A journalism task force released a report Wednesday commending the Tribune-Herald’s decision to publish “The Sinful Messiah” series on cult leader Vernon Howell before the Mount Carmel raid. The Society of Professional Journalists said that the newspaper demonstrated “significant journalistic skill and courage in pursuing and publishing the story about the Branch Davidians.”
The SPJ report
Twelve of the 17 children who died at Mount Carmel were fathered by Vernon Howell, said two former Branch Davidians who had sons by the cult leader.
Kathryn Schroeder, nicknamed “Sarge” and reportedly a dominant figure among the women in Vernon Howell’s religious cult, pleaded guilty to a lesser federal charge Thursday in exchange for her testimony against 11 Branch Davidians charged with killing federal agents.
- Cultist taken to secret location: Safety concerns prompt move of Kathryn Schroeder from county jail
- Lawyer: ATF declined chance to inspect guns
- Local crisis response team planned in wake of cult fire
- Not everyone finds cult funnies funny: Comic about raid, standoff sells well, but some not amused
- After the fire has gone out: State inspectors resume testing for lead samples on Mount Carmel property
- Carrying on the tradition: ATF scholarships will allow others to study law enforcement
- 9-1-1 dispatchers to be honored: State to recognize 6 for marathon duty during Branch Davidian standoff
- Sheehy honored for PR efforts during standoff
The Mount Carmel raid — dependent on isolating the Branch Davidian men — was launched despite undercover agents’ having lost the ability to track the cult’s men, said a former commander of Delta Force, the Army’s elite special operations unit.
- Cult member charged with theft — Security officer: Cameras show her shoplifting jeans
- Davidian convicted on theft charge: Attorney fears jury may have been prejudiced against cult member
- Cultists request funds for defense: 11 Branch Davidians meet secretly with judge
- Elk residents pitch in to honor slain ATF agents
- Mount Carmel soil tests completed: Lead contamination worse than early samples indicated, officials say
- Trib writers honored for series: McCormick, England win national public service award for “Sinful Messiah” package
- Howell’s writings on disk: DeGuerin says it proves cult leader was explaining Seals
- 3 cultists want trial in Austin: Branch Davidians say fair trial would be impossible in Waco
- Cult tapes may be subpoenaed: Justice of the peace says FBI recordings needed in inquests
WASHINGTON — Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Director Stephen E. Higgins said Monday he will retire because he disagrees with proposals to make “significant changes in the direction and focus” of the bureau as a result of its raid on Branch Davidian cult members outside Waco.
- Higgins’ letter of resignation
- Siege trespasser given probation: Man returned to Hillcrest during cult standoff alert
- Son returned to cult member: State to maintain temporary legal custody of disabled child
- Agency as whole erred, experts say: Study today will berate ATF’s planning, leadership, investigator says
- Suit filed against U.S. over cult raid: Legal foundation seeks $50 million for Davidians’ relatives
By April 19, the FBI was tired of waiting for Vernon Howell to get the message.
In the days before the raid on the Branch Davidians, the ATF tried to enlist the help of local agencies to lure cult leader Vernon Howell away from his heavily-armed compound.
Almost a year before the bloody Feb. 28 shootout at Mount Carmel, McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell told a child welfare worker to back off an investigation of alleged child abuse at the compound, the worker said.
While the Treasury Department reports says ATF agents had probable cause to serve arrest and search warrants on cult leader Vernon Howell for illegal weapons, attorneys question whether the warrants were executed properly.
- Possible crimes by ATF outlined: Treasury Department forwards secret report to Justice Department
- Ex-cultists visit Mount Carmel site: Breault, wife left Howell in bitterness in 1989
- In memory and in music: Concert at former cult site a requiem for those who died in shootout, fire
- Cultist loses son’s custody: Schroeder’s 3-year-old child to be placed with his grandparents
- Cult video subpoena denied: Davidian’s attorney had sought unaired NBC, CNN coverage
- Pastor handled tragedy in series of crises: Rev. Joseph Larson was close to Killeen shootings, Mount Carmel standoff
- Mount Carmel “requiem” lures about 75 listeners
- State again to seek cult child custody
Negotiators got an early taste of the Branch Davidians’ obsession with airing cult leader Vernon Howell’s message but still underestimated the ordeal ahead, according to the last of the 9-1-1 tapes released by the Waco Police Department.
Attempts to use Waco attorney Wayne Martin to end the Mount Carmel standoff fizzled as cult leader Vernon Howell’s hold on him soon became obvious, according to 9-1-1 tapes released Friday.
- ATF keeping closer eye on other cults, chief says
- Cult siege inspires mental health volunteer program: Committees to form plan for counseling in disasters’ wakes
- Cultists: Government ‘made war’
- Davidian receives sentence
- Cabaniss to close out his cult cases: Other justices of the peace say their inquests can wait
- Dallas press group honors Tribune: Branch Davidian coverage earns foundation’s award
- TV show on cult
- Branch Davidians lawyers, witnesses ordered silent
- JP lists causes of death for 7 cultists
- Ghostly vision in the flames: Doctored TV image begets sighting of ‘angel’
- Injured Branch Davidian testifies: Suicide pact was agreed upon by some cult members woman tells court
More Headlines — 1994
- Cox picks ‘Tribune-Herald’ for public service award
- Trib a Pulitzer finalist: Mount Carmel series among top 3 for journalism award
- Portion of ATF suits combined: Pretrial hearings merge in action against Tribune-Herald, KWTX
- Widow of ATF agent hopes to join lawsuit
- Koresh’s kin sue federal officials
- Marker honors ATF dead: Memorial erected without fanfare near Mount Carmel
- 3 ATF agents sue Trib, TV station: Suit also alleges that AMT involved in conspiracy to cause Mount Carmel shootout
- Road crews notice ATF memorial missing: Marker erected near Mt. Carmel was tribute to 4 agents slain in cult raid