Real Names: Joan Mae Etzler Rogers, Michelle Lee Rogers, and Christe Eugenia Rogers
Nicknames: Jo (Joan), Chris (Christe)
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: June 1, 1989
Details: Hal and Joan Rogers owned a dairy farm in Willshire, Ohio and had two daughters: seventeen-year-old Michelle and fourteen-year-old Christe. On May 26, 1989, Joan, Michelle, and Christe went on vacation to Tampa, Florida. Along the way, they visited the Jacksonville Zoo, Kennedy Space Center, and Walt Disney World. They arrived at their motel in Tampa at around noon on June 1. When they did not return home that weekend, Hal became concerned and reported them missing.
On the day that they were supposed to return home, their bodies were found floating in Tampa Bay. Each had been bound with tape, weighed down with a cinder block, and dumped into the bay while still alive. They also had been sexually assaulted prior to their deaths. It was clear to authorities that they were dealing with a psychopathic killer.
Authorities believe that they had met the killer shortly after arriving in Tampa. It is believed that the killer overcame their natural suspicions, presenting himself in a non-threatening manner. On June 8, Joan's car was found at a boat ramp near the motel. A note inside suggested that they had been entrapped: it contained directions to the boat ramp, along with the initials "B/W". It is believed that they were meeting someone with a blue and white boat.
It is believed that they were lured to their deaths with the promise of an innocent boat ride. An accomplice may have also been involved. As of yet, the killer remains unidentified.
Suspects: It is believed that the killer wrote the note that was found in Joan's car. It suggested that he had a blue and white boat. A guest at the motel reported seeing an unidentified, well-groomed white male loading a cooler into a white boat with blue stripes on the day of the murders. It was towed by a dark-colored Chevy Blazer or Ford Bronco.
Authorities believe that the killer is a psychopath who has probably killed before and may kill again. It is suspected that he was surprised that the bodies surfaced so quickly and that he may change his methods in future crimes.
Extra Notes: This case first aired as part of a Special Edition of "The Diabolical Mind" on the November 3, 1991 episode. It was also documented on Forensic Files, The New Detectives, Cold Case Files, A Current Affair, and On the Case with Paula Zahn after it was resolved.
Results: Solved. After several years of investigation, authorities decided to use a new technique to identify the killer. In July 1992, they placed five billboards throughout Tampa which showed the handwriting on the note left in Joan's car. A woman identified it as that of her neighbor, a forty-five-year-old fisherman named Oba Chandler.
Authorities soon connected him to the May 1989 rape of a Canadian tourist, a crime eerily similar to the Rogers' murders. The victim was with her friend when she met a man who offered to take them for a boat ride. The next day, the victim went alone on a boat ride with the man near Madeira Beach. While in the Gulf of Mexico, he made sexual advances against her; when she rebuffed him, he raped her. She and her friend both later identified Chandler as the rapist.
A palm print found on the note was later matched to Chandler. A handwriting expert also confirmed that the writing on the note matched his. It was discovered that he was living in Tampa at the time of the murders and owned a blue-and-white boat similar to the one seen at the motel. On the afternoon of the murders, he told a coworker that he was in a hurry because he "had a date with three women". Phone records placed him on Tampa Bay that night.
Shortly after a composite sketch of the murder suspect was released, Chandler fled the area and did not return for several weeks. One month after the murders, he sold his blue-and-white boat. Its buyer recalled seeing concrete blocks at his home. Some blocks had three holes and some had two. Several months after the murders, Chandler visited his daughter and son-in-law in Cincinnati, Ohio. He told them that he could not go back to Florida because he was wanted for killing three women. He also allegedly boasted to his son-in-law about raping and killing women.
In September 1992, Chandler was arrested and charged with the Canadian tourist's rape. A few weeks later, he was charged with the murders. At trial, he admitted meeting Michelle and claimed that he gave her directions to the motel. However, he denied killing them, claiming that he was on his boat all night because his fuel line had burst. However, a certified boat mechanic testified that it was in good shape and had no signs of repair. He was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death in November 1994.
On November 15, 2011, Chandler was executed at Florida State Prison. Authorities believe that he was involved in several other unsolved abductions, rapes, and murders dating back to the 1960s. In February of 2014, DNA testing connected him to the 1990 rape and murder of Ivelisse Berrios-Beguerisse, confirming that he was a serial killer.
- Community grieving over mysterious deaths of three Florida vacationers
- Three slain women drowned, police say
- Bodies in Tampa Bay identified
- Police seek person who met victims
- Mystery of three bodies in bay remains unsolved
- Suspect named in 3 slayings
- Prime suspect was police informant
- Handwriting is on billboard for suspect - Far-fetched idea meets with success
- Trial date set in murders of Ohio tourists
- Released documents detail evidence against suspect in Tampa Bay murders
- Police: Suspect in tourist slayings has crime history dating back 30 years
- Suspect keeps lawyers as trial location moves
- Accused murderer boasted of rapes
- Son-in-law says suspect boasted of rapes, murders
- Chandler convicted in bay slayings
- Man found guilty of killing 3 tourists
- Oba Chandler gets three death sentences
- Oba Chandler vs. State (1997)
- "Angels and Demons" by Thomas French
- Police: Notorious killer Oba Chandler's DNA links him to 1990 South Florida murder
- Oba Chandler on Murderpedia
- Joan, Michelle, and Christe Rogers on Find a Grave