County officials Thursday appealed for help from the public in identifying the bodies of 42 unidentified Branch Davidians.
Traditional identification means have failed.
Justice of the Peace David Pareya of West told reporters that the bodies are simply too charred from the fire that roared through Mount Carmel, burning it to the ground April 19.
The bodies are being housed at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office in Fort Worth.
DNA samples were taken from the 42 bodies and will be matched against genetic material taken from suspected relatives to try to identify the victims. The process could take up to a year.
Pareya said the federal government has pledged to cover the cost of the DNA testing.
Also attending the press conference were justices John Cabaniss, James Collier and Cindy Evans. All four McLennan County justices of the peace were called out to Mount Carmel after the fire to begin the process of identifying the dead.
Authorities have 53 names of people who could be one of the unidentified victims at Mount Carmel.
Most of the names were solicited from surviving Branch Davidians.
“It will be a process of elimination,” Pareya said. “We’re looking for the mothers, fathers and siblings of the individuals on the list.”
Once a relative of a potential victim notifies authorities, the person will be escorted by an FBI agent to a doctor’s office for a “stick” test. A blood sample will be taken from a finger, and the sample will be sent by the FBI agent to the laboratory performing the DNA testing.
That will probably be the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., Pareya said.
“We’re looking at this taking nine months to a year,” he said. “That’s what the lab people are telling us. We’re hoping when the word gets out, we’ll have folks contacting us.”
Bids are still being taken to build a freezer unit at the Tarrant County examiner’s office to hold the Branch Davidians until they are identified. Authorities are concerned about the bodies’ state, since more DNA samples may need to be taken in the future.
Collier said the bodies are now kept in a room kept at 35 degrees Farenheit.
“The bodies are still going through decomposition daily,” Pareya said. “It’s imperative that we get the freezer unit as soon as possible.”
Forty Branch Davidians have been identified, including cult leader Vernon Howell. His body has already been buried near Tyler.
Authorities are appealing to the public to speed the identification process, Pareya said.
“With the outlets that the media has, we hope this information will be disseminated more rapidly,” Pareya said, “rather than have one or two people on the phones. That’s a slow process.”
The names and ages of the potential Branch Davidian victims are: Chanel Andrade, 2/9/92; Marsha Bland, 11/28/69; Aaron Andre Calais, 2/3/40; Adebowalo Davies, 10/30/62; Katherine Edwards, 6/3/63; Beverly Elliot, 6/9/61; Dayland Lord Gent, 7/22/89; Nicole Gent, 6/28/68; Paiges Gent, infant; Sandra E. Hardial, 2/9/66; Diana Henry, 1/1/65; Paulina Henry, 5/27/68; Vanessa Henry 11/11/73; Zilla Henry, 5/21/37; Maxwell W. Howard, 1/12/39; Bobbie Lane Howell, 12/14/91; Cyrus Howell, 3/22/85; Star Howell, 4/6/87; Yvonne Hutton, 9/5/58; Sherri Jewell, 3/10/50; Chica Jones, 1; Latwan Jones, 1; Serenity Sea Jones, 2/3/89; George MacMillian Kean 4/20/47; Jeff Little, 7/13/61; Dave Lnu and Glenn Lnu, no ages available; Anita Marie Martin, 9/4/74; Diane D. Martin, 6/3/51; Lisa Martin, 1/28/80; Sheila Renee Martin, 15; Crystal Martinez, 2; Isaiah Martinez, 4; Jilliane Matthews, age unknown; John-Mark Stanley McBean, 9/23/65; Anthony McCall, 4/4/66 or 10/30/62; Alison B. Monbelly, 8/8/61; Mellisa Morrison 9/7/86; Theresa Beryl Nobrega, 2/15/45; Mayanah Schneider, 2; Cliff Gary Sellars, 3/28/60; Anna Shergold, 9/15/41; John Shergold, 8/13/43; Scott Sonobe, 11/36/57; Aisha Gyarfas, 10/4/75; Gregory Summers, 1/9/65; Startle Summers, 1; Hollywood Sylvia, 11/29/90; Lorraine Sylvia, 5/23/52; Rachel Sylvia, 6/9/79; Margarida Joann Vaega, 3/27/46; Mark Wendell, 11/18/55; and Kirk Young, 2/6/63.
Anyone related to these Branch Davidians may call (817) 826-5550.