The Waco Siege: Girl, 6, among 24 Britons killed in the flames: Manchester man's wife and five children with Koresh at the end

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TWENTY-SIX Britons - including a six-year-old girl - were believed to be inside David Koresh's Texas compound when it was engulfed by flames.

Only two are believed to have survived. Last night CNN, the American news network, said they were Derek Lovelock, 37, from Withington, Manchester, and Renos Avraam, 29.

The news brought relief to Mr Lovelock's mother Winnie, 63, who had a heart attack when the siege began 51 days ago. She and her family spent most of yesterday watching the blaze live on television.

But after two months hoping that the stand-off between Koresh's followers and the FBI would end peacefully, the worst fears of most relatives were realised.

Samuel Henry, 56, a builder from Manchester, had visited Waco to try to persuade his wife Zilla, 55, and his children Diana, 28, Pauline, 24, Vanessa, 19, Stephen, 26, and Philip, 22, to 'come to their senses'.

But the entire family was with Koresh at the end. Last night he said he believed his wife and children had all perished and branded Koresh 'an evil man who cast a spell over my family'.

He added: 'There's no way they will have escaped that. I do not understand how my family got themselves involved in this thing.'

Like other relatives he criticised the FBI's handling of the siege. 'At least they should have had the fire brigade standing by. They didn't anticipate what this man could do.'

Paul Horslen, brother-in-law of Winston Blake, 28, from Nottingham, who died during a shoot-out at the beginning of the siege, said it looked as if the FBI had said 'enough is enough'. He claimed: 'Mr Koresh has always said that the planet would come to an end either through earthquake or fire and that those of his followers who perished would be purified and rise again to live in a new world order.'

The fate of Mr Blake's girlfriend, Beverley Elliot, 27, also from Nottingham, was not known. The couple were recruited by Koresh's followers last year.

Other Britons were recruited by Koresh in the late 1980s when he toured the UK, trying to persuade members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church that he was the Messiah. Although his teaching was rejected by the Church leadership, his message proved seductive to members and some pastors in Britain, Australia and Hawaii.

Tony Kakouri, 24, a former cult member, from north London, said he knew at least 10 of the Britons left inside. He said that he suspected the fire was a mass suicide attempt. Koresh was unpredictable but he had the total loyalty of the followers. 'Mr Koresh is always changing his mind about everything. The people in there used to live around here. They are totally fanatical about him.'

He added: 'He would have been brainwashing them in the last few weeks, telling them all about the glory of martyrdom. He would have told them how they would have eternal life and join the paradise of his kingdom with God.

'He would have been holding marathon Bible sessions and manipulating the Bible, brainwashing them. Most of them would not have known what they were doing in the end. This is it, this is their apocalypse, the climax to it all.'

Winston Noberega, from north London, said he was relieved that his attempt to rescue his daughter Natalie, 11, from the compound a few weeks ago had been successful. His wife Teresa, however, remained with Koresh.

He said: 'Natalie is not relieved. She is in tears, her mum is there. She has seen it on the television.'

He later told Sky Television that Koresh had immense power over his converts. 'When he speaks to you, you believe anything that he says . . . I call him a conman but they say he is Jesus. They actually believed him and I mean believe.' He criticised the FBI's handling of the siege.

Pastor Fred Mapp, of Old Trafford Seventh Day Adventist Church, Manchester, said that he knew 12 of the Britons inside. He is in touch with the family of Melissa Morrison, six, and her mother, Rosemary, who are thought not to have survived.

A few weeks ago Melissa appealed to FBI agents by telephone to arrange her release. But a few minutes later she phoned back to say that she had changed her mind.

Comments