Ricky came into the world on January 25th, 1975 on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. 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), Rick spent his childhood and early adult years living and travelling with his mother and Berg in Europe, Asia, and Canada.
From his birth, David Berg and Karen Zerby determined to make Ricky a “poster boy” for their followers. He was, according to them, a divine prince, destined to lead the Children of God through the biblical endtime. As such, they felt that Ricky 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, Ricky's childhood and youth was spent in a highly controlled environment characterized by intense indoctrination, stringent discipline, and sexual initiation by adults.
In his late teens, Ricky began rebelling against his mother's beliefs and practices. In early 2001, he and his fiancée Elixcia 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.”
Ricky and Elixcia, now married, settled in Washington State, hoping to put the past behind them. However, Ricky became increasingly consumed by rage over the abuse that he and thousands 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 early 2005 he murdered Angela Smith, a long time Family Member and close associate of his mother. A few hours later, he took his own life.