Let us turn to Dr. Ubelaker's book, Bones, A Forensic Detectives Casebook, to understand why criminals often burn the bodies of their victims.

"Fire is so efficient at erasing things, it is very popular as a means of hiding the evidence of murder. . . . probably the first reason fire succeeds in an illicit purpose is that investigators are certain to miss a lot of the evidence unless they have been specially trained in what to look for." (Ubelaker, pgs. 140-141).

Writing about the remains of a murdered child: "Because the remains had been burned, the amount of time since death was very difficult to verify." (Ubelaker, pg. 228).

As Dr. Ubelaker points out, fire erases evidence of the cause of death and time of death. But fire also erases identities, particularly when used to burn away heads and faces.

We have been asked to believe that the fire at the Mt. Carmel Center was fueled by residues of ordinary household fuels (see, for example, The Washington Post of April 21, 1993 and Chicago Tribune of April 21, 1993). Your choice: (1) the Coleman fuel was accidentally spilt by the US military tanks as they crushed the Branch Davidians' home around them, or (2) the fuel was purposely spilt all over the Mt. Carmel Center by the Branch Davidians in a successful murder/suicide by fire.

The heat in a household fire fluctuates. It does not remain constant, as it does in an oven.

Manufacturers of cremation ovens say that an adult human body requires two full hours of heat at a constant level of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. After this time, there are still fairly large chunks of bone left among the ashes.

The fire at Mt. Carmel lasted 40 minutes, and the temperature would have fluctuated, as in any house fire.

But look at some of the corpses and read the Autopsy Reports--for example Mt. Carmel Doe 30 or Mt. Carmel Doe 32. Given the short duration of the fire and the fluctuations of heat within that 40 minutes, do you believe the fire that destroyed these bodies was fed by Coleman fuel and a wooden house?

Even more problematic is fire in a concrete room. The room was without windows and had one doorway. It would not have been subject to drafts. How does ammunition in a windowless concrete room catch fire?

Several ways, perhaps. We have already seen evidence that a device --perhaps either a bomb or an incendiary device -- caused a hole in the roof of the concrete room. Visitors who have seen Waco, the Big Lie will remember a tank with what looks like fire coming from its muzzle pulling out of the center interior of the Mt. Carmel Center, after having smashed through to the base of the four-story residential tower (27 minutes from beginning of video). At the base of that tower, of course, was the concrete room. The hole in the building made by that tank assault is clearly visible in Newsweek, May 17, 1993, center foreground.

Visitors who have seen Waco, the Big Lie Continues will also remember the US soldier firing projectiles into the concrete room after the fire abated (1 hour 24 minutes from beginning of video).

Sgt. Coffman, the Texas Ranger in charge of the crime scene in the concrete room, testified in the 1994 San Antonio trial of the Branch Davidians about the cooking off ammunition.

Let's listen to defense attorney Mike DeGeurin question Sgt. Coffman about the effect of the ammunition cooking off in the concrete room:

And those burned-out cartridges had burned out inside that cement structure, then?

That's correct. They cooked off, and as they did that, they bounced up sort of like popcorn and just kind of settled back down.

And just bounced around the walls and ended up laying back down on the --


--on the people in there?

Yes, sir, on everything. (Transcript, pg. 955 and 956).

Later, Sgt. Coffman is questioned by prosecutor Ray Jahn:

Now you also indicated something about some cook-offs, and you said, "It was like popcorn." Do the--do the cook-offs themselves cause much damage, as far as ricocheting around and things?

No, sir. It's -- it's sort of like, you know, if it explodes and both of them go both ways and they drop down. You don't have any solid base on the back to project--you know--to shoot the projectile forward, and so they kind of just pop out and around and up and down and just eventually descend back up.
(Transcript, pg. 957.)

The heat from the cooking-off ammunition evidently was not very high because wooden crates containing live ammunition were found among the cartridges that had cooked off, as we saw in Inside the Concrete Room. (Transcript, pg. 922).

Wood ignites at 400 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Human flesh and bone is destroyed by heat registering at 1,700 degrees over a period of two hours, approximately. If there was not enough heat from the ammunition cook-off to burn wooden crates, how could some of the bodies be so severely burned that whole sections were consumed?

Some bodies were burned through and through, with internal organs cooked. See the bodies of Katherine Andrade (Mt. Carmel Doe 30), John McBean (Mt. Carmel Doe 32), and Cyrus Howell Koresh (Mt. Carmel Doe 67-2), for example. Note that two of these (Does 30 and 32) are "surface" bodies and one is a "buried" body (Doe 67-2). The Autopsy Reports on these cases do not mention hot bullets burning the skin. Rather the corpses were burned by high ambient heat.

Other bodies suffered complete incineration of only certain areas. Read the Autopsy Report of Judy Schneider (Mt. Carmel Doe 51) and review the drawing of the parts of her body destroyed by fire. Look at Lorraine Sylvia (Mt. Carmel Doe 66) and Hollywood Sylvia (Mt. Carmel Doe 67-4). Entire sections of these bodies were destroyed, but the internal organs were not cooked through and through--they were variously described as moist, liquefied, or markedly decomposed. The clothing on Mt. Carmel Doe 66 was soaked with decomposition fluids. Again the Autopsy Reports on these cases do not mention hot bullets burning the skin. Rather the corpses were burned by high ambient temperature applied only to certain sections of the bodies.

At least two of the corpses completely buried by the spent cartridges suffered little charring. For examples, see Julliete Martinez (Mt. Carmel Doe 54) and Crystal Martinez (Mt. Carmel Doe 57).

We have other burned remains that are different in character yet again. Let us look at the unidentified skull of a 2-year old, Mt. Carmel Doe 51 A. The Autopsy Report for that baby states that "white charring is present on the external surface of the skull . . . "

According to Dr. Ubelaker, when bones are subjected to intense and prolonged heat, they whiten. Dr. Ubelaker discusses the discovery of human bones by some hikers in Rocky Mountains. All the fragments from the mountainside showed "advanced calcination, the whitening which results from prolonged extreme heat." Dr. Ubelaker concluded that the bones were the residue of a professional cremation (Ubelaker, pgs. 145-46).

The little skull of Mt. Carmel Doe 51A was apparently burned by intense and prolonged heat. The Autopsy Report shows that the anthropology examination was conducted by Douglas H. Ubelaker, Ph.D., a man knowledgeable about the effects of fire on the human skeleton. Yet the Autopsy Report raises no questions about how cooking-off ammunition in a concrete room in a house fire could have produced such profound effects on the baby's skull.

From all the above examples we must conclude that the bodies were subjected to very different heat conditions and were not all incinerated in the same way, nor even in the same location.

There are other curious features of the burned remains found in the concrete room. While many heads, shoulders, chests, and limbs were allegedly burned off, the labels and logos on their clothing could still be clearly read. For example, Katherine Andrade's body (Mt. Carmel Doe 30) was described as having suffered ""g"lobal charring with extensive body mutilation." The top portion of her skull, the calvarium, was partially collapsed and charred; the chest wall suffered extensive heat damage with total destruction of sternum and all the anterior ribs along with overlying soft tissues, "medial aspect of left clavicle, most of the right clavicle and the right scapula," but the "Contempo Casuals" label on her T-shirt could be clearly read.

This phenomena can be seen on many of the corpses which were severely burned, even a corpse found compacted together in an agglutinated mass, such as that of Cyrus Howell (Mt. Carmel Doe 67-2). Here the body consisted of a charred torso with right chest wall completely destroyed and left chest partially destroyed; the sex of the corpse could not be recognized because the genitalia had been cooked, and had decomposed too badly. Yet the logos on the T-shirt could be read clearly, as could labels on Cyrus's overalls, shorts, and underwear.

Another aspect of the charring suffered by many of the bodies should be mentioned again. The Department of Justice and Dr. Peerwani claimed the bunker collapsed, that many persons were buried under the concrete rubble, and suffocated or died of blunt force trauma as a result. Yet many of the victims who allegedly suffered such fate were found with their heads burned off. Fire cannot penetrate concrete. If the autopsists believed the victims heads were buried by concrete, how could they explain that the heads were burned off?

Body Laundering

The visitor need not be puzzled by these contradictions. They are evidence of the phenomena called "body laundering," as practiced by the US military and its Special Operations commandos, whereby bodies are altered and substituted for the purpose of (1) hiding the identities of the dead, and (2) confusing the cause of death, the time of death, and the manner of death of the deceased (see War: A Death Cult Wears Black, Body Laundering). Special Ops personnel have much experience in this practice.

It is possible that the contemporaneous newspaper reports were accurate--that many, at least 14, Branch Davidians were killed on the first day, including at least one child or children, and that many more were badly injured (see Dallas Morning News, May 3, 1993 headline, citing 14 dead). Some of those injured may have died during the siege. Doubtless the US military and their co-conspirators in the FBI and the ATF did not want the truth known.

It is probable that others died on the last day when visited by the uniformed soldiers and black-suited commandos (captured on video, climbing out of tanks, roaming through the property, and jumping off the roof). They obviously were not there to "help" -- recall that neither fire trucks nor helicopters with fire retardants were permitted to try to quell the flames. The bodies of the adults and children "neutralized" on the last day would also have to be laundered.

Recall the soldiers holding and operating portable flame throwers and engaging in a spraying motion, back and forth, in "Waco, The Big Lie Continues" (one hour and 22 minutes from the beginning of the video). Quite possibly the flame throwers were being used to destroy selected areas of the corpses. This might explain why many of the corpses were "focally charred," to use Dr. Peerwani's expression.

It is also possible that other oddities in the concrete room were the result of non-Davidian bodies (the discards from morgues, crematoria, or foreign military interventions) being imported and substituted for the remains of undercover agents or "Trojan Horses" who were posing as Branch Davidians. These bodies would have to be laundered, too, to make identification impossible.

The solution may well have been to launch a CS gas attack, ostensibly to drive out the remaining Branch Davidians. The gas, the fierce winds of April 19, and the inferno could then be blamed for the deaths. The deaths could be plausibly denied as being the result of the incompetence, callousness, or negligence of the federal troops. The bodies would be destroyed in such a fashion that no one would guess the true story.

And some means was found to silence the survivors--but surely that would not be difficult. (see Veracity of Branch Davidian Statements).

Nonetheless the body laundering job was poorly done, as we are witnessing in this tour through the Museum. As Clyde Snow says: "The homicidal state shares one trait with the solitary killer--like all murderers, it trips on its own egoism and drops a trail of clues, which, when properly collected, preserved, and analyzed are as damning as a signed confession left in the grave." (Joyce & Stover, pg. 217).

The egoism of the murderers blinds them to other people's ability to see and recognize their lies. And that is what these contradictions are--badly organized, internally inconsistent lies.

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Many people who distrust the mainstream media have turned to alternate news sources, some of which are Internet based.  Unfortunately, many of these alternate sources of news simply promote an alternate series of lies.  These alternate lies are of course dressed up as "exposés."  But you can easily tell the phonies from the real thing.  The information in the Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum is an acid test.

Does your news source promote Mike McNulty's video, Waco: The Rules of Engagement or wring its hands because the Davidian law suit against the government failed?  (See Waco Documentary Is A Hoax! and Waco Suits for Waco Suckers.) Does your alternate news source carry promotional pieces about rebuilding the Davidian church in Waco and mouth nice words about "healing"?  (See The Cover-up Church.)

Remember, since ancient times, inquiries into questionable deaths have started with the bodies of the victims.  If your news source won't give you an honest and full account of the forensic information on Waco, or if it does not have a link to the Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum ... your alternate news has failed a fundamental acid test.   

Published by Public Action, Inc., a news and news analysis service. All commercial rights are reserved. A full statement of terms and conditions for copying and redistribution is available in the Museum Library. "Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum," "SkyWriter," and the sky writing logo are trademarks of Public Action, Inc. To receive occasional dispatches on Waco issues, write to and put SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

All original material is copyright 1996-2000 by Carol A. Valentine, on loan to Public Action, Inc.
Postal Address: Carol A. Valentine, PO Box 10933, Burke, VA 22009

This page last updated February 28, 2001.