Family denies girl was cannibalised

The family of the girl allegedly murdered by her mother and cult leader Steven Tari, alias “Black Jesus” have denied the girl was cannibalised as reported in this paper’s front page story yesterday.

They further denied the police report, relayed by the Post-Courier, that the mother allegedly took part in the murder of 14-year-old Rita Herman. The family said their mother, Barmarhal Herman, could not have been present at the scene of the crime because she was in town and on her way to visit her other daughter at the Beon Jail. That daughter was one of those convicted earlier of being “flower girls” of the cult movement.

According to family members, they were still carrying out their own investigations into Rita’s death, to determine the murderer before they could file a formal report to police for further investigation and possible prosecution. Their brother, a lawyer, is carrying out the investigations into the murder.

Nonetheless, cult leader Tari is high on their list as the suspected murderer, but so are those who oppose the movement of the cult within their community.

The body of the Rita was discovered in a village hut with knife wounds to her neck, rib and both her palms had been slashed, and signs of blunt object wound to her back.

The family further denied there were any missing body parts from the corpse, or of any sexual penetration based on a physical examination carried out by family members and a nursing sister based at the Utu Health Center, and is also a family member.

Madang police station commander, Jim Namora, said a police coroner would be travelling to exhume the body today to help them with their investigation.

Mr Nomora yesterday maintained confidence in his own source in the meantime, saying “my contact is very reliable”. He requested family members to come forward with their information to help police with their investigation into the murder.

Mr Namora said the murder was committed three weeks ago, and he questioned why it was not reported to Madang police or to the Mawan rural police station.

Mr Namora said Mawan was only a few minutes away from the village where the murder was committed and the family had not informed the police or provide information to help police with their investigation.

He also questioned why the family was carrying out its own investigation when they could have reported the matter to police. “What is there to hide? If they have nothing to hide from the police, or (say) that the police information is wrong, they should come and see us,” said Mr Namora.

He further questioned why the private investigation was being done in such secrecy without the knowledge of the police.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday October 27, 2006.
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