Here is an overview of key events that led to the ATF investigation and raid of the Branch Davidians and the ensuing review of ATF activities.
1984 — George Roden forces Vernon Howell and his followers off of Mount Carmel. They move to Palestine in East Texas.
February 1986 — Marc Breault joins the Branch Davidians. Eventually, Breault becomes a confidant of Howell’s.
1987 — Robyn Bunds joins the cult.
Nov. 3, 1987 — Shootout with George Roden at Mount Carmel. Howell and seven followers are arrested and charged with attempted murder.
March 22, 1988 — Roden sentenced to 90 days in jail on contempt charges, for writing obscene legal briefs. Howell and followers pay back taxes on Mount Carmel, move in.
April 25, 1988 — A McLennan County jury acquits followers of Howell on charge of attempted murder. Jury is hung, however, on Howell’s guilt. District attorney doesn’t retry Howell.
Months later, Roden is charged with a murder in Odessa and sent to a state mental hospital.
Sept. 10, 1988 — Sky Borne Okimoto is born. He is the son of Howell and Dana Okimoto and Howell’s first child by a cult member other than his legal wife, Rachel.
Aug. 5, 1989 — Howell gives “New Light” talk. He tells cult members all women in the cult — and the world — belong to him.
September 1990 — Australian private detective fails to persuade officials from McLennan County district attorney’s office, sheriff’s department, Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate the Branch Davidians. Geoffrey Hosssack detailed allegations that Howell whipped babies harshly and had sex with underage girls.
Feb. 27, 1992 — Michigan judge directs that Howell must stay away from an 11-year-old girl who used to be in the cult.
April, 1992 — FBI is given a letter from father of the 11-year-old girl outlining allegations against Howell.
Tribune-Herald begins investigating Howell.
June 4, 1992 — ATF Agent Davy Aguilera meets with Lt. Gene Barber of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department. Barber tells Aguilera that UPS has made deliveries to the Mag Bag which were believed to include firearms components and explosives.
June 8, 1992 — Aguilera learns Olympia, Wash., company shipped several parcels of weapons parts to Vernon Howell at the Mag Bag.
October, 1992 — ATF learns of the Tribune-Herald investigation.
Dec. 4, 1992 — ATF Agent Carlos Torres interviews Department of Human Services social worker Joyce Sparks about her Feb. 27 and April 6 visits to the compound in response to complaints of sexual abuse of young girls.
Dec. 11, 1992 — Aguilera interviews Robyn Bunds.
Jan. 8, 1993 — Aguilera interviews Marc Breault.
Feb. 22, 1993 — An agent arrives in Waco from Kansas City and discovers the raid commanders have no written raid plan. He takes it upon himself to produce one. Something is in writing a day before the raid but is considered unfinished. After the raid ends in failure, the written plan is revised but presented to the review team as the original document.
Feb. 25, 1993 — ATF gets search and arrest warrants for Mount Carmel and Vernon Howell.
Feb. 28, 1993 — About 100 ATF agents moving in on Mount Carmel are met with gunfire. Four agents are killed and 16 wounded. Seven Davidians are killed that day, including one man shot by ATF agents later in the day when three cult members attempted to enter the compound.
March 1, 1993 — ATF spokesperson Sharon Wheeler tells reporters the agency was “outgunned” by the cult.
According to the Treasury report, ATF supervisors David Troy, Edward Conroy and Dan Hartnett knew as early as the day after the raid that the raid commanders might have proceeded with the raid despite knowing that they had lost the element of surprise.
March 3, 1993 — Harnett, ATF associate director for law enforcement, says the ATF agent inside the compound on the morning of Feb. 28 before the raid did not realize Howell was informed a raid was coming. Hartnett also says Howell could not have been arrested elsewhere because he had not left the compound “in months.”
Texas Rangers, investigating the raid for the state, tell Hartnett and Conroy that agent Robert Rodriguez told them a “credible” story of having informed his superiors before the raid that the surprise element was lost.
March 26, 1993 — Texas Rangers finish interviewing raid commanders Phil Chojnacki and Chuck Sarabyn and tell Hartnett and Conroy that accounts from Chojnacki and Sarabyn are inconsistent with the weight of evidence about what happened the day of the raid.
March 27, 1993 — ATF intelligence chief David Troy says the Texas National Guard was asked to assist the Feb. 28 raid because the agency had evidence of a methamphetamine lab inside the compound.
March 29, 1993 — ATF director Stephen Higgins says ATF would not have proceeded with the raid if supervisors knew they had lost the element of surprise.
April 1, 1993 — Troy says “there is no way” ATF would have executed the raid if supervisors of the operation had realized that they had lost element of surprise.
April 2, 1993 — Higgins tells Senate hearing in Washington federal agents sought to avoid heavy casualties in their raid.
April 14, 1993 — Howell sends out word he will surrender after writing a manuscript revealing the contents of the Seven Seals.
April 16, 1993 — FBI agent Dick Swensen says the FBI won’t wait forever.
April 19, 1993 — About 6:04 a.m., an armored vehicle smashes through a front wall of the compound. The assault continues throughout the morning. At 12:10 p.m. flames and smoke begin pouring from the compound. At 12:30 p.m., the roof of the rambling compound begins collapsing. Nine Davidians escape; more than 80 die.
April 23, 1993 — President Clinton defends government handling of Branch Davidian case but promises a full investigation.
April 29, 1993 — Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen names Ronald K. Noble to review ATF’s involvement in the case.
May 17, 1993 — Treasury Department review team begins interviews of people connected to the raid. Eventually, 508 people will be interviewed for the review.
Sept 27, 1993 — ATF Director Stephen Higgins announces his retirement, effective at the end of October.
Sept. 30, 1993 — Report on Treasury Department review released. Officials confirm that George Roden walked away from the state mental hospital at Big Spring on Monday.