Bodies of 4 cultists found in tunnels Victims killed in Feb. 28 raid

May 05, 1993|By Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- From tunnels filled with water and mud near Waco, investigators have recovered the bodies of four Branch Davidian followers believed killed in the initial shootout with federal agents Feb. 28.

The bodies of 73 cult members, including 17 children, have been removed from the compound debris. As many as a dozen of the cultists, and possibly more, had gunshot wounds, authorities say, although it has not been determined whether they were self-inflicted.

Yesterday, a child psychiatrist in Houston said the 21 children he treated who were released from the Branch Davidian compound during the siege were not sexually abused and have a good chance of overcoming any mental and emotional scars from the ordeal.

Meanwhile, the federal agents involved in the raid on the sect compound will return Saturday to Waco to visit the site of the cult's destroyed headquarters, federal officials said yesterday. The visit is designed to help them deal with the emotional aftermath of the raid and firefight.

FBI Director William S. Sessions was to arrive today in Waco to thank city and county officials for assisting the agency during its management of the 51-day standoff.

FBI officials said yesterday that Mr. Sessions, a former Waco City Council member, was to present a plaque to local officials today and visit the ashes of the compound, which was destroyed April 19 in a massive fire that began after FBI agents began pumping in tear gas in a failed effort to force the cult's surrender.

All five bodies of cult members who apparently died in the initial raid have been found, four of them pulled from water- and debris-filled tunnels at the compound yesterday, said McLennan County Justice of the Peace James Collier.

One of the bodies was believed to be that of cult member Peter Ghent, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike Cox.

Nine cult members escaped the fire, and 35 left the compound during the siege, including the children. Three of the cultists remained at Parkland Memorial Hospital: Misty Ferguson, in fair condition; Marjorie Thomas, in critical condition; and Clive Doyle, in fair condition.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents who stormed the compound will be allowed to examine its remnants Saturday and will be briefed by federal prosecutors investigating the killings of four ATF agents during the raid, several federal officials said.

A number of agents from ATF's special operations teams, which planned and executed the raid, have said they want to view the compound to help deal with the emotional strain of the event.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Jahn, who is overseeing the Branch Davidian prosecutions, would not comment yesterday.

In Houston, Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist at the Baylor College of Medicine specializing in post-traumatic stress syndrome, called a news conference to respond to inquiries resulting from the disclosure of previously confidential information in the New York Times.

"We had no evidence that the children released from the compound were sexually abused," Dr. Perry said. "I think there was a sense and some evidence to suggest that there was inappropriate exposure to sexually explicit materials . . . in the context of Bible studies."

But he stopped short of calling cult leader David Koresh or anyone else in the compound a child molester.

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