Editor's note: Some names have been partially redacted to protect individual privacy or for other reasons at the discretion of the editors of xFamily.org.
Richard Peter Rodriguez 1975-2005
Richard P. "Ricky" Rodriguez (also known as Davidito and Pete) was born 1975-01-25 on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain to Karen Zerby and "Carlos" (a Hotel Belair in Santa Cruz de Tenerife employee Zerby FFed).
His mother, Karen Zerby, was the companion of David Berg (1919-1994), founder and leader of the Children of God / The Family, a high-demand, highly sexualised, apocalyptic religious movement. Nicknamed Davidito (his birth name was David Moses Zerby, later legally changed to Richard Peter Smith), Rick spent his childhood and early adult years living and travelling with his mother and Berg in Europe, Asia, and Canada. He was considered to be the adopted son of David Berg although no official adoption ever took place. He is also the half-brother of Techi.
From his birth, David Berg and Karen Zerby determined to make Rick a poster boy for their followers. He was, according to them, a divine prince, destined to lead the Children of God through the biblical end-time. As such, they felt that Rick must be moulded into an ideal follower, an incarnation of their beliefs and practices. His upbringing was exhaustively documented and highly publicized as a model for all parents in The Family to follow. As a result, Rick's childhood and youth was spent in a highly controlled environment characterized by intense indoctrination, stringent discipline, and sexual initiation by adults.
As Rick grew up he developed a deep-seated resentment towards Berg and Zerby because of the sexual abuse he had suffered as a child due to their policies and because of the unnatural way in which he was raised. He would later state that he and his sister were never allowed to be "just children", but always had to perform and demonstrate their supposed natural superiority to other children in the group.
In his late teens, Rick began rebelling against his mother's beliefs and practices. In early 2001, he and his fiancée Elixcia Garcia made a final break with his mother (who had become the leader after Berg's death) and The Family, declaring to her that "we cannot continue to condone or be party to what we feel is an abusive, manipulative organization that teaches false doctrine. . . . You have devoured God's sheep, ruining people's lives by propagating false doctrines and advocating harmful practices in the name of God, and as far as I can see, show no regret or remorse." 
Rick and Elixcia, now married, settled in Washington State, hoping to put the past behind them. However, Rick became increasingly consumed by rage over the abuse that he and many hundreds of other children raised in The Family had suffered. Deeply depressed, he felt that his mission was to find his mother and bring her to justice.
In October 2004, he moved to Tucson, Arizona and worked as an electrician. According to accounts by his friends and relatives, he moved there because he heard his mother had visited and he wanted to find her. In January 2005, he arranged a meeting with a long-time Family Member and close associate of his mother, Angela Smith (formerly Susan Joy Kauten), and stabbed her to death in his apartment. He then drove to Blythe, California where he shot himself in the head. He released a videotape to be distributed to friends, family and former members explaining his actions. In this video, Rick says he saw himself as a vigilante avenging children like him and his sisters who had been subject to rapes and beatings. "There's this need that I have," he said. "It's not a want. It's a need for revenge. It's a need for justice, because I can't go on like this."
Timeline of events
|1975||January 25 - Rick is born on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain.|
|1977||March - Leaves Tenerife with his mother and David Berg. Berg fleeing possible legal charges for scandalous conduct related to FFing. Spends the next several months in Madeira and Estoril, Portugal, and Madrid, Spain.|
|1978||Lives for short periods in Switzerland and Malta.|
|1979||Berg and Zerby move to the French Riviera, near Nice. Rick lives in southern France in several different locales until mid-1980.|
|1980||June - Zerby and Berg move to Cape Town South Africa for six months.|
|1981||Rick spends a few months in Estoril, Portugal, Sri Lanka, and Singapore before Berg and Zerby settle in Metro Manila, Phillipines.
June 1981 – November 1987 - Berg and Zerby live in the Metro Manila area – five different locations.
|1987 - 1988||November 1987 – late 1988 - Zerby and Berg live in the Tokyo Japan area, as well as Tateyama, Chiba prefecture. Rick attends HCS. Short visit to Korea.|
|1988 - 1993||September 1988 – 1993 - Zerby and Berg move to the Vancouver area on Canada's west coast. They remain there until mid 1993, when they are forced to flee due to a revived police investigation about their illegal attempts to obtain Canadian passports. During this time Rick visits Family communities in the U.S. and Australia with Steven Kelly.
Undergoes a psychological evaluation with Dr. Lawrence Lilliston to "prove" that childhood abuse had no negative effect on him which is used extensively by The Family.
|1993 - 1994||May 1993 – mid 1994 - Travels with Berg and Zerby in Europe. Settles in Portugal, near Lisboa.|
|1995 - 1996||Spent some time in Russia. Lives and works at "MM Home" in Hungary.|
|1997 - 1999||Spends three years at his mothers secret leadership compound in Portugal.|
|2000||Decides to leave mother and exit the group. Spends some time in California, Venezuela, England. Decides to temporarily remain in The Family.|
|2001||January - Officially leaves The Family. Works on fishing boats from Seattle for three months. Marries Elixcia, settles in Tacoma. Works as an electrician.|
|2004||Early 2004 – Moves to southern CA. Works as electrician.
September - Moves to Tucson, AZ. Works as electrician.
|2005||January 8 - Rick kills Angela Smith, a close associate of his mother, at his apartment in Tucson, Arizona
January 9 - At 7:35 AM, Rick's body is found in his car at 180 West 14th Avenue in Blythe, California. A police investigation eventually determines that the cause of death is suicide.
March 26 - A memorial for Ricky Rodriguez is held at the Paradise Point resort in San Diego.
Writings by Ricky Rodriguez
- Life with Grandpa - the Mene Story — 2002-06-04
- Still Around — 2004-08-14
- The Gospel of Rebellion — 2002-05-25
- Correspondence Between Rick and Karen Zerby — 2000-05-29 (160 KB)
- From Rick to Gabe — 2000-11-26 (114 KB) (note: "Gabe" is Terry Lee Martin)
- From Rick to James Penn — 2000-12-22 (75 KB)
- Letter from Rick to Karen Zerby — 2001-01-16 (55 KB)
- From Rick to Johnny — 2002-05 (126 KB)
Ricky Rodriguez's murder–suicide received considerable international media coverage, including the examples below. A larger collection of press coverage can be found at Category:Press.
- Rolling Stone: The Life and Death of the Chosen One — 2005-06-30
- Marie Claire, Australia: "Killing Myself is the Only Way Out of the Cult" — 2005-04-19
- Los Angeles Times: Tragic Legacies of a Sex-Based Religion: Murder and Suicide — 2005-03-13
- ABC News: New Focus on Fringe Religious Sect — 2005-01-27
- The Observer, UK: Sex cult's messiah turns killer — 2005-01-23
- San Francisco Chronicle: Rage turns to vengeance against "Family" — 2005-01-15
- New York Times: Murder and Suicide Reviving Claims of Child Abuse in Cult — 2005-01-15
- Channel 4, UK: Cult Killer: The Rick Rodriguez Story — 2006-08-21
- CBS Local News San Diego: People Raised In Sex Cult Gather For Memorial (2:03, 3.7MB) — 2005-03-26
- ABC Primetime Live (18:36, 46.7MB) — 2005-01-27 (Transcript)
- CNN Anderson Cooper 360° (20:43, 52.5MB) — 2005-01-18 (Transcript)
Legal name changes
- From David Moses Zerby to Richard Peter Smith — 1993-03-15 (26 KB)
- From Richard Peter Smith to Richard Peter Rodriguez — 1994-07-13 (32 KB)
- Story of Davidito
- Photos of Ricky Rodriguez's Childhood
- Claim by Family spokesperson that Ricky Rodriguez was "not the subject of corporal punishment"
- Ricky Rodriguez video
- Ricky Rodriguez Memorial
- Ricky Rodriguez's death
- Angela Smith's death
- Lying Lips - The Lies Family Leaders Have Told About Ricky