The Sinoe Ritualistic Murder Case

The trial

On November 4, 1979, the newspaper "The Sunday People" carried the headline story: "Sinoe Ritualistic Murder: Trial Begins Tomorrow". Accompanied by a picture of the deceased, Printice Tiah, the article reads as follows:

"The ritualistic murder trial concerning the brutal murder
of young Printice Hilton Tiah, 
is to commence tomorrow, November 5, 1979, when 
the third Judiciary Circuit Court opens in Greenville, Sinoe. 
Click to supersize

Thirty-one persons, including the uncle of young Tiah, James Saydee Tiah, special assistant to the Superintendent of Sinou County; Mr. Hezekiah D. Monger, former County Attorney; Mr. Isaac N. Clarke, Sanitary Inspector; Mr. Moses Pajibo, Principal of the Sinoe High School, Mr. Lloyd Grigsby, Inspector of Counties, Mr. Samuel Harris, former administrative assistant of the F.J. Grante Hospital; Mr. Allen Smith; and Mr. Joseph Frazier, the "chief Boyo", are among the many to face trial. (The Sunday People, November 4, 1979, p.1).

That reporting in Liberian newspapers was not always accurate and therefore not always reliable is demonstrated when comparing the previously cited newspaper, The Sunday People, with the Bentol Times of November 14, 1979. The latter published the announcement of the trial of 'only' sixteen people, including Lloyd Grigsby (Bentol Times, November 14, 1979, p. 1 and 6). 

Another characteristic of Liberian news reporting - the tendency not te delete any detail - is observed in The Liberian Inaugural of November 28, 1979 carrying the front page article: "Sinoe Ritualistic Murder: 2 Boyos Die, 2 released". The article does not mention its sources but states: "According to reliable sources, one of the dead "BOYOS" confessed that he partook in the ritualistic killing of young Printice Hilton Tiah and thereafter cooked his portion of the devided flesh (original typing error - FVDK) in some nice pepper soup." 

One may wonder when reading these and other stories to which degree they were true or false. Be that as it may, it is interesting to read in the same article that the defendants in the ritualistic murder trial were represented by a crack team of lawyers headed by Counsellor Daniel Draper, Sr. It is worth noting that the Managing Editor and Chief Editor of The Liberian Inaugural happened to be ..... D. Draper, Jr. 

Finally, it also is interesting to read more on the cause of death of the two Boyos in the Bentol Times: "The two men were the alleged medicine men who led the gang that kidnapped Tiah, July 22 this year and having allegedly mutilated him alive (italics addes by the author, FVDK). According to the police the two medicine men died in hospital after one suffered briefly from diarrhoea and the other one beaten by a prison mate." (Bentol Times, November 28, 1979, p.1). 

The conditions and exact causes of their death, however, is not clear. Was one fatally poisoned and the other murdered? It will never be known. The article in the Bentol Times ends as follows:

"Meanwhile, Greenville has been reported to be tense as relatives and friends of the accused busy themselves around the clock to prepare legal supports. Knowledgeable sources within the city hinted that some of these relatives have been consulting oracles in the hinterland to use their magic to direct the proceedings and judgement in the favour of the suspect." 

Ending note of the author: The foregoing was based on newspapers, which were personally collected when in Liberia, in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the outcome of the trial is not known. Readers who know more about this case are invited 
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