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Yahweh Ben Yahweh Trial: 1992

A Criminal Or A Role Model?

Later allegations by members who dropped out included widespread sharing of sexual partners among cult members, intimidation by the cult leader and severe punishments for disloyalty, and a luxurious lifestyle of Yahweh Ben Yahweh himself. An inner circle of bodyguards protected him, standing watch over the entrance and during meetings. Friction with the outside community mounted and in May 1986, a group of Yahwehs, as the members became known, were attacked in a neighborhood of Delray Beach, south of West Palm Beach. In apparent revenge, a group of eight to 15 black men returned in the middle of the night on May 19, 1986, and firebombed four homes in the neighborhood where the cult members had been accosted. Later Yahweh Ben Yahweh denied that any of his members had participated in the firebombing, and he sent checks of several thousand dollars to the victims of the firebombing attack.

Through such gestures, and through the thriving businesses he established, he won widespread support in the Miami political community. His program of investments in real estate and the fact that he recruited and apparently rehabilitated homeless and destitute members of the black community in the period 1988-1990 began to win local and even national recognition. Mayor Xavier Suarez of Miami praised Yahweh for the economic ventures that included a grocery store, motels, and other businesses.

Meanwhile, a series of unsolved crimes in the Miami area had police puzzled. Several murder victims were found in outlying wasteland, some mutilated by having their ears cut off. One murder victim, Aston Green, was decapitated. Another victim, Leonard Dupree, was reputedly beaten to death by a mob at the cult headquarters, on suspicion that he was a police or Black Muslim informant. Rumors spread that the cult leader had sex with many of the female members, some as young as 10 or 11 years old. Murder victim Raymond Kelley, a 61-year-old white mechanic, had one ear partially severed and the other entirely cut off. Later, the police attributed the ear-mutilations to the cult, after defectors from the cult claimed that Yahweh Ben Yahweh urged them to "smite their enemies" and to bring him proof of their action.

A confrontation between the Yahwehs and apartment residents in Opalocka, a suburb of Miami, brought the cult into the news in 1986.The cult attempted to evict tenants forcibly from an apartment complex on 131st Street, leading to an exchange of gun fire and two deaths.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Yahweh Ben Yahweh Trial: 1992 - A Criminal Or A Role Model?, Arrest And Indictment, Jury Deadlocks On Several Charges