Many at vigil suspect foul play; police noncommittal
More than 100 people attended a vigil for the late 32-year-old Henry McCabe at Rush Lake on Saturday morning, November 7. The atmosphere was somber as they cried, hugged, and consoled his widow, Kareen McCabe. Many had helped in the search for the Minnesota State auditor in Mounds View who went missing after he was dropped off at a Holiday station in Fridley at about 2:05 am on Labor Day, September 7.
McCabe’s body was found at about 4:20 pm November 2 partially submerged in the water on the east side of Rush Lake in New Brighton. At about 7:20 pm the Minnesota Community Policing Services (MNCPS) was dispatched to the location to observe the recovery of McCabe’s body.
At the vigil, family, friends and coworkers sang religious songs and prayed for McCabe. Most remembered him as a loving father, jovial, and always willing to help others. But how his body ended up in the lake, about seven miles from where he was dropped off, troubled many in the local African community who don’t want his death to go unaddressed.
“What happened to my son? I want to know, in the name of Jesus,” said Esater Karmoh, McCabe’s mother, on a phone line from Liberia. “I want to tell everybody thank you [for helping in the search]… This is what they did to my son. Somebody killed my son.”
Karmoh told those gathered that she wants to come to Minnesota for the funeral, and community leaders are working on bringing her here. As songs and prayers were offered, many who brought flowers couldn’t hold back their tears. There was moment of silence in his remembrance.
“Henry was not an isolated person in the middle of the dark. Henry had a life. Henry had a family, he had children, and he had a mother. Henry had brothers. Henry had friends,” said Pastor Marie Vah. “Before Henry died, he was pleading to someone who dropped him in the dark… Henry paid for you to learn the lesson… When he got off from that car in that morning, he had no idea that he was going to die…
“I want you to go and tell Henry’s friends. We’re not accusing them, but we’re disappointed in them,” said Van, noting that many Liberians didn’t show up to request for justice for McCabe.
David Kesseh, a family friend, led mourners to the site on Rush Lake where McCabe’s body was reportedly dropped. Many placed flowers there and discussed the distance from where he was last seen to where he was found in the lake 55 days after his disappearance.
“Bring your flowers,” said Seyon Nyanwleh, lead organizer and friend of the McCabe family. “He can’t [have driven] here all by himself” to a location that he pointed out is very isolated and dark after 6 pm. “This is where they found our friend.”
“Someone dropped him in the water,” said a tearful Liberian elder. “Whoever did this to Henry will pay for it.” The mourners agreed in unison.
Pastor Success Roberts led prayer at the site. “I want us to pray. I believe every one of us has specific questions. What happened to our brother, our son, to our father? …Jehovah, give us the grace to go through such a dangerous and painful tragedy.” They left the site singing, “I woke up this morning with my eyes on Henry!”
“At this moment, we’ll leave all options open for the investigation… You can’t expect…a father, a man with no bad record, to just come and find himself back there [in Rush Lake],” said Abubakarr Bundu, newly elected leader of Sierra Leone’s APC-Minnesota Chapter, at the vigil. “Let’s keep praying that justice will prevail. Sierra Leone and Liberia are one. Whatever happens to one country [as represented in Minnesota] will affect the other… We’ll be with you ‘til the end [in seeking justice].”
On the morning of November 3, when police informed Kareen McCabe of her husband’s death after confirmation from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, family members and friends gathered in their apartment to sympathize and console her. At the Rush Lake vigil, Kareen explained how she felt when the police knocked at her door in Mounds View.
“Until the police walked to my door, I was certain he was alive. I want him to be!” cried Kareen, adding that it will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas for her two children without their father.
A police statement released on November 3 states, “At this time, the death does not appear to be suspicious, but the cause of death is still undetermined pending toxicology result.” This angered the Liberian community and family members. At the vigil, many asked how McCabe would have walked from a gas station in Fridley to be found dead in the Rush Lake waters in New Brighton.
“He doesn’t appear that he will come here [Rush Lake] on his own. It appears that someone has brought him to this location,” said David Singleton of the MNCPS on Monday afternoon. “Individuals probably would have been aware of this location, or tracked it some type of way. It is not a location that you can get to easily just off the main street… Based on the evidence we have, we believe he was not brought here on his own free will.”
“This case remains under investigation by the Mounds View Police Department, the New Brighton Police Department and Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office,” Chief of Police, Thomas Kinney stated on Monday. He thanked the numerous volunteers who helped in the search for McCabe.
“We [Liberians] have a tradition. No grownup person will walk into that place and kill himself,” said Hon. Jackson George, Liberia’s acting consul general in Minnesota, at the end of the vigil. “From the consulate and embassy’s point of view, we’re not going to close this case until justice is done.”
Issa A. Mansaray welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.