Cult leader Vernon Howell once again sent FBI negotiators back to their Bibles, sending them a second threatening letter peppered with biblical references of doom.
The second letter, delivered Saturday, was signed “Yahweh Koresh,” which Howell, also known as David Koresh, has said is the name of God.
“The second letter was again written as if God is speaking through Koresh with continued threats that if we do not listen to Koresh, we will be devoured by fire or destroyed by other means,” said FBI Special Agent Bob Ricks at a Monday press conference.
The letter warned authorities not to harm Howell. It referred to him as “God’s lamb,” according to Ricks.
A former cult member said the letter doesn’t bode well for the future.
Former cult member Marc Breault, once Howell’s confidant, said the second letter doesn’t point to a peaceful end to the 45-day standoff between authorities and the Branch Davidians.
Breault found a reference to Rev. 6:1-2 disturbing.
“And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their breathen, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
“He’s trying to tell the FBI that he’s the one who is going to conquer them,” Breault said. “He’s talking tough. He’s not thinking about coming out at this stage, not based on the Scriptures that he’s giving out.”
A cult member inside Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidians’ compound 10 miles east of Waco, quoted part of the same verse to a friend in California last year. Sherri Jewell, on the eve of a trip to Texas, told a friend that she would be gone for “a little season,” the friend told the Tribune-Herald.
Breault said Howell and his followers might expect to be slain and resurrected. After resting for about three months, they would return to earth and slay unbelievers, according to Howell’s teaching, Breault said.
Authorities had hoped the first letter, delivered to them last Friday, might be considered the divine signal Howell reported would end the standoff.
But Steve Schneider, Howell’s top lieutenant, told the FBI negotiators that Howell is awaiting another type of divine message, such as a natural disaster like fire or an earthquake.
News of a South Texas earthquake on Friday briefly excited the Branch Davidians, Ricks sad.
“When it was learned that it was down in South Texas, they decided maybe it wasn’t as significant as they thought.”
FBI negotiators spoke with Schneider 15 times between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, Ricks said. But Howell has not spoken to authorities since early Thursday.
Schneider reportedly said two women inside the compound are pregnant.
Aisha Gyarfas is due to give birth in May, Ricks said, adding that the name of the other woman is not known.
“But we do have our suspicions with regard to whom is the father,” he said.
Ricks said he continues to hold out hope that Howell might leave Mount Carmel peacefully. It’s his only hope of getting his message out, he said.
“He’s not happy with the way I’m relaying his message,” Ricks said. “And rightly so, because I’m going to report it the best I know how and I certainly can’t represent what he believes. . . . His opportunity to get his message out will increase tenfold.”
In other action Monday, U.S. Magistrate Dennis Green denied bond for cult member Norman Washington Allison, formerly known as Delroy Nash. Allison is charged with murdering a federal agent, attempted murder and weapons violations.