Up and down Grove Road in Linstead, St Catherine, the story of Bishop Stephen Ricketts is quite an interesting, colourful tale. Depending on who you talk to, he was either a goodly bishop or a demon from hell.
On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, four days after Ricketts’ tragic demise along with five of his church members, residents of the community sat in their own little groups along the roadway – from the corner shop, to his favourite watering hole at Cat’s Corner Bar, to the yard up the road – in deep discussion about the man and his many graphic characters.

In the early morning of Saturday, July 16, Ricketts’ Suzuki Vitara was returning from what some residents described as a “duppy catching mission” with eight persons on board, when the driver lost control and the vehicle overturned at the Flat Bridge in Bog Walk Gorge.

The bishop drowned in the Rio Cobre, along with two of his sons – Shevaughnie and Sujay Ricketts, as well as church members Benjamin Ellis, Crystine Morris and O’Neil Robinson.

El Frego Slew, who was driving the vehicle, as well as 19-year-old Shane Harris were the only survivors.

Harris was rescued from the river, while Slew reportedly fled the scene. Slew later turned himself into the police and was charged with six counts of manslaughter, as well as not possessing a driver’s licence.

The tragedy was not lost on the residents, but the bishop’s reported lifestyle and questionable practices overshadowed that. Depending on which group you sat in on, the sentiments were quite varied and as opposite as night and day about the revivalist bishop of the Mount Maria Zion Church.

Tales abound about his many animal sacrifices right in the street in front of his church; church members drinking animal blood; burying of live white chickens in the church yard to sanctify the ground; him being a self-professed “science man” who was well sought after to cast out demons or duppies and going on regular “duppy catching missions”; sometimes travelling with a skull in his vehicle or going gravedigging. Or the story of him being a self-confessed homosexual with young male lovers far and wide, sometimes making headlines for “disciplining a gay lover who give him bun”; kissing a dead gay lover just before lowering his casket in the grave; taking in a lot of young men to live with him; sending several children to school; the father of some 19 children; a man who loved his hard liquor and was regularly “under his juice”.

A dramatic character, indeed. That is, if you believe the many stories they all had to share. But each storyteller swore to being an eyewitness to many of the incidents.

A Good, Good Man

On strict condition of anonymity, the residents readily shared their tales with The Gleaner about the man who for the past 34 years had embedded himself in the depths of the rural St Catherine community.

“I know Steve from him was 14 years old when him come here come live with a male friend. Steve was a good, good man. He was the kindest man me ever know. Nuff mothers a bawl right now cause a him used to send them pickney go school and now back-to-school time and without Steve dem nuh know how dem going to manage,” one man shared.

“He was a real down-to-earth pastor who never hide who he was and what him duh. Him never hide and talk like some people. Him do him ting and yuh know a suh him stay. People say all sort of things bout him and cuss him behind him back but tun round and beg him for help and him still help them. He never say no. Him kind, kind, kind, always a help people. It really sad to lose so many lives at once,” one lady told.

“Him church members love him like how Jesus love the little children. Is regular people call him to go on a mission to catch duppy. People come to him regularly with demonic problems and him help them. Him was a Zion man and is that them do, so what?” a church member said.

“All them want say bout him, Steve was a good, good [gay] man. Di best [gay] man in di world. Di kindest [gay] man me ever know. A man live him life how him want to live it. It’s not for me to judge,” one defiant lady said.

But down the road the stories changed.

“Me heart leap for joy and gladness when me hear the news that him dead. Because a nuff young man life him destroy and spoil with him nasty ways. The man live with one house load a boys and him have case right now before the court with how him damage one a him man them who give him bun. All a video on Facebook with him a beat one a him boy them with machete, a ask him where him get hicky from. Me have me son a come up and me did fraid for him suh till,” an angry young man said, hugging his baby boy tight.

“His death was an answer to my prayers from God. We were so afraid for our boys. I know say, the way how him dead, is God hand at work.”

A deeply spiritual lady shared, “He was a very demonic man who called upon bad spirits. The animal sacrifices and things he was doing was all devil work. Drinking blood, a drive round with skull, a go grave yard and chant spirit and dig up skull. Him was a walking dead and believe nothing could happen to him but him did owe the river maid and she came to collect. The Flat Bridge river maid was the one who collected what was due.”

Help To Destroy

While another man said, “You see how him dead? Tell me a no God do that? What is to a man to gain the world and lose him soul? Steve help nuff young man so him can spoil them. His kind of help is to destroy. Him was nice to women and help them out all the time, but only to get close to them boys. That not right. His death was God’s doing.”

“A bare sin and destruction on that church. It need to burn down to the ground!” one man shouted.

“A history book must write bout man like him. Me surprise him live so long, the things him do. People don’t want tell the truth bout him, but the truth is not a sin. People know what he was like and what he was doing, but he was well protected and feel him could get away with anything. He was not good for society. He was destroying the young men and God did society a favour,” a woman vehemently declared.

On overhearing one conversation, a teen boy, who had just arrived in a taxi in his uniform, declared, “Not even stone me throw over that church. Me no go nowhere near him.”

Residents said it was not unusual for someone else to be driving the 48-year-old bishop’s vehicle, as he always travelled with a designated driver because he had a regular habit of bar hopping on his journeys and was quite often “under his juice”.

“Dem man deh drink hard, so a regular thing for someone to drive for him. See that bar yah right ‘cross from him church, is him favourite spot,” a man pointed out.

Family members, however, are quite upset about the innuendos, accusations and allegations, one cousin stating, “All of us are upset, angry and disgusted. I don’t know anything about the things they are saying. We don’t want to hear or read anything about this.”

Ricketts was a member of the Mount Maria Zion Church for several years before he took over as bishop some 20 years ago. The revivalist church held mainly late evening services and residents said it was a regular thing to hear the beating of drums and the calling on of various “spirits”.

In the Revivalist religious movement, there are two groups – Zion, otherwise called the 60 order, and Pocomania, referred to as the 61 order. An ex-member said the Mount Zion church was on a 60 order ground, but comprised of mainly 61 order members. Some diehard revivalists had stopped going to the church because of the rituals and practices that were introduced.

“If you are going to do God work, do clean work, but certainly not the things he and the others were doing at that church,” said the former member.


  1. Bishop Ricketts can go cuss the Gleaner now with him mumma lashy self. One bag of demons the whole of them.

  2. How Met! Me never see such a long tribute so :maho ghost busters feature :ngakak me can’t wait Fe done work and read dis novel :ngakak

  3. A wonda if him pot tun ova when him dead and de spell him caste gainst me vanish wid him :hammer :travel :travel :travel :travel

  4. As i stated dem dash tooo many things in that riverrr! Mi hate wat dem a mash up revival God knows how i feeel!

  5. Burn that “church” to the grung,enlist even the help of the fire dept but burn it asap.Met it seems to me that the Bishop is worse than those Ghetto Dons who help parents n send for their lil girls! The Bishop a sen for the ppl them lil boys!

    Jah know mi feel it n mi blood run cold when them sey the yute hold him lil baby boy tight Oh LORD GOD plz Deliver us from all this evil!

    1. The gleaner witness is real cause a same so a lady from the district tell mi seh dem glad him dead. But Jamaican parents too lickey lickey cause no man CANNOT fren me and sex my pickney

      1. Sad, but a lot of Jamaican mothers/parents sell their souls to the devil to pay their rent, even if it means pimping-out their daughters to older men. Lots of rents paid and food on the table because of this type of behavior on the part of mainly mothers. This is just normal practice in Jamaica from as far back as one can go.

        One Pocomania man moved into this lady’s house in our neighborhood. She was much older than him and married. The man sound like a woman (woman voice) and had a big flag planted in the yard. Could never understand as a kid, what this lady was doing with this effeminate obeahman in her house. Lots of people use to visit this house from far and wide.

        1. If the mothers had the help from the fathers most of them wouldn’t have to sell them soul & pickney fi money. Not saying it’s right but this is the way it’s been from God was a child & mi nuh tink it ah go end anytime soon neither.

          The blame goes both ways….

    1. Why the church fi burn?

      Is it because:

      A) dark rituals were practiced?

      B) The pastor wasn’t common/straight?

      C) You is a Bible thumper?

      D) Have no liking to Ancestral practices?

      E) the works affected you directly?

        1. Chuet 😀 me pose the questions, but me ago defend ‘D’.

          The thing it can’t burn dung just like that cause a mo everything fire can destroy.

  6. We have become a nation of pride-less, lazy people that’s why vile men like this one strive in our society. Let me talk plain so everybody can understand.

    How me as a woman going look to man who neva breed me fi money fi mind my child? Have man who I don’t even know all over my child? I need school fee his is all about paying it once he has full access to my child.

    We, yes I said we, have become pimps of our children, because other people see it happening & allow it to continue. If the community had come together & beat the parent doing it (yes beat) & beat the man doing it & run him weh (burn down church, house, even the bar that he likes to go) long time he could not have continued, but we are all about mind our own business. We won’t even call the CDA or police in annonymity.

    I was listening to a BBC programme in horror this morning about Malawi parents inducting their girls into puberty by paying a ‘hyena’ or otherwise know as a dirty, disgusting, worthless piece of shit, US$4 to sex off their daughters, some as young as 12 yo all in the name of tradition & culture & had to cry out for Jesus Christ when the dutty man confirmed to the reporter that he was HIV positive & thinking, how could parents do that? What kind of society allows that?

    Then I got to work & picked up the Gleaner on my desk to this article. Many Jamaican people have become a set of beggy beggy, want everything for free by whatever cost people that have no pride. Once it used to be blind & other serverly disabled people who beg, now strong back man & woman stand up a beg & will do anything to get what they did not work for.

  7. How was he able to get away this? Under the guise of Christianity? Because he was kind and charismatic? Classic signs of a predators.

  8. Him dutty family member dem need fi go sidung cuz him a fish long r@ss time. Mi see him stay bad niece pon mi fb page a talk bout fi leave har uncle alone cuz him a nuh obeah man or a fish lol that man go up a St Thomas go catch duppy and di duppy dem catch him and him batty crew instead dwl St Thomas duppy dem nah ramp a baxide lmao

    1. DwL :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak :ngakak St.Thomas duppy dem Neva ago than tuddy Fe no battyman duppy enslave dem

  9. Cindy Royal ur so rite…is bcuz the focka dem lazy n beggy beggy I well not stop saying a community is built by the people in it not the ones that visit..this man use fear of obeah n i know him mus have some gunman friends to..what kind of work did he do all now mi a wait fi hear..if u look good inna the video weh him slap the youth with the machete one bleach out one stop him from u si him u si scamming..How him have so much money to give away n no job is bcuz him a obeah man…the bar owner vex bcuz wen people come fi work obeah she mek money the other people who defending him is the ones who carry news to him on the ones that don’t want him there fi get him dirty money..burn down the rass klaaath church

  10. This man had destroyed my life at a very tender age. I was fifteen years old when he introduce me to his gay lifestyle, He was my mother good friend, So he used to come at our house very often,but cut a long story short,it wasnt really my Mother he want,it was me.Me nava know sa hood coulda go inna batty and feel so f***g sweet.My virginity was talking by him,and up until this day i am more attracted to males then females. When i found out that i was not the only guy he was f****g,they where many others. I couldnt sleep,i could eat,i couldnt go to school. Its like this man take me and left me all alone in a wilderness were there is no food or water to drink.I did not know anyone else who is gay. Some people may understand how i was feeling at the time. Who feels it knows it. But somehow i get over it.People this is my part of story with Steve Ricketts. Atlease i have a say because i was one of his victim.

    1. Young-youth mi sorry fi know seh dis nastiness duh dat tuh yuh. Di fact dat him shub him hood inna yuh batty nuh mek yuh gay. Pray tuh di Most High God and ask him fi cleanse yuh from dis demon. Yuh owe it tuh yuhself. Don’t accept dis gay claim in the name of Jesus. Good over evil, Ricketts ah guh bun :marah

    2. I hope you see the counselling/therapy that you need so you do not victimise anyone as this man did to you. Get help from sound, credible source – not another false ‘man of God’. It sounds like you are far gone in your sexually & I’m not in the habit of judging that – but do NOT victimise other boys like you were. Wishing you God’s grace & his ever-present guidance in your life.

    1. Oh, thanks for that bit of advice, but I hope his soul is in perpetual torment. Hush, is suh it hurt when people throw out your people disgusting laundry.

    2. I hope him tormented till him kill himself agen bout rip yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy kmt afta him never let di likkle boy dem Battam rest in peace mussi think say a so rest in peace go all some a unnu shoulda drown wit him cause unnu know whey him a do but because a licky licky unnu shut unnu mouth GET LOST bout rest in peace flat bush shoulda have shark in deh

    3. No rest fi di wicked! Dat frigga gwine bun suh till all him teeth dem tun inna powder. Weh yuh can duh is beg satan fi him remains and wear it round yuh neck till yuh meet him inna eternal damnation…. dyam fool!!

  11. U girl up a top @ 5:55 a.m gwaan back go sleep it too early to this. If the man did shub him hid in a your battam you would a want the man RIP?
    The reason why everything a come out when him dead is because these men were targeted at young teenage years and the man drive fear in a them from them younger years. I no see how the man beat the young man with the cutlass when him give him bun? So how u expect them to come forth while he was reigning over them life still and control them with beatingration, domination and fear?

    Girl gwaan yaw man, u sound like one a the parents them weh used to get sweated in exchange fi yu boy child, u disgust me.

  12. Me no fraid fi talk.Me live a commodore wid me mada, fada and me 3 sista dem right now.Im gay and i dont have the feeling of changing no time soon. I tryed to stop but the feeling even comes on stronger.Most of the people in Rosemount linstead have an idea and they know what he was doing,But turned a blind eyes on it. This is nothing new that Bishop Steve Ricketts was the biggest battyman a linstead so me no know wa de rass people come from now and a say lots of things bout the him just because him dead now.I guess dem faid if dem say anything him we obea dem bloodcloth.Whatever he done to me done happen already,Wa gane good a morning ca come good a evening.I dont want anybody to tell me to change from being gay.Its not that f***g easy has you all thought.Im gay and im loving it.Because of the stigma on Gay people here in Jamaica,I am very much on the downlow side. nobody else has to know that im gay unless i want to tell you.I had already forgiving the Bishop for doing this to me, so im moving forward with my life. a Jamaica me come from and a Jamaica me a tan.

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