(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Just hearing the rap sheet of 59-year-old Linton Stephenson, otherwise called Gary and ‘Jawbone’, while he remained on the run as a suspect in the murder of a woman found in a cooler box on the Winston Jones Highway last week, was enough to send chills down the spines of residents in this south-central town.
While many had never crossed paths with the man who some believe was a member of a demonic cult, and hoped that they never would, at least one had the unenviable experience of seeing and talking to him on three occasions.
Hillary Wright told the Jamaica Observer that he offered her a ride, which she took, into the town of Mandeville, the last time they met in May or June this year.
Wright spoke to the Observer yesterday while standing among onlookers as police processed the house where the Seventh-day Adventist deacon was found dead at Bloomsville Circle, just outside Mandeville.
“I am so happy,” she said.
Wright said that during the time Stephenson was being sought by the police, she was afraid to sleep at the house where she lives in the community.
She said while Stephenson was very pleasant and was properly attired the times they met, a very obvious scar on his face made her wonder about his true character.
She pointed out that another person had been in the vehicle when he offered her the lift.
Police said that Stephenson’s body, which had started to decompose, was found yesterday afternoon.
Superintendent Barrington Daley, who is in charge of crime for Area Three (Manchester, St Elizabeth and Clarendon), said that he could have been dead for about two days and that suicide is suspected.
However, he said that the police were relying on the post-mortem report to be more conclusive.
Yesterday, people at the scene speculated that Stephenson might have poisoned himself.
Stephenson, a deacon at Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church, was a person of interest in the murder of 25-year-old Khyhymn Campbell, whom he is believed to have killed at the same house where his body was found.
Police believe he left her body on the highway when his getaway car broke down.
Stephenson was also wanted for assault and illegal possession of a firearm.
The police also recounted how he had murdered his wife in St Mary, years earlier, during a domestic dispute. Stephenson’s sentence was reportedly reduced to manslaughter because he was found unfit to plead.
He spent time at Tamarind Farm Prison in St Catherine before being placed on parole in 2016 and making Mandeville his home.
“If he was unfit to plead, why not place him at a mental institution? I think he was an undiagnosed sociopath, that is why people found him so likeable,” one woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Observer yesterday.
While some people at the crime scene were pleased that he was found, some were disappointed that he was not found alive. They do not believe that true justice can be served now that he is dead.
“Him dead too easy,” said a woman who claimed she knew Campbell, affectionately called ‘Kim’, from she was a child.
On Monday, Campbell’s father told the Observer that he had heard that the deacon was part of a cult that was “out to get blood”.
Yesterday, Superintendent Daley said that lawmen had visited the house where Stephenson’s body was found more than once, following the initial investigation, but he was not seen.