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.


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.


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.


Waco Member Victims List

List Of Names Of Koresh And His Followers Who Died During The Waco Massacre

David Koresh, 33, leader of the Branch Davidians.
Rachel Jones, 23, the legal wife of David Koresh.
Cyrus Koresh, 8, the son of Koresh and his legal wife Rachel.
Star Koresh, 5, the daughter of Koresh and Rachel.
Dayland Gent, 3, of Australia, the son of Nicole Gent and Koresh.
Serenity Sea Jones, 4, the daughter of Michelle Jones and Koresh.
Startle Summers, 1, the daughter of Aisha Gyarfas and Koresh.
Bobbie Lane Koresh, 2.
Lisa Martin, 13.
Sheila Martin, 15.
Abigail Martinez, 11.
Audrey Martinez, 13.
Crystal Martinez, 3.
Isaiah Martinez, 4.
Joseph Martinez, 8.
Mayanah Schneider, 2.
Hollywood Sylvia, 2.
Rachel Sylvia, 13.
Steve Schneider, 43, Koresh’s chief lieutenant.
Judy Schneider, 41, legally married to Steve Schneider but one of Koresh’s “wives.”
Sherri Lynn Jewell, 43, reportedly one of Koresh’s “wives.”
David Michael Jones, 38, brother-in-law of Koresh.
Jeffrey Little, 31.
Nicole Elizabeth Gent, 23, of Australia.
Wayne Martin, 42, a Harvard-educated lawyer who maintained a law office at Mount Carmel.
Aisha Gyarfas, 17, of Australia, who was expecting a baby believed to be Koresh’s.
Mary Jean Borst, age 50.
Pablo Cohen, 38, an Israeli citizen.
Evette Fagan, 32, of the United Kingdom.
Lisa Marie Farris, 24.
Diana Henry, 28, of the United Kingdom.
Paulina Henry, 25, of the United Kingdom.
Philip Henry, 23, of the United Kingdom.
Stephen Henry, 26, of the United Kingdom.
Vanessa Henry, 19, of the United Kingdom.
Zilla Henry, 55, of the United Kingdom.
Juliete Santoyo Martinez, 30.
Jilliane Matthews, age and place unknown.
Alison Bernadette Monbelly, 31, of the United Kingdom.
Melissa Morrison, 4, of the United Kingdom.
Rosemary Morrison, 29, of the United Kingdom.
Theresa Nobrega, 38, of the United Kingdom.
Floracita Sonobe, 34, of the Philippines.
Scott Kojiro Sonobe, 35.
Gregory Allen Summers, 28.
Lorraine Sylvia, 40, reportedly one of Koresh’s “wives.”
Doris Vaega, age unknown of New Zealand.
Margarida Joann Vaega, 46, of New Zealand. Reportedly one of Koresh’s “wives.”
Neil Vaega, 37, of New Zealand.
Stanley Sylvia, of North Dartmouth, Mass.
Michelle Jones, 18, Koresh’s sister-in-law and a “wife”.
Peter Gent, 24, was killed in the raid.
Michael Schroeder, 29, was killed on the afternoon of Feb. 28.
Perry Jones, Koresh’s father-in-law reportedly killed in the Feb. 28 shootout.

Steve Schneider

Name: Steven Emil Schneider
Date of birth: Oct 16, 1949
Date of death: April 19, 1993
Place of birth: Merrill, Wisconsin
Place of death: Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas
Cause of death: Gunshot to the head

Steve was introduced to David Koresh’s teachings in 1986. Steve was living in Hawaii at the time, getting his Ph.D. a the University of Hawaii. Steve tried to “detect flaws and inconsistencies in his scriptural system” and even had Koresh debate Scripture with a professor, according to David Thibodeau’s book Waco: A Survivor’s Story. Steve soon became one of Koresh’s most faithful followers and his right-hand man. In addition to negotiating all deals with outsiders, Steve managed Koresh’s band.

Steve was married to Judy Schneider, and she became one of David’s “wives.” Judy became pregnant by David and had his daughter, Mayanah. Although he went along with it, Steve had his issues about the situation. According to David Thibodeau, Steve told him: “You don’t even know how hard it’s been. I love her, and giving her up… We were lovers for close on twenty years, married for ten, and never made a baby…. Now suddenly, she’s having his child!” Schneider told another former cult member that he gave up Judy because of “what they were going to accomplish in the kingdom.”

After the initial raid on Feb. 28, 1993, Steve tried reasoning with the negotiators. Steve helped negotiate medical supplies, milk for the children at Mount Carmel, and possible surrender. He tried to work out a deal to let a group of people exit if the ATF agents who shot at Mount Carmel followers were charged with criminal offenses, but that didn’t work out.

Steve died on April 19, 1993. Only 9 survived the final assault, which ended in the complete destruction of Mount Carmel due to a fire. Despite the fire, Steve didn’t die of smoke inhalation. An autopsy confirmed that Steve died from a gunshot wound to the head.