Robert Earnest Rozier Jr.
July 28, 1955
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||240 lb (109 kg)|
(Rancho Cordova, CA)
|NFL Draft:||1979 / Round: 9 / Pick: 228|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Born in Alaska but raised in California, Rozier was a high-school and collegiate athlete before briefly playing professional American and Canadian football. In the 1980s he joined the Nation of Yahweh, and by Halloween 1986 had killed at least four Floridians on behalf of the religious group. After turning state's evidence, Rozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was paroled after ten and put into Witness Protection. At the turn of the century, Rozier was caught bouncing checks and sentenced to 25 years-to-life under that state's three-strikes law.
Born on July 28, 1955 in Anchorage, Alaska Territory, Robert Earnest Rozier Jr. was a United States Air Force brat who grew up in California. At Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova, California, he scored a 1.32 grade point average and did not receive his high school diploma. Rozier was later a student at both Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington and the University of California, Berkeley (majoring in African-American studies), but graduated from neither school.
At Cordova High, Rozier was an athletic wunderkind: the teen played American football as a defensive end and was "all-league, all-conference, all-Northern California." The high-schooler could also high jump 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m), vertical jump ten feet (3.0 m), sprint the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, and bench press 375 pounds (170 kg). When he was passed over to play college football for lacking his Cordova High diploma, he enrolled at Grays Harbor where he was eventually recruited by University of California, Berkeley's football coach, Mike White. At California, team captain Ralph DeLoach described Rozier as "the best athlete on the team".
The 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) and 240-pound (110 kg) Bob Rozier was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth round of the 1979 NFL Draft (228th overall). A defensive end, Rozier played as number 75 for six games in 1979, starting for none of them. Rozier's professional sports career in the states was derailed by "allegations of drug use and petty crime." Rozier briefly moved on to the Canadian Football League, playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and finally signed with the Oakland Raiders ("a team with a reputation for collecting misfits") for only two weeks.
While playing professional football in Canada, Rozier allegedly wrote bad checks for US$20,000–30,000 (equivalent to about $47,000–70,000 in 2019). By November 1986, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had issued 32 warrants for fraud against Rozier.
Nation of Yahweh
Having met founder Yahweh ben Yahweh in 1982, by 1986, Rozier had become an ardent supplicant to the Nation of Yahweh (a religious movement that "teaches that American blacks are the true Jews"), donating all of his possessions and taking the name Neariah Israel.
In an effort to join the Yahweh's "Brotherhood"—"a secret group […] of tall, muscular young men available for discrete missions"—Rozier undertook the initiation of killing random "white devils". In April 1986, in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove, Rozier followed a drunk white man to his apartment and killed him and his roommate with a six-inch (150 mm) Japanese knife. On September 5, Rozier and another Brotherhood member killed the unconscious 61-year-old Raymond Kelly, who was parked in a bar parking lot; the two men cut off the victim's ear to show ben Yahweh, and when they lost it, returned to the body to cut off the other. Fifteen days later, Rozier and three other Yahwehs killed 45-year-old Cecil Branch (stabbing him 25 times) in retaliation for a previous confrontation. On October 27, 1986, the Nation of Yahweh bought a five-building apartment complex in Opa-locka, Florida for $480,000 (equivalent to about $1.12 million in 2019). Under the auspices of trying to improve the property, Yahweh members spent that week attempting to evict residents. On October 31, 28-year-old Anthony Brown and 37-year-old Rudolph Broussard were shot to death, and Rozier was charged with one count of first-degree murder.
Upon Rozier's arrest, he told police that "he was 404 years old and couldn't remember his life before conversion." For seven months, the Nation supported Rozier with a lawyer (Ellis Rubin) and a public-relations campaign; when Rozier issued an ultimatum to the church for a different lawyer, he was excommunicated. In March 1988, Rozier turned state's evidence in exchange for a 22-year sentence. He told of the Nation of Yahweh's crimes to the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD): some murders were committed in retaliation, some members of the church would brag about killing on behalf of the group, and a church rumor told of its own involvement in the 1983 public beating death of martial artist Leonard Dupree. Rozier also explained about the Brotherhood, its initiation, and its purpose. All-told, Rozier personally confessed to four murders.
By 1990, the MDPD had built a "14-murder conspiracy indictment against 16 members of the Yahweh Nation and their spiritual leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh." This case relied heavily upon Rozier's claims, a vector of attack used by Yahwehs' criminal defense lawyers; Patricia J. Williams (defending Judith Israel a.k.a. Linda Gaines) claimed "Robert Rozier is singing a song in order to avoid a life sentence or death sentence", and Curtis Jones (defending Isaiah Solomon Israel a.k.a. James Littlejohn) alleged that "He's the biggest liar […] I dare say the man would lie on his mother, much less Yahweh Ben Yahweh, his friends and associates. ... He's been able to elude Old Sparky (Florida's electric chair) four times." Despite these attacks on Rozier, the MDPD had never caught the man in a lie. Ultimately, ben Yahweh was acquitted of murder after Rozier's credibility was besmirched.
For his 22-year sentence, Rozier was imprisoned outside of Florida under a new name courtesy the United States Federal Witness Protection Program. In 1996, after ten years behind bars, Rozier was paroled with his new identity of Robert Rameses. In 1999, he expressed remorse for his crimes, telling the Associated Press that he had "rebuilt his life in an intense spiritual and intellectual transformation."
On February 5, 1999, Rozier was arrested (as Rameses) by El Dorado County, California sheriff's deputies for a bounced check of $66 (equivalent to $101.29 in 2019). Rozier volunteered his criminal past and former identity; though the new charge would otherwise be a misdemeanor, under California's then-new three-strikes law, state prosecutors sought felony charges. His bail was set at $10 million (equivalent to about $15M in 2019). By May 2000, Rozier was imprisoned in South Lake Tahoe, California, waiting for a June trial. At the conclusion of his trial in Placerville, California, Rozier was convicted of bouncing 27 checks for a total of $2,200 (equivalent to $3,376 in 2019); he was sentenced to prison for 25 years-to-life on January 12, 2001.
- "Bob Rozier Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- Freedberg, Sydney P. (November 30, 1986). "Yahweh sect member's story of frustration, violence unraveled". The Ledger. Miami: The New York Times Company. ISSN 0163-0288. OCLC 187953892.
- "Convicted killer, former football player, says he's sorry for slaying". Cameron Park, California. Associated Press. March 6, 1999.
- Scheeres, Julia. "The Yaweh ben Yahweh Cult". Crime Library. TruTV. p. 12. Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- "Murderer, Ex-Member Key to Yahweh Case". Tulsa World. Miami. December 3, 1990. ISSN 2330-7234. Archived from the original on June 10, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- "Murder victims". Miami Herald. November 8, 1990. ISSN 0898-865X. OCLC 2733685. Archived from the original on February 15, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
Members of the Yahweh sect are responsible for 14 murders in Dade, according to the federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. The following information about the victims is based on the indictment and other court records.
- Nevins, Buddy; Thompson, Jean (October 31, 1986). "Sect Member Held in Killing: Police Charge Yahweh with 1 of 2 Opa-Locka Murders". Sun-Sentinel. Opa-locka, Florida: Tribune Publishing. ISSN 0744-8139. Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Hecht, Peter (May 15, 2000). "Check case may trip up former cult killer". Sacramento Bee. Knight Ridder. ISSN 0890-5738. OCLC 37706143.
- Hecht, Peter (January 13, 2001). "Witness's past catches up to him: '80s cult killer gets 'third strike' term for passing bad checks". Sacramento Bee. Knight Ridder. ISSN 0890-5738. OCLC 37706143.