry Davis (AKA Handfull) who woke him from sleep and made him aware of the alleged “hit and run” incident. Contrary, he stated that it was a sound which indicated a sort of impact, as mentioned in his testimony above followed by the outcry for help from “Ahmed”, calling for “Handfull” to come outside as a vehicle had hit someone.
- Looking at Kennedy’s timeline, he stated that he came out to fetch cool breeze and ease himself by 2:05AM and returned to his room at 2:11AM. He was then awakened from his partial sleep, 10-15 minutes later, which equates to a time frame of 2:21-2:26AM by the impact sound he heard and the calling for help by Ahmed. Following this, he went outside to the scene of the alleged accident alone, as in not indicating anything about his nephew “Handfull” being in the room with him or going outside with him to the scene.
- If Kennedy was asleep and only awakened by his nephew Henry Davis about the incident for the first time, then:
- How was it possible for him to have claimed being awakened by a loud impacting sound?
- How could Kennedy have seen Innis’ white vehicle in front of the former Mount Zion fence from which the decedent disembarked from the driver seat, walked around the vehicle, shook his head and got back into the vehicle?
- Considering Christian Kennedy’s attempt to deceive the general public, which version of his attempt to support the “hit and run” theory are the Liberian people to accept:
- How could Kennedy alone and not his nephew Henry Davis, see a vehicle speeding off as he tried to support his “hit and run” theory when he stated initially that when he was partially asleep after returning from being outside briefly, that he heard the loud sound in description of tires screeching, which would indicate the braking of a vehicle, followed by an impact?
- He initial stated that he noticed a taxi without a licensed plate parked right before a gasoline sale location which was occupied by a male driver and a female in the front passenger seat and moments later, he heard the female occupant say to the driver- “Ooh!! You hit somebody, let’s go” and away they took off.
This fact was never supported by his nephew Henry Davis who during his interview, stated that it was he who alerted Kennedy about the incident when he came to their room to collect his phone and notepad at which point in time, Kennedy followed him back to the scene. This would mean that Kennedy’s first visit to the scene was when Davis was returning to the scene, hence; Davis would have also noticed this “taxi” and its occupants and would have also heard the comments being made by the so-called passenger where she told the drive for them to flee as he had struck someone.
- It can be noted that both witnesses Kennedy and Davis claimed to have returned to their room to collect their phones and notepads after seeing Innis’ condition but with different accounts as to what prompted them to take such an action.
- Under the cover of darkness (2:30 AM), how was Henry able to recognize this wet spot and attribute it to being Innis’ urine especially when he stated initially that upon noticing Innis’ body for the first time when he was called to the scene, he returned to his room to retrieve his phone and notepad after which he met LNP officers upon his arrival back on the scene who were making inquiries about Innis, followed by them taking Innis to the Peace Clinic.
- As Henry Davis claimed to have not known that it was Matthew Innis that they were transporting from the scene to the ELWA Hospital by way of the Peace & Hope Clinic:
- How then was it possible that Matthew Farkollie, the first eyewitness to give an account to KMTV state that upon being alerted that Innis was taken by the police to Peace & Hope Clinic, located at the 72nd junction, he then called his brother who confirmed being in the vehicle with the police transporting Innis, who was laying basically on his laps in route to the ELWA Hospital after the clinic denied admission. [Remember, Davis testified in his account that it was on his lap that Innis’ head was rested, an action who was carried out based on the suggestion from Uncle Christian Kennedy who also made mention of this in his account as well].
- Remember, Henry was familiar with Innis’ vehicle prior to the incident, he also mentioned that one of the items turned over to the decedent’s sister was his work bag. Now, if he claimed not to have known Innis until they were at the hospital, how then did he know these mentioned facts?
Summary Statement from the Liberian National Police
The Liberian National Police (LNP) via its Deputy Inspector General for the Crime Services Division; Mr. Prince Mulbah, in addition to a summary of eye witness accounts, confirmed that a death certificate for decedent Matthew Innis was obtained but withheld, due to an ongoing investigation that was being conducted. He further caution mechanical garages with reliance on chapter 9;section 6 of the Vehicle &Traffic Law to report vehicles showing signs of being in an accident without police clearance that may come in for body work, an act which may be suspicious as Innis’ death was being attributed to a “hit and run” incident.
Deputy Inspector General Mulbah, went on to say that the decedent who was Deputy Director for Micro-finance in the Regulation and Supervision Department at the Central Bank of Liberia had nothing to do with the $16 Billion LD Saga or the $25 Million USD Mop-Up Exercise which became both a national and international issue.
In conclusion of the LNP’s statement, police spokesman Moses Carter also encouraged the general public to engage dwellers of the 72nd Community where the Matthew Innis resided as a means of obtaining firsthand information for themselves.
Questions of Facts:
- Was any version of accounts obtained from the Peace Clinic and ELWA Hospital as it relates to their interactions with those who brought Innis to their facilities?
- As indicated by Christian Kennedy and confirmed by Henry Davis who were both witnesses on the scene, what was the quantity of blood noted on Davis since it was his lap that Innis’ head rested based on the instruction from Kennedy who stated that Innis was indeed alive with blood oozing from his mouth?
- Why did the CBL not secure the performance of an autopsy on the remains of Matthew Innis who was a loyal and dedicate employee with a 19-year commitment since the government did not see it necessary such a service?
- Was Henry Davis (witness #3) supposed to have been the one to enlightened police on the importance of searching Innis’ car?
- How did Henry Davis know that the bag he claimed to have taken from Innis’ vehicle was the very same bag that the decedent used as his work bag?
- How did Henry Davis know that the “wet spot” he saw next to the broken pieces of headlight way after 6:30 AM, 3/3/2019 upon his return from the funeral home was urine from Innis who was taken from the scene by 2:30AM?
By now, after reading the accounts given by the eyewitnesses above, there is no doubt that anyone would have multiple questions based on the overwhelming amount of inconsistencies embedded within their statements.
In an attempt to bring truth to bare, I am going to point out the forensic findings that can be used under any given circumstances to not only dispel the notion that Matthew Innis died as a result of a vehicular “hit and run” incident but to also show that the eyewitness accounts have no credibility, a fact which readers of this document must have deduced by now.
In discussing the evidence in its totality, the correlation between pictures of the decedent for the depiction of a forensic external examination with emphasis on the injuries sustained will serve as an arm of support for the hard-core facts. Again, viewers’ discretion is highly advised.
- Decedent’s Last Known Location:
Matthew Innis was last seen at this local restaurant called the “P. Zel Chop Bar” located at the SKD Boulevard Junction. It was here that he received a phone call and headed towards town.
Injuries to Support a Possible Torture and Physical Assault:
- Looking at the pictures below, Matthew Innis experienced blunt force trauma ONLY to the Right-Sides of his face. This means he was possibly hit or fell against a rough-like surface such as a cement or concrete floor.
- Also, on the right-side of his neck, an injury can be noted and indicate that compression of his neck with a blunt object such as a pipe, stick, etc. This action can eventually lead to death as a result of heart failure.
A. Lacerations to the internal components of the upper and lower lips shown, are a result of “blunt force trauma” which can occur during a scuffle or physical assault. This CANNOT be attributed to a so-called “hit and run” incident as this injury is “isolated”. It can be noted that other parts of the face excluding the right side as previously discussed, are “trauma free”.
Wound Pattern Analysis:
- Reflecting on the initial comments made by witness Christian Kennedy, he stated that:
- By 2:05AM, he came out to ease himself and noticed Innis’ white vehicle in front of the former Mount Zion fence from which he saw Matthew Innis disembarked from the driver seat, walked around the vehicle, shook his head and got back into the vehicle.
By 2:11 AM, after returning to his room for bed, he was awakened by a loud impacting sound (uurrhhh-boom!!) at which point in time, he heard Ahmed across screaming for help, indicating that somebody been hit by a car.
Referring the pictures of Innis’s vehicle above, NO damage can be noted to justify the possibility of Innis’ vehicle being collided by another vehicle as in a scenario to corroborate the loud sound that witness Kennedy claimed to have heard.
To also address the point made by this very same witness as it relates to him seeing Matthew Innis getting out and in of his vehicle, let us now review additional photos of the scene as well the decedent’s body so as to appreciate whether or not Innis’ death can be forensically connected to a motor vehicle accident as in a “hit and run” scenario.
Above is the alleged “crime scene”, where Innis was struck by a vehicle. As you can see, the area is being demarcated by the LNP’s Crime Services Department. Now let’s review some additional and repeated photos of the decedent.
After the removal of the decedent’s t-shirt, as far as his upper body is concern, distinct abrasions can be seen only on the left and right shoulder areas in (C) and (D). His chest and abdomen areas are free from any injury. His back area (E) is also free from any injuries. These would raise questions based on the fact that if Innis was indeed struck by a vehicle, obviously, there would have been a series of injuries, ranging from scrapings to broken bones as he would have made contact with the paved road and/or the concrete sidewalk after being struck and dragged.
Looking at these sets of pictures, the only injury towards Innis’ lower body is the scraping (abrasion) to his right knee (I). If Innis was struck by a speeding vehicle, then his leg(s) should have been fracture or broken but not “injury free” as noted. But clearly, there are no primary injuries suggesting that he was struck by a fast-moving vehicle. Even his pants (F, G&H) shows no trace evidence to corroborate a “hit and run” theory.
Images J, K&L shows no injuries to the left side of Innis’ body apart from the abrasion around his left shoulder. Unlike the right side of his face and neck which shows multiple injuries, the left side of his face, head and neck areas are free of injuries, apart from the laceration behind his left ear (L).
Though a full postmortem examination was not conducted, the manner of death in this case cannot be ruled as accidental-MVA, thus giving support to the LNP’s trend of thought, that this was a “hit and run” incident.
The external injuries noted in the photographs of Matthew Innis and discussed, are inconsistent with that of a person struck by a vehicle which raises a lot of questions as the forensics indicates that Matthew Innis was already dead when his body was transferred from a previous location under the cover of darkness to 72nd Broad Street Community in order to create a theory of deception and derail the obtaining of justice in this matter. This means that he was found not at the primary scene of concern, as in where he sustained his injuries. Therefore, the accounts given by the three eyewitnesses are not only false and misleading but also inconsistent with the scientific and forensic facts that are being manifested.
Based on the findings discussed above, this case must be treated as a HOMICIDE and reopened for investigation. Attributing Innis’ death to any other manner, apart from what has been stated would be a mere display of ignorance and a travesty of justice.
For those of you who may question the facts presented in this paper, as a hint and in the words of the Father (Giovanni Battista Morgagni) of Morbid Anatomy, I would caution you all that “those of us who have dissected or inspected many bodies have at least learned to doubt, while those who are ignorant of anatomy and do not take the trouble to attend to it, are in no doubt at all”.