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Cult Survivors Await Doomsday Prophet’s Return to Glory

May 24, 1993

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Followers of David Koresh aren’t mourning his death. They’re awaiting his return.

About 40 disciples remain. Among them is Janet McBean, a California follower who spent the last two weeks in Waco visiting other Branch Davidians.

″We see his departure as a sign from God,″ McBean said.

″It was a loss to the world,″ she said. ″But we know the world will be getting a second chance. He’s doing the work right now.″

Followers believe Koresh, whose body was pulled from the charred ruins of the cult’s compound, will return to form an earthly kingdom.

″This is just a waiting period, something God wants us to go through before he delivers,″ said McBean, a follower since 1988. ″All of us will be rewarded in a special way.″

Mary Jones, Koresh’s mother-in-law, also remains a devotee, despite her personal tragedy: Her husband was killed in the shootout that started the 51- day siege, and two daughters, a son and four grandchildren died in the April 19 blaze.

″I just find great relief in the prophecies of the coming kingdom. It’ll bring peace and goodwill toward all,″ said Mrs. Jones, who lives in Waco but didn’t live in the compound.

The continued devotion isn’t surprising to University of California, San Francisco psychology professor Chris Hatcher, who has followed the Branch Davidians for nearly two years.

″You will basically see a core of people who will continue to maintain their affiliation and belief system over time,″ said Hatcher, who has studied cults for 12 years.

Koresh and up to 85 followers died the day fire broke out. The standoff began Feb. 28 when agents raided the compound, seeking to arrest Koresh and search for illegal weapons. A gunfight broke out, killing four agents and six cult members.

Remaining followers are mostly in Texas, including eight in the McLennan County Jail and five in halfway houses. Some are in California and others are in England.

One is Stan Sylvia, who lost his wife and two daughters in the fire. He said he ″understands the prophecy,″ but is still having trouble dealing with the family loss.

″When I saw the fire and I knew my wife and children were burning to death, I went numb. I couldn’t cry,″ he said. ″Now, that’s all I do.″

McBean said the group is now playing ″a waiting game″ and will remain scattered until God and Koresh are ready to establish the new kingdom.

″The next meeting point for all of us is in heaven,″ she said. ″Then, we’ll come down and we’ll set it up.

″People don’t believe this and they are laughing at it, but it is going to happen.″

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