Details of Disappearance Alexander was initially abducted by his non-custodial father, Ulysses H. Roberson, on November 9, 1985 from his home in San Francisco, California. His mother, Rosemary Olive, went to Roberson's South Lake Tahoe, California home in December 1985 and demanded to know her son's whereabouts. Roberson refused to divulge the information and assaulted Rosemary, breaking her jaw. He fled afterwards, but was arrested in Los Angeles, California for the assault on Rosemary.
Ulysses told the arresting officer that he did not know Alexander's whereabouts, and speculated he was living with Rosemary's relatives in the San Francisco Bay area. He was convicted and served one year in jail for abusing Rosemary, who won a court order seeking Alexander's return to her custody. The child has never been located.
Ulysses was the prime suspect in Alexander's disappearance since the onset of the investigation. A photograph of him is posted below this case summary. He is often referred to as a "cult-like figure" in the press and allegedly lured many women into abusive relationships over the years. Ulysses advertised himself as an astrologer and promised horoscopes to female victims, then began abusing them. He is reportedly a charismatic man who often lured other women into abusive situations by offering drugs or alcohol as a means of coercion.
Ulysses was convicted of raping a young girl and abusing a young boy in Washington after Alexander disappeared. Investigators lacked enough evidence to charge him in Alexander's presumed death for years, although in 1997 Pamalar Lewis, one of Ulysses's girlfriends, claimed she saw Ulysses beat Alexander with a piece of firewood in South Lake Tahoe shortly after the child was abducted.
Lewis stated that Ulysses found Alexander hiding in the unheated garage. She said that Ulysses remarked the child had "spunk," saying he was "almost dead" after the abuse and still had the strength to hide. Prosecutors were unable to locate additional evidence to substantiate Lewis's story at the time, although investigators believed that Roberson had indeed murdered Alexander.
Authorities were able to persuade an additional witness, Raj Roberson, another of Ulysses's girlfriends, to testify against Ulysses in his son's case in 2001. Raj stated that she saw Ulysses beat Alexander in late 1985, and later saw the child's lifeless body floating in the bathtub. Raj said that Ulysses loaded his son's remains into his van and forced Raj, who was pregnant, into the passenger's seat. She said that Ulysses ordered her to keep her eyes closed during the journey and threatened to kill her if she disobeyed.
Raj remembered little about the ride, but said that Ulysses stopped the van near a body of water in the South Lake Tahoe region. He then allegedly continued to drive for an additional two to three hours before stopping at a remote location in California or Nevada. Authorities believe Ulysses buried Alexander's body somewhere in that area.
DNA tests in 2001 proved that Alexander's blood was located on clothing found in Ulysses's van in 1986. This evidence, along with Raj's statements, allowed investigators to charge Ulysses with Alexander's murder in October 2001. At his preliminary hearing, several of Ulysses's children testified he had severely abused them all and Alexander in particular. They said Alexander was singled out for abuse because he was biracial, small, and often soiled himself.
Ulysses was not tried until the autumn of 2009. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder with the special circumstances of torture and racial bias. He maintained his innocence and his defense presented witnesses, including one of Ulysses's daughters, who testified that they saw Alexander alive after his supposed murder.
In December 2009, Ulysses was convicted of second-degree murder; the jury believed he had murdered his son, but didn't believe the child's death was premeditated. He faces a sentence of fifteen years to life in prison. If he had been convicted of first-degree murder with either of the special circumstances, he would have faced life without parole.
Authorities are continuing to search for Alexander's remains. His mother has kept a low profile and is attempting to rebuild her life.
- South Lake Tahoe Police Department
Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 15, 2013; picture added.