Nigerian Soccer Star Buried in Africa, As Family Challenges Little Elm PD's Suicide Ruling
In the two months since Nigerian soccer star and Major League Soccer alum Uche Okafor was found dead in his Little Elm home, press from his home country has followed the blow-by-blow between the Little Elm Police Department, which has called Okafor's death a suicide, and his family, who insist there's no way the footballer killed himself.
Early on, Little Elm Police and the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office called Okafor's death a suicide, but Okafor's family wasn't convinced, insisting in the Nigerian press that police weren't taking the investigation seriously, and suspecting foul play. Ugo Nwokoro, a family spokesman, told the Lagos-based Vanguard it's "a clear case of racism" from the Little Elm PD.
Later that month, in an odd twist, the family said they'd seen an FBI report confirming Okafor had been murdered -- though local FBI spokesman Mark White tells Unfair Park he's not sure what that could be about.
"None of this rings to me as to what the FBI would do," said White. "First off, we don't investigate suicides and homicides. I don't know what would've led us to open an investigation in this type of manner."
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Responses on some message boards, though, suggest a cultural taboo surrounding suicide might have more to do with the family's concern.
After that early report calling Okafor's death a suicide, though, Little Elm police had kept the police report under wraps until they get the final report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner. This week, though, Unfair Park got a copy of the report, which says Okafor had, indeed, been found hanging by a jumper cable in the second story hallway of his home.
The 43-year-old three-time African Cup of Nations champion was a defender with the Kansas City Wizards for five seasons, from 1996 to 2000. Most recently, Okafor had been an assistant coach for the Associated Soccer Group and an analyst for ESPN. Okafor is survived by his wife and daughter.
We couldn't reach Okafor's family for comment, possibly because they've been out of the country -- Okafor was buried near his family home of Ubomiri, Nigeria last month. The ceremony included a soccer match held in his honor between Nigeria's national team, the Super Eagles, and the regional Imo State All Stars.