Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Yaweh ben Yahweh Cult

Yahweh ben Yahweh Day

Yahweh ben Yahweh
Yahweh ben Yahweh

In 1986, the cult took over the mortgage on an apartment in Opa-locka, a small city northwest of Miami. When they tried to evict the residents, some residents refused to leave. Yahweh's thugs were sent in to forcibly remove the people, and two residents were shot to death.

A witness told police Rozier was the gunman, and he was arrested on Halloween 1986 and charged with murder. At first he refused to cooperate with investigators. He gave his age as 404 and answered all questions with "Praise Yahweh!"

But with the evidence mounting against him, he changed his tune and turned state's evidence. In exchange for testifying against the cult, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Ellis Rubin
Ellis Rubin

As the noose began to tighten on his evil empire, Mitchell scurried to polish the cult's image. He hired a media-savvy lawyer, Ellis Rubin, as an adviser, and held open-houses where community leaders and journalists traipsed through the previously hidden confines of the Temple of Love. The visitors noticed nothing menacing. The enforcers had exchanged their weapons for briefcases. Smiling children sat in clean classrooms, reciting lessons. Smiling Yahwehs greeted them warmly as they toured the print shop. The were "one big happy family," Mitchell said.

He told his guests that his church was about black empowerment, not murder or hate, and insisted Rozier was acting on his own.

Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez
Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez

For years, Mitchell succeeded in pulling the wool over the public's eyes, and at an event held at the Miami Arena that was attended by thousands of his followers, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez declared October 7, 1990, "Yahweh ben Yahweh Day."

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury was putting the final touches on a 25-page indictment accusing Yahweh and 15 disciples of 14 murders, extortion and running a racketeering enterprise.

A few weeks after Mayor Suarez's announcement, God son of God was arrested in New Orleans. "Obviously I was wrong," Suarez said tersely when reporters hounded him for a reaction to Mitchell's arrest.

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