Federal officials have moved cult member Kathryn Schroeder from the McLennan County Jail to an undisclosed location for safety concerns in the wake of her guilty plea Thursday and agreement to cooperate with government prosecutors.
Schroeder, 34, pleaded guilty to forcibly resisting arrest during the failed Feb. 28 raid on the Branch Davidian compound east of Waco.
She has told federal authorities that she was unarmed and in her room with her four children during the raid but later carried automatic and semi-automatic AK-47s while on guard duty during the siege.
She left the compound March 12 and has been jailed since.
Federal authorities and her attorney, Scott Peterson, declined to reveal where U.S. marshals took her Thursday after her plea.
“I don’t want to give any information that could divulge her whereabouts,” Peterson said. “They were going to take her somewhere else. After that, arrangements are being made to find a place for her.”
Federal prosecutors have agreed to dismiss murder, murder conspiracy and weapons charges against Schroeder at sentencing in exchange for her testimony against the remaining 11 Davidians charged in the deaths of the four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents who were shot during the 45-minute fire fight with cult members.
About 100 ATF agents riding in cattle trailers were met with a fusillade of automatic weapons fire as they tried to serve arrest and search warrants on cult leader Vernon Howell for weapons violations.
Those perceived as cooperating with the government are often branded “snitches,” particularly in jail settings, and sometimes find themselves in jeopardy, officials have said.
“I hope there is not a need for it, but we would rather be safe than sorry,” Peterson said. “I certainly consented to it and Kathryn consented to it.
“In a high-publicity case like this, where emotions run high over issues such as freedom of religion and whether or not the government is doing something that is wrong, one could decide that Mrs. Schroeder has done something offensive to them, instead of looking at it from the point of view that she did what she felt was right for her and accepted responsibility for her actions.
“It’s pretty hard to argue that those people didn’t resist arrest,” he said.
Capt. Dan Weyenberg of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department said the marshals moved Schroeder from jail “very discreetly and on the QT.” He said he does not know where they took her.
“It was kind of like the military’s policy on gays. I didn’t ask and they didn’t tell,” Weyenberg said. “They simply said they wanted her to be moved at a certain hour and they didn’t want any knowledge of it.
“They wanted to keep it as quiet as possible.”
He said Schroeder’s safety is a concern in the jail, but nothing that his staff could not have taken care of.
“I think we run a tight-enough ship here where we are able to maintain security and safety. We held McDuff here, didn’t we?” he asked, referring to convicted murderer Kenneth Alan McDuff.