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
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
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.