1. Archive

In the end, cult members had one thing in common: Koresh

Published Oct. 9, 2005

They came from as far away as England and Australia, some searching for the meaning of life, others for rock 'n' roll fame.

They were old and young, black and white, all with a shared vision that cut across social lines: mechanic, Harvard-educated lawyer, engineer, computer programer, real estate salesman, theology student, social worker, musician.

There is no single thread to explain why people of different cultures, different countries, different generations joined together for the preaching of a high school dropout who said he was a modern Jesus.

Here's a look at most of the Branch Davidians involved in the 51-day siege near Waco, Texas. The names are provided by the FBI and cult members.

DAVID KORESH, 33, rock guitarist and ninth-grade dropout. Born Vernon Howell. The self-described Lamb of God and leader of the group. He and his legal wife, Rachel, whom Koresh married when she was 14, and their two children, Cyrus Howell, 8, and Star Howell, 6, all presumed dead. Koresh's father-in-law, Perry Jones, was killed Feb. 28 in the initial shootout.

STEVE SCHNEIDER, 43, Koresh's right-hand man. Had a degree in religious studies from the University of Hawaii; also studied at Seventh-day Adventist schools in Michigan and England. Schneider and wife, Judy, 41, were natives of Green Bay, Wis. Judy Schneider was among the "wives" taken by Koresh, and he fathered her 2-year-old daughter, Mayanah. All three presumed dead. Schneider's sister, Shelley Ausloos, described him as a zealot.

DOUGLAS WAYNE MARTIN, 42, of New York City, another top lieutenant. Represented Koresh in negotiations with the FBI. Dean's list student and 1972 graduate of City College; law librarian at North Carolina Central University School of Law for eight years. Martin and his daughters, Sheila, 15, and Lisa, 13, all presumed dead. His wife, Sheila, 46, left the compound March 21 with three of their children: James, 10, Daniel, 6, and Kimberly, 4.

MICHAEL SCHROEDER, 29, a guitarist and drummer in Koresh's religious rock band, Cyrus. Told his family he was part of "God's army." Killed in initial shootout Feb. 28. His wife, Katherine Schroeder, 24, left the compound March 12 and is being held without bond. Michael's brother, Jim, of Warrenville, Ill., said, "He knew which end was up. He just didn't believe in the direction society was going." Katherine's four children also left the compound. Three _ Scott, 11, Jake, 9, and Chrissy, 7 _ are in the custody of her first husband in South Dakota. The fourth, Brian, 7, is in the custody of Texas authorities.

DAVID THIBODEAU, 24, of Bangor, Maine, a drummer who met Koresh in Los Angeles two years ago. Thibodeau, who survived the fire and is in jail, played drums at the Cue Stick, a Waco bar Koresh was trying to buy. "Davey wasn't a Bible-thumper. He didn't recite Scripture. He didn't have some glazed look that some cult members seem to have," said his uncle Robert Ganem. Thibodeau's cult wife, Michelle Jones, 19, and a child she bore Koresh _ Sereneity Sea, 4 _ are presumed dead.

PABLO COHEN, 28, an Israeli musician whose family originated in Argentina. When Koresh visited Jerusalem several years ago, he had dinner at Cohen's apartment and paid for his plane ticket to the United States. Presumed dead.

JAIME CASTILLO, 24, of El Monte, Calif., became a drummer in Koresh's band by answering a 1991 newspaper ad. One of five children, Castillo grew up with a passion for music and motorcycles. He survived and is charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

SHERRI LYNN JEWELL, 43, among the dozen followers from the Diamond Head Adventist Church in Hawaii recruited by Koresh and Schneider. Once taught shorthand and secretarial courses at Hawaii's Cannon's Business College. A one-time schoolteacher in Battle Creek, Mich., she was one of Koresh's wives. Presumed dead. Her daughter, 12-year-old Kiri Jewel, was removed from the compound a year ago when her ex-husband won custody. Kiri reportedly was being raised as a future wife for Koresh.

JEFFREY C. LITTLE, 32, of Galesburg, Mich., one of Sherri Jewell's former students. Also presumed dead. A computer science major at the University of Hawaii; joined the same Adventist church as his former teacher. Later, they moved to California and purchased a $330,000, five-bedroom house in La Verne while she taught school and he worked as a computer programer. When they moved to Waco, Little married an Australian woman who bore two of Koresh's children.

JAYDEAN CARNWELL WENDEL, 34, a former Honolulu police officer who was in charge of the target-practice range and fitness training for women inside the compound, and her husband, Mark H. Wendel, a former golf course superintendent. She died Feb. 28; he is presumed dead. Their four children were released earlier: Jaunessa, 8, Tamarae, 5, Landon, 4, and Patron, five months.

SCOTT KOJIRO SONOBE, 35, an aspiring minister, and his wife, Floracita Sonobe, 34. Both presumed dead. Their children, Angelica, 6, and Crystal, 3, were released earlier and are living with Scott's parents. Said Scott's mother, Molly Sonobe: "The boy wouldn't listen. He was brainwashed." Floracita, the second oldest of nine children of a Filipino family, was not a cult member but followed her husband to Waco to keep the family together.

NEAL VAEGA, 37, and Margarida Vaega, 47, who formerly operated a bakery on Oahu. Both presumed dead. Their child, Jo Ann, 7, left the compound before the fire. The Vaegas originally were from New Zealand, although Mrs. Vaega has a British passport.

PETER HIPSMAN, 28, the youngest of seven children of a Catholic family in Chester, N.Y., died in the Feb. 28 shootout. A 1983 graduate of Monroe-Woodbury High School, he moved to Hawaii to find his purpose in life, searching for God, his family said. He had quit coming home on Christmas, Easter and birthdays because he thought they were pagan holidays.

KEVIN WHITECLIFF, 31, a former guard at Oahu Community Correctional Center. In custody. Recruited several years ago, left Waco and then returned. "He said he had to go. It was something he had to do," said his mother, Lois Whitecliff, who was left with Kevin's 9-year-old daughter.

DIANA HENRY, 28, of Manchester, England, gave up studying for her psychology degree, then recruited her mother, Trinidadian-born Zilla Henry, 55, a nurse from Manchester, and four siblings, Stephen, 26, Pauline, 24, Phillip, 22, and Vanessa, 19. All presumed dead. "I have lost everything," said her father, Samuel Henry.

DEREK LLOYD LOVELOCK, 37, a chef recruited by Zilla Henry. In custody after surviving the fire. "He was a quiet, peace-loving man. He never used to go out, drink, smoke or anything," said his mother, Winifred.

LIVINGSTONE FAGAN, 34, an ordained pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who was defrocked for preaching Koresh's message. Fagan and his wife, Evette, sold all their belongings to join Koresh with their children, Renea, 8, and Najara, 4. Fagan left the compound and is in custody. The children also left, but their mother is presumed dead. Evette's sister, Gladys Williams, said of her last visit home: "Everything about her was strange. It was as if she was never going to come back. She gave everything away."

WINSTON BLAKE, 28, a factory superintendent with a passion for cooking and home decorating. Went to Texas to follow his girlfriend, Beverley Elliot, a computer-graphics artists from Manchester. Blake died Feb. 28 and Elliot, sought as a wife by Koresh, is presumed dead.

THERESA NOBREGA, 48, of London, joined Koresh last April with her daughter, Natalie, 11, to await Armageddon. Mrs. Nobrega is presumed dead, but her daughter left for England.

ROSEMARY MORRISON, 29, and her daughter, Melissa Morrison, 6, of Manchester, both presumed dead. A psychology graduate, Rosemary took her daughter to Waco a year ago. "She was convinced she was going to a land of milk and honey," said her Adventist pastor, Frederick Mapp.

RENOS AVRAAM, 29, ran a Manchester computer business with his girlfriend, Alison Bernadette Monbelly, 31. Joined the cult a year ago. He survived the fire and is in custody; she is presumed dead.

VICTORINE HOLLINGSWORTH, 59, left the compound after Feb. 28. She was born in Guyana but moved to Britain in the 1950s.

CLIVE DOYLE, 52, Koresh's top recruiter in Australia. Gave up his country's citizenship in 1985 to become an American. Hospitalized in good condition after the fire.

NICOLE AND PETER GENT, 24-year-old twins, Adventists with an interest in music. Their parents had become disenchanted and left Waco, but they stayed. The father said Koresh seduced Nicole, then 19, by convincing the family she was a gift from God. Peter Gent was killed Feb. 28; Nicole and her two children fathered by Koresh, Dayland, 3, and Page, 1, are presumed dead. "Our family has been devastated," said her father, Bruce Gent.

OLIVER GYARFAS, a former furniture upholsterer in Melbourne, left the compound March 12. Oliver's sister, Aisha Gyarfas Sommers, 17, and her 1-year-old daughter fathered by Koresh, Startle, are presumed dead, along with her American husband, Gregory Allen Summers.

SUMMERS, 28, attended high school in Parkersburg, W.Va., and was the school's mascot as a senior. After attending West Virginia University for a year, went to Hawaii Pacific College. Met Koresh while a tour guide in Hawaii, then moved to California to work as a sound engineer. "He told me he met this fellow and he wanted to be ready for Jesus when he came," said his grandmother, Eloise Summers.

GRAEME LEONARD CRADDOCK, 31, a former schoolteacher from Melbourne whose family has been Adventist for three generations. Survived the fire and is in custody. Before leaving for Waco last March, donated $10,000 to Koresh, his family said. Found alive near a water tower, Craddock reportedly told FBI agents that he saw cult members using lantern fuel to spread the fire.

JULIE MARTINEZ and her five children: Adriana, 13, Abigail, 12, Joseph, 8, Isaiah, 4, and Crystal, 3, all of Temple City, Calif. All presumed dead. Her mother, Ofelia Santoya, reportedly recruited Martinez for the cult; she left the compound and is in a Texas halfway house. "It was like they were programmed, like they were robots," said Martinez's brother, Hector Santoya of Phoenix.

RUTH ELLEN OTTMAN RIDDLE, 29, of Belleville, Ontario, hospitalized in stable condition with a broken ankle and burns on her shoulders, arms and legs. Jumped from a second-story window to escape the flames. Ruth and her mother, Gladys, 67, first began reading Davidian literature in Ontario about eight years ago. Former Adventists, they sold their restaurant to join Koresh.

GLADYS OTTMAN AND ANETTA RICHARDS, 52, of Montreal, left the compound in early April and are being held as material witnesses.

JAMES L. RIDDLE JR., 34, of Skyville, N.C. Ruth Riddle's husband. Presumed dead.

RITA FAYE RIDDLE, 35, James' sister. Left the compound March 21. Attended an Adventist school called Pisgah Academy. Before joining the cult, worked as an inspector at a glass-jar factory in North Carolina. Rita's daughter, Misty Ferguson, 17, is in critical condition after the fire.

MYRTA RAY RIDDLE, mother of James Jr. and Rita Faye. Left the compound before the standoff. Three other daughters _ Regina Goodman, Myrna Riddle and Julie Rosa _ also joined the cult but returned to North Carolina.

LORRAINE SYLVIA, 40, and two daughters, Rachel, 13, and Hollywood, 2, all presumed dead. Her son, Joshua, 7, was released earlier. She was married to cult member Stanley Sylvia of New Bedford, Mass., and had met Koresh several years ago, not long after a divorce. Lorraine's sister, Gail Magee, said: "The more we tried to get her out of it, the more she tried to get us into it."

MARY JEAN BORST, 49, of Roseau, Minn., a community of 2,400 near the Canadian border, presumed dead.

BRAD BRANCH, 35, left the compound during the standoff. Charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attended Cleveland Elementary and West Junior High in Norman, Okla., with his twin brother, Mark. Did not finish high school.

_ Associated Press