Tuesday’s developments

  • Authorities describe their first face-to-face meeting with Branch Davidian representatives in an effort to end¬¬¬¬¬¬ their standoff as "symbolic," and not necessarily a breakthrough.
  • The attorneys for two women who left the Mount Carmel compound two weeks ago say their clients have declined to comply with federal authorities’ request to diagram the inside of the compound, for fear the information could bring harm to those still inside.
  • Despite the heavy presence of federal agents and news media in Waco for the Branch Davidian siege, no groups with longstanding plans to meet in Waco have canceled plans to come here, the city’s top convention official says.

’48 Hours’ profile

Robyn Bunds, a 23-year-old California resident and one of the Tribune-Herald’s major sources in “The Sinful Messiah” series on the Mount Carmel cult, will appear on “48 Hours.”

The show will begin at 9 pm. On local CBS affiliate KWTX-TV, Channel 10.

Bunds has told the Tribune-Herald that she is one of Vernon Howell’s many wives and that she has had his son, now named Shaun. Howell also goes by the name David Koresh.

Steve Allen on cults

LOS ANGELES – Entertainer Steve Allen closely monitors the cult standoff in Texas because he knows firsthand about the dangers of religious zealots. One of his sons was under the spell of such a leader for years.

“Dear Dad, I have joined the church of Armageddon here in Seattle. We are a church and a family. Our only book is the Holy Bible, King James version,” Brian Allen wrote his famous father back in the 1970s.

Allen’s son left the cult 11 years later, saying he had wasted 11 years of his life.

Allen, who wrote the 1982 book Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults, said there is nothing wrong with a new religion. But he cautioned: “If they believe things that are totally irrational and socially harmful, then it’s a damn serious problem.”

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.