The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Lee Hancock

Top Koresh aides died near him, authorities say

Branch Davidian lieutenant Steve Schneider died near his cult leader David Koresh, and like Mr. Koresh, suffered an apparent gunshot wound in the head, authorities said Tuesday.

The charred torsos of Mr. Schneider and cult lawyer Wayne Martin, whose cause of death has not been determined, were found near Mr. Koresh's remains, and both bodies had gold Star of David necklaces around their necks, said McLennan County Justice of the Peace Cindy Evans.

The release of the identities of 12 more cultists came the same day that a senior U.S. Treasury Department official met in Houston and Dallas with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents to discuss his department's review of the ill-fated Feb. 28 raid on the Branch Davidian compound.

Ted Royster, special agent in charge of the Dallas ATF office, said his agents met about an hour with Assistant Treasury Secretary Ronald Noble, who oversees ATF and the department's other law enforcement agencies.

Agent Royster said agents have been concerned that the Treasury Department has not visibly supported their agency since the raid, which left four ATF agents dead and 16 wounded. The raid began a standoff that came to a fiery end April 19 after FBI agents began spraying tear gas into the cult's compound.

Agent Royster said he raised concerns about Treasury's support of the agency when he and other ATF field commanders met with Mr. Noble in Washington last week. Mr. Noble "indicated that there was support, but it wasn't being publicized,' he said.

Seventy-eight bodies have been recovered from the compound since the fire. Five were cult members believed killed in the Feb. 28 raid. Those include Winston Blake, 28, of Britain, and Peter James Hipsman, 28, whose identities were released Tuesday.

With the additional gunshot wounds revealed Tuesday, at least eight, and possibly 11 of the 16 victims publicly identified had gunshots wounds. Authorities said last week that they had evidence that at least 15 cult members sustained gunshot wounds.

One of those was Mr. Schneider, who died of inhalation of smoke and carbon monoxide with a possible traumatic head injury believed to have been caused by a gunshot blast, said Justice of the Peace John Cabaniss..

Mr. Schneider's body was found in the same room where authorities discovered the charred torso of Mr. Koresh -- a kitchen area known as the cult's communication room, said Judge Evans.

Within 10 or 15 feet, Judge Evans said, authorities discovered the body of Mr. Martin, a Harvard-educated lawyer who accompanied Mr. Schneider in direct negotiations with an FBI agent and McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell during the 51-day siege.

Judge Evans said weapons were discovered "all around' the bodies of Mr. Koresh and his lieutenants, but she said she and other county officials have been asked not to discuss what guns they saw.

She said Mr. Martin and Mr. Schneider and some of the other male followers found in the compound wore tiny dime-size Stars of David.

It is the first indication that male cultists wore the emblems Mr. Koresh adopted as his own. Several female children released from the compound wore the stars, and former cult members indicated that the emblems were used by Mr. Koresh to signify girls whom he had chosen to be his wives.

"The stars were clearly evident on some of the charred bodies. It was weird. I don't know what it means,' Judge Evans said.

Other victims identified Tuesday included Alrick George Bennett, 35, of Britain; Juliet Santoyo Martinez, 30; Floyd Leon Houtman, 61; Susan Marjorie Benta, 41, of Britain; Doris Adina Fagan, 60, of Britain; Kathrine Alrede, 24, of Canada; Rosemary Morrison, 29, of Britain; and Mary Jean E. Borst, 49.

Ms. Aldred, Ms. Morrison, Ms. Martinez and Mr. Bennett were found inside the bunker.

The causes of death were pending for Ms. Martinez, Mr. Houtman, Mr. Martin and Ms. Benta, officials said.

Although about 17 children also were believed to have died in the fired, authorities said they probably will be more difficult to identify.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Diane Jennings

Cultist's dad frustrated by search
Hunt for son's body yields few details

WACO -- Last weekend Lonnie Little drove his pickup truck from Michigan to Texas, looking for his son and peace of mind. Mr. Little, a retired building supervisor from Galesburg, Mich., will leave Texas on Wednesday still searching for both.

Jeff, 31, is believed to have died in the fire April 19 at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco. But three weeks had passed with no word from authorities, so Mr. Little traveled 1,300 miles in search of physical confirmation and spiritual finality.

He and Jeff were close during Jeff's boyhood, Mr. Little said, with never a harsh word between them. A tall, graying, soft-spoken man, he says he raised Jeff to be considerate and nonviolent. Now he wonders whether he made too many decisions for Jeff or put too much emphasis on religion.

Shuffling through photos that show a handsome college graduate in cap and gown, he says he doesn't understand how his middle son turned into one of David Koresh's soldiers, someone who participated in a sham marriage and took a vow of celibacy, who may have helped convert semiautomatic weapons to automatic guns and may have used those weapons against federal agents.

Did Mr. Koresh "get his whole entire psyche?' Mr. Little wonders, or in the end, "Did Jeff maintain a little dignity of his own?'

His trip -- hampered by bureaucratic hurdles -- brings few answers, much frustration and only a modicum of ease for an aching heart.

The medical examiner

Mr. Little wrinkles his nose when he walks into the Tarrant County medical examiner's office in Fort Worth. "I don't like the way it smells in here,' he says, grimacing.

"It's not always like this,' replies Darrell Thompson, an assistant chief medical investigator, but these days the medical examiner's office is filled with bodies.

So far Jeff Little's name has not been attached to any of the charred corpses. When Mr. Little inquires about a fingerprint identification card he sent, Mr. Thompson hurries out to check. He returns shortly, saying one print may match, but authorities won't know definitively for days.

What if positive identification never is made, Mr. Little asks.

Jeff, a computer programmer, was the co-owner of the Branch Davidian house in LaVerne, Calif., and may have massive debts, his father explains later. Mr. Koresh "extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars' from his son, he adds, and he now faces mountains of paperwork to settle Jeff's estate. That can't be done without a death certificate.

Mr. Thompson is stumped. He admits some of the bodies may never be identified, but he doesn't know a way Mr. Little can have his son declared dead without waiting seven years, as the law requires.

Ask the justice of the peace, he suggests. On his way out the door, Mr. Little asks Mr. Thompson how he copes with such macabre work. It's difficult, Mr. Thompson replies, but it's his job.

Justice of the peace

While waiting for David Pareya in his office in the small town of West, Mr. Little muses about Mr. Koresh's fate.

He talks darkly about the physical abuse he witnessed during a visit to the compound three years ago and the stories he heard about life there. He vacillates between referring to his son as a "victim' of Mr. Koresh's mind-control techniques and a "gutless spineless wonder' for not speaking up when abuse was inflicted in the name of the Lord.

Although Mr. Little says he doesn't hate Mr. Koresh, "I hope he rots in hell. He'll be down there with Adolf Hitler, shoveling coal with a Number 10 scoop.'

In Judge Pareya's office, Mr. Little finds few answers. If Jeff's body is never identified, Judge Pareya says, Mr. Little may need an attorney to have him declared dead.

Mr. Little already has considered hiring an attorney to make sure any surviving Branch Davidians cannot profit from his son's property or estate.

Now, however, it sounds as if he may need an attorney just to take care of business. If Jeff's body is identified, he wants to have it cremated and returned to Michigan.

"Apparently they wanted to be cremated,' Mr. Little says, with morbid humor. "Might as well finish the job.'

During the drive to the McLennan County jail, where Mr. Little hopes to speak to survivors, he says he's frustrated at his lack of progress -- but pleasantly surprised at the sensitivity shown by Mr. Thompson and Judge Pareya.

"Maybe I've finally met some law enforcement personnel with compassion,' he says. Previous encounters with the FBI, which he sought out two years ago with his concerns about the Branch Davidians, weren't so pleasant, he says.

At the jail, Mr. Little is frustrated once again. An attorney for a Branch Davidian defendant offers to take a message to his client to see if he's willing to speak with Mr. Little. A jail officer talks to Mr. Little at length, explaining gently that direct talks with inmates are prohibited, but he might make an exception if Mr. Little has permission from their lawyers. He even provides Mr. Little with a list of clients and attorneys.

Mr. Little leaves, having learned nothing. "I've never been told no so many times so nicely,' he says.

The attorneys

A trip to the halfway house where some of the survivors are living yields nothing, and Mr. Little's determination appears to be flagging.

"If I run into too many dead-ends like that stonefaced woman at the Salvation Army, I'll just give up,' he says. "Because it just gets too frustrating -- and I've had too many frustrations in the last year.'

While waiting to talk to a survivor's attorney, Mr. Little phones the FBI to ask about viewing videotapes or listening to audiotapes of conversations with his son during the siege.

"Get an attorney,' he is advised, because such tapes are evidence for pending criminal trials.

"If I get an attorney, they'll have to turn this stuff over to me,' Mr. Little says. "That may be the only way to go.' Scott Peterson, lawyer for cult member Kathryn Schroeder, proves more helpful.

"I'll see what she said about Jeff,' he says, glancing through notes taken from conversations with his client. But, he adds cautiously, "You may not want to hear it.'

"I've come to terms with that,' Mr. Little says. "I want to hear it -- not watered down.'

He is pleased when Mr. Peterson says Jeff is not named on a list of active participants in the Feb. 28 firefight, compiled by Ms. Schroeder.

"I guess I'm going through the angry stage of total disappointment,' he says. "Maybe I should just go home and go to the beach.' But first he heads for the only place he hasn't been -- the place where his son died.

Highway barricades no longer block outlying highways, but the main road to the compound is still guarded by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers. They direct Mr. Little to a small rise nearby.

Propping his leg on the barbed wire fence, he gazes reflectively over the pastoral countryside. The sun is shining on the ruins of the Branch Davidian home, birds are chirping, insects buzzing and cattle bawling.

"Just listen,' Mr. Little says. "Such a peaceful place for such a mean thing to happen.'

After a day that has brought him few answers on how he and his son ended up here, he says this is where he has found some peace. "The world will go on,' he says simply.

He casts one last glance at the spot where his son is believed to have died in the service of a religious fanatic. "I hope they plow it under,' he says, "and let the cattle graze there.'