A new documentary will be coming to Netflix, detailing the life and eventual death of an infamous leader of a religious cult in the United States.
David Koresh was born Vernon Howell to a teenage mother in Texas, who abandoned him for a time before returning to raise him. Vernon never knew his biological father, but his stepfather was alleged to be abusive.
In his younger years, Vernon was teased by classmates when he was placed in Special Education classes due to his challenges in reading.
Vernon went on to change his name to David (as in King David from the Bible) Koresh (another Biblical king) after claiming to have an enlightened experience on a trip to Israel in 1990.
In his adult years, Vernon (then David) would go on to memorize the entire Christian Bible – a feat many of his followers marveled at. Vernon also fancied himself a rockstar, playing guitar and acting as lead singer in a band at local bar gigs.
The Branch Davidians were an offshoot of the larger Seventh Day Adventist sect of Christianity. David joined the Davidians at Mount Carmel Center under the leadership of George Roden, whose power he would later usurp.
The FBI and popular culture have painted a picture of David Koresh seeing himself as a Jesus figure, or a cult leader with a “Messianic Complex.” But Koresh actually renounced such direct claims, saying instead that he was a chosen “Lamb of God” and that God spoke directly to him.
Although Koresh was guilty of taking multiple “spiritual wives,” some of whom were shockingly young (fourteen years old), accusations that child beatings and ritual abuse of children in general were never proven by the government. A 6-month investigation by the Texas Child Protection Services in 1992 failed to collect any evidence, although there were many reports of such acts taking place.
At the time in Texas, girls as young as fourteen years old could legally marry with the consent of a parent or guardian. Even though Koresh wasn’t legally marrying multiple wives, he still sought out parental approval when taking an underage girl into his harem. Most disturbingly of all, many parents consented to the arrangement.
Because he wasn’t legally married to more than one wife, Koresh’s s***al activity with minors could be prosecuted. Thus, he arranged a union between his youngest wife and another member of the Davidians in order to cover his tracks. Although he didn’t allow the married couple to consummate their marriage, he did require the husband to claim Koresh’s children as his own for legal purposes.
It was becuase of a “prophecy,” Koresh told his followers that all of the men were to remain celibate for the rest of their lives, and that he would take on “the burden of s*x” for the entire group – even the married couples. Although Koresh lost a handful of followers after declaring this insane rule, many stayed with him and submitted.
As part of his desire to claim all of the women for himself, Koresh made it his mission to produce over twenty heirs who he though would be the next generation of prophets – prophets who, he said, would usher in the “End Times” as described in the Book of Revelation.
One of the most terrible incidents in recent American history was the eventual demise of Koresh, which resulted in eighty-six deaths, including twenty-eight children, after the cult’s stronghold was destroyed by a fire.
This took place after Koresh and his followers resisted arrest after a warrant to search the Mount Carmel Center was granted.
A fifty-one-day siege at the facility began when they turned to deploying a considerable arsenal of firearms against officers.
Netflix will begin streaming the three-part documentary Waco: American Apocalypse on March 22.