Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Yaweh ben Yahweh Cult

The Black Messiah

On Friday the 13th of November 1981, a construction worker drove his truck down a narrow dirt road to a rock pit located on the edge of the Everglades for a routine equipment check.

As he parked his vehicle, he noticed a large red blanket spread over the weeds a few feet from the road, an odd sight in the remote area populated by 12-foot alligators, panthers and strangler figs. He got out of his truck and walked toward it.

It was late morning, and the glades were quiet but for the occasional whine of a mosquito or the distant splash of an alligator plunging into the murky swamp. The temperature hovered at 70 degrees, a pleasant change from the oppressive heat and humidity of summer.

He bent over the blanket and pulled up the fabric. Underneath was a man in jeans and Florida Atlantic University T-shirt. He was missing his head. It took several long seconds for the information to sink in, and the construction worker stared down at the body, transfixed by horror. Blood still seeped from the severed neck into the saw-toothed grass, and he realized the man had been murdered only a short time before. He jerked upright and looked around wildly, noticing a tree next to the body spattered red with blood, before sprinting back to his truck to radio his office.

"Get security!" he screeched into the handset.

Ashton Green's body found
Ashton Green's body found

The corpse belonged to Aston Green, 25, a Jamaican-born man who dared to defy a growing cult that would strike terror in the heart of Miami over the next decade. The Yahweh ben Yahweh cult was lead by a self-proclaimed black messiah named Hulon Mitchell Jr. who based his religion on a hatred of whites and urged his followers to murder "white devils" and bring him back body parts - a sliced-off ear or finger or head - as proof of the kill.

Mitchell's spite was also directed at defectors such as Green, who'd grown disillusioned with the cult's odious dogma and renounced it. For that sin, he was beheaded, the first of 14 murders attributed to the cult.

The story of how Mitchell — a dirt poor preacher's kid from Oklahoma rose to the status of deity to some 12,000 followers - is a bizarre one. He told his flock that blacks were the
"true Jews," one of the 12 tribes of Israel who were driven from their homeland in Old Testament times, and that God was black, as were the apostles. He said he was the black messiah, Yahweh ben Yahweh, Hebrew for "God son of God," and that he would lead them back to the promised land of Jerusalem to establish their kingdom.

Yahweh ben Yahweh, aka Hulon Mitchell Jr.
Yahweh ben Yahweh, aka Hulon Mitchell Jr.
His message of black empowerment and superiority resonated with many African Americans who were confronted daily by racism. Those who joined the Yahweh ben Yahweh cult included fraternity boys, sheriff's deputies, grandmothers and ex-cons fresh out of prison. They allowed Mitchell to control every aspect of their lives, from their diet to their finances to their sexual liaisons.

Most didn't realize they'd forfeited their free will to a violent megalomaniac until it was too late...and then they had Green's beheading to remind them what happened to "blasphemers."

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