A request to sell property belonging to the Branch Davidians was shelved Tuesday until cult leader Vernon Howell’s heirs can be determined.
Attorney Gary Coker of Waco — representing many of the remaining Branch Davidians — agreed to wait until a probate hearing can determine the heirs of Howell, who led the cult from the early 80’s until the April 19 fire that destroyed Mount Carmel.
Bonnie Haldeman, Howell’s mother, appeared in 74th State District Court in Waco along with her attorneys, Dick DeGuerin and Percy Isgitt, both of Houston.
Isgitt is handling the discussions with Coker.
“We wanted to avoid a premature disposition of the property until the court can determine the heirs,” Isgitt said. “It’s a slow process. We don’t exactly have a situation where you can readily put your hand on concrete information.”
It could take 30 to 60 days to determine Howell’s heirs, Isgitt said.
The delay worries Coker, who said much of the property that the Branch Davidians want to sell has already been idle for months.
“It makes the property that much more susceptible to damage and deterioration,” Coker said. “Some of the motorcycles won’t run now. If things keep going like they’re going, we’re going to be fighting over a pile of junk.”
Coker said the Branch Davidians want to sell about 20 motorcycles, including two Harley Davidsons, several cars and some farm equipment. They are not seeking to sell Mount Carmel, the 77-acre site 10 miles east of Waco.
The cult members want to use some of the money to find a place to live.
Many are staying “more or less free” at the Brittney Hotel, Coker said.
“They need to be able to go out and find a place to live,” he said. “Plus they need some money for living expenses. Let’s face it, it’s their money.”
Coker said he’s received numerous offers to buy some of the Branch Davidian property. He proposes an auction.
“We would just sell everything as is to the highest bidder,” Coker said.
The Branch Davidians argue that the remaining property belongs to the surviving members of their association. Including the heirs of dead cult members poses a potential legal nightmare, Coker said.