Paths to the Inferno: The Wandering Sisters

Time Magazine/May 3, 1993
By David Van Biema, Reported by Jeanne McDowell

SHE WAS, AS HER GENERATION WOULD PUT IT, IN SEARCH MODE, SO MUCH so that when Kathy Andrade, a spirited 24-year-old brought up in a close Seventh-Day Adventist family from Argentina, began investigating religious options, she even interviewed a local rabbi.

As it turned out, she found her faith-and her fate-much closer. At a Bible-study class she met a man named Paul Fatta. He was somewhat controversial; he claimed that the Adventists got some of the Bible wrong. But, says Kathy's mother Isabel, who is in her 40s, "Paul was a nice guy, very caring, and seemed to be smart. I met his mama. "Husband Guillermo looks at his hands. "This Paul Fatta is alive," he says. "The FBI is looking for him."

The two sit in their comfortable home in Martinez, near San Francisco. The proudly show off paintings by Kathy. Isabel points to a Disneyland cup bearing the name of her younger sister Jennifer, 21. And finally a gray stuffed rabbit, intended for a little girl named Channel.

"She asked me," says Isabel of Kathy. "She said, 'Mother, do you think I should go to Texas?'" Fatta had introduced Kathy to David Koresh, and Koresh had invited her to Waco for Davidian Passover in 1991. I said, "No, you don't know what you're getting into, and it's another state.' "Kathy went anyway. Isabel actually manages a smile: "She was stubborn." She and Fatta talked about marriage, but then broke up; Koresh had prohibited relationships.

"I was not aware of what was going on," Guillermo muses. He still seems to be piecing it together.

Shortly after meeting Fatta, Kathy stopped wearing jewelry. Now, back from Waco, she said she had learned about the seven seals. She made plans to go again, saying she would stay only five weeks. But once, there she talked more and more of Koresh. And she never returned.

After a while, her younger sister moved to be with her. Isabel didn't understand why. Only later did she hear that Kathy had been pregnant-by Koresh. "That was the worst thing that ever happened in our lives," says Guillermo. Isabel glares at him. "Well, at the time," he adds emptily. "Now it's nothing."

Isabel visited the sisters in Waco in 1991. Now she knew more about cults and was trying to get them out. They did not mention the child Channel, and she didn't either. Her daughters looked thin but healthy. Not brainwashed, despite Koresh's endless preaching.

A cult expert told her to keep going down, keep gaining trust. That was last January. Things had changed. "Kathy was deteriorating," says Isabel. Koresh still preached, but now the sermons Isabel audited contained profanities. She returned again in February. Kathy stared straight ahead and recited Koreshian dogma for 15 minutes running. Isabel talked with a friend about kidnapping the girls but decided against it. Instead she began calling every week, every week, trying to lure them from Koresh's grip.

And then one week there was no more time. The siege happened. And then the fire. One of the men who escaped says the last time he saw Jennifer, she was wearing a gas mask.

Guillermo look up. "How could they disappear"-he snaps his fingers-"just like that?"

And Isabel Andrade says, I'm glad I never met the baby. It would have been too much."

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