Branch Davidian Anetta Richards is uncertain if cult leader Vernon Howell perished in Monday’s fiery razing of the Mount Carmel compound, but if he did, she looks for his resurrection.
“In the book of Revelation, we are told about the Lamb,” Richards said Wednesday. “And if David is the Lamb, according to Revelation 5, then my hope and expectation is that he is coming back, according to the prophesies.”
However, she could not say when she thinks Howell, also known as David Koresh, might return.
When Richards decided to leave the compound three weeks after the deadly Feb. 28 raid by federal officers, she grabbed her Bible and walked out with six friends.
While Richards, a registered nurse who treated Howell’s gunshot wounds, has been separated from Victorine Hollingsworth, the sick cult member for whom she had hoped to care, her Bible has rarely left her hands.
“I have been reading extensively, going over the prophesies that David taught us and encouraging myself in the Psalms,” said the 62-year-old Jamaican-born Canadian citizen.
“My faith in the word is more firm because I have seen prophesies David has taught us have been fulfilled,” she said.
Richards, who is being held in a halfway house as a material witness, hesitated when asked if she wished that she would have stayed inside the compound and died with so many of her friends. She said she is not sure.
“I don’t think it would make any difference,” she said. “Being there with him would be OK with me.”
Howell, 33, persuaded his followers that he is the Lamb of God and taught that he could open the Seven Seals found in Revelation, unleashing catastrophic events that would end the world.
Howell had told authorities last week that he had begun working on his interpretation of the Seven Seals and promised, again, to end the standoff when he was finished.
Federal officials, convinced it was just another of Howell’s delaying tactics, chose instead to poke holes in the compound and pump in tear gas. FBI officials say Howell’s followers lit the fires that caused the massive casualties.
Structural damage from repeated rammings by military vehicles must have trapped Howell and his followers inside the burning structure, Richards said, because suicide was never discussed. She said she thinks if the remaining cult members could have gotten out, they would have.
Richards said she moved to Canada from Jamaica in 1984 because she had friends there. She visited the compound twice at the urging of a friend who lived there and decided to stay longer than she intended because Howell’s teachings were so interesting, she said. She had been in the cult continuously since late 1991, she said.
On the day of the raid, she was upstairs preparing to go downstairs for Bible study when she heard gunfire. She said she cowered in an upstairs hallway with six children and other women.
After the failed raid, she didn’t see Howell for three days, she said, because cult members confined their movements for fear of another attack. She said she cleaned and nursed Howell’s wounds, which included entry and exit wounds to the pelvic region and to the left wrist.
When asked how Howell’s prophesies have come true, Richards quickly found the Book of Nahum in the Old Testament and started reading the second chapter which, in her Bible, was called “The Battle in the Street.”
He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.
For the Lord hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.
The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.