Woman leaves cult compound

WACO - A woman barricaded in David Koresh's armed compound for 13 days left yesterday morning because she wanted to take care of her children released last week, the FBI said.

Three men, all members of Koresh's Branch Davidian sect, which has been under siege since a shoot-out on 28 February, were expected to walk out soon, the FBI agent Dick Swensen said.

The woman was identified as Kathryn Schroeder, 34, whose husband's body was recovered from the grounds of the religious cult's Texas compound last week. Michael Schroeder was apparently killed in the shooting that erupted when federal agents attempted to storm the compound.

Custody of three of Kathryn Schroeder's children was granted to her former husband, William Mabb, of South Dakota on Tuesday. Her other son, three-year-old Bryan, is in the care of a state agency. 'Kathryn Schroeder wants to come out and take care of her fourth child,' Mr Swensen said, adding that she was aware her former husband had custody of the other children.

Federal agents were still waiting yesterday afternoon for three men who were to have left the compound on Thursday. They were identified as Oliver Gyarfas, 19, an Australian, Kevin Whitecliff, 32, and Brad Branch, 34, the FBI said.

Mrs Schroeder's release was the first breakthrough in a tense week. Twenty-one children and two elderly women left the compound last week. More than 100 cult members remain confined in the block of buildings on a sprawling tract of farmland.

Four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)and up to 15 cult members were killed in the battle on 28 February when the ATF stormed the compound, trying to execute search and arrest warrants for weapons violations.

People remaining inside have been advised that aside from those charged with serious crimes, some would be held as material witnesses and others would be allowed to return to the compound after the investigation. 'We don't negotiate on the charges,' Mr Swensen said. Mr Koresh spoke to negotiators on Thursday night. He complained of 'pain and headaches', Mr Swensen said.