Cult leader Vernon Howell still has two of Canadian David Ottman’s relatives — one physically and one mentally.
His mother, Gladys Ottman, 67, left the Mount Carmel compound Sunday and was ordered to a halfway house.
But she is just as much under Howell’s control as his sister, Ruth, who is still inside the besieged cult compound, David Ottman said Thursday in a telephone interview.
“I spoke with her yesterday morning,” he said, referring to his mother. “She spoke with me from jail.”
Gladys Ottman was scheduled for release from jail Wednesday but did not get out until Thursday.
Waco attorney Gary Coker, who represents her, said his client was released because she is not a flight risk and is not dangerous. However, he said, she will not be free to come and go from the halfway house.
Although she is out of the compound, David Ottman said, his mother is sticking to the routine she followed as a Branch Davidian cult member. She told him she did 50 push-ups before she went to bed. She also said she lost 15 pounds during the siege, now in its 27th day.
He said his mother still believes that Howell, also known as David Koresh, has a message. Howell has taught that he is the new Jesus Christ and believes only he can open the Seven Seals in the book of Revelation, which discusses the end of the world.
“She seemed in fairly good spirits. I guess I would put it that the conditioning from inside still exists,” he said, adding that he thinks his mother and others coming out may be “deeply programmed.”
Ruth, who David Ottman hasn’t spoken with in more than five years, was not injured and is doing fine inside the compound, he said.
“I’ve been told through the grapevine that she’s gotten married,” he said of his sister, adding that he doesn’t know if she is one of Howell’s “wives”.
Like others who have been released, his mother is saying federal agents sent Feb. 28 to serve arrest and search warrants on Howell for illegal weapons started the gun battle that left four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and at least two cult members dead.
ATF denies the accusation.
David Ottman said his mother told him: “They shot first, and they shot back.”
But, he added, she probably would say whatever Howell wanted her to say.
His mother told him the Branch Davidians had many guns because they bought and sold them to make money, he said.
He added that he believes his mother has been ordered to leave the compound a couple of times during her eight years inside the cult. He said she last returned to the compound in September.
“I think it’s like a kid with a sucker. When you tell them they can’t have it, they want it more,” he said, explaining why she went back.
David Ottman said one of his brothers, Phillip Ottman, was also in the cult until three years ago. His brother, too, was told to leave and perhaps even threatened, he said.
“He was trying to help a husband and wife problem in the group,” David Ottman said, adding that his brother became a “rolling stone” after he left the compound, never staying in one place.
David Ottman said he knew nothing about the multiple-wife doctrine taught by Howell. He only got an inkling that something might be amiss in terms of weapons, he said.