Part IV: After 2003:
Ritual killings continue to be a plague

       Freedom of fear is a human right
       Rule of law an obligation of the state

In 2018 it was decided to cease reporting on ritualistic killings on this site. Instead, new ritual murder cases have since been included in a general website on Ritual Killing In Africa. Interested readers are advised to consult the Liberia page of this site for recent developments.

In 2010 : ritual murders were reported in Lofa and Maryland 
In 2009 : in Bong and Maryland
In 2008 : in general
In 2007 : in Bong County
In 2006 : in Bassa, Nimba and Maryland
In 2005 : in Bassa, Nimba, Grand Kru and Maryland
In 2004 : in Monrovia

2010    Maryland, Lofa....

Ritualistic killings pose threat to Maryland
The County of Maryland, situated close to the border with Ivory Coast in the Southeastern part of the Liberia, is said to be experiencing huge difficulties as a result of ritualistic (�Gboyo�) activities that engulfed the county in recent times, even in time past.

Senior Senator John A. Ballout (...) said (....) �The city of Harper is calm and has been calm for the past two to three weeks; since the whole story erupted, there had never been any instance of disturbance; all of the news that people spread is mere exaggeration,� he emphasized. (...) the fact that the people of Maryland did not take the law into their hands by destroying property and causing unnecessary and uncalled-for problems does not mean that they are not less concerned about the wave of ritualistic occurrences in the county of their birth.

As Senator Ballout pointed out, the people of the county want to see an immediate end to all ritualistic activities in their county so that they can live in peace and enjoy unhindered and unimpeded security leverage.

�Well, the people of Maryland want this whole idea of ritualistic killings brought to an end; they want the killers arrested; they want justice to be done; they are so desperate about this that they on their own, having realized that Government through our Justice system, our police, had not been able to solve one ritualistic case, who have not been able to arrest any perpetrators, so are their frustrations,� he indicated.

However observers say residents of Maryland are right to call for a halt to ritualistic killings but reminded them of events of 1978 when permanent citizens of the county including former Superintendent James Anderson, Allen Yancy, Jr. Francis Seton, Tarnyennoh Wleh and many others were hanged for killing Kru singer and notorious fisherman, Moses Tweh.

Meanwhile, the Maryland County Senior Senator said about 12 persons out of the initial 18 people arrested when the incident was first unearthed have been released, with 7 persons released Sunday while additional 5 persons were released yesterday.

According to him, those released are not completely out of the woods as they could be picked up any time when there was new evidence linking any of them to involvement in ritualistic activities in the county.
However, observers say, it is just a matter of time that the county erupts into another chasm of ritualistic debacle because �Marylanders are hedonistic about rituals.�
April 6, 2010

Maryland County: Ritualistic Murders, Voodoo and the Rule of Law
Former Interior Minister and Maryland Superintendent under previous Administrations, and at the moment of his arrest Ambassador-at-Large appointed by President Sirleaf, Dan Morias, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and former Maryland County Attorney Cllr Fulton Yancy, together with at least eight other persons, were arrested following a string of ritual murders. They are now in custody in the county capital�s jail, according to the Harper police 'for protective reasons�.

Some sources even report the arrest of as many as nineteen suspected ritual killers.

The circumstances surrounding their arrests caused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to warn against voodoo justice and raise many questions about the rule of law in Liberia.

More: See Liberian Perspectives, April 4 2010

Guinea and Liberia (Lofa County): 300 'witches' confess to witchdoctor
About 300 persons in Liberia and Guinea have reportedly confessed to a Guinean witchdoctor for their alleged roles in ritualistic activities, including the killing of seven pregnant women and unborn children.

The alleged witches have reportedly been confessing to a 25-year-old Kissi witchdoctor known as Kamanor for the past three years since he launched his witch-finding crusade in the two countries.

Kamanor arrived in Lofa County recently at the invitation of residents of Lawalazu, Voinjama District.

Eyewitnesses told the New Democrat that about 25 persons have confessed to Kamanor for the past two weeks he has been carrying out the exercise in Lawalazu. He has reportedly discovered several traditional medicines with the suspects and that some confessed of using them for rituals, eyewitnesses said. One witness said human parts were among the substances.

An elder of Lawalazu, Joseph Sumo, said they invited the witchdoctor in the town because of the mysterious disappearances and deaths without cause.
April 5, 2010

Concerns of ritualistic killings in Lofa County: Sirleaf meets with citizens
President Ellen Johnson Thursday met with representatives of Zorzor District, residing in Monrovia and Zorzor to address concerns raised by them in a petition. The residents in their petition, expressed concern that Government�s robust response to incidents in Konia town may overshadow concerns of ritualistic killings in the area. They spoke of three incidents of ritualistic killings of their children which have remained unresolved.

�Our people live in constant fear as the culprits of these crimes roam about in our District with impunity,� the Zorzor residents said in their statement.
The President thanked the group for the peaceful assembly and restraint exercised during their assembly. (....) The Liberian leader encouraged the people of Zorzor to assist in providing clues that could lead to the speedy apprehension of the culprits.
More than one hundred inhabitants of Zorzor District, residing in Zorzor and Monrovia staged a peaceful demonstration Thursday to express concern over what they view as the delay in apprehending perpetrators of a string of alleged ritualistic killings in Zorzor, Lofa County.

The statement was signed by paramount and clan chiefs representing clans in Bluyeama, Gizima, and Zieama as well the representatives of women and youth groups.
March 20, 2010

2009     Bong, Maryland....

From the 2009 Human Rights Report: Liberia
(US Department of State)
Mob violence and land disputes resulted in deaths, and ritualistic killings occurred. Police abused, harassed, and intimidated detainees and citizens. Prison conditions remained harsh, and arbitrary arrest and detention occurred. Judicial inefficiency and corruption contributed to lengthy pretrial detention and denial of due process. Some incidents of trial by ordeal were reported
On June 29, Senator Sumo Kupee (Lofa County) was accused of the ritualistic killing of a boy in Bong County. The Ministry of Justice did not prosecute the senator, citing lack of evidence, and Kupee remained free at year's end.
There were reports of ritualistic killings, in which body parts used in indigenous rituals were removed from the victim. The number of such killings was difficult to ascertain since police sometimes described such deaths as homicides, accidents, or suicides, even when body parts were removed. In January women in Bong County complained to President Sirleaf that ritualistic killings were on the rise, and on July 13, a high school girl was found dead in Maryland County with body parts missing. The government treated such killings as homicides and investigated them accordingly, although there were no prosecutions during the year. Protests against such killings occurred and sometimes resulted in riots, injuries, and deaths.

2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
March 11, 2010 - US Department of State

Lofa County Sen. Sumo Kupee Accused of ritual killing�Some Defend his Integrity
Lawmaker and senator Prof. Sumo Kupee is being accused of having knowledge of the mysterious death of 13-year-old Vewu Kesselly. (...) The death of Kesselly surfaced a day after the senator reportedly declared his intention to contest in the 2011 Presidential elections.
Senator Kupee, a former University of Liberia Professor of Economics, now senior senator for Lofa County, denied having the slightest knowledge about the death of little Kesselly. He has however chosen not to comment on the matter because the case is in court.

A close confidante of Senator Kupee, who spoke on conditions of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak on a case already in court, said �Kupee is a man of impeccable integrity� and that he would never engage in such despicable acts no matter the political odds.

Meanwhile, the Lofa County Magisterial Court has already issued a formal Writ of Summons on the Senator to appear for questioning.
June10, 2009

"Liberian witches say power is in the blood, so victims should be eaten alive"
Tiny 14-year-old Precious sits on her orphanage bed in the southern Liberian port town of Harper, accused of witchcraft (...)
�Precious told us her stepmother asked her to give her biological mother as a human sacrifice,� says Moses Davies, a police officer with the Women and Child Protection unit in Harper�s town centre.
Public fear of ritualistic killings and witchcraft performed by secret societies is prevalent in places like Harper�s Maryland County in southeastern Liberia, and in the northern counties of Nimba and Lofa.

�In the 1970s, the town of Harper was engulfed in fear,� explains Thomas Mawolo, the Maryland County head of the Liberian human rights watchdog, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
Under the practice known as Gboyo, there is a belief that human body parts extracted and eaten while the victim is still alive bestow power and affluence.

Charles Taylor and his militia brought international prominence to Gboyo practices during Liberia�s brutal civil war in the 1990s.
The murder of a local Harper fisherman, Moses Tweah � whose mutilated body washed up on a beachhead known as Devil�s Rock � triggered a massive public outcry in the town in 1977. (...) Mawolo says he has personally recorded up to 10 cases since then.

�Harper is a breeding ground for ritualistic killing... I�m not disputing it�s not elsewhere, but in this area it�s rampant.�
March 14, 2009

Fighting Child Labor, Trafficking
Colonel Richard Gonkarnue has one of the toughest jobs in Nimba County, Liberia: to combat child labor and trafficking at one of several checkpoints along a porous border between Liberia and the Ivory Coast.
Here's the story: last year, a young woman from the Ivory Coast kidnapped a 9-month-old baby from Monrovia. "To keep the child or sell it, we don't really know," the colonel says. In Liberia, it is common for children to be illegally adopted and bought and sold for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked for other dark purposes, including ritual killing.
March 5, 2009

2008     in general

Ritualistic killings, in which body parts used in traditional indigenous rituals were removed from the victim, reportedly occurred. The number of such killings was difficult to ascertain since police sometimes described such deaths as homicides, accidents, or suicides, even when body parts were removed. There were no prosecutions for ritualistic killings during the year.
2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
February 2005, 2009 US State Department

2007     Bong County

Liberian leader abhors ritual killing
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf could not hide her disgust against the alleged ritual killing of a five year-old boy, Moses Binda, by two Liberian women. The incident took place in Bong Mines, 70 km north of the capital Monrovia.
Monrovia police on Tuesday said they arrested the two women suspects after they were accusing of killing Moses Binda for ritual purposes. They allegedly extracted some parts of his body and disappeared with them.
The boy�s decomposed body was later found in a pit latrine. His killers tied his hands and dumped his incomplete remains. Moses Binda was said to have been kidnapped on his way from school last Friday.
The commander of Bong Mines Police Station, who is known only as Children Father, was accused of conniving with the women to kill the young boy.
May 3, 2007

2006     Bassa, Nimba, Maryland....

Ritual Killers in Maryland defy President Sirleaf
The Iron Lady clamped down on the ritualistic killers to stop because she said God himself said in the Bible that �Thou shall not kill.� �Don�t try me; don't try my government because you think that I am a woman.�

Three hours after the President departed from Harper, Madam Comfort Annan was out searching for her 3-year-old grandson. The dead body of the little boy was found with parts missing.
Analyst March 10, 2006

Woman Detained for Ritual Killing
The Magisterial Court in Buchanan has charged and detained a woman identified as Ruth Redd with the crime of �negligence homicide� in connection with the mysterious death of a two-year old Victoria Wee in Gbegbah Town, in Harlandsville Township, Grand Bassa County.
Liberian Observer October 04, 2006

Ritual killings increasing in Nimba County
According to a spokesman children are disappearing on a daily basis with their bodies mostly discovered in the bushes along highways and bearing marks of certain body parts removed.
Analyst March 9, 2006

2005     Bassa, Nimba, Grand Kru,       Maryland....

Heartman, Bo-yo:
The Ignorance Base Of This Criminal Ritual

In Monrovia and thereabout, he is called the �Heartman�; Bo-yo�, is what he is also known as in Maryland County. But throughout Liberia, we know him as the one who kills for human body parts purportedly used in sacrifice. The sacrifice is for any of an array of selfish desires, notorious among them, sacrifice for government positions. (....).
There are no kind words to describe this horrible act in which a human is butchered and dismembered while the victim is alive, all in the name of �making medicine� for elected or appointed Government Positions. (...) The reference is to the dismembered human bodies that were found in Gbetah (Picnic Cess, Grand Kru County) recently.

It is General Elections campaign season, and all of a sudden, we are finding Gbetah women (2) killed for their body parts, and their lifeless bodies arrogantly thrown for the whole community to see. (...) the timing of these cowardly acts places them squarely in the realm of Human Sacrifice for Government Positions. Is it not campaign season?

(....) we are calling upon the Liberian Government to put an end to this criminal ritual. (....) Mr. Bryant (....) Revisit your promise to deal ritualistic killings a death sentence. Introduce the document, cram it through the Legislature, as time is running out, sign it, and let the investigations begin. We want justice.
September 30, 2005

Bryant warns presidential candidates against ritual killings
Liberia's interim leader Gyude Bryant has warned any aspiring presidential candidates tempted to boost their chances by carrying out human sacrifices that they will be executed if caught.
IRIN June 29, 2005

Ugly Past Still Haunts Liberia: Eyeing Election Edge Or Just in It for the Body-Parts Business?
Liberian Observer's Editor-in-Chief Rodney D. Sieh and Senior reporter James West investigate:
"Lorpu Sumo and MacDouglas Daniels are two young Liberian children with similar stories. One, a 12-year-old elementary schoolkid is alive to tell her's. The other a 13-year-old boy, whose body was found floating over the Nyan River near the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) compound just about a weeks ago."
June 29, 2005

Riots and ritual killings in south-eastern Liberia
On 24 January 2005, the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), which is based in the capital, Monrovia, declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the coastal town of Harper, the provincial capital of the south-eastern county of Maryland.
According to IRIN, the disturbances first began on 22 January 2005 when police repelled a small group of youths that had attempted to seize from prison three men suspected of being responsible for the recent increase in acts of 'gboyo' - ritualistic killings involving the removal of a victim's organs for use in ceremonies designed to confer supernatural powers on the murderer.

On 23 January 2005, the group returned in greater numbers, gained access to the jailhouse and badly beat up two of the suspects. The third is thought to have disappeared.

In recent weeks, the local press has been awash with accounts of ritual killings, with the murder and mutilation of a 90-year-old woman of particular concern.

Incidents of gboyo murders and allegations of ritual killings always increase in frequency at times of significant flux. There was a spate of such murders implicating government ministers in the 1970s - the period of greatest social upheaval in Liberia prior to the war of the 1990s.
There was also a spate of gboyo allegations in Monrovia immediately following then-president Charles Taylor's flight into exile in Nigeria.
January 26, 2005
World Markets Research Center Analysis

Ritualistic activities in Nimba
Nimba County seems to be undergoing series of demonic tribulations. Sometime ago, hundreds of wizards and witches were arrested, some detained, in connection with the practice of a high level witchcraft in a snake organization referred to as the Bambam Society.
January 20, 2005

2004     Monrovia

Dead Bodies Turning Up Again - Monrovia
For two consecutive days early this week, the media reported the discovery of the bodies of two unidentified children around the Du River area.
We recall similar situation early this year when bodies of young men and women were found mainly in the Bushrod Island and Paynesville suburbs either with missing parts or badly mutilated by unknown assailants. As the direct result of these murders by unknown persons with unknown motives, the communities were thrown into fits of insecurity, forcing residents to observe a voluntary curfew. Then again, no arrests were made.

It took months of sustained media outcry before NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant announced his government's readiness to go after and punish anyone found guilty of kidnap or murder. He did not say how he planned to go about that, but fortunately, the discovery of bodies dropped almost as abruptly as it started.
December 10, 2004

Alarm at Liberian ritual killings - in Monrovia

Hundreds of Liberian women have taken to the streets of the capital, Monrovia, protesting against a recent wave of ritual killings there. Bodies of children have been found with some of their organs missing, taken for what are viewed as magical properties.
Politicians and the wealthy are believed to pay for the murders to increase their chances of good fortune.
The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says the local media has recently been dominated by reports of people chasing children at night and the discovery of bodies with some organs missing.
March 19, 2004


History of ritual killings in Liberia:

  • Introduction: Caution

  • Part I  : Before 1950

  • Part II : 1950 - 1980

  • Part III : The First Liberian Civil War 1990-97
                 The Taylor Administration 1997 - 2003
                 The Second Liberian Civil War 1999-03

  • Part IV :  After 2003



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