GBEHTAR, River Cess – Police in River Cess are investigating 10 persons, including nine men and a woman, for the murder of a man after he had been apprehended for stealing a hunting rifle.
The woman who was arrested is Town Chief Lucy Judu, who is being accused of leading the men to murder the victim, only identified as Abel.
Abel appeared to have been beaten to death on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 in the Central River Cess town of Gbehtar, after his stepfather, known only as PYJ, accused him of stealing a single barrel rifle.
Judu explained how the men under her control apprehended Abel: “PYJ came running in the town and said Abel stole his gun and that I should mobilize manpower to help him to search for Abel. That is how my husband and the other fellows followed PYJ and went to look for Abel.”
The town chief said when Abel was brought in town, he was tied. She added that she told the men to untie him but PYJ, his stepfather, insisted that Abel remains tied. She then later noticed that Abel had died. Judu said men living in the town had decided to bury Abel without informing any authorities.
Speaking to The Bush Chicken at the Yarpah Town Police Detail, another suspect, Peter Davis, agreed that the victim was accused of stealing a single barrel gun, which belonged to PYJ.
“On Monday night, PYJ came in the town and said Abel stole his gun and he wanted manpower to help catch Abel,” Davis narrated. “So everyone asked if shot [ammunition] was in the gun and he said ‘no.’”
According to Davis, PYJ then gave the town’s men L$20 (US$0.15) each as motivation to help him go in search of Abel, who they believed was hiding in one of the nearby villages.
“We all stayed in the town ‘til 3:00 am on Tuesday when we heard that PYJ and two other persons had grabbed the man,” Davis said. “When day cleared I went to my farm, leaving them in the town. By that time they had turned the man over to the town chief.”
Davis said he was not involved in the events leading to Abel’s death, noting that when he returned from his farm, the entire town was quiet and he asked the town chief if Abel had been taken to the police, but the town chief said Abel had escaped.
“Later, the town chief told me that Abel was dead, and the men of the town have gone to bury him. She told me if I didn’t join the men at the burial site she and the men would say I killed him,” Davis added.
The men and the town chief were arrested by members of the Community Watch Forum after they were tipped off about the incident. They were later turned over to the police and have been transported to Cestos for further investigation.
The Community Watch Forum are citizens trained in basic crime response techniques who serve as first-hand support to the Liberia National Police in more rural communities where police presence is limited.
Featured photo by Eric Opa Doue