Facts vs Fiction In The Corkrum’s Ritualistic Killing Allegation P-1

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For the past few weeks, the Hot Pepper has been following grave allegations emanating from the former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ellen Corkrum, now a convicted felon in the United States of America and going by the name Hunter VanPelt, accusing a number of officials of the Weah administration of being involved with human sacrifice as a means of either obtaining or maintaining their lucrative jobs in government.

   Major names mentioned in Corkrum’s allegations include His Excellency the President of the Republic of Liberia, George M. Weah; the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill; the Solicitor General of the Republic, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus; the Secretary General of the Liberia National Bar Association, Cllr. Bobby Livingstone; and former LURD General, Ofori Diah.

   Corkrum accused President Weah of ritualistically killing three virgin girls apparently to win the 2017 general and presidential election. She also accused Minister McGill of sacrificing three virgin girls in order to ascend to his current portfolio and to have a level of influence over the presidency.

   In her damning audio recordings and calls to various radio stations, Corkrum accused Cllr. Cephus of sacrificing three virgin girls in order for President Weah to take him from his Deputy Minister position at the Ministry of Agriculture and promote him to the Solicitor General position, a position Cllr. Cephus currently occupies. She also accused him of sacrificing another three virgin girls recently in order that President Weah may appoint him Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia.

   She further accused Ofori Diah of acting on her behalf to the witch doctor, Ciafa Watara, so that she can be released from her criminal entanglement in the United States and for the Federal government to drop all charges levied against her, for which she is to be sentenced in January 2024. However, she said the witch doctor requested that she provide four virgin girls instead of three, as it was with the men. She claimed that she refused to ventured into the human sacrifice; instead, she requested for an animal sacrifice, at which time it was demanded that she provide 77 cows, at an estimated price of US$800—US$1,000 per cow. 

   Corkrum claimed that she did not trust Ofori Diah to wire US$4,000 to him to pay towards the process, and so she turned to Cllr. Cephus for advice.

L-R: Pres. Weah, Min. Nathaniel McGill, and Cllr. Bobby Livingstone

   As the Hot Pepper continues its investigation into Corkrum’s allegations, it acknowledges the fact that secret and ritualistic killings are no strange happenings in the country, as it started as far back as history can recall. At some point in time, until the era of President William V.S. Tubman, there was no much reprisal for the perpetrators.

   The first known punishment against individuals guilty of ritualistic killings was enforced during the Presidency of William R. Tolbert in the 1970s. The rate of ritualistic murders was so high, mainly in Maryland County, to an extent that President Tolbert publicly declared, “Anyone who kills deliberately: The law will kill that person.”  

   The Maryland ritual killings was a series of ritualistic murders that occurred around HarperMaryland County, and since then have been regarded as “Liberia’s most notorious ritual killing case” due to the number of murders, the involvement of high-ranking government officials and their subsequent public executions.

   Between 1965 and 1977, over 100 murders occurred in Maryland County, many of which were considered ritualistic due to the mutilation and removal of body parts. Marylanders were constantly under the threat of ritual murders. Between November 1976 and July 1977, 14 people had disappeared in the county, prompting President Tolbert to fire the then Superintendent of Maryland County, James Daniel Anderson, who failed to report the missing people, and publicly declaring that the law will kill anyone who deliberately kills another person.

   These murders went unreported and uninvestigated until the murder of a local fisherman and popular singer, Moses Tweh. Tweh was abducted on June 26, 1977. His body was discovered on July 4, 1977, heavily mutilated with his eyes, ears, nose, tongue and penis removed. Prior to the discovery of Tweh’s body, Wreh Taryonnoh, the girlfriend of Assistant Supervisor of Schools, Francis Nyepan, was allegedly heard by a group searching for Tweh saying that “if they would be so lucky to find him, only his bones they might see”. This sparked the arrest of 12 people in early August 1977, a majority of whom were government officials.

   The accused individuals were forced to walk through the street naked, carrying two buckets loaded with sand. They were allegedly tortured during interrogation, and sentenced to death by hanging.

   Among the 12 persons arrested, two were released:  Joshua W. Brown, Chief Security Officer, Liberia Sugar Company, and Teah Toby, Kru Governor; another two died before execution: Wonplu Boye, domestic servant for Francis Nyapan, and Kotee Weah, Chief Cook for the General Manager of the Firestone Company, Cavalla, Maryland County. It was rumored that their own family members poisoned them to avoid shame. One of the accused, Tagbedi Wisseh, Acting Chief of Grandcess residents in Harper, was pardoned.

   The rest of the accused individuals were publicly hanged at dawn on February 16, 1979 in Harper, Maryland County, and were dubbed by the media as the “Harper Seven”. Among them were James Daniel Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland County; Allen Nathaniel Yancy, Representative for Maryland County, House of Representatives; Francis Wlateh Nyepan, Assistant Supervisor of Schools; Philip B. Seyton, Senior Inspector of the Ministry of Commerce, Maryland County; Thomas Barclay, cook of Allen Yancy; Wreh Taryonnoh, girlfriend of Francis Nyepan; and Putu Dueh.

   Fast-forward to the Corkrum allegation, the Hot Pepper investigation points to the direction that the allegations can neither be underestimated nor overestimated the statements of the convicted felon but with a record of secretly recording conversations between her and her “friends”. Part II tomorrow.

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