A man who sneaked into the Branch Davidian compound near Waco almost three weeks ago walked out Saturday.
He was the first person to do so in 13 days, as the seventh week of the siege came to a close.
Meanwhile, cult leader Vernon Howell has started on the second seal as he continues to write his interpretation of the Seven Seals of the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
Howell has told authorities that after his study of the Seven Seals is complete and in the hands of certain religion professors, he will come out with his followers.
FBI agents also said Howell’s right-hand man, Steve Schneider, told them no children were among the six cult members allegedly killed during the failed Feb. 28 raid that left four federal agents dead and started the standoff.
Louis Anthony Alaniz, 24, of Houston came through police lines about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman Jerry Singer. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “David Koresh, God.” Koresh is another name for Vernon Howell.
Alaniz slipped through the lines of federal agents surrounding Mount Carmel on March 25, surprising them and the cultists inside when he knocked on their doors and windows.
He was taken to the McLennan County Jail Saturday afternoon by Department of Public Safety troopers on an unspecified charge.
Jesse Amen, a California man who sneaked into the compound March 26, came out April 4. He is still in the McLennan County Jail, held on a charge of interfering with the duty of a police officer.
Alaniz’s release backed up a contention by FBI spokesman Bob Ricks, who said Howell has released only those who are not essential to his defense. No cult member has come out of the compound since Livingston Fagan was released March 23.
Ricks told reporters at a Saturday press briefing that releases seem to be part of a strategy to string things along.
He cited the case of three younger men whose release initially excited federal agents. Ricks said agents thought Howell might be sending a signal at the time by sending out able-bodied men who could help defend the compound against federal assault.
“It turns out, based on conversations with Steve Schneider, that they were actually drinking and causing a problem inside,” Ricks said. “They had to get rid of them because they weren’t following the necessary disciplines.”
Howell has sent 37 people, including 21 children, nine women and seven men, out of the fortress, while he claims 95 remain.
“There’s no indication Koresh wants any of those people to come out. He views those people as necessary for his protection,” Ricks said. “We still believe that the final outcome he wants to take place is a showdown with the government, where massive casualties will take place.”
Ricks continued the trend of using the press briefing, which Howell and his followers listen to daily, to trash Howell’s motives and his reputation. He labeled Howell a “classic sociopath.”
“His way of thinking is, ‘One more day and the world will be better for me.’ And that’s his ultimate game — to keep it going one more day,” Ricks said. “I don’t think he can think beyond that — one more day and God will strike everybody dead. That’s his ultimate end-game, I believe.
Ricks also said federal agents expect very little, even after the Seven Seals are decoded.
“It seems almost futile for everyone to sit around and hold their breath and think this is all we’ve been hoping for because we’ve been down that road before,” he said.
One of the Branch Davidians ordered released to a halfway house sought to defend Howell against Ricks’ tongue-lashings.
Rita Riddle said the FBI has broken promises of its own, including something as mundane as allowing Mount Carmel residents who came out of the compound to keep their Bibles.
Riddle said the process of “clearing debris” from around the Mount Carmel compound by FBI drivers in tanks hindered her decision to come out.
“They would play a tape for us…about how humanely we’d be treated, how they had buses down at the end of EE Ranch Road and how we needed to come out in an orderly manner,” Riddle said. “Then the tanks came and ran over my car and knocked over the fuel tanks. That sure showed how humanely we were going to be treated.”