The Day I Met Susan Atkins

This is a guest post by Fayez Abedaziz. It tells the story of Fayez meeting a young girl named Sadie back in 1969. Thanks for the beautiful story Fayez.

“Whatcha doin’?”

Walking out of the food market that sun bright day, in July, 1969, with cigarettes and a bottle of cold soda pop, I started down the parking lot toward the street when a movement caught my eye to a fence by a strip of grass at the side area leading to the back of the store.There, in a sort of a flashy movement was a girl, with one hand against a tree, waving at someone with her other hand.

My first thought was that there was a teen girl, 15, 16 or so, just having fun.Then I saw some people talking and laughing, further down, at the back of the store, right at what was obviously a loading dock, a platform leading to the back door.
Two girls stood there giggling and a store worker, wearing an apron, stood there smiling, kind of a goofy grin, you know, like a young guy would react to the attention from or just having a laugh with a couple of cute young girls.
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David Koresh

Name: David Koresh
Birth Name: Vernon Wayne Howell
Date of birth: August 17, 1959
Date of death: April 19, 1993
Place of birth: Houston, Texas
Place of death: Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas
Cause of death : Gunshot wound to the head
Spouse: Rachel Jones Koresh
Website: Branch Davidians Website
Image Gallery: David Koresh Image Gallery

David Koresh was the spiritual leader of a religious group known as the Branch Davidians. In 1993 the ATF conducted an investigation into the Branch Davidians which led to a raid of the groups headquarter which eventually resulted in the deaths of 86 people. The Waco Siege was the largest military operation conducted to arrest a civilian in the United States.

Ealy Life

David Koresh was born in Houston, Texas in 1959 to a teenage single mother, Bonnie Sue Clark. Bonnie was a 14-year-old girl when she gave birth to Koresh. He had a troubled upbringing and because of his poor study skills and dyslexia Koresh was put in special education classes. Fellow students made fun of him for being dyslexic and gave him the nickname Mr. Retardo. Koresh dropped out of High School in his junior year. He found solace in the Bible and he had memorised the New Testament by the time he was 12. According to his mother he would go out in the barn and pray for hours.

The Prophetess

In 1982 Koresh moved to Waco to join the Branch Davidians. According to some accounts Koresh had an affair with then 65-year-old Lois Roden, the prophetess of the Branch Davidians. In 1986 Lois Roden died at age 70 and her son George Roden inherited the position of prophet. Koresh and George Roden clashed over the leadership position. George dug up a body from the local cemetery and challenged Koresh to prove his Messianic claims by bringing it back to life. Koresh wisely refused. Eventually Koresh retreated with a group of about 25 of his followers to eastern Texas and ended up near the city of Palestine, Texas.

Rachel Jones

In 1984, Koresh married Rachel Jones, the 14-year-old daughter of two Branch Davidians, Perry and Mary belle Jones. Rachel was born into the church and that was all she had ever known. Rachel was one of David’s most passionate followers. Rachel bore Koresh a son, Cyrus, and a daughter, Star. Rachel was Koresh’s only legal wife. Rachel’s younger sister, Michele, became one of Koresh’s spiritual wives at age 12. Michele’s children, Serenity and Bobby, were allegedly fathered by Koresh. Rachel’s brother, David Jones, was a bodyguard for Koresh.

Gunfight

On November 3, 1987 Koresh and seven of his followers returned to Mount Carmel armed with semiautomatic rifles and tried to take over the commune by force. Roden grabbed his Uzi and a gunfight followed. The sheriff was called and the shooting stopped. No one was killed, but Roden was slightly wounded in the hand and chest. Koresh and his followers went on trial for attempted murder. The seven followers were acquitted and Koresh’s trial ended in a hung jury.

Murder

Two years later in 1989, George Roden killed his roommate, Wayman Dale Adair. Roden claimed that Wayman had been sent by Koresh to kill him. Roden was put on trial for murder. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a state mental hospital. Koresh became the leader of the Branch Davidians. In 1990 Koresh legally changed his name from Vernon Wayne Howell to David Koresh, a combination of “King David” and the Hebrew name for Cyrus the Great.

God and Guns

In September, 1990, Koresh was introduced to Henry McMahon, a licensed gun dealer, who taught Koresh about guns and the firearms trade. Koresh and his men increasingly bought and sold guns at gun shows to be prepared for self-defense in the assault that Koresh predicted would occur as part of End time events and to make money to support the members of the community.

God, Guns and Government Part 1: The Raid

On February 28th, 1993 the ATF conducted an investigation into possession of illegal firearms and explosives which led to a raid of the groups headquarter at Mount Carmel Center. A two-hour gun fight resulted in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. The ATF failed to raid the ranch and the FBI took over the operation which resulted in a siege lasting 51 days. During the siege, the FBI used sleep deprivation tactics, including floodlighting the compound and played sounds of rabbits being slaughtered.

God, Guns and Government Part 2: The Fire

On April 19, the last day of the siege, Attorney General Janet Reno approved a final assault on the compound. The FBI launched a teargas attack trying to force the remaining members of the group out of the ranch. During the attack three fires broke out and engulfed the ranch. Nine of the people located inside the ranch escaped, the rest perished in the inferno. Most died of suffocation by carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation, others were crushed to death when the building collapsed. The medical examiner reported that five children had been shot, and a three-year-old had been stabbed in the chest. The medical examiner believed these deaths were mercy killings by the Branch Davidians trapped in the fire with no escape. In total 76 people died that day including 22 children. Koresh died of a gunshot wound to the head. It is unclear whether his death was a suicide or homicide. The tragedy came to be known as the Waco massacre.

Koresh is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Tyler, Texas.

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Rachel Jones Koresh

Name: Rachel Olivia Susan Jones
Date of birth: May 2, 1969
Date of death: April 19, 1993
Place of birth: McLennan, Texas
Place of death: Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas
Cause of death: Died in the fire
Spouse: David Koresh
Image Gallery: Rachel Jones Image Gallery

Rachel Jones was the daughter of two Branch Davidians, Perry and Mary belle Jones. In 1984, Koresh married Rachel Jones, Rachel was 14 when they married. Rachel was born into the church and that was all she had ever known. Rachel was one of David’s most passionate followers. Rachel never seemed to question her husband, David Koresh . Not even when he took as many as a dozen other women to be his wives. Rachel bore Koresh a son, Cyrus, and a daughter, Star. Rachel was Koresh’s only legal wife. Rachel’s younger sister, Michele, became one of Koresh’s spiritual wives at age 12. Michele’s children, Serenity and Bobby, were allegedly fathered by Koresh. Rachel’s brother, David Jones, was a bodyguard for Koresh. Rachel was 23 when she died.

Michele Jones

Name: Michele Marie Jones
Date of birth: July 4, 1974
Date of death: April 19, 1993
Place of birth: McLennan, Texas
Place of death: Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas
Cause of death : Died in the fire

Michele was Rachel and David Jones’s sister. In early 1987, twelve-year-old Michele became one of Koresh’s spiritual wives. Koresh said that he had a vision when he was in Israel that commanded him to have a child with Michele. It took a while, but Rachel finally agreed after she dreamed that Koresh would die if he didn’t follow that vision. David Koresh slept with Michele when she was only 12. Michele’s children, Serenity and Bobby, were allegedly fathered by Koresh.

Michele died in the fire at the age of 18. Michele’s two children, Serenity, 4, and Bobby, 16 months, also perished in the inferno.

Perry Jones

Perry Jones (left) David Jones (center) Koresh (right)

Name: Perry Dale Jones
Date of birth: Jan 20, 1929
Date of death: February 28, 1993
Place of birth: California
Place of death: Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas
Cause of death : Gunshot wound to the abdomen

Perry Jones was the father of Rachel, Michele and David Jones. Perry Jones had been with the Branch Davidians since the 1940s. Jones was Koresh’s chief errand runner, working with Waco contractors and often overseeing construction projects. He was described as being older and frail, but also very nice and polite. The Jones family were followers of an independent Seventh-Day Adventist sect that had summer camps at the compound years before Koresh started leading the group. Perry Jones died in the February 28 shooting at the compound. He died a slow, painful death from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was 66.

Bonnie Sue Clark Haldeman

Name: Bonnie Sue Clark Haldeman
Date of birth: September 8, 1944
Date of death: January 29, 2009
Place of birth: Bastrop, Texas
Place of death: Chandler, Texas
Cause of death : Stabbed to death

Bonnie was the mother of David Koresh. Bonnie was only 14 when she gave birth to David. Before Koresh was born, his father met another teenage girl and abandoned Bonnie. Bonnie started a relationship with a man who had just been released from prison. The relationship did not go well. The man was violent and abusive to Bonnie and infant David. In 1963, Bonnie left her boyfriend and placed then 4-year-old Koresh in the care of his grandmother, Earline Clark. Bonnie returned when he was seven, after her marriage to a carpenter named Roy Haldeman.

Koresh’s mother wrote an biography in 2007 called Memories of the Branch Davidians: The Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother, which detailed her take on how her son became the leader of the Branch Davidians.

She always felt if a local sheriff would have come to the compound and served her son an arrest warrant, he would have surrendered peacefully. She does not believe that David or his followers committed mass suicide. She described them as harmless people and that her son didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

During the winter of 2009, Koresh’s mother Bonnie Clark was murdered by her own sister. The body of Bonnie, 64, was found at the home of her sister. The motivation behind the murder is unknown.