What Really Went Down In Waco?

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Everybody knows this case, but have you seen the autopsy photos? These are the remains of David Koresh (AKA Vernon Howell, his birth name) and a few of the Branch Davidians. They fought the law, and the law won.

David and the Davidians

David Koresh was originally a Seventh-Day Adventist, but he was thrown out of the church for his extremist views and ideas. In the late 1980’s David took over the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas; the church quickly became a sort of a cult.

David seems to have been much loved, respected, and admired amongst his followers; the man was charismatic, not too hard on the eyes, he was musically inclined, and knew every word of his Bible from cover to cover. David’s followers hung onto his every word. He was polygamous, taking on multiple wives with whom he fathered a dozen children; there was also talk of David’s penchant for underage girls.

How the compound looks today

One of David’s chief beliefs (as with most cults) had been that the end of the world was near; his people believed David to be their final prophet, the one who would lead them during the apocalypse. Because of this, the group had been training themselves for combat; David always stated that he would defend the compound against anyone or anything which tried to attack it, and apparently that was not an empty threat.


The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) believed that the Branch Davidians had been collecting an armory of not only firearms but explosives. On Feburary 28th of 1993, they obtained a warrant to arrest this cult leader and a couple of his followers, plus they were planning to conduct a proper search of the compound.

The siege at Waco

It is up for debate as to who fired the first shot, but 4 government agents and 6 of the cult’s own members were quickly killed. This lead to a high stakes 51 day impasse in which the entire country watched from our televisions, captivated. “Waco” is still the largest show of force against a private citizen to date. The ATF and FBI pulled no punches during the siege; they brought with them military equipment including a dozen tanks and nearly 1,900 people to overtake the compound.

As far as what happened during this time, it really depends who you believe. The government says that they were fighting against a terroristic organization equipped with explosives who were a threat to our society and refused to compromise; many survivors and supporters claim that the group had been unjustly attacked and murdered when they had done nothing illegal. It is not illegal to own firearms.

The so called stockpile of weapons

Either way, on April 19th the compound caught fire; David and close to 80 of his followers (more than 20 of them were children) perished. Some died from gunshot, including the cult leader.

Up in flames

Now the ATF says that the cult purposely set the fire and shot themselves in an act of rebellion, that it had been suicide. The Davidians who did survive tell a much different story: the government’s tanks propelled tear gas into the compound, and they set the place afire at that time. Furthermore, Davidians swear that the agents were shooting at them even as they attempted to flee the burning compounds.

Whichever accounting you believe, nearly a dozen survivors were arrested for various crimes such as murder and conspiracy to commit murder of a federal agent. None were convicted of murder or conspiracy, but more than half did time for aiding and abetting, voluntary manslaughter, and weapons charges. Today all of these people are free.

A 10 month long investigation back in 2000 concluded that the one and only person culpable in this case was David Koresh himself. Of course this investigation did not absolve the government of guilt in many people’s eyes. Matter of fact, Waco was one of the reasons Timothy McVeigh sited for the Oklahoma City Bombings back in 1995, his attack took place on the second anniversary of the burning of Mount Caramel. Well, McVeigh’s motives were both Waco and Ruby Ridge. Ruby Ridge absolutely breaks my heart!

The entire ordeal is extremely controversial, just about every aspect of it – people even debate whether or not the Davidians were actually a cult or not. Had David truly been the maniacal sex-crazed cult leader who needed to be stopped, or was he a victim – a church leader trying to uphold his rights as an American citizen? You tell me, I’m trying not to interject my opinion here; just telling what happened and giving different accountings.

Memorials, how it all looks today

*Bonus Fact*
Did you know that David Koresh’s mother, 64 year old Bonnie Clark Haldeman, was murdered? Bonnie was discovered inside her younger sister’s rural Henderson County home on January 24th of 2009. David’s aunt, 54 year old Beverly Clark, was arrested that same day for stabbing her sister to death. Nobody knows the motive for this murder; a niece did say that there had been some mental health issues, but you know. People don’t usually murder a sibling for no reason. Very curious as to why this didn’t garner much media attention at all.

Two years before her tragic death, in 2007, Bonnie published a book about her son, “Memories of the Branch Davidians: The Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother”. Bonnie claimed that the siege was uncalled for; David would’ve willingly complied with law enforcement had the local sheriff just served him with the arrest warrant. David’s charred remains are buried near his murdered mother in Memorial Park Cemetery. I am enclosing a photo of Bonnie at the ten year memorial ceremony.

*A friend of mine, Calyssa Sims, has recently visited the property in which the seige took place. She’s allowed me to use her personal photos in this post, thank you Calyssa!

Those promised autopsy photos:

These are the remains of Cult leader David Koresh, Follower Scott Sonobe, Floyd Houtman, Malcom Livingston, Follower Mark Wendell, and Raymond Friesen.

So please, tell me. What do you think?

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4 Replies to “What Really Went Down In Waco?”

  1. About 20 hrs I worked for a small police department in a small town. There was a former Branch David Ian who lived there. On occasion we’d be asked to go & check if she still lived there.

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