Facebook Twitter



Branch Davidians may once again raise their voices in prayer at Mount Carmel, only this time with a difference.

"I do not intend to see David Koresh's faction regain control of Mount Carmel," said Amo Bishop Roden, former wife of the man who lost control of the religious group to Koresh in the 1980s."They have never, I don't feel, tried to fulfill the mission of the church, which is to provide a means of protecting the righteous during Armageddon."

All Branch Davidians are invited to return Oct. 19 for a weeklong meeting to choose a new spiritual leader, Roden said Tuesday.

She expects Koresh followers to be in the minority, but some say they won't give up so easily.

Sheila Martin, who lost four children in the fire that destroyed the compound last year, said she and other Koresh followers are waiting for his return from the dead.

"We're not going to give up without a fight, if necessary. We're not going to just let them come along and take it," Martin said.

Roden was working in a small, ramshackle white building near what used to be the sect's headquarters. It had been used as a machine shop; during their 51-day standoff with federal agents, Davidians used it as cover.

Four federal agents and six Davidians died on Feb. 28, 1993, when agents raided the compound to arrest Koresh on weapons charges. The standoff ended when the compound burned to the ground. The remains of Koresh and more than 80 followers were found in the ashes.

Today, tall weeds and sunflowers surround the building on the 77-acre site near Waco. There are holes in the walls, sandbags piled on the floor, shattered windows and missing doors.

Koresh defeated Roden's former husband, George, in a fight for sect leadership in the 1980s. Roden's father, Ben, founded the Branch Davidians in 1959.

The power struggle led to a 1987 gun battle at the compound that led to attempted murder charges against Koresh and seven others. The others were acquitted, and a mistrial was declared in Koresh's case. Charges against him were later dismissed.

George Roden was found innocent by reason of insanity in an unrelated murder in 1989 and is confined in a state mental hospital.

Adding to the controversy is a dispute over who owns the land. The county has a lien on the property for unpaid taxes.

The land belonged to George Roden's mother, Lois, whose will made Koresh a trustee. It is now held by the General Association Davidians, Seventh-day Adventists.