Joan Rogers and her daughters were vacationing in Tampa from Ohio and checked into their hotel on June 1, 1989. Housekeeping staff noticed that their room remained uninhabited for over week, at which point they contacted the manager, who then contacted police.
The police found the Roger' car abandoned beside a boat ramp.
The bodies of all three women were found tied and weighted in Tampa Bay on June , 1989. Each woman was naked from the waist down, arms and legs bound, and a cinder block was tied by a rope around their necks. Medical examiners determined the cause of death of all three women to be asphyxiation from the ropes around their necks, or from drowning.
Inside the car they found a brochure with directions on it, parts of which were written in Oba Chandler's handwriting. Chandler's fingerprints were also lifted from the brochure.
Investigation revealed similarities between the Rogers' murders and the rape of a woman in a nearby area. From information given by Judy Blair, the victim of the rape, a composite drawing was made of the suspect and printed in the local paper, along with the stories of the two crimes.
After seeing the article, Chandler fled the area and stayed with relatives. He admitted to them that the police were searching for him in connection with the rape/murder investigation.
At trial, Judy Blair testified that when she first met Chandler he offered to take her on a sunset cruise on his boat. Not fearing for her safety in the least, Blair accompanied Chandler on a ride through Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
While at sea, Chandler raped Blair. Blair testified that she believed he would have killed her had it not been for the fact that a friend was waiting for her back at the dock.
The State used this incident to hypothesize how Chandler lured the Rogers family with the offer of a cruise on his boat before he killed them. Chandler was not arrested or charged with the murders until September 1992.