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Yahweh cult leader out of prison, finds North Dade home

He's to live alone in church-rented house

Miami Herald, Sep. 26, 2001
http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/local/dade/digdocs/105792.htm Off-site Link

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Yahweh Ben Yahweh was scheduled to arrive at his new Miami-Dade County home late Tuesday night, after being released from prison in upstate New York. The religious leader was originally supposed to get out of the Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution Aug. 17, but delayed his own release by refusing to pay a $16,000 fine.

At issue was whether Yahweh Ben Yahweh, convicted in 1993 of telling Yahweh followers to commit 14 murders in South Florida, could live with followers or would have to go to a federal halfway house.

He had first asked to live with his mother in Enid, Okla., but Oklahoma parole board commissioners denied the request. He then asked to live with followers in Miami Shores, but federal parole board officials also denied that request. After that, his followers went in search of a Miami-Dade home where they said their leader would live alone. They found one at 14200 NW 14th Ave. between North Miami and Opa-locka when Yahweh member Delia Hankerson agreed to move out of the two-story, lakefront, rental home, paid for by the Nation of Yahweh and owned by a couple in Minnesota. The couple spends part of the year in Florida. The redwood-and-stone, four-bedroom house has black olive trees out front and security cameras trained on the front yard, front door and street. A screened porch runs the length of the house on the lake.

Still to be negotiated is whether the parole board will require the religious leader to get a job. At a hearing in May, Yahweh Ben Yahweh questioned the fairness of being made to work at his age.

When a parole commissioner said at a hearing that the parolee would have to work "at a McDonald's or a Burger King," Yahweh Ben Yahweh responded, "At 66?"

Since the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Yahweh Ben Yahweh had been put in solitary confinement because U.S. intelligence agents had categorized him as a "terrorist."

Evidence showed the 14 murders were motivated by revenge against random "white devils" and against black Yahwehs who defected from the religion. But he was taken off the terrorist list when no concrete connection between the disasters and Yahweh Ben Yahweh could be found.

His followers and family said he and his organization no longer hate whites.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh's daughter, Venita Mitchell, 44, the second-oldest of his four adult children (three women and one man), said her belief that "we are all children of God" -- whites and blacks -- is the current belief of all Yahwehs.

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