Koresh led his cult children to death led his children to death

David Koresh kisses a gAirl, said to be his daughter, in a still from a video made during the siege

Thursday 26 January 1995 00:02

David Koresh told members of his Branch Davidian cult - including 12 children identified by DNA genetic fingerprinting to have been fathered by him - to prepare for death before the inferno that destroyed the cult ranch at Waco, Texas, an inquest in Manchester into the deaths of 23 Britons was told yesterday.

Details of an alleged suicide plan in which cult members had been told to blow themselves up with hand grenades or shoot each other, emerged from a videotaped interview with a survivor, Marjorie Thomas, 31, from Nottingham.

Interviewed in her hospital bed, where she was suffering from 51 per cent burns, she said that Koresh, 33, had ordered that if he died from a gunshot wound received in an initial raid by federal agents on the ranch, his followers would place him on a stretcher and carry it out of the compound.

"We would be translated if the enemies shot at us," she said. Asked what that meant, she explained: "To come out of our flesh and go up towards heaven. We were to be translated by fire, tanks, or be shot."

Followers said goodbye to each other at a prayer meeting. "People were joyous to know they were to come out of this world. Some were sad to know that the end of time had come," Ms Thomas said.

Fifty adults and 25 children died in the inferno following a second raid by federal agents. The inquest was told that DNA genetic fingerprint tests on the victims had identified at least 12 children who perished as having been fathered by Koresh with different women.

A former cult member claimed that Koresh had fathered at least 15 children by various women. The hearing has been told that it was part of Koresh's religious role as a "Sinful Messiah" to impregant young virgins. He reputedly made about 400 virgins pregnant, according to some of his followers.

Koresh had began preparing his Branch Davidian cult for an armed battle in Waco about four months before the raid that started the 51-day siege, said Vicky Holingsworth, 35, a British woman who left unharmed during the siege.

"David would interpret prophesies from the Bible. He told us he had to prepare for a confrontation," she said.

"He began to store weapons and ammunition and organised training for the men. I have been present when David Koresh issued guns to men, women and children."

Miss Hollingworth said that she saw one of the British victims, Evette Fagan, 33, from Nottingham, give a hand grenade to another woman.

"It was said it would be used to end all our lives together, but the men told us that was not a sure way," she added.

She said another British victim, Paulina Henry, 24, who died with her mother, two brothers and two sisters, told her that there was a plan for a final shoot out with the FBI.

After that, everyone would commit suicide by blowing up the building.

"That did not happen because David had a vision from God in which he was told not to do it because God had more work for him to do," she said.

"Afterwards, when I heard what the final outcome of the siege was, I was shocked at the loss of life. It did not come as a great suprise to me that it ended as it did."

The hearing continues today.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments