The Mary Lynch murder trial: She thought he was seeing another woman
Crimes that rocked the nation
In this week’s conclusion of the two-part story of the Mary Lynch murder trial, Retired ACP Isadore Hibbert, the main investigator, continues to outline the drama leading up to the trial and conviction of Mary Lynch for hacking to death her bank executive husband, Barbados-born Leary Lynch. The first instalment was carried in last week’s Sunday Observer.
THE attorneys for Mary Lynch served on me a writ of habeas corpus, which in effect was an order for me to appear before the Resident Magistrate’s Court in St Andrew, at 2 o’clock — along with Mrs Lynch — to show cause why she should not be released from police custody.
On receipt of the writ, I immediately contacted the head of the Forensic Lab, the photographer and the fingerprint experts from the Criminal Investigation Bureau and members of my team. But instead of going to court with Mrs Lynch, we proceeded once again to the Lynch’s residence to conduct a much more intensive search.
The 2 o’clock deadline for me to appear before the court with Mrs Lynch had passed. It was now 3:00 pm. The team of investigators and experts were busy on the job. It would appear that the attorneys had had a premonition regarding my strategy. Recall I had Mrs Lynch with me, along with my team.
The three attorneys, led by Pearson, arrived at 3:30 pm. I told them the house was a crime scene. They were free to observe and make notes of what we were doing, but not to interfere. They were not free to move from apartment to apartment; I would give the command as to when and where we moved. They cooperated fully.
The team then went to the room where I suspected Leary Lynch was killed. There was no mattress on the bed. There were what appeared to be spots of blood on the ceiling; similar spots were very visible on furniture and in the corners and crevices on the floor. The room was photographed. The forensic expert swabbed the bloodstains and confirmed that they were human. Mrs Lynch remained silent, showing no signs of emotion.
We next proceeded to another room on the ground floor. This room was like a storeroom. There was a bed on which there were four mattresses. A pile of clothing, shoes, suitcases, bed linen, among other things were on the bed and they were stacked almost to the ceiling. The entire room was photographed.
We kept clearing the items from the bed, and as we did so, the proceedings were photographed. This was done until we reached the first mattress. It was photographed and removed. The process continued until we reached the third mattress. Here, I noticed that the covering on this one was neatly cut off, exposing the sponge.
I saw a large stain on the sponge which appeared to be blood. All this time, Mrs Lynch and her attorneys stood silently, watching the proceedings. I shouted out loudly: “This looks like bloodstains!”
Mrs Lynch collapses
Suddenly, I heard a thud. Mrs Lynch had collapsed in a heap on the floor. She had to be helped to her feet. This was the very first time Mary Lynch had shown any sign of weakness or emotion whilst in police custody. Forensic tests on the sponge confirmed the presence of human blood.
We found Leary Lynch’s briefcase in that same room and it revealed the possible motive for the murder, as you will hear later. The briefcase appeared to have been searched. Inside the briefcase, I found an invoice for “food and bev for two” at La Roose Restaurant on Port Henderson Road, Portmore, St Catherine. The voucher bore the date of the Saturday when Leary Lynch visited his farm in Linstead and it was the last date on which he was seen alive.
This document became an important exhibit in the case in assisting the prosecution to prove the motive for murder. For, it was part of the prosecution’s case, that upon returning from his farm that fateful Saturday, Mr Lynch had stopped at La Roose, where he had had a meal and drinks. But his companion had been his handyman and gardener, who had accompanied him to the farm.
Mrs Lynch seemed to have had suspicions that her husband was having an affair with some woman unknown to her; had searched the briefcase whilst Mr Lynch was sleeping and had misinterpreted the words “food and bev for two” to mean “food and bed for two”.
Leary Lynch’s will
Oddly enough, in the very same briefcase was Mr Lynch’s will, leaving money and property to the value of some $40 million for his wife, Mary. His only other living possession as said before — his Mercedes Benz motor car — was left for his sister.
The investigation, up to this point, led to mere suspicion of murder, as the finding of the body was essential in proving the case.
With the evidence uncovered thus far, as well as the reaction of Mrs Lynch at the home when the bloodstains were found on the sponge on the bed, there was no time to waste.
We left for my office at CIB headquarters to conduct further interrogation of Mrs Lynch in the presence of her attorneys. As prescribed by the Rules of Evidence (the Judges Rules), I cautioned Mrs Lynch. I wrote down the words of the Caution and explained same to her. She signed it.
I proceeded to ask her numerous questions. She kept replying: “Mr Hibbert, me have me lawyer.”
I kept up the line of questioning.
To every question, I noticed that she kept looking at a bit of paper in her hand. I put it to her that I had noticed that she kept looking at the paper each time I asked a question and she said, ‘yes, that was so.’ I took the piece of paper from her and on it was written: “Me have a lawyer.”
I asked her who wrote it. She responded: “My lawyer.”
Judging from the temperament of Mary Lynch, I knew it was just a matter of time before she would give me the type of answers I was seeking. So I said to her: “You don’t seem anxious to assist us in finding your husband.”
Suddenly, she blurted out:
“Don’t bother mash me foot, Mr Pearson! (referring to her lead attorney). “Look at a woman like me; have to stay home, wash dirty clothes and cook food for husband, while him gone enjoy himself with other woman.
“Mr Hibbert, no bother ask me anything ’bout husband and you know what happen already.
“I would eat a Chinese food from Jade Garden restaurant now.”
I assumed then and there that after reading and misinterpreting the voucher/bill from La Roose, all her pent up fury, mixed with jealousy, got the better of Mrs Lynch.
Two days later, the final breakthrough came. The most important clue was, at last, unfolding.
A farmer tending his field in a remote, hilly and bushy terrain of St Andrew stumbled upon the charred remains of what turned out to be a human body.
I visited the scene, accompanied by the Government pathologist; forensic experts from the lab; photographer, surveyor, etc.
The body was burnt beyond recognition. The skull and overall, the skeleton, were intact. The pathologist confirmed it was human remains, but maintained that proper identification was necessary.
I noticed a tyre impression in a pile of cow dung where the remains were found.
This was photographed and a cast made of it. The cast of this tyre impression later provided a key link in the chain to establish the murder charge. Soil samples were also collected at the spot where the charred remains were found, for comparison with samples taken from Mrs Lynch’s car.
Post-mortem examination on the skeleton disclosed that death was due to several machete wounds to the head. The jawbone showed dental work and this was preserved for further examination.
Skeleton positively identified as that of Leary Lynch
Positive identification of the deceased was established by the dentist; as well as dental records; and striation marks on the skull matched the blade of the machete found on the steps of the house. In addition, DNA tests conducted on the skeleton and samples taken at the couple’s home, with those found in the trunk of the car belonging to Mrs Lynch, proved conclusively that the charred remains were those of Leary Lynch.
Also, add to the foregoing the fact that: a) Soil samples taken at the scene where the remains were found matched soil samples from the suspect’s car; and b) The tyre impression found at the scene matched one of the rear tyres of her car.
All these factors helped to link Mary Lynch to the murder of her husband.
Mrs Lynch was then arrested and charged with the machete-slaying of her husband, Leary. Cautioned, she said: “Ah so it go.”
Later, at the trial, before Chief Justice Mr Lensley Wolfe, OJ, Mrs Lynch was to hear the verdict “guilty of murder” pronounced on her by a jury of 12 of her peers, as she steeled herself for the terrible words — “Sentence of death” — which for women in Jamaica, really mean life imprisonment.
She served 14 years at the women’s prison at Fort Augusta, Portmore, St Catherine, and was released from prison in 2007.
Next week: Behind the killing of Reggae superstar Peter Tosh — a tale of jealousy and rage
Sybil E Hibbert is a veteran journalist and retired court reporting specialist; she is also the wife of retired ACP Isadore Hibbert. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org