The “Lil Yummy” case: The murder of 11-year-old Chicago gangster, Robert Sandifer

The "Lil Yummy" case: The murder of 11-year-old Chicago gangster, Robert Sandifer 1

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was an 11-year-old American boy from Chicago, Illinois. Sandifer’s murder by fellow gang members in Chicago garnered national attention because of his age, resulting in his appearance on the cover of Time magazine in September 1994. Nicknamed “Yummy” (aka Lil Yummy) because of his love of cookies, standing 4 ft 6 in, Sandifer was the youngest member of the street gang the Black Disciples.

Robert Sandifer © Curiosm
Robert Sandifer: Born on March 12, 1983, in Chicago, Illinois, US. Died on September 1, 1994 (aged 11), in Roseland, Chicago. © MRU

After committing murder, arson and armed robbery, he was murdered by his own fellow gang members who feared he could become an informant, and that he was attracting too much attention towards their activities.

Yummy became reckless

Robert Sandifer Lil Yummy
11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, in an undated police photo, who was shot and killed by Cragg and Derrick Hardaway in September 1994. (Chicago Police Department)

On August 28th of 1994, three days before his murder, Yummy opened fire on a group of people, presumably from a rival gang, with a 9mm semiautomatic. He immediately fled the scene. But Yummy also hit 14-year-old Shavon Dean, an innocent young girl who had been around the scene. Dean later died from the bullet wounds.

When rumors spread nationally that the perpetrator of the crime had been an 11-year-old, the shock of the crime was tripled.

The murder of “Lil Yummy”

Robert Sandifer was exuberant and conspicuous in nature. The Disciples feared that if they did not rein the boy in, he could become an informant. Yummy’s tendency to be showy and reckless means the police could grab him. And if they did, they would use the boy to get to the Disciples.

Cragg and Derrick Hardaway, who were 14 and 16 respectively, had been sent by the Disciples on August 31 to deal with the problem Yummy had brought the gang.

Next day, on September 1, the Disciples took out Yummy on the railroad underpass at East 108th Street and South Dauphin Avenue. He was shot in the back of his head by the Hardaway brothers. The pair had ordered Yummy to go down on his knees.

Indeed, there had been a police manhunt for Yummy due to what Chicago’s head of the police department at the time, Sgt Ronald Palmer said was an initiation gone wrong. The Hardaway brothers were later convicted.

Lil Yummy became a symbol of the gang problem in American inner cities

Coverage of Sandifer’s death and retrospectives on his short, violent life were widely published in the American media. Lil Yummy became a symbol of the gang problem in American inner cities, the failure of social safety nets, and the shortcomings of the juvenile justice system.

Recent debates about what Chicago means to young black men have their foundations from about this time. The frequency of the terrors left so many with questions.

The Hardaway brothers had been sent by the Disciples on August 31 to deal with the problem Yummy had brought the gang. The brothers were later convicted.

The Black Disciples

Interestingly, the Black Disciples were founded in 1966 as part of efforts to advance civil rights. Along the way, that noble vision was lost.

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