Throughout the Mount Carmel spectacle the Davidians and their leader were slandered with accusations of illicit sex and infanticide, making them look to be perverted, heretical ignoramuses. Such pontification by the law enforcement agents were outside their jurisdiction.

Their raid had to do with assumed weapons violations. This, however, did not muster much public support. But they succeeded in gaining all the public support they needed to justify their abortive raid.

Ironically, on the day we as a nation were commemorating the Jewish Holocaust, Mount Carmel burned down. By that time the public had got used to the idea that the Davidians were bad people and they had got what they deserved.

John N. Jonsson


Funds for Kids

Recently among the letters to the editor was a woman’s opinion of the song I wrote, “The Ballad of Vernon Howell,” and the station playing it, KNFO.

The song was written while folks all over Texas, and especially here in Central Texas, were feeling low about the situation at Mount Carmel. I thought the song would bring a few bright smiles to a very dark time.

It was also written with the utmost respect toward all the law enforcement agencies involved. The woman who wrote the letter has apologized to me and I respect her for that.

I would also like to make it abundantly clear that all proceeds from the sale of my tapes are being donated to charitable groups representing the children involved in this tragic incident.

As of that tragic Monday, KNFO ceased to air my song. So I would now like to thank everyone at KNFO for helping me bring a smile to many of my fellow Central Texans’ eyes. I also want to thank each and every person who purchased a tape. Your money will be deeply appreciated by the kids.

Ronnie Reat


Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.