Jamaica’s First Serial Killer

Outside of Jamaica, the name Lewis Hutchinson is relatively unknown, but his murderous legacy will not soon be forgotten by the people of the island. Hutchinson, a Scottish doctor, moved to Jamaica in the 1760s, acquiring an estate called Edinburgh Castle. The estate, which was then in the middle of nowhere and miles from civilization, would often attract the attention of travelers. Unfortunately for them, there have been few less welcoming places in the world.

Hutchinson preyed on anyone who crossed his path. He was said to be a crack shot, and legends claimed that once his victims were incapacitated, he would drink their blood like a vampire and hack off their limbs. He called upon his slaves to dispose of the corpses. They would leave them in a hollow tree where the vultures could devour the evidence, or toss them down a massive 322 ft. sinkhole. These crimes did not go unnoticed. Hutchinson also stole livestock from his neighbors, but even the police were far too afraid of him to confront the man who they dubbed the “Mad Master of Edinburgh Castle”.

As serial killers often are, he grew ever more brazen, sometimes entertaining his victims as “guests” in his home before killing them, part of some vile game. He viciously attacked his neighbor, one Dr. Hutton, who was forced to wear a metal plate in his skull for the rest of his life. Finally fed up with this unchecked reign of terror, a young English soldier named John Callendar vowed to capture Hutchinson and end the carnage once and for all. Unfortunately, Hutchinson shot him in front of several witnesses. Aware that Callendar’s comrades would seek him out in revenge, the good doctor fled by sea.

His boat was stopped by Admiral George Rodney. When cornered, Hutchinson leaped into the Caribbean, but his shock of red hair was quickly spotted. The subsequent investigation indicated that Lewis Hutchinson was far more sinister and prolific than anyone could have imagined. His slaves told horrifying stories of torture and murder, and a search of Edinburgh Castle turned up piles of clothing and some 43 watches he’d taken from his victims. There is no telling how many people he killed, although the number easily could have reached into the hundreds.

Bizarrely enough, it was discovered that the Mad Master didn’t always work alone. Neighboring farmers James Walker and Roger Maddix also participated in some of his lethal misadventures. Both men were put to death. Despite all the evidence stacked up against him, Hutchinson was only tried for a single murder, that of John Callendar. He pled not guilty but was eventually sentenced to death and hanged in Spanish Town Square in 1773. He instructed that the following statement be carved into his tombstone: “Their sentence, pride and malice, I defy. Despise their power, and like a Roman, die.” He didn’t get his wish.

Parts of Edinburgh Castle remain, a stone ruin cloaked in moss. Hutchinson Hole can also be visited, although it seems to remain a magnet for death. In November 2003, 32-year-old Carlton Rose committed suicide by leaping inside. His decomposed body was recovered three and a half months later.

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