May 10, 2006


NMSP officer's killers remain free in Cuba

By Don Bullis. The Rio Rancho Observer, May 10, 2006.

New Mexico State Police Officer Bob Rosenbloom, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., served for a short time on the New Mexico State University Police Department and the Las Cruces Police Department before he joined the New Mexico State Police in 1965. He served in Las Cruces and Alamogordo before he was assigned to the Albuquerque State Police District. In 1971 he applied for a position as agent in the Criminal Investigations Bureau in Santa Fe, and he'd been accepted. He'd made arrangements to sell his house. All he needed were orders from Santa Fe to begin his new job.

Just after eating dinner with his wife on the evening of Nov. 8, 1971, Rosenbloom received an official telephone call. Since he worked "general hours" and could be called to duty at any time, he was instructed to relay a trial witness to Grants where he would meet another officer who would continue the relay.

On his way back to Albuquerque, sometime after 10:30 p.m., Rosenbloom stopped an east-bound 1972 Ford Galaxie four door sedan about eight miles west of Albuquerque. He may have stopped it for a traffic violation or because he suspected it was stolen. At 10:41, he radioed the Albuquerque dispatcher and requested a check on the vehicle's California license plate. When the dispatcher attempted to respond with the information at 10:55, there was no answer. At 11:11, a citizen called the dispatcher on Officer Rosenbloom's police radio and said the officer had been hurt. He requested an ambulance.

State Police Sgt. C. A. Hawkins arrived on the scene a few minutes later. He found the officer lying face down, a single bullet wound to his throat. Officer Rosenbloom gripped his flashlight with one hand and his gun with the other. The weapon was just clear of the holster and had not been fired. His hat had rolled down the embankment. Bob Rosenbloom, 28, was dead.

About 30 minutes after the shooting, a Bernalillo County deputy sheriff spotted the car in Albuquerque's South Valley. The deputy pursued the car for about three miles at speeds up to 120 miles per hour before he lost sight of it near the intersection of Coors Boulevard and Gun Club Road. Albuquerque Police officers found the car the next day on San Ygnacio SW. It had been rented from the Hertz agency in San Francisco and then stolen.

Near the car officers found luggage, three military rifles and a 12-gauge shotgun. They also found an abundance of revolutionary literature, bomb-making materials and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Evidence indicated that the occupants of the car were members of a militant group called the Republic of New Africa; an organization that advocated the establishment of a Black nation in the Southern United States. About 250 officers from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in a wide-ranging search for the killers.

There was no sign of the killers for nearly three weeks. Then they made a move. They kidnapped a wrecker driver, and his wrecker, and used it to get them close to a TWA 727-jet liner at the Albuquerque international airport. They commandeered the plane and ordered it flown to Africa but flight personnel convinced them the plane didn't have the range to make such a long trip. They settled for Cuba and all passengers were allowed to leave the plane when it landed for refueling at Tampa, Florida. The plane returned from Havana to Miami on Nov. 29.

The three killers were identified as Charles Hill, 21, of Albuquerque; Robert (or Ralph) Goodwin, 24, of Berkeley, California; and Michael Finney, 20, of Oakland, Calif. Finney, who adopted the African name Mancha, is believed to have fired the shot that killed Officer Rosenbloom. Interviewed in Cuba, the killers said they were able to hideout with other members of the Republic of New Africa in Albuquerque. Then, for two days, they hid in the desert near the airport waiting for an opportunity to hijack an airplane. Word also reached the U.S. that Goodwin died in a drowning accident in 1973.

In 1995, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson requested that the U. S. State Department renew efforts to extradite the two surviving suspects back to New Mexico; and the following year, then U. S. Congressman Bill Richardson traveled to Cuba and met with Fidel Castro. Richardson said later that the Cubans didn't know that Hill and Finney were wanted for murder; but believed them only to be skyjackers. Nothing came of either effort, however.

The killers have remained free in Cuba for nearly 35 years.

Officer Bob Rosenbloom was survived by his wife, Linda, and two children, Tammy and Robbie, aged two and one, respectively, at the time of their father's death. Many New Mexicans contributed to a $17,000 education fund for the Rosenbloom children.


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