Ten years after the mass suicide the memory of Koresh lives on

The Scotsman/April 19, 2003
By Christina Cran

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic end to the 51-day stand-off between the FBI and David Koresh and his Davidian cult in Waco, Texas.

A little after noon, smoke was seen in the compound and within 30 minutes, it was engulfed in flames. Nine Davidians escaped but 74 of them died, including 21 children.

Koresh, who travelled to the Mount Carmel compound in 1981 and went on to become the sect's leader, perished in the blaze.

A decade on some of the survivors remain at Mount Carmel to preach Koresh's message.

Others have spoken of the physical abuse they faced inside the compound at the hands of Koresh, and how he taught them to commit suicide.

"You didn't want to stick the gun to your temple because you might live. You wanted to stick it in your mouth and point up," said Kiri Jewell, 22, now a college student.

"He never was very specific but at some point, we were gonna have to die for him. I didn't expect to live past 12."

Jewell, who told a Congressional hearing in 1995 that Koresh had began having sex with her when she was ten, left the compound in 1992. Her mother died in the fire.

Some survivors remain in central Texas. The rest moved to other states with relatives or returned home to Canada and Australia. Despite his death, Koresh's message lives on in others, who stay at Mount Carmel and wait for his return.

A handful still follow his teachings and attend a weekly Bible study at a new chapel, built and paid for by volunteers and Davidians.

One of the six Davidians still in prison after being convicted in 1993 of manslaughter claims to be Koresh's successor.

However, in another chapel on the site, a small congregation follow another leader, who thinks that Koresh corrupted the original Davidian church's message.

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