Oba Chandler

The date was May 26th, 1989 and Joan Rogers was on a family vacation in Florida with her two teenage daughters; Michelle (17) and Christe (14). They were from the small town of Willshire, Ohio and this was the first time the family had gone on such a far away locale for a trip. The family was in Orlando and decided to stop off in Tampa for one final day on June 1st. Whilst looking for their hotel they came across an individual, Oba Chandler, who would be able to point them in the right direction. He continued with an offer for a cruise of the bay, a perfect end to the perfect vacation, I’m sure this is what Joan was thinking. This was an experience neither her nor her daughter’s had experienced and would be nice to have the memory. The women checked in to their hotel, had dinner, then ventured out to Mr. Chandler’s boat late in the evening. The next time the women would be on dry land, they would be dead. All three were murdered just hours after boarding the vessel. Who was this Oba and what did he do to this innocent family?

The bodies began to surface on June 4th. All were found nude, bound with rope and water filled their lungs confirming that the women had gone through torturous deaths. There was evidence of sexual assault as well as evidence that the killer tried to conceal the crime for as long as possible, tethering cinder blocks to each women in an effort to keep them submerged for as long as possible. It took a week for the victims to be positively identified, due to the condition of their remains and the lack of identification. They were reported missing in Ohio and the 2 cases were quickly linked. Motel staff reported to authorities the families room was undisturbed and no sign of a struggle was present. Their beds were also undisturbed, showing they had not stayed the night. Their car was located shortly after their identities were confirmed near a boat dock.

Cops had a lot of facts in this case but not much in ways of identifying a suspect. I can only imagine how frustrated law enforcement must have been that they were unable to simply point to someone who was last seen with the family. This was in part due to the fact the family was from out of town. They had no known associates, they were all back in Ohio, so the pool of suspects was quite small if not nonexistent from the start. Detectives knew they were going to have a hard time but persistence was not something they were lacking. The case would go unsolved for 3 years before authorities would finally catch their guy. 

On September 24th, Oba Chandler was arrested for the murder of the family. How authorities were able to track him was due to his handwritten directions on the back of a brochure. They posted the note on multiple billboards in the hopes that someone would recognize the writing. It was recognized and one of Oba’s neighbors came forward with a writing sample, which matched the brochure. Once they had the hand writing match, they were able to link him further from a palm print left on the brochure as well.

One of the billboards made during the investigation.

One of the billboards made during the investigation.

Oba (Traditionally an Egyptian name for ‘King’) Chandler was born on October 11th, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Oba Chandler Sr. and Margaret Johnson. Oba had some troubles at an early age, which may have stemmed from his father’s suicide when he was just 10. At 14 Oba began his criminal career by stealing cars. As he grew older he would be arrested multiple times and move on to bigger crimes like counterfeiting, kidnapping and robbing. His crimes seemed to be getting worse and ore perverse. One incident, Oba had broken into a home, tied up the male hostage and took the female hostage to another room and made her strip, all while brandishing a pistol. Oba’s personal life didn’t seem much better, fathering 8 children with 7 different women. Now let me say, there is nothing wrong with having multiple children, simply pointing out he may have had relationship issues due to the fact he had 7 different partners.

After the handwriting sample and palm print identification, Oba was arrested and charged with the murder of the family. He maintained innocence, claiming to have only given directions and that was it. He admitted to being on his boat that night, fishing by his self but no one bought that story. He claimed to have some problems that night with his boat and attempted to contact the coast guard but they failed to respond. No records were ever found of his attempt for help. During the trial one compelling witness approached the court with a terrifying story that could have easily ended much worse. She testified that Oba attempted the exact same scenario he had enacted on the Rogers family, inviting her to his boat but instead of showing her the sunset he raped her and then returned to shore. This occurred just weeks before the murders. The witness gave a composite at the time of the event and it matched Oba in many regards. Not much more was needed at that point and Oba was found guilty of the murders and was sentenced to be executed for his crimes.

Oba Chandler would be executed on November 15th, 2011. His last meal would be salami sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and an iced tea. He would die just under 20 minutes after his lethal injection. He maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. While in prison it is claimed that he did not receive a single visitor during his years of incarceration.

It was theorized by some that Oba may have killed before due to his brazenness of approaching and killing 3 victims in a single encounter. It was also theorized that Oba may have been an innocent man. While researching I myself found myself questioning his guilt. There was no concrete DNA evidence linking him to the murder. There was only proof that they had met, which he never denied. Until that is the first theory was proven. Oba was found to have killed again. On February 25th, 2014 authorities, through DNA, linked Oba Chandler to the rape and strangulation of 20 year-old Ivelisse Berrios-Beguerisse. The young victim was recently married and murdered near her job. After this case, authorities from other jurisdictions began investigating other cold cases where Oba may have been in the area. It is definitely possible that Oba may have other unknown and unsolved crimes out there. Who knows how many victims’ lives Oba claimed throughout his life? We truly will never know the full extent of this man’s depravity.