The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Diane Jennings

Woman who left sect wanted to see kids

Her husband died in an armed skirmish Feb. 28. She's been separated from her four young children since then, holed up in the Branch Davidian compound surrounded by an army of federal agents.

When Kathryn Schroeder surrendered to authorities Friday, she became the first person to leave the isolated, heavily armed fortress in a week.

An FBI agent said her departure was precipitated by a desire to "be reunited with her children.'

Three of those children, from a previous marriage, have been awarded to her former husband, Air Force Sgt. William Mabb, who is stationed in South Dakota.

The other child, a 3-year-old boy by her late husband, Michael Schroeder, remains in state custody.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Mrs. Schroeder, a native of Tampa, married Sgt. Mabb in March 1982. She filed for divorce three years later and was given custody of the children.

She later married Mr. Schroeder and moved to Miami. While living there, the Schroeders met charismatic cult leader David Koresh. Schroeder family members say she and her new husband sold their belongings and moved to the Texas compound about three years ago.

Sgt. Mabb won custody of the three children Tuesday, after obtaining an emergency custody agreement from a judge in Nebraska.

Mrs. Schroeder, whose Texas driver's license lists her age as 30, was aware of the change in custody before leaving the compound Friday, FBI Agent Dick Swensen said.

"They're going to be working that out,' he said of the custody arrangements.

Karen Eells, regional director of the state Children's Protective Services, would not say whether Mrs. Schroeder would be allowed to see the fourth child. The FBI also declined comment.

The body of Mrs. Schroeder's husband was recovered this week, with a pistol still in his hand, federal agents said.

He died in a brief, second gunbattle with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents the day of the raid, and authorities later recovered his body from the compound grounds.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Bruce Nichols

Lawyers complain of secrecy on U.S. documents about cult

WACO -- Lawyers continued to chafe Friday at what they called the secrecy surrounding court documents that explain the government's legal position in the Branch Davidian standoff.

"We are mystified by the absolute secrecy and star-chamberlike proceedings in this case,' said lawyer Kirk Lyons.

Mr. Lyons and other lawyers interested in aiding the cult have been rebuffed in their efforts to win court-sanctioned access to the sect's leader, David Koresh. They've also complained about the decision by federal authorities to cut off outside telephone calls to the compound.

Dan Conroy, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman, has declined to release details of the warrant originally issued for the Feb. 28 raid, in which four ATF agents were killed.

He said that and other legal documents related to the siege remain sealed to the public because they contain information that could affect the federal investigation.

During a news conference Friday, Mr. Lyons and others lawyers renewed their complaints about U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr.'s rejection of their request to allow them inside the compound to provide legal counsel.

Mr. Lyons, executive director of Cause Foundation Inc., an organization he describes as devoted to conservative civil liberties issues, said the judge gave insufficient explanation for denying the request. The judge also sealed the government's response to the lawyers' motion.

"All of the federal documents, which normally would be public record, are secret and sealed, most important of which is the initial probable cause upon which the government based its attack on Mount Carmel,' Mr. Lyons said.

U.S. Attorney Ronald F. Ederer in San Antonio did not return telephone calls Friday, and Judge Smith "does not talk to the news media,' a secretary said.

An assistant U.S. attorney in Dallas said sealing documents before an arrest is common in criminal cases, particularly those involving violence or drugs.

"You can't just do it,' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Len Senerote of Dallas, emphasizing that he knew general procedure but not the specifics of the Waco case.

"A judge has to approve, and there has to be a good reason.'

Typically, the reason cited is that information in the sealed documents would jeopardize an investigation or the lives of people helping with the inquiry, he said.

Mr. Lyons said the lawyers plan to ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to order Judge Smith to unseal documents related to the government's legal position.

On Thursday, Mr. Conroy announced an indictment against cultist Paul Fatta, who was at a gun show when the raid occurred, charging him with conspiracy to manufacture and possess a machine gun. Again, the indictment was sealed, with Mr. Conroy saying it contained details pertinent to the investigation.

"They will not be unsealed until the appropriate time,' Mr. Conroy said.

Mr. Lyons agreed sealing of documents is a "depressing trend' but "just because they're doing it doesn't mean we should let them get away with it.'

He said they would await Judge Smith's ruling on a separate habeas corpus petition demanding access to Mr. Koresh before filing the appeal.

Also pending is an application for habeas corpus filed by Dick DeGuerin, a noted criminal lawyer from Houston acting on behalf of Mr. Koresh's mother. Mr. DeGuerin also wants to be allowed inside the compound.

"He needs some advice from people who aren't pointing a gun at him,' DeGuerin said. "My job is to talk to my client.'

Mr. Lyon said bringing in neutral negotiators could help end the stalemate. "We're not saying use us. Use somebody. Try it,' Mr. Lyons said.

The government's actions involving the documents comes amid an announcement Thursday by the directors of the FBI and ATF, warning agents that "loose and often uninformed' public comments could hurt efforts to end the standoff.

"We all have much to be proud of,' said a joint statement by FBI Director William Sessions and ATF Director Stephen Higgins. But they cited "unnamed agents speaking to the media about aspects of both operations and critical of the other agency.'

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Bruce Nichols

2 Branch Davidians leave compound, are detained
Action marks break in stalemate between agents, sect

WACO -- For the first time in a week, a break in a stalemate with a barricaded religious cult came Friday with the departure of two members -- including the first male follower to voluntarily leave the group's compound.

A man identified as Oliver Gyarfas, 19, of Australia was taken into custody about 6:30 p.m. Friday, 7 1/2 hours after Kathryn Schroeder surrendered to law officers, said federal authorities.

Mr. Gyarfas was one of three men reported by federal agents to have received permission Thursday from cult leader David Koresh to leave the compound. The other two men remained inside the compound Friday night, the 13th day of the standoff with the Branch Davidian sect.

Mrs. Schroeder, whose four children previously had left the compound, told federal agents that "she's anxious to be reunited with her children,' said FBI Special Agent Richard Swensen of New Orleans.

The action marked the first positive signs in the impasse between cult members and federal agents, who hauled several cars away from the compound's outer walls Friday in bitterly cold, windy weather and sodden conditions.

"The release of a second person, particularly a second adult, is a positive step,' said Jack Killorin, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Washington.

Also Friday, a group of lawyers who say they are representing some cult members' relatives complained that federal officials were blocking their efforts to gain access to the cult. And Mr. Koresh's paternal grandmother was turned back by authorities when she tried to approach the compound to offer her help as a negotiator.

Mrs. Schroeder, whose Texas driver's license lists her as age 30, was in federal custody Friday night as a material witness in the federal investigation. An affidavit filed by the U.S. attorney's office to explain reasons for her detention was ordered sealed Friday by a U.S. magistrate in Waco, said a spokesman for the ATF.

Mr. Killorin said Mr. Gyarfas was taken into custody after "he just walked out' of the Branch Davidian compound.

"He's being processed at the command post (at Texas State Technical College) and then to the McLennan County Jail, probably to be charged as a material witness,' Mr. Killorin said.

Four ATF agents and an undetermined number of sect members were killed in the initial shootout with ATF agents Feb. 28. Federal agents then surrounded the so-called Ranch Apocalypse, bringing in armored vehicles and tanks, to wait for sect members' surrender.

Mrs. Schroeder's husband, Michael, 29, was killed in a brief gunbattle later that day. His body was found in a wooded area about 350 yards behind the compound.

Although her first husband has been given given custody of her three oldest children, Agent Swensen said, Mrs. Schroeder wants to be reunited with the fourth child, a 3-year-old boy still in state custody.

A federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified said Mrs. Schroeder has been identified by children who left the compound as one of a number of female cult followers who may have fired shots at ATF agents during the raid.

The departure of Mr. Gyarfas and Mrs. Schroeder brings to 25 the number of people who have left since the standoff began.

Two older women and 21 children have also have left. Another male follower, Delroy Nash of Jamaica, was captured after the gunbattle with federal agents in which Mr. Schroeder was killed, several hours after the initial firefight. Woodrow Kendrick, 62, who authorities believe was also involved in that second gunbattle, was arrested this week on federal firearms violation charges.

Mrs. Schroeder was whisked away from the area in a sedan, appearing to hide under a coat as she passed reporters and photographers encamped near the standoff site.

Friday morning, Agent Swensen had described as "a setback' the failure of three men to emerge as promised Thursday by Branch Davidian leaders.

But he said agents haven't given up, and Friday evening, their hopes were realized with Mr. Gyarfas' emergence. The other two men who have asked to leave were identified as Kevin White-cliff, 32, and Brad McBranch, 34, the FBI said.

The return of Mr. Koresh to telephone negotiations with federal agents Thursday night also was described as a hopeful sign.

Mr. Koresh had not talked to agents in more than two days, during which his second-in-command, Steve Schneider, handled negotiations for the group in the compound.

Mr. Koresh, who has said he is suffering from headaches and pain because of a gunshot wound he suffered in the Feb. 28 shootout, talked to agents from 7 until about 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Agent Swensen said.

"It was about the same as always,' Agent Swensen said of the conversation. "He started off a little tired, picked up, got some adrenalin going and seemed to be fine after that. We didn't get into the long Bible studies that we frequently do.'

When the conversation moved to the mechanics of sending more people out of the compound, Mr. Koresh handed the telephone to Mr. Schneider, though Mr. Koresh appears to still be in command, Agent Swensen said.

In the last two days, dealing with Mr. Schneider has produced about the same progress as dealing with Mr. Koresh, Agent Swensen said.

"Frankly, we've had some very positive conversations with both. . . . We kind of get the impression that both of them are pitching in and taking a fair share of the negotiations,' Agent Swensen said.

As for Mr. Koresh's wounds, the agent said, the major injury has been described as a flesh wound on his left side and is not considered life-threatening unless it becomes infected. He also is believed to have been wounded in one wrist, federal officials said.

Federal authorities remain opposed to allowing Mr. Koresh's mother, Bonnie Haldeman, lawyers or anyone else into the compound, although they don't rule out third-party participations in future negotiations, Agent Swensen said.

Mrs. Haldeman was turned back Thursday when she and her lawyer, Dick De-Guerin of Houston, tried to approach the compound.

Friday, Jean Holub of Houston, Mr. Koresh's paternal grandmother, was also turned back when she tried to pass police barricades with an Australian television crew.

Mrs. Haldeman and two lawyers' groups, Cause Foundation Inc. and the ad hoc Lawyers Response Committee to the Mount Carmel Assault, have asked a federal judge to allow them access to Mr. Koresh. That judge rejected their initial request Thursday.

Federal authorities said Mr. Koresh has not requested outside legal aid.

As for introducing a third party to the negotiations, Agent Swensen said: "We can handle that well ourselves (but) . . . that option is still remaining open. . . . If we think it's the time to do it, we will. It's an option we leave open, but right now I don't hear any talk of doing that.'

Asked at a news briefing whether the agencies felt impotent, Agent Swensen denied it.

"Obviously we have a strategy. We've already gotten 21 children out . . . and we've just talked of getting four more out,' he said.

"We don't feel impotent. I think clearly the situation could be resolved tactically whenever we want to. And I think clearly the bureau (FBI) and ATF are thinking of all the lives that are in the compound and want to get this resolved peacefully without any further loss of life.'

Friday's cold, damp weather makes waiting beside the road for an end to the standoff harder, Agent Swensen said, but "it's not having an effect on what we're doing.'

Staff writers Lee Hancock and Bruce Tomaso contributed to this report.