Mug shot of Oba Chandler.
|Born||11 October 1946
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Alias(es)||Dave Posner or Posno|
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder, Armed robbery|
|Status||Incarcerated in Union Correctional Institution|
|Occupation||Aluminum building contractor|
Oba Chandler (October 11, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a convicted rapist and murderer currently on death row in Florida for the 1989 triple-murders of a woman and her two daughters whose bodies were found in Tampa Bay, Florida. All three of the women were found floating in the bay in June, 1989, with their hands and feet bound, concrete blocks tied to their necks and duct tape over their mouths. Autopsies indicated the women had been thrown into the water one by one while still alive.
The case became high profile when police used billboards with information and photos of the victims, spreading them all over Tampa in an attempt to find more information about the killer. This method had never been used before, and became useful in searches for missing people later on. Chandler is currently incarcerated at Union Correctional Institution in Florida.
Prior to his arrest, Chandler worked as an aluminium building contractor. He testified in his own defense against the advice of his attorneys and admitted that he had met the Ohio women, giving them directions, but claimed he never saw them again, aside from newspaper coverage and the billboards set up by investigators. Police originally theorized that there were two men involved in the murders of the Rogers women. This theory was reflected in an episode of the television show Unsolved Mysteries, in a re-enactment of the crime showing two men leaving the dock with the three women on board a boat. Most people involved with the investigation are today certain that Chandler acted on his own when killing the three Ohio women, even though some have stated concerns over the probability that one man could kill a family of three without any help from a second assailant.
Chandler was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio approximately 100 miles from where the Rogers family were living, Oba Chandler was the fourth child in a family of five children. His parents where Oba Chandler Sr. and Margaret Johnson. When Chandler was only 10 years old, his father hanged himself in the basement of the family's apartment. Chandler's father's death affected him so much that he jumped into the open grave as the gravediggers were covering the coffin with dirt at his fathers funeral on June 1, 1957. After that Chandler's life spun out of control and he was stealing cars by age 14 and was arrested 20 times while he was a juvenile. As an adult, he was charged with a long list of crimes, including possession of counterfeit money, loitering and prowling, burglary, kidnapping and armed robbery.
Once he was accused of masturbating while peering inside a woman's window, and on another occasion with receiving 21 wigs stolen from a beauty parlor. In one incident, Chandler and an accomplice broke into the home of a Florida couple and held them at gunpoint while robbing them. Chandler told his accomplice to tie up the man with speaker wire and then took the woman into the bedroom, where he made her strip to her underwear and tied her up, too. While she lay on the bed, he rubbed the barrel of his revolver across the woman's stomach. Chandler would also father a total of eight children, the latest one being Whitney born in February, 1989.
Joan ("Jo") Rogers, 36, and her daughters, Michelle (17) and Christe (14) left their family dairy farm on May 26, 1989 in Willshire for a vacation in Florida.  They had never before left the state of Ohio. On June 1, 1989, authorities believe the women became lost while looking for their hotel and encountered Chandler, who gave them directions and offered to meet them again later to take them on a sunset cruise of Tampa Bay. It is known that the Rogers women left Orlando that morning around 9 a.m. and checked into the Days Inn (motel) on State Route 60 at 12:30 p.m. Snapshots recovered from a camera left in their car showed the last picture of Michelle while she was alive and even the sun setting on the same bay where their lives would later end. They were last seen alive at the hotel restaurant around 7:30 p.m. It is believed they boarded Chandler's boat at the dock on the Courtney Campbell Causeway (part of Route 60) between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., and that they were dead by 3 a.m. Chandler could also have used the fact that he was born in Ohio to lure them into feeling more connected with him. It's also believed that he knew that the women were not from Florida as he recognized the Ohio car plates as he himself was originally from Cincinnati.
The women's bodies were found floating in the Tampa Bay on June 4, 1989 with bound hands and feet with concrete blocks tied to their necks and duct tape over their mouths. The first body was found floating when a sailboat on its way home to Tampa after a trip to Key West, had just crossed under the Sunshine Skyway when several people on board saw an object in the water identified as a dead female. The second body was floating to the north of where the first body had been sighted. It was 2 miles off The Pier in St. Petersburg. While the coast guard went to recover the second body a call came in of yet a third female, seen floating only a couple of hundred yards to the east. Like the first and second victim found, this body was face down, bound, with a rope around the neck and naked below the waist. Autopsies indicated the three women had been thrown into the water while still alive.
This was bolstered by the water found in the lungs and the fact that Michelle had freed one arm from her bonds before succumbing, Michelle was thereby indetified as the second victim found and recovered out of Tampa Bay on June 4. The partially-dressed bodies of all three women indicated that the underlying crime was sexual assault. The blocks were tied around each of their necks to make sure they died from either suffocation or drowning, and to make sure the bodies were never found. The bodies were however found when they bloated due to decomposition and floated to the surface.
The women would not be positively identified until a week later, by which time they were reported missing by the husband and father, Hal Rogers, in Ohio. A housekeeper at the Days Inn noted on June 8 that nothing in the room had been disturbed, and that beds had not been slept in. She contacted the general manager, who then contacted the police. Fingerprint matches were made to the bodies from those found in the room. Final confirmation of their identification came from dental records sent from the Rogers' dentist in Ohio. Marine researchers at Florida International University studied the currents and patterns and confirmed that they were tossed from a boat and not from a bridge or dry land, and that it had happened anywhere from two to five days before they were found. This was confirmed when the Rogers' car, a 1984 Oldsmobile Calais with Ohio state license plates, was found at the boat dock on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
The case remained unsolved and cold for several years mainly because of the hundreds of thousands of tips pouring in to the police who investigated the crime. Chandler would not be arrested for the murders until September 24, 1992. His handwritten directions and palmprint on a brochure found in the Rogers' vehicle, along with a description of his boat written by Jo Rogers on the brochure, were the primary clues that led to his being named a suspect. Also, authorities had posted the handwriting from the brochure on billboards, which was historic as it was used for the first time in an attempt to find the unknown killer, and this led to a tip from a former neighbor who was able to provide a copy of a work order that Chandler had written. A handwriting analysis conclusively matched the two.
Another neighbor, as well as one of the secretaries on the investigative task force, also thought that Chandler resembled the composite sketch of the suspect in a seemingly related rape case (see next paragraph). The palmprints from the brochure were also matched to Chandler. Moreover, Chandler had sold his boat and left town with his family soon after the billboards appeared all over the Tampa Bay area. In 1990 when Unsolved Mysteries was about to report on the deaths of the Rogers family, Chandler and his then wife moved from their Dalton Avenue, Tampa home to Port Orange near Daytona Beach. This is believed to be because Chandler felt more worried about being caught because of the upcoming television show about his crime.
Investigators originally theorized that there were two men involved in the murders of the Rogers women. This theory was reflected in a 1990 episode of the American crime television show Unsolved Mysteries, in which a re-enactment of the crime showed two men leaving the dock with the three women on board a boat. This theory, however, was dismissed when Chandler was arrested. Other than a claim by a former prison cellmate that Chandler has said there was another man involved, of whom the cellmate claimed to know the identity but would not name him, no evidence has ever surfaced regarding the involvement of anyone other than Chandler. The second suspect theory is belied by Chandler's approach of two Canadian women; that he had the willingness to approach more than one potential target by himself. John Rogers was released on parole in 2004, but is estranged from the rest of the Rogers family.
The father Hal Rogers was also considered a suspect because he had posted bail for his brother John Rogers after he knew of his abuse of Michelle. Hal Rogers said later that he had promised the family to make bail and would not go back on his promise. Investigators from Florida and Ohio also found out that Hal Rogers had withdrawn $7,000 from his bank at the time of the disappearance. When questioned about it, he showed investigators a satchel with most of the money in it. He planned on using it to go and search for his wife and daughters himself before he was notified of their deaths. Also, subsequent investigation conclusively proved he had never left Ohio during that time period.
At his trial, Chandler admitted meeting the Rogers women and giving them directions, but claimed he never saw them again except in the newspaper and on billboards. Yet he never came forward to tell authorities that he had seen the women. He acknowledged he was on the bay that night, but that he was fishing alone -- a fact he could not deny since the police had evidence of three ship-to-shore phone calls made from his boat to his home during the time frame of the murders -- He explained that the reason he was so late in coming home was that his engine would not start, which he attributed to a leak he claimed to have found near dawn in the gas line. He claimed he had called the United States Coast Guard and Florida Marine Patrol, but they were busy elsewhere. Finally, he claimed he flagged down a Coast Guard patrol boat, but they were busy and promised to send him help. Then he claimed to have fixed the line with duct tape, which allowed him to make it back safely to shore. His testimony was quickly refuted by the Hillsborough County Prosecutor, Douglas Crow, who verbally sparred with Chandler to demonstrate that he had in fact lied about everything. All Chandler could muster in response to the prosecutor's repeated questions was, "I don't remember."
This defense won him few sympathizers on a jury that quickly saw through his façade, not to mention the inconsistencies in his statements. Moreover, there were no records of any distress calls from Chandler that night to either the Coast Guard or the Marine Patrol, nor were there any Coast Guard boats on the bay the following morning to help him. A boat mechanic testified for the prosecution to refute Chandler's claim of mechanical trouble. He testified that Chandler's explanation for repairing the boat's gas leak could not have happened as he had portrayed it. Chandler's boat, a Bayliner, had a distinctive engine in which the fuel lines were directed upward. Such a leak would have sprayed fuel into the air instead of leaking into the boat, not to mention that the corrosive effects of the gasoline would have eaten away the adhesive properties of the duct tape, that had, supposedly, been used to repair the aforementioned leak.
Another lead was that on May 15, 1989 (two weeks prior to the murders), Chandler lured Canadian tourist Judy Blair onto his boat in nearby Madeira Beach, raped her, then dropped her off back on land. Blair made her way back to her hotel room where her friend Barbara Mottram was waiting. He was not charged or tried for this crime. It is thought he did not murder her because Barbara refused his offer to join them on the boat, a decision which more than likely saved both their lives. As a result, Judy Blair testified during his trial for the murders to establish his pattern of attack and the similarities between the two crimes. Blair testified that on May 14, Chandler gave his name as Dave Posner or Posno when the three first met at a convenience store in Tampa. Presumably he gave the same alias to the Rogers'. He did tell Blair and Mottram he was in the aluminum contracting business, which helped lead investigators to him, as well as the naming of the investigation to capture him: Operation Tin Man. The description that Judy gave was also posted on the billboards along with the handwriting samples.
Additionally, a former employee of Chandler's testified that Chandler bragged of dating three women that night on the bay and that the next morning he arrived and delivered materials for a job by boat and immediately set out again (presumably to make sure his victims were dead). In an attempt to establish Chandler's whereabouts on the night of the murders, investigators found phone records of several radio marine telephone calls made from his boat to his home between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.; probably an attempt to explain to his wife his absence, as well as to provide himself with an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murders. Also, Chandler's own daughter Kristal May Sue testified against her father, saying that he talked about killing the three women and that he was afraid of going back to Tampa. A maid who worked at the motel where the Rogers women stayed testified that she walked past Oba Chandler as she was going to the Rogers' room for room service on June 1, 1989, implying that it seemed as if Chandler had just left the women's hotel room at around 12:30 that afternoon. The maid said she didn't realize the importance of this sighting until Chandler's arrest in 1992, although the sighting has never been confirmed. Hal Rogers and Michelle's boyfriend also took the stand during trial. Hal identified the women and talked about his emotions on June 1; the boyfriend told about a phone conversation with Michelle.
The Rogers women where all buried on June 13, 1989 after a funeral service at the Zion Lutheral Church in their hometown. About 300 people among them family and friends of the victims attended the service. Chandler was tried and found guilty of the murders, and sentenced to death on November 4, 1994. After sentencing, the juror forwoman commented regarding the death sentence that "They need to do this swiftly. The man is a mutation of a human being and he needs to be destroyed." Chandler remains on Florida's Death Row, maintains his innocence and continues to pursue legal appeals. He has admitted the Madeira Beach incident, but claims the sex was consensual, and that the victim had changed her mind during the act, which in his words, was not possible for him to do. Chandler was never prosecuted in the rape of Judy Blair, since he had already been sentenced to death for the Rogers family murder, and prosecutors did not want to subject Blair to the emotional trauma of a rape trial. He still claims he never met the Rogers women after that morning when he gave them directions. He is serving his sentence at Union Correctional Institution. Shortly after the trial and conviction, Chandler's wife Debra Chandler filed for divorce, and the marriage was formally dissolved the year afterwards. Chandler is no longer allowed to see his daughter Whitney, and in accordance with his ex-wife's wishes, he is not even allowed to see current photos of Whitney.
In July 2008, it was revealed that Chandler was on Florida's short-list of executions. Profiling experts believe that Chandler may have killed previously, based on the speculation that a first-time killer would not be experienced or bold enough to abduct and kill three woman at once. Chandler remains a suspect in a 1982 murder of a woman found floating off Anna Maria Island. However, Chandler has never been charged with other murders. Chandler got an Institutional Adjustment disciplinary report on December 15, 2001, for disobeying orders in prison. All of Chandler's appeals since his 1994 conviction have been denied, the latest one in May 2007. Chandler has after his conviction been named by media as one of Florida's most notorious criminals.
The Discovery Channel devoted a one-hour episode concerning the murders of the Rogers family and Oba Chandler on their series Scene of the Crime: The Tin Man. The case was also one of three in an episode of the Discovery channel series Forensic Detectives. The former focused on the underlying events of the crimes, while the latter focused on forensic evidence. In 1997, a series of articles entitled "Angels & Demons" written by Thomas French was published in the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. The series told the story of the murders, the capture and conviction of Oba Chandler, and the impact of the crimes on the Rogers' family and community in Ohio, most notably their husband and father, Hal Rogers.
The articles won a 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.Death Cruise, by author Don Davis, also covered the case. The Roger murders were featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries in 1991, where it was speculated that there were two attackers. The book 'Bodies in the Bay,' by Mason Ramsey, is a fictionalized adaptation that was copyrighted in 1997, and published in 2000. The case was also featured in an episode of A&E's Cold Case Files entitled Bodies in the Bay, which also focused on the evidence, but did not delve too deeply into the background of the murders. In 1995 Oba Chandler and some part of his family and also Hal Rogers appeared on a special episode of the Maury Povich Show which had an episode on the case. Which saw Oba Chandler commenting on the case via satellite link. Chandlers case was also brought up in a full hour episode of "Crimes Stories".
Mug shot of Oba Chandler.
|Born||11 October 1946|
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
|Conviction(s)||First degree murder, Armed robbery|
|Status||Incarcerated in Union Correctional Institution|
|Occupation||Aluminum building contractor|
Oba Chandler (born October 11, 1946) in Cincinnati, Ohio is a convicted murderer who is on death row in Florida for the murders of an Ohio woman and her two daughters. The women's bodies where found floating in the Tampa Bay, Tampa in June of 1989. The women had been bound and gagged and then tossed into the bay with concrete blocks tied to their necks while still alive.
Billboards where at the later stages of the investigation used in trying to find however did the murders, the billboards that was spread all over Tampa had pictures of the Rogers women and a picture of the hand-writing of the thought triple murderer. This method had never been used before, and became useful in searches for missing people later on.
Chandler was not arrested until September, 1992. He was put on trial where he was found guilty of the murders by a 12 member jury. In November 4, 1994 he was sentenced to death by a deadly by the judge in the case. Chandler is right now at Union Correctional Institution in Florida. Author Thomas French in 1998 won the Pulitzer prize for his article series Angels & Demons which told the story of the murders.
Oba Chandler was born in Cincinnati the the state of Ohio. He was the fourth child in a family of five children. His parents were Oba Chandler Sr. and Margaret Johnson. At the age of 10, Chandlers' father Oba Chandler Senior hanged himself in the Chandler family's basement. This upset Oba so much that he jumped into his father's grave during the funeral in 1957 while gravediggers were covering the coffin with dirt. Afterwards, Oba's life spun out of control and he was arrested many times and had been arrested 20 times by the time he was a teenager. As an adult, he was charged with a long list of crimes, like having fake money, burglary, kidnapping and armed robbery. Chandler would also father a total of eight children before his arrest, the latest one being Whitney born in February, 1989 with his wife at the time Debra Chandler. Between May and September of 1991 Chandler worked as an informant for the US customs Tampa office, at the same time as Tampa police investigated the Rogers family triple murder.
Joan Rogers and her two daughters, Michelle (17 years of age) and Christe (14 years of age) left their family dairy farm on May 26, 1989 in Willshire for a vacation in Florida.  They had never before left the state of Ohio. On their last day in Florida they became lost and drove into Tampa to ask for directions to the nearest hotel, in a store they came across Oba Chandler and asked him. It is thought that he saw the Ohio state car license plates on Joan's car and used that as means to ask the family to join him out for a boat trip later.
The women's bodies were discovered floating in the Tampa Bay on June 4, 1989 with bound hands and feet with concrete blocks tied to their necks and duct tape over their mouths. The first body was found floating over the Sunshine Skyway bridge when a sailboat on its way home to Tampa after a trip to Key West, had just crossed under the Sunshine Skyway when many people on board saw an object in the water. They soon realized it was a dead body of a female. Soon another body was found and yet another third body was also dragged out of the bay within an hour. All three bodies had been tied and gagged and had concrete blocks tied around their necks. Autopsies thought the women had been tossed into the bay while still alive.
The Rogers women where identified a week after their bodies where found in the bay. A hotel maid had discovered that a hotel room had stood unused for several days. And when the reports about the murders started to leap into the media the hotel decided to contact investigators in the case. Soon it stood clear that it was indeed the families room after fingerprints where matched to those of the victims, some snaphots from a camera was also discovered in the room which showed where the family had traveled and also a last shot over Tampa Bay. This photo was taken just minutes before the Rogers women went out to meet Oba Chandler to go on a boat ride out on the bay.
The case remained unsolved and cold for several years, partly due to the volume of tips pouring in to the police who investigated the crime. Chandler would not be arrested for the murders until September 24, 1992. His handwritten directions and palmprint on a brochure found in the Rogers' vehicle, along with a description of his boat written by Jo Rogers on the brochure, were the primary clues that led to his being named a suspect. Also, authorities had posted the handwriting from the brochure on billboards, which was historic as it was used for the first time in an attempt to find the unknown killer, and this led to a tip from a former neighbor who was able to provide a copy of a work order that Chandler had written. A handwriting analysis conclusively matched the two.
The Rogers women were all buried on June 13, 1989 after a funeral service at the Zion Lutheral Church in their hometown of Willshire, Ohio. About 300 people among them family and friends of the victims attended the service. Numerous police officers were also present to keep all news media and crews out of the church during the funeral service, this because of the huge media interest for the case by media at the time. Chandler was tried and found guilty of the murders, and sentenced to death on November 4, 1994. After sentencing, the jury forewoman commented regarding the death sentence that "They need to do this swiftly. The man is a mutation of a human being and he needs to be destroyed." In July 2008, it was revealed that Chandler was on Florida's short-list of executions.
Profiling experts believe that Chandler may have killed previously, based on the speculation that a first-time killer would not be experienced or bold enough to abduct and kill three woman at once. Chandler remains a suspect in a 1982 murder of a woman found floating off Anna Maria Island, he is also a suspect in a rape case concerning a Canadian women weeks before the Rogers womens murder. However, Chandler has never been charged with other murders. Chandler got an Institutional Adjustment disciplinary report on December 15, 2001, for disobeying orders in prison. All of Chandler's appeals since his 1994 conviction have been denied, the latest one in May 2007. Author Thomas French in 1998 won the Pulitzer prize for his article series Angels & Demons which told the story of the murders.