Between 1965 and 1977 over 100 murders occurred in Maryland County, many of which were killed ritualistically due to the mutilation and removal of body parts. During the 1970s, Liberians in Maryland County were constantly under the threat of ritual murders. Between November 1976 and July 1977, 14 people had disappeared in the county prompting Liberian president William Tolbert to fire Superintendent of Maryland County, James Daniel Anderson, who failed to report the missing people. Tolbert publicly declared “Anyone who kills deliberately: The law will kill that 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, a majority of whom were government officials.
In July and early August 1977, 12 people were arrested:


  1. James Daniel Anderson, Superintendent of Maryland County
  2. Allen Nathaniel Yancy, Representative for Maryland County, House of Representatives
  3. Francis Wlateh Nyepan, Assistant Supervisor of Schools
  4. Philip B. Seyton, Senior Inspector of the Ministry of Commerce, Maryland County
  5. Thomas Barclay, cook of Allen Yancy
  6. Wreh Taryonnoh, girlfriend of Francis Nyepan
  7. Putu Dueh

Died before execution

Wonplu Boye, domestic servant for Francis Nyapan

Kotee Weah, Chief Cook for the General Manager of the Firestone Company, Cavalla, Maryland County


Tagbedi Wisseh, Acting Chief of Grandcess residents in Harper


Joshua W. Brown, Chief Security Officer, Liberia Sugar Company

Teah Toby, Kru Governor

The accused were forced to walk through the street naked “carrying two buckets loaded with sand”. They were allegedly tortured during interrogation

Credit: Pleebo Sodoken District Student Union