Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Vernon Howell (aka David Koresh): Infamous Adventist : Leader of Branch Davidian Cult
[Fifth in series of Adventist Celebrities and Me... because so many SDAs claim I wasn't ever really an SDA but someone on the periphery of the church.]

When the whole Waco standoff fiasco was still in progress-- ATF versus The Branch Davidian compound-- I got a call from a Las Vegas radio station and was told I was on live.

I could hear the snickers and the blaring rock music in the background. The disk jockey asked,

"We saw your comments in USA Today and wanted to know, what it was like to have grown up with David Koresh?"

I made a fool of myself, having been caught off guard by the slick talk show host. I told them that I had a crush on him in the second grade--which touched off peels of smirky laughter. But truly at that time, Vernon's fifth-grade shyness and curly head was just adorable! The DJ asked me all about Adventism (you could hear the sarcasm in his voice and the suppressed laughter). Back then, I was a true blue Adventist and tried to explain to him all about the importance of the Sabbath. To him and probably all his listeners that afternoon, I was a joke.

My connections with Vernon Howell had been more than just attending Dallas Junior Academy. Many of Vernon's friends were my friends. (Which made it very shocking as he cried out their names when he was on national live radio from the compound.)After elementary school, he went out of my radar screen until he wandered down to Keene, Texas where the Adventists college was and I heard occasionally about him.

Then suddenly he reappeared into my life:

He sheetrocked the house my dad was building for my mother in Alvarado, Texas, right outside Keene--which took weeks as it was a huge house! At that time I was a bit frightened of Vernon because rumors were that he smoked marijuana and was getting weird. Yet, he was extremely polite and several times encouraged me to hear what "God was telling him."

One afternoon, as I was descending the staircase, he plead with me just to give him a few minutes to explain something God had told him about the last days. It was an extremely important prophecy. So I sat on the staircase and pretended to listen. He took a carpenters pencil (you know those flat ones) and traced out an elaborate timeline on the raw sheetrock. I sat there staring through him and his word's for what seemed like an hour. If I had known what was going to happen in a few years, I might have paid more attention.

If anyone out there is interested in any Branch Davidian memorabilia, that piece of sheetrock was papered over and is still hanging in our foyer. My guess is that under the wallpaper his prophetic timelines is still there.

When the compound went up in flames, I was sitting watching and praying. What a tragic end to that curly headed little boy I knew in elementary school. How could anyone become that self-deceived?


Anonymous said...

I remember Vernon as a kid around age 14ish and he was a bible toter and he knew all his memory verses and all the books of the bible by heart. I knew none and owned no bible. A good thing? :D
Someone I know from a church he had contact with in Tyler told me recently that Vernons' Mom was killed by her sister, if I have this right, that was mentally ill.

Teresa Beem said...

Oh how awful. When Vernon was in elementary school, I think he lived with his grandmother.... So I think there was problems with his mom all along.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he lived with his granny in Tyler. His mother had recently started attending an upstart SDA church just prior to her death. An elder of that church called the conference, and GC possibly Union Conf. as well to ask what to do about the funeral. All gave a benign answer and in the end her funeral was not even held in the SDA church she started attending year's after being a "jack-adventist". This all due to the fear of news attention it would bring to this new "plant" church. Keep in mind, this church is held in a garage.

Karisa Rowland said...

Please! My father was one of the ones who ushered Vernon Howell into the Branch Davidian fold! He used to play the guitar in our living room in our house in Keene with my brother Greg! My father beat the crap out of Vernon Howell when Vern said he wanted to take over the leadership of the Davidians. Understand, the cult types play king of the hill all the time and my father was not exactly the king at the time, but he was the prime minister. Vernon Howell ... I could go on all day about Vernon Howell. Understand, my parents divorced when I was 8 and I am not a Branch Davidian as Teresa well knows. I just think it is just a ... for a lack of a better term ... dubious claim to a brush with infamy.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Vernon Howell was a DJ in the San Francisco area,
and did he marry a woman there? I met a woman after he died, and she had a ton of records marked "Howell".
I also found a receipt with Vernon Howell on it. Maybe not a DJ, but a large collection of records. She said he was in jail, and could no longer keep them. Then I realized later who they might have belonged to. She seemed very sad about the
whole thing at the time.

Teresa Beem said...

Have no idea! Anyone out there know?

Anonymous said...

I had heard the same about the DJ story in California. I don't think it was the same Vernon Howell as that didn't fit into the timeline of his life. Vernon built sheds for awhile and used to come by our house to buy eggs and goat milk from us! He freaked me out with his endless prophetic talks but always was so polite and considerate! I was frying fish one summer night and he stopped over. He ate fish with us and talked for awhile. That was the last time we ever saw Vernon! I don't think he was evil. I think he was brainwashed!