20th March 2023 – (Los Angeles) The leader of a religious cult in the United States entered into an armed siege with their own government and used to sleep with the wives of other members, despite telling the men that they must remain celibate. David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, was the leader of the Branch Davidians, and his eventual demise is one of the most shocking events in recent American history.
The Waco Siege started because the US Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agency gained a search warrant to enter the Mount Carmel Center in Texas. Koresh and his followers claimed that they could make prophecies, and one of those prophecies was that the end of days was coming, and the sect must prepare itself for a violent fight – stockpiling and making weapons at the center. Incidentally, this turned out to be pretty accurate.
Koresh had an illegal relationship with a 15-year-old girl at the age of 19, before being kicked out of his own church for claiming that God told him he should be with the pastor’s daughter. That led him to the Branch Davidians, where he quickly assimilated himself right to the top of the sect.
Throughout his time as leader of the sect, Koresh was accused of the statutory rape and sexual abuse of several children, as well as instigating ‘marriages’ with already married women. He banned husbands from masturbation and sex, despite having sex himself with their wives and even asked them if they were ‘jealous’ of him.
Still, his followers believed him to be anointed by God, and therefore let it continue. One of Koresh’s followers wrote in a book, “It was about not just the single women [among the Branch Davidians] being his, but all the wives, all the women.” She explained, “The feeling was so comforting, [like] my God speaking directly to me.”
A warrant was granted to search the Mount Carmel Center and arrest Koresh, as well as several other members of the church. They resisted arrest using a large cache of weapons, starting a 51-day siege in the compound. In the end – on 28th February, 1993 – the compound caught fire. To this day, no one knows exactly what went down, but dozens were killed, including 28 children and Koresh himself, who died either from injuries from the fire or a gunshot wound.
The story is being told once again in a new 3-part Netflix documentary, bringing attention to the tragedy once again. Waco: American Apocalypse is on Netflix from 22nd March.