Appointment with the Apocalypse

Detail of Albrecht Durer’s Four Horsemen after the Book of Revelation; woodcut 1498

Morale at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) might have been reaching an all-time low early in 1993. The previous summer, the agency had initiated and botched a case against Randy Weaver in Idaho. (Weaver later collected $3.1 million in restitution for the death of his wife and son. ) Then came widespread accusations of sexual harassment inside the agency. 60 Minutes, the most-watched news show in the country, jumped all over that one.

FBI surveillance on the mother and son killed by snipers.

The ATF brass wanted something to turn around the bad publicity, and they wanted it fast. In March, they were scheduled to appear before Congress to defend their annual budget. The solution? They began planning the biggest, most elaborate raid in ATF history. On February 28, a mile-long, 80-vehicle caravan pulled out of Ford Hood, Texas and headed 50 miles northeast for an appointment with the Apocalypse near Waco.

“Raiding is the expertise of the ATF, and statistically, it’s not as dangerous as one might think,” writes Dick J. Reavis in The Ashes of Waco. “In 36 months, the agency had called out its SRT or SWAT teams 578 times, executed 603 search warrants, mostly against dope dealers, and had seized some 1,500 weapons. It had encountered gunfire on only two of its raids, and the only fatalities (three of them) had been among the suspects.

The ATF videotaped the planning sessions, as well as the training maneuvers at Fort Hood. Many agents carried cameras along with their flash-bang grenades, nylon handcuffs and assault rifles. A video camera was mounted on one of the three helicopters that were scheduled to arrive with the raiding party.

Unfortunately, there were serious problems with the raid’s planning and execution. The search warrant contained inflammatory and prejudicial comments. Legal citations were incorrect. It contained blatantly false information about a methamphetamine lab, info which had been fabricated to obtain free military assistance. Two-thirds of the warrant involved charges of child abuse, a crime for which the ATF had no jurisdiction. Many consultants had urged the ATF to conduct the raid before sunrise, but the designated time had been moved to to 9:30 am. The plan involved multiple “dynamic entries,” which meant forced entry from numerous sides and levels simultaneously.

The planning was shoddy because the ATF needed the raid to happen fast, and expected a cakewalk. It needed to happen during good lighting conditions to optimize the video footage. The target, a religious community called Mount Carmel, had been under observation for over a month. It housed about 130 people, of which two-thirds were women and children. The occupants ranged from very elderly to babies and included two pregnant women. An undercover agent who’d penetrated the community reported endless hours of Bible study, with two communion services daily. The last thing the ATF expected was armed resistance in the face of their overwhelming firepower. Had they a better understanding of the Students  of the Seven Seals who lived at Mount Carmel, the ATF might have realized they were about to stick their nose into a hornet’s nest.

St. John.

The Search for a Living Prophet

The Romans threw John the Apostle into a pot of boiling oil as punishment for spreading Christianity; but he survived and eventually was banished to the Greek isle of Patmos, where, around 90 AD, he wrote the Book of Revelation, a violent prophecy in which the unbelievers (read: Romans) are subjected to horrible tortures while the true followers of Christ are lifted into a golden city in heaven. Think of it as the original vengeance drama. Written before much of the New Testament, Revelation was placed at the end of the Bible. Martin Luther warned that excessive study of it could lead to insanity. It ends with a plea for the Apocalypse to come quickly.

William Miller.

In 1831, William Miller launched the Second Advent Awakening, the biggest American-born religious movement in history. According to Miller’s calculations, the end of the world was due on Oct. 22, 1844. Miller attracted a huge following of doomsday advocates, the survivalists of their time. When Jesus and the Apocalypse failed to appear at the appointed hour, the devotees had to recover from what they dubbed the “great disappointment.” Miller’s followers eventually blossomed into 84 groups of churches with over ten million members worldwide, the largest of which is the Seventh Day Adventist Church, with about 750,000 members in the United States. Adventists believe the Second Coming is imminent, and that the power of prophecy will flourish in the final days. Despite this, only one person since Miller has ascended to official “living prophet” status.

Victor Houteff.

In 1935, Bulgarian immigrant Victor Houteff declared himself a living prophet and was promptly banished from the church. He assembled a large band of devotees at Mount Carmel Center in Texas. Upon his death in 1955, his widow took over and announced the Second Coming was due April 22, 1959. But when the date came and passed without an Apocalypse, 10,000 members were left in disarray. Most stopped sending in contributions, leaving self-proclaimed prophet Ben Roden and about fifty “Branch Davidians,” as they called themselves, in charge of the once prosperous Mount Carmel.

Lois Roden.

Following Roden’s death in 1978, his widow, Lois, took over the church. Lois not only proclaimed herself a prophetess, she attracted a lot of attention in Adventist circles by declaring the Holy Spirit was feminine.

Vernon Wayne Howell joined the congregation in 1981. Born in Texas to a 15-year-old single mother, Howell had been passed between family members and physically and sexually abused during childhood. Due to dyslexia, he was held back many  times in school, earning the nickname “Mr.  Retardo.” At age nine, he became a devout Seventh Day Adventist. By age 12, he’d memorized large tracts of the King James Bible.

Vernon W. Howell.

When Howell arrived at Mount Carmel, he was a stuttering, insecure boy given to fits of self-pity. More than anything, he wanted contact with a living prophet. He formed a secret sexual liason with Lois Roden, then in her late sixties. With his encyclopedic command of the Bible, Howell became an inspirational figure whose “visions” were taken seriously, despite his ninth-grade education. This angered George Roden, Lois’ son, who saw himself as the future leader of the group. George suffered from Tourette’s syndrome and frequently exploded with uncontrollable rage and inappropriate behavior. When Howell took a 14-year-old member of the congregation as his wife, Lois acted the jilted lover and confessed her secret affair during Bible study class. George expelled Howell and his teenage bride from Mount Carmel at the point of an Uzi. Most of the congregation followed Howell to East Texas, where they lived communally in wretched conditions. Thus began his conversion from inspirational figure to living prophet. In 1987, Marc Breault joined the East Texas enclave and became Howell’s right-hand man, helping recruit dozens of new members to the community.

George Roden.

After his mother died in 1986, George Roden became completely unglued. Determined to wrest back his congregation, he dug up a corpse and challenged Howell to see who could raise the dead. Instead, Howell reported the corpse abuse to the local sheriff. The sheriff wanted evidence, so Howell and several armed followers crept back to Mount Carmel under cover of night with a camera. Before they embarked on this mission, however, Howell outfitted everyone with identical camouflage fatigues and armed them with AR-15 assault rifles.

A gun battle ensued and Roden was wounded. He would have likely been killed, except the neighbors called the police, who broke up the gunfight and arrested Howell and his men for attempted murder. During the trial, Roden wrote angry letters to the judge, threatening to reign down a pox of AIDS and herpes on him. The judge sentenced him to six months in jail for contempt. The trial ended in a hung jury. Two years later, Roden was convicted of an ax murder and locked in an insane asylum.

David Koresh and family.

Meanwhile, Howell and his followers rebuilt Mount Carmel, which had fallen into disrepair. They maintained a 24-hour armed vigil against possible retribution from Roden, who’d briefly escaped from the mental institution and continued to assert his ownership over the property. By paying back taxes and occupying the site, Howell hoped to gain full legal ownership within five years. In 1990, he changed his name to David Koresh and announced the Apocalypse was commencing in five years.

His group called themselves “Students of the Seven Seals,” not “Branch Davidians,” as they would later be known by the news media. Koresh yearned for recognition as a living prophet from the Adventist Church. His group lived a happy and communal life. They were an eclectic group of races, cultures and nationalities, some with advanced degrees in theology. One was the first black graduate of Harvard Law School.

Koresh formed a rock band, and the elders viewed him as a possible MTV-style prophet who could breathe life into a dying religious movement. He drove a souped-up Camaro and enjoyed target practice with semiautomatic assault weapons. He believed guns would come  in handy during the 1995 Apocalypse. “What are you going to do when the tanks are surrounding us?” he’d ask his congregation.

Adventists believe the Bible contains clues concerning the date and nature of Judgment Day. They also have a religious obligation to take claims of prophecy seriously. By creating down-home explanations for many confusing passages in Revelation, and by memorizing all 150 Psalms and treating them as prophecy, Koresh created a fresh take on doomsday Christianity that was irresistible to some Adventists. His congregation was not a collection of brainwashed zombies, but an educated and highly spiritual community. Koresh frequently came to Bible class straight from work, his hands soiled with axle grease, the tones of his voice always conversational, never bombastic like a typical Southern Baptist.

Life at Mount Carmel was spartan, but people stayed because it was spiritually charged. One never knew what outlandish prophesy Koresh might spout next. He had a knack for constantly topping himself, like Jackie Chan dreaming up new stunts. Serious problems began, however, soon after Breault left the community and moved back to Australia, a split that coincided with Koresh’s celibacy prophecy, which he called “The New Light.”

“At the time of the end, those who have wives should live as they have none,” said Koresh, quoting the Bible to support the new policy. It was time for male members at Mount Carmel to become celibate, except for Koresh, who was obligated to sire 24 children by 1995. He already had several wives at Mount Carmel, one of whom he’d seduced when she was twelve. (Koresh later admitted it was difficult keeping former couples from getting it on once in a while, just as it was difficult keeping his harem sexually satisfied.)

It wasn’t your typical American family, but the children were Koresh’s jewels. They were reportedly extremely well-mannered, quiet, obedient and showered with love. They’d never seen a television, never eaten junk food, never been to a public school. Their welfare had been monitered by the Texas Department of Human Services. The children showed no signs of physical or emotional abuse.

The community sincerely believed Koresh’s interpretations of the Bible, and accepted him as “The Lamb,” the only person capable of opening the seven seals that would bring about the Apocalypse. His matings with teenagers was unlawful, but conducted with parental approval. It was considered a sacred honor to bear his child. “It’s not like I really want to do this,” Koresh would always explain. “The Lord is telling me I have to.”

Marc Breault.

Instead of turning his newlywed wife over to “The House of David,” Marc Breault embarked on a vendetta to expose Koresh. He hired a private investigator to document Koresh’s history of statutory rape. When he couldn’t get the press or authorities interesting in the story, he began mixing exaggerations with real facts to produce a tantalizing stew of tabloid sensationalism. Eventually, he gave the story to an Australian TV show and began working on a book deal. Meanwhile, based on his evidence, the ATF elevated Koresh to ZBO.

Zee Big One

Zee Big One (ZBO) is “a press-drawing stunt that when shown to Congress at budget time justifies more funding,” wrote investigative reporter Carol Vinzant in Spy. “The attack on the Branch Davidians complex was, in the eyes of some of the agents, the ultimate ZBO.” In the spring of 1992, a United States Parcel Service driver opened a box of grenade hulls that were being shipped to Mount Carmel and reported it to the local sheriff, who alerted the ATF. A member of Koresh’s community was developing a profitable and entirely legal business selling firearms and survivalist fashion wear at gun shows. The empty grenade hulls were sewn into ammo vests, part of the official David Koresh survival gear.

On July 30, 1992, gun dealer Henry McMahon called Koresh, saying ATF agents were at his home asking questions about him. “Tell them to come out here,” replied Koresh. “If they want to see my guns, they are more than welcome.” The agents responded by motioning silently, “no, no,” and getting McMahon to hang up.

Robert Rodriguez

In January 1993, three undercover ATF agents occupied the house across the street from Mount Carmel and began videotaping and gathering intelligence. Although it was obvious they were government agents, Koresh welcomed their arrival and spent considerable time discussing the Bible with agent Robert Rodriguez, trying to convince him the government represented a false Babylonian power. He urged Rodriguez to move into Mount Carmel so he could have a better understanding of the community. They engaged in target practice together and inspected each other’s weapons. Koresh noticed Rodriguez’s gun had a hair trigger, standard issue for a police sniper, and had been converted to full automatic fire, normally an illegal modification unless one registered the gun and paid the proper taxes. “This is a dangerous weapon,” noted Koresh.

The day before launching “Operation Trojan Horse,” the ATF reserved rooms in local hotels for over a hundred agents and personnel. They also alerted the national and local media to be ready for a big story that was about to break. A highly inflammatory article attacking Koresh as a child abuser appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald the morning of the raid. It wasn’t difficult to see a massive operation was underway, aimed at Mount Carmel.

David Jones, a local postman and Mount Carmel resident, was tipped off to the upcoming raid when a news cameraman asked for directions to “Rodenville.” While they spoke, an ATF sniper team drove past and National Guard helicopters flew overhead. Jones raced to Mount Carmel and found Koresh discussing theology with Rodriguez. He whispers in Koresh’s ear that the Feds are in route. Koresh remains calm. “We know they’re coming,” he said while shaking hands goodbye with the agent. “Do what you gotta do.”

Chuck Sarabyn.

Rodriguez called ATF Special Agent Chuck Sarabyn in a failed attempt to cancel the raid as the crucial element of surprise had been lost. Instead, however, Sarabyn panics and orders his troops to speed up, “They know we’re coming!” The Ft. Hood convoy was at Bellmead Civic Center, ten miles from Mount Carmel, with seventy-six ATF raiders loaded into two unprotected cattle trailers pulled by pickup trucks.

Despite the clear possibility of an ambush, Sarabyn felt he could not cancel a ZBO.

David Thibodeau.

There are many versions of what happened next, but the most believable accounts come from the surviving residents of Mount Carmel. Their perspective has been best documented by David Thibodeau, the drummer in Koresh’s band, in his book, A Place Called Waco. “David appeared in the cafeteria accompanied by four or five men armed with AR-15s,” writes Thibodeau. Koresh told his congregation to keep cool. “I want to talk it out with these people,” he said. “We want to work it out.”

A few minutes later the cattle cars filled with agents pulled up broadside to the front door. The first shots were probably fired by agents into the dog pen in front of the building, where an Alaskan malamute lived with her pups. All the dogs were killed. There is also evidence one panicky agent accidentally discharged two rounds into the radiator and windshield of an ATF vehicle.

Perry Jones

Koresh opened the front door. He was unarmed. “What’s going on?” he shouted. “There are women and children in here!” When he failed to hit the ground upon command, the agents opened fire, fatally wounding 64-year-old Perry Jones, who was standing next to Koresh. The door slammed shut and residents began to return fire. Under Texas law, defending oneself against excessive police force is legal.

Wayne Martin.

Within seconds, Harvard Law graduate Wayne Martin, a local attorney, called 911. “There’s 75 men around our building shooting at us at Mount Carmel,” said Martin. “Tell them there are women and children in here and to call it off!” Ten minutes passed before Lieutenant Lynch, a deputy sheriff known to Martin, picked up the line. “I have a right to defend myself!” shrieked Martin. “We want a cease fire!”

Strangely, there was no line of communication between local law enforcement and the raiding party, even though Lynch had visited the ATF command center earlier in the day. The command center was filled with phones and fax machines, all ready to blanket the news media with press releases, but had no communication with the raiding team. Apparently, none of the raiders had cell phone.

It would take two agonizing hours to arrange a cease fire, and it happened only after ATF agents ran out of bullets. During that time, six residents were killed and four were wounded, while four ATF agents were killed and sixteen wounded. Many of the wounded agents were lying helpless on the field of battle. Of all the residents, Koresh was the most seriously wounded, a bullet had blown through his side. News photos reveal ATF agents in panic and disarray, loading their wounded on the hoods of vehicles.

The ATF had arrived in overwhelming force, including air support, and assaulted a church, only to be driven back by less than a dozen armed men and at least one woman shooting back. Suddenly, instead of a ZBO, ATF had one of the biggest pubic relations disasters in American history in the making. The ATF agents were quickly replaced by the FBI, the media were drawn back a mile from the scene and all lines of communication to Mount Carmel were severed. “A crazy cult is holding their children hostage,” went the standard press release.

The most damaging “evidence” of what really happened that day is the bizarre disappearance of all videotape shot by the ATF. The explanation given was that all cameras malfunctioned simultaneously, producing no tapes whatsoever. It’s far more likely the tapes disappeared because they supported the claim of Mount Carmel residents, all of whom insisted the ATF fired first.

Even worse, no written reports were filed by any agents on the field of battle, a startling reversal of ATF policy. Later, when agents were questioned about the skirmish, interviews had to be canceled because they were producing evidence favorable to the defendants inside Mount Carmel.

Today, the ATF tells a much different story: “We were ambushed by a hail of machine gun fire the moment we got off the cattle cars.” This explanation doesn’t hold up. Photos reveal Mount Carmel heavily peppered with bullet holes, while the vehicles used as cover by the ATF bear few signs of incoming fire.

Dr. Alan Stone, a Harvard psychiatrist and law expert hired by the government to write a report on Waco, concluded: “If they were militants determined to ambush and kill as many ATF agents as possible, it seemed to me that given their firepower, the devastation could have been even worse….the agents brought to the compound in cattle cars could have been cattle going to slaughter if the Branch Davidians had taken full advantage of their tactical superiority.”

Tragically, the fact four ATF agents died while attempting the initial dynamic entry calls into suspicion any statements made by agents at the scene. Why? Because “testi-lying” (fabricating evidence against suspected criminals in order to obtain convictions) has become standard operating procedure for some agencies, and an unofficial wall of silence protects police engaged in vigilante retribution against cop-killers. Many law enforcement officers will always believe Koresh and his followers got what they deserved, and if it requires a few lies to make it stand up in court, who cares?

The Siege

The FBI brought in ten Bradley fighting vehicles, two Abrams tanks and a multitude of other armored vehicles. Shortwave radio and cell phones were electronically jammed. The only contact out was a single phone line the FBI ran from Mount Carmel to FBI negotiators off-site.

Koresh requested that Robert Rodriguez be installed as a negotiator, a logical choice since they had already developed a relationship. The request was denied. Instead, the FBI created a team of revolving negotiators, none of whom developed any sensitivity to Seventh Day Adventist doctrine. FBI negotiators dismissed all religious talk as “Bible babble,” not realizing Bible quotations were perhaps the best tool for bringing the residents out.

Early on, Koresh agreed to voluntarily surrender if a one-hour tape explaining his theology was aired on national radio. However, the night before, the residents had dug out the medicinal whiskey supply and held a party in the chapel while he lay wounded upstairs. Koresh abruptly canceled the surrender by saying God had told him to wait. “Some of us blamed the previous night’s binge, saying we’d sinned and acted wildly,” writes Thibodeau.

The FBI responded angrily and began a psychological war, playing loud music and the sounds of animals being tortured. Searchlights beamed into the building during the night. “Every time we thought we were cooperating, people were coming out, or we were doing what they asked, we’d be punished, almost right after complying,” says Clive Doyle, one of the survivors. “The electricity being cut off, the music being played, all that kind of stuff just gave us the attitude they certainly did not mean what they were promising, that we couldn’t trust them. All the things that went on for the next fifty-odd days just confirmed in our  minds they had no concern for our children at all.”

During the siege, snipers routinely mooned women with their exposed buttocks. They also gave the finger to the men inside and loudly called them “cocksuckers” and “motherfuckers,” behavior that contributed to the residents impression that they were surrounded by an immoral force sent by Babylon. Meanwhile, the tanks and armored vehicles circled Mount Carmel, crushing cars, trampling graves, destroying property and contaminating the crime scene.

During the siege, 35 residents voluntarily left Mount Carmel, mostly children and the elderly. The elderly were immediately put in chains and treated like hardened criminals, while the children were fed candy and other junk food. Most of the people remaining inside became convinced surrender was not a viable option by watching how the FBI treated those exiting Mount Carmel.

On April 15, after the residents celebrated several days of Passover, Koresh informed the FBI that God had given him permission to write down his interpretation of the Seven Seals, a major breakthrough since he had never written down any of his philosphy. He feverishly went to work on the manuscript. As soon as it was done, he planned to surrender. His aides expected the work to be completed within a week.

But the mood of the FBI had turned permanently sour. Residents were no longer able to peacefully surrender after April 15. Instead, anyone who left the compound was immediately subjected to a barrage of deadly flash-bang grenades. Apparently, the cost of keeping so much law enforcement and equipment at the site (estimated at $500 thousand per day) had reached the limit. Deep inside the bowels of the federal government, a final solution was being hatched for the Students of the Seven Seals.

The Final Solution

In January 1993, the United States and 130 other countries signed the Chemical Weapons Convention banning the use of CS gas in warfare. Use of this toxic chemical had been condemned by everyone from Amnesty Internatonal to the US Army.

On April 14, 1993, the Department of Justice secretly flew in two military officers, Brigadier General Paul J. Shoomaker and Colonel William “Jerry” Boykin, then Commander of Delta Force (B Squadron) Special Ops at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. They were flown by FBI transport to Waco to “assess the situation,” then flown to Washington to meet Attorney General Janet Reno, to discuss “contingency plans that may be used to bring the situation in Waco to an end,” according to an Army Operations Command memo obtained by WorldNetDaily in August 1999.

On Saturday, April 17, Reno suddenly agreed to the use of CS gas in ending the Waco siege. She would later offer several reasons for approving the gas attack: Intelligence had indicated Koresh was sexually abusing the children. Armed militia from around the country was converging on Mount Carmel to free the residents. The perimeter had become unstable. Finally, the agents at the scene were suffering from fatigue.

At 6 am on April 19, while it was still dark, the huge speakers began broadcasting a new message to the 83 people inside. “The siege is over. We’re going to put tear gas in the building. The tear gas is harmless, but it will make your environment uninhabitable. You are under arrest. Come out now with your hands up. There will be no shooting. This is not an assault.”

From several sides at once, M60A1 tanks modified for demolition began punching holes into the walls of Mount Carmel. According to the plan signed off on by Reno, this phase of the gas attack was supposed to continue for 48 hours if necessary. However, in the fine print of the plan, the part Reno may not have read, rapid escalation of the attack was approved if the tanks drew fire from the residents. Within a few minutes, four BV tanks began firing ferret rounds into the building. Four hundred canisters had been stockpiled for the attack. Ninety minutes later, they had practically expended the supply and put out an emergency request for more canisters.

“By noon the building is a tinderbox,” writes Thibodeau. “A thick layer of methylene chloride dust deposited by the CS gas coats the walls, floors, and ceilings, mingling with kerosene and propane vapors from our spilled lanterns and crushed heaters. To make things worse, a brisk, thirty-knot Texas wind whips through the holes ripped in the building like a potbellied stove with its damper flung open.”

Shortly after two pyrotechnic ferret round were fired into the house, one in the rear and one in the front, two fireballs raced through building. Within seconds, the entire structure was in flames. According to the survivors, the only logical exit for most people was through the cafeteria. Most of the women and children were huddled in a concrete vault nearby. The children had no gas masks, so they sought shelter under wet blankets. When people tried to exit, they were driven back into the building by sniper fire. With their escape cut off, they roasted alive.

Nine residents survived, all of whom emerged from locations visible to the telephoto lenses of the network TV cameras. The presence of those cameras may explain why they survived, unlike the unfortunate ones who attempted to exit through the rear.

Fire trucks were available to put out the blaze, but were held back and not allowed near the scene until nothing but ashes were left. Meanwhile, the tanks ran over bodies and pushed debris into the fire to make sure nothing remained standing. Texas Rangers, who were not allowed near the scene until much later in the day, believed the FBI was salting phony evidence, while destroying the crime scene to make an investigation impossible. What little evidence did remain disappeared quickly.

After the smoke and dust cleared, the ATF flag was run up the Mount Carmel flagpole, signaling victory. Only the bunker where the moms and kids roasted alive (or were poisoned by gas) was left standing. Meanwhile, the official press release went out and the official story became: “The cult set fire to the building and committed mass suicide rather than surrender.” It was spun in the media as a Jim Jones-style event.

Dr. Nizam Peerwani, medical examiner for Tarrant County, was in charge of the autopsies. Although 21 people appeared to have died from gunshot wounds, all bullet fragments were immediately confiscated by the FBI and never subjected to independent analysis. Many of the bodies were decapitated or mutilated beyond recognition. According to the official report, “There was a particular instance where all that remained was the arm and hand of a mother clasping a small child’s hand and remains of an arm. You could see how tightly the child’s hand was being squeezed by the mother.” The body of one charred six-year-old was bent backward until the head almost touched the feet, the result of CS gas suffocation. Two fetuses died instantly, expelled after their mothers’ deaths. Autopsies revealed 20 of the dead had bullet wounds, including Koresh, who was shot in the back of the head. Among the 25 children, one three-year-old had been stabbed in the heart with a knife. The major question unanswered: how many residents committed suicide to avoid being roasted alive and how many shot by snipers? Residents had been afraid to flee, as many believed the snipers wanted them all dead.

Texas Rangers tried to investigate, but were prevented from examining crucial evidence. It took four years before lies spread by the Justice Department unravelled, including the assertion no pyrotechnic rounds had been used, and no shots had been fired into the structure during the final assault, statements thoroughly debunked by the 1997 award-winning film Waco: Rules of Engagement by William Gadzecki.

The Cover-Up

The government engineered a slam-dunk cover-up almost immediately. A blatantly biased judge was selected for the criminal trial, held in San Antonio in 1993. “The government is not on trial here,” he would say repeatedly. Eleven members of the community were charged with the murder of the ATF agents, but the evidence against them was weak. The judge gave the jury 67 pages of instructions about how to render a verdict. After four days of deliberations, the jury found all eleven not guilty of murder or conspiracy to commit murder. Four were found guilty of manslaughter, with four others convicted on weapons charges. The jury felt none of the defendants deserved long prison terms, and they expected another trial to take place, one for the architects of the original assault plan.

The judge ignored the jury. He accused the defendants of firing the first shots and setting the fire and proceeded to sentence four defendants to 40 years, one to 20 years, one to 15, one to 10 and one to 5. The jury was outraged During appeals, all sentences were greatly reduced.

Thanks to the work of independent investigators, the cover-up began unraveling, as numerous assertions by ATF, FBI and Janet Reno kept turning up false. They claimed no pyrotechnic rounds were fired by the FBI during the siege or gas attack. They claimed no Delta Force assassins were on site. None of these assertions would hold up under scrutiny.

Journalists like Dick Reavis were paraded in front of Congress and lambasted for showing sympathy for Koresh and his community. The sickening bias of Congress was clear in the award-winning documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement. The most damaging evidence uncovered by the filmmakers was an infrared videotape shot from a helicopter during the CS gas attack, which revealed two snipers firing into the cafeteria.

After the initial cover-up failed to hold, Reno appointed former Senator John Danforth (R-MO) to conduct an “independent investigation,” which lasted 14 months, employed 74 people and cost $17 million. The investigation sifted through 2.3 million documents, interviewed 1,001 witnesses and examined thousands of pounds of physical evidence. Danforth state emphatically that the “government did not start or spread the fire….did not direct gunfire at the Davidians, and did not unlawfully employ the Armed Forces of the United States.” The report was a morass of obfuscation, utilizing Orwellian doublespeak at every turn.

In the preface, Danforth stated that he investigated whether the government engaged in “bad acts, not bad judgment.” He noted that 61% of the country, according to a Time magazine poll, believed the government had started the fire, a matter of grave concern. Instead of seeking the truth, he set out to calm the citizenry. “When 61% of the people believe that the government fails to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also intentionally murders people by fire, the existence of public consent, the very basis of government, is imperiled.”

Only one man was criminally charged by Danforth: William Johnston, a former assistant US attorney in Waco who helped draw up the original warrant and was one of the lead prosecutors in the San Antonio trial. He was indicted on five felony counts and threatened with 21 months in jail.

Apparently, Johnston’s real “crime” had been to allow filmmakers into an evidence locker, where they discovered pyrotechnic rounds mislabeled as “silencers.” Later, he came forward and admitted he’d lied by saying no pyrotechnic rounds had been fired into Mount Carmel. Johnston quietly worked out a plea-bargain agreement that resulted in no jail time.

The ATF fired Charles Sarabyn and Phillip Chojnacki, two of the raid’s commanders. But when the agents threatened to sue, they were reinstated with back pay. ATF director Stephen Higgins was eventually forced to resign, and Deputy Director Daniel Hartnett and two other ranking ATF officials were temporarily suspended. However, one of them, ATF intelligence chief David Troy, was later promoted.

The internet was flooded by contradictory statement about the massacre, and the survivors have split into camps. The cover-up continues, and some websites are undoubtedly counterintelligence operations designed to confuse and divide, like chaff and flares dropped from a jet with a heat-seeking missile on its tail.

The most frightening development, the militarization of the police, has grown exponentially, as have the ranks of the government assassins.

The Second Anniversary

In 1995, a highly decorated veteran of the Gulf War named Timothy McVeigh (who was videotaped two years earlier as a spectator at Waco) became the designated fall-guy for the bombing of a nine-story federal building in Oklahoma City, a bombing staged on the two-year anniversary of the Waco tragedy.

One third of the Alfred E. Murrah building was destroyed and 168 were killed, including 19 children and two pregnant women. Most victims were crushed by falling debris. Thus the legacy of Ruby Ridge and Waco was captured through the greatest act of domestic terrorism on American soil, an event that shocked America and took most of the wind out of the sails of a growing militia movement. In other words, this event had the opposite effect of the FBI’s burning of Mount Carmel.

Andreas Strassmir.

McVeigh had been living at Elohim City, a right-wing religious compound and militia training camp where he’d met Andreas Strassmir, head of security. Strassmir’s grandfather had been one of the founders of the Nazi Party while his father had been chief-of-staff to German chancellor Helmet Kohl. He allegedly left the German army after four years in order to move to the USA to work for the DEA using his father’s CIA connections, but ended up at a remote white separatist cult in Oklahoma, where he became known for agitating for “blowing up a federal building,” according to ATF confidential informant Carol Howe, who had penetrated the cult. Although the plot involved a number of people, most of them disappeared from the official narrative, with the exception of McVeigh and his closest associates.

Strassmir, meanwhile, immediately fled back to safety in Germany after the bombing and remained hidden from public view while McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001. McVeigh could have been a spook working some deep-cover assignment involving hypnosis as well as wearing a biometric chip who got played like Oswald. He was so cool at his execution, I had to wonder if he was convinced the execution was going to be faked and he should act dead for the press until they were ready to relocate him into witness protection.

It’s somewhat suspicious McVeigh had zero statements to make before the execution, and left only a poem as his final statement. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

That’s about as nebulous as one can get.

Rollie Rohm and Tom Crosslan.

On September 3, 2001, two cannabis activists would be assassinated by government snipers in Michigan. They planned a Waco-like siege so they could spread the real story of hemp legalization while exposing the brutal oppression they had been subjected to just for being activists for legalization. Their young son had already been taken away by the state, and the state was coming next for all their property and assets. Cornered in this way, they took up arms to make a last stand, but were killed quick before they knew what hit them, and long before any media could catch on to the real crime. Just as many bodies at Waco were mutilated, so was the body of Rollie Rohm, castrated while still alive, his assassins standing over him gloating while he bled out. It’s just something assassins like to do once in a while.

A few days later some planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York City and all mention of the two killings at Rainbow Farm disappeared like a snow devil in a winter storm, their misguided but brave attempt to recapture the legacy of Waco a failure.


Psycho Cop

Highway B.

On September 16, 1986, a self-employed building contractor traveling east on Highway B, a two-lane road linking Plain and Sauk City, Wisconsin, accelerated to pass a pickup truck. Normally, he would not have paid attention to a pile of plants in the bed of a truck, but this was two days after President Reagan’s nationally televised address launching a new war on drugs, and the plants looked like marijuana. Even more suspicious, the truck had out-of-state plates. So the civic-minded contractor decided not to pass the truck, but followed it five miles into Sauk City, intending to follow the vehicle home and report the address to the police.

Entrance to Derleth Park, where 34 marijuana plants were found.

Halfway through town, however, the driver of the pickup realized he was being followed and turned onto a dead-end street leading into August Derleth Park, driving to an isolated parking lot near the banks of the Wisconsin River.

Rather than follow the pickup into the park, the contractor spun his car around and drove two blocks to the Sauk City Police Department. He raced downstairs and confronted Betty Neumeyer, the dispatcher.

“I just followed a truck carrying marijuana into town!” he said excitedly. “He drove into Derleth Park. It’s a white Ford pickup with Texas plates. The driver is wearing a cowboy hat.”

Neumeyer picked up her microphone and called Officer 63, the only policeman on duty. She tried three times to reach him, but received no reply. Conservation Warden John Buss happened to be standing at the xerox machine, overheard the conversation, and realized Neumeyer was having trouble locating a squad car.

“Betty,” said Buss. “I don’t have a firearm and I don’t have my credentials, but I can drive down to the park and maintain radio contact. I won’t stop the guy, but I’ll watch him for you.”

“I’d appreciate that,” said Neumeyer.

Buss ran upstairs, hopped into his truck and drove toward the park entrance. As he turned the corner, Buss spotted a white Ford pickup with Texas plates traveling toward him in the opposite direction. The pickup swerved around Buss and made a left turn on Water Street. The driver looked to be in his late forties, a typical good ole boy in a cowboy hat.

Buss radioed Neumeyer. “I’m following a vehicle matching the description,” he said. “The tailgate is down and there appears to be a green leafy substance in the back….suspect is turning right on Washington Street….”

A few minutes later, Officer John Mueller, age 40, returned to this squad car and was notified a white Ford pickup believed to be containing controlled substances was parked in a driveway at the corner of Oak and Ash streets.

Mueller started his engine and headed across town. His day usually consisted of issuing warnings for minor violations or refereeing family squabbles. Drugs were a more dangerous matter. He popped another piece of gum into his mouth and chewed furiously.

Mueller was considered a model officer, professional, polite, well-groomed, affectionately dubbed “John Boy” by local tavern owner Jeff Lawson on account of his youthful appearance. But on September 16th, Mueller was uncharacteristically haggard,  his normally greased and combed hair unkept. His uniform, normally starched and spotless, was dirty and wrinkled. Mueller was planning on getting married in a few months and the sudden change might be explained by the proximity of the event, at least that’s what some people thought.

The truth, however, was more bizarre. Mueller thought he was engaged in a top-secret mission for the Federal Government, a mission so sensitive not even the Federal Government knew of its existence because Mueller’s directives came direct from the White House.

He was admittedly a bit foggy on the exact nature of the current assignment as messages were delivered in code, sometimes in newspaper headlines, sometimes during incidental meetings on the street with strangers. The messages were often difficult to decipher and their intensity had been mounting since Sunday night…the night Mueller watched President Reagan’s speech…the night Mueller stopped taking his Thorazine because the commander-in-chief told him drugs were evil.

Hopefully, it would not be long before Mueller learned more details concerning his current mission. Meanwhile, his snub-nosed .357-caliber Magnum revolver was loaded and close by his side.

After following the pickup to the driveway, Warden Buss, age 26, executed a U-turn and parked nearby. The individual with the cowboy hat knew he was being watched because rather than get out of the truck, he stayed scrunched down in the front seat, occasionally peering over his shoulder at Buss.

Wisconsin River.

Buss was a relative newcomer in town. In 1982, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in biology and environmental law enforcement, he’d become a State Conservation Warden assigned to the Sauk City area in October 1985. Buss was a devoted outdoorsman with a wife, kids, and a pair of pedigree hunting dogs. His number one concern at the moment was the apprehension of midnight dumpers who were polluting the nearby lakes and rivers. He’d never been involved in a drug bust before.

In a statement given at the Sauk City Police Department that day, Buss described the arrival of Officer Mueller at the scene:

When John arrived, I advised him to look over his right shoulder at the pickup truck. I advised him I was unarmed, did not have my credentials, but I’d stay and backup. John turned on his squad lights and parked behind the pickup. I got out, walked over to him, and explained the whole scenario. John got out and approached the truck. I stood to the left behind him. John opened the door and asked for identification.

“What for?” said the individual.

“Get out of the truck,” said John.

The individual swung his body around placing his feet on the running board and said, “This is as far as I go.”

John grabbed his arm and started wrestling him out of the truck. I came over and grabbed the guy’s left arm.

John slammed the guy to the cement, and I was pulled down with him, like hanging onto a rope.

I mean, BOOM!, we went down. There was really no need for that because the guy wasn’t really resisting to the point of fighting. John pulled out his handcuffs and put them on one wrist. I put them on the other.

“Relax,” I told the guy, “I’m a State Conservation Warden.”

I searched him for weapons, pulled out a pocket knife and wallet, and tossed them back at John. John was saying a bunch of stuff. I don’t remember what, but it was like he was talking to someone else. Then John walked back to his car. The guy started to roll over on one side. “Just lay there and hang tight,” I told him.

I walked behind the truck and found some green leafy substance in the back. I was looking at some seeds when John came up.

“John,” I said, “do you have any evidence bags to put this in?”

“Don’t worry about it,” said John. “This is resisting a Federal Agent.”

He was talking slowly, chewing his gum overly hard, and staring at the truck as if he could eat a hole right through to the pavement. It went through my mind that maybe John was working with the Feds somehow. I just kept picking up leaves and seeds. John walked over to where the individual was lying on his belly in handcuffs.

I heard a shot, looked up and saw John shoot the guy in the back of the head a second time. I saw orangish muzzle flash coming from his gun. John was standing upright, holding his gun with both hands.

John turned around, looked at me with real starry eyes, and started marching toward me, as if he was in front of a drill instructor. He was holding the gun at a 45-degree angle. He stopped about three feet away, with the gun pointed at my belt.

“John,” I said, “You’re not going to shoot me, are ya?”

I was going to take off running because the guy was lying down on his stomach and John shot the fucker…I’m sorry…the individual….in the back of the head. But there was no place to run.

John was looking right through me. “Don’t…worry,” he said. “This….is…resisting….a….Federal….Agent….”

I figured I was going to get it. I mean, I was scared. I wanted to disappear, just disappear. John holstered his gun, walked back to his squad car, and got inside. I looked at the guy on the ground and saw a lot of blood. The body was quivering. I knew he was dead or mortally wounded.

I don’t know if I ran, walked, flew, or what, but I went back to my truck, got in and backed down the road. When I felt I was far enough away, I stopped and opened the door. This might sound crazy, but I had a shotgun loaded with buckshot in the truck and I thought, if John comes down I road I’m going to have to kill him.

I tried to call in, but John got on the radio before me, so Betty told me to stand by. Basically, John said he had a 10-42, which means end of duty, although we sometimes use it to mean a traffic fatality, instead of saying over the radio that someone is dead. He requested an ambulance.

Finally, I got on the radio and said, “We got a 10-33, we need officers. Get one and two down here,” meaning the sheriff and chief deputy. At the same time I made a few notes.

John got out of his car, walked up to the body, and took off the handcuffs. I think he felt I’d left. He was looking around, but he never made eye contact with me. Then he marched into the middle of the road. People were coming out of their houses, gathering around.

John stopped in the middle of the street and started directing traffic like a Milwaukee police officer, real rigid.

But there wasn’t any traffic.

The deceased in his driveway.

The twin cities of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac are nestled around the bend of the Wisconsin River about 150 miles northwest of Chicago. The towns have a combined population of 54,000, and share a school district, sewer system, weekly newspaper, and police force. Despite their closeness, they maintain separate identities: Sauk City was settled primarily by Germans, while Prairie du Sac was settled by English. The nearest major city, Madison, is 25 miles to the southeast.

Battle of Bad Axe.

Sauk City has a rich past. On July 21, 1832, Black Hawk and 50 braves fought a holding action against 1,000 government troops in a forest south of town. The lopsided battle succeeded in giving the Sauk women and children time to cross the Wisconsin River to safety. Unfortunately, the tribe was massacred 12 days later at the Battle of Bad Axe.

After the natives were disposed of, the white settlers moved in, led by Count Augustin Hrzstzy, who founded a vineyard nearby. His vines continue to produce today even though the Count left abruptly, moving to Napa Valley, where he founded the California wine industry.

“Many Germans who came here were members of the Frei Gemeinde,” says Tracy Madison, editor of the weekly Sauk Prairie Star. “They were local intellectuals, very cultured and well-read.”

A larger, less progressive contingent of German settlers moved into the state and formed the Wisconsin Synod, an ultra conservative wing of the Lutheran Church. It was in this tradition John Mueller was raised, the second of seven children.

John Mueller at the trial.

Mueller was born in Jefferson, a town similar to Sauk City but located halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. His father changed careers several times, working as a security guard, mortician, postal clerk, and finally food store manager. In 1964, Mueller graduated in the middle of his class at Lakeside Lutheran High School, where he was a member of the school band. On the surface, Mueller seemed a typical teenager. He worked a paper route, collected stamps and restored old cars. There was, however, something odd about the boy. “John was a good kid, but always just a little bit different,” says Harry Minshall, owner of the funeral home where Mueller’s father had been employed.

Upon graduation, Mueller enlisted in the air force. He was granted high-security clearance, became a communications officer, and was posted in both Japan and Thailand. Mueller refuses to discuss his work for the air force, except to say that he was a radio technician involved in top-secret matters. Immediately after leaving the service, he was hired by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Created by President Harry Truman in 1951, the NSA was the most powerful intelligence agency, larger than the CIA,  but its very existence was considered classified and not revealed until 1975 in a Congressional investigation.

Most of the public never learned about the agency until 1983, when James Bamford published The Puzzle Palace, which is likely the official cover story parading as an expose.


Located inside Fort Meade, halfway between Washington and Baltimore, the NSA HQ is the Taj Mahal of eavesdropping “almost the size of the CIA’s Langley with the United States Capitol sitting on top. In 1978, the agency controlled 68,203 people, more than all the employees of the other intelligence community put together….no law had ever been enacted prohibiting the NSA from engaging in any activity,” according to Bamford.

The NSA was a secret agency with a license to wiretap anyone. Long before computers and smart phones, the agency’s capacity for electronic surveillance on virtually anyone was staggering.

The agency always had a special interest in the civil rights and anti-war movements, which overlapped considerably. In 1971, President Richard Nixon sought NSA assistance to dismantle the counterculture through a nationwide data base for drug users. Many years later, the NSA claimed to have shut down that project after only two years.

In 1969, at the close of his second tour of duty, Mueller called his parents and informed them he was going to England for a three-year tour. They assumed he was still in the service, but he wasn’t. Mueller’s work in England was sensitive and he couldn’t tell his parents the truth. He relocated to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 80 miles west of London, and purchased a red MGB sports car.

Like many servicemen during the waning years of the Vietnam War, Mueller had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Within a matter of months, he was displaying signs of a mental breakdown that seems to have been precipitated by an unhappy love affair.

A nurse who interviewed him later wrote: “John talked about the girl with whom he was serious. He appeared to have many feelings, some of resentment, but could not express them. It was shortly after John wrote her a letter and got no reply that he smashed up his car while drinking.”

After wrecking the car, Mueller returned to his apartment, went into a frenzy, and smashed everything in sight. He was hospitalized and lost his job. Three weeks later he was discharged with a prescription for Stelazine, an antipsychotic.

In September 1970, Mueller boarded a plane and returned to his parents’ house in Jefferson, where his mental health continued to deteriorate. Despite his problems, Mueller made a sudden, unexpected move one week after coming home: He married a woman five years his junior. At the time, the family knew something was wrong, but kept silent.

Mueller found a job working for the Jefferson Well Drilling Company and seemed determined to lead a normal, domestic life. The plan failed.

On the night of June 30th, after much encouragement from his family and his wife, Mueller admitted himself into the Madison Veteran’s Administration Hospital. According to a psychiatrist’s report: “Several family sessions were held and it came out John thought he had murdered a prostitute while in England. The accuracy of this statement was not confirmed, but John continued to believe he had committed such an act. He told his minister that he knew he would never be forgiven for anything he had done, and would never accept the minister’s reassurances that he would be forgiven.” The diagnosis? Acute paranoid schizophrenia.

On August 5th, Mueller was discharged on a daily dose of 800mg. of thioridazine (the maximum allowable dosage), combined with 200mg. of Thorazine. (In other words, enough tranquilizer to turn the average human into a lead-footed zombie.)

Six months later, Mueller was hired as a law enforcement officer, working for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The following year, his wife gave birth to a boy. Mueller was not present for the birth, however, having been recently admitted to the veteran’s hospital, where he remained for four months. Hospital records made pubic during the trial contained the following summary:

“After exhibiting several days of agitated schizophrenic behavior, including gouging his eyes superficially with a pencil, (Mueller) tended to gradually improve his behavior….Although we had some hesitation about his return to police work, and are hopeful that he will begin to consider other less threatening work options, we discharged him to outpatient treatment, to be followed weekly by psychology and social work service. He was to continue his medications, Thorazine 50mg. four times daily.”

The Sheriff of Jefferson County wanted to keep Mueller on the force on a part-time basis working jail duty. However, Mueller grew dissatisfied with this arrangement and quit.

Hopes that Mueller might regain his mental health received a severe setback in 1974, when he discovered his three-year-old son Danny was suffering from reticuloendotheliosis, a rare blood disease. Mueller had difficulty accepting his son’s illness, eventually concluding it was God’s punishment for his own sins. In March, Mueller suffered another breakdown and was taken to the hospital, where he exhibited inappropriate behavior (smiling while discussing his son’s illness and boasting of earning $100,000 a year as a salesman).

Strange enough, after being discharged, Mueller was hired as police chief of Mazonanie, a small town south of Sauk City with a reputation as the local “Dodge City.” He held that position for four years and remained emotionally stable, despite his son’s death in 1975.

In 1978, a daughter Paula was born. Mueller and his wife met with their pediatrician, Dr. Dvorak, and discussed Danny’s death in detail for the first time. Although Dvorak wasn’t sure of the cause of death, he admitted that valban, cortisone and cobalt treatments may have been a contributing factor.

According to Mueller’s wife, the statement had a lasting effect on Mueller, leading him to believe his son had been killed by drug treatments.

Later that year, after a dispute with the town board (a board Mueller would later accuse of being involved with drugs), he was fired. Mueller went to a junior college for a period and attended a training session in Texas in hopes of buying into a job-motivational teaching franchise.

The night he returned, his wife jokingly spoke of getting a divorce. Mueller was unable to sleep and had a number of crying spells. His wife called the hospital and Mueller’s doctor recommended an additional 25mg. of chlorpromazine, which allowed Mueller to sleep.

The following night, however, Mueller was unable to sleep even with the additional medication. Several times during the night, he hallucinated blood on his wife’s arm and leg, and was unable to stop thinking about his son’s death. On July 9th, he was driven to the hospital and remained under observation for six days.

“We felt John’s calm appearance and behavior represented his attempt to control with rigidity his fragmented thinking,” wrote the attending doctor. “With his observing ego, he was probably acutely aware of this fragmentation and wanted to appear normal. As he had been maintained on chlorpromazine as an outpatient, we attempted to control him by increasing doses. However, on the second hospital day he acutely decompensated, because acutely agitated, disorganized, and paranoid, with blocking and required tranquilization with I.M. and seclusion.”

After his release, Mueller went through a succession of menial, dead-end jobs. His wife insisted they separate and remained apart until their divorce became final in 1983. At the divorce proceeding, Mueller’s wife suggested a program of “mental health consultation” be established, a suggestion that went ignored.

Mueller’s violent tendencies surfaced several times during his visits to the hospital. On January 1, 1982, he escaped while undergoing treatment and wound up in a “scuffle” with a stranger in a city building. The stranger later dropped the charges after discovering Mueller was a mental patient. The next morning, Mueller refused medication and attempted to leave the ward without permission. He was stopped by a nurse smoking a cigarette.

“What’s that smell?” he said. “That’s cyanide. Put it out.”

Mueller grabbed the cigarette and tried to put it out on the nurse’s arm. After “Code Orange” was called, he was removed to the quiet room.

“It is God’s will that I go in there?” he asked repeatedly. “I want to see God’s will. I’ll go into the quiet room, but its against my will.”

Mueller continued to refuse medication, stalked around the room, and constantly looked over his shoulder as if someone was sneaking up on him.

The next day, Dr. John H. Greist, the psychiatrist who wrote the most probing and detailed analysis of Mueller, visited the quiet room. According to his notes that became available during the trial, Greist:

“Entered seclusion room at 11:41 am with Mrs. Keepman while Mr. Mueller was asleep. He appeared to be asleep. When awakened, he attempted to sit up, then lay down again. I asked to feel his pulse and he quickly rose and moved back against the window, pointed at me and said something about ‘Satan.’ He appeared frightened, was staggering, and moved toward the door, grasping, but not hurting, Mrs. Keepman. We gradually moved him to return to his mattress after considerable persuasion.”

Downtown Sauk City.

In the spring of 1983, Mueller’s brother, Wayne, was working for a car dealership in Sauk City, and noticed an announcement in the Sauk City Star for a police officer. He sent the paper to his brother and suggested he apply for the job. Mueller passed the oral exam with flying colors and was sent to the Madison Area Technical College Police Academy, where he also excelled. He was chosen to give the class valedictory speech, which was later described as being “carefree.”

Thanksgiving was frequently an upsetting holiday for Mueller, and shortly after assuming his duties with the Sauk City police force (the weekend before Thanksgiving), Wayne noticed his brother was having problems sleeping again. A restraining order had just been placed on Mueller limiting visits with his daughter.

“John talked slow, in left field, cooked supper, which was cold, was drinking more beer than usual, and wanted me to leave the apartment to see a friend even though my family was there,” recalls Wayne. Later that night Mueller’s landlord informed Wayne that his brother had been up the past two nights pacing the floor. Wayne visited his brother, who claimed to be upset about over his recent divorce. John also objected to his daughter being allowed to listen to rock music, which he described as being “really evil.”

Wayne went home, but had to return after a late-night phone call. This sequence was repeated a second time, and Wayne drove his brother to the hospital. He returned home at 5:30 am, and received yet another phone call. “I should watch out if I were you,” said John, “because they are out to get me.” Wayne asked who “they” were, but received no reply.

Later that week, when Wayne visited his brother in the hospital, John informed him that he needed “to go to Washington, DC, to meet with the generals in the Pentagon to solve the world’s problems.” Wayne told a psychologist his brother went into a trancelike state, babbling words that were recognizable but didn’t fit together to make sense, and then said, ‘the Holy Ghost has just spoken, believe it.'”

Eagle Inn.

Although Mueller managed to hide his mental illness from most people, he had a harder time fooling women than men. At his favorite hangout, the Eagle Inn, where he ate most of his meals, the younger waitresses were certainly wary of him. Mueller asked a few for their phone numbers, but they refused. Mueller followed one of them home in his squad car, and she got so flustered that she fell and twisted her ankle.

However, there was one woman who was not afraid of Mueller: Patsy Murphy. An attractive divorcee with two children age 8 and 11, Murphy had already been through one bad marriage plagued by alcohol and violence. As far as she was concerned, Mueller was a dream date who showered her with attention, sent her romantic letters, and behaved with impeccable manners. Even more important, he was a quiet man willing to listen thoughtfully to her many problems.

In August 1986, Mueller and Murphy visited the Wisconsin Dells. Within a month, they were engaged to be married. Mueller found a house in Prairie du Sac he wanted to buy. He needed money and became interested in starting a photography business as a side hustle.

On September 10th Mueller visited a local attorney to seek advice on filing a suit against a woman who had accused him of molesting girls while on duty. The following day, he called his brother Lynn and asked him to come over and look at a house he wanted to buy. Lynn felt his brother was having trouble focussing his thoughts and asked what was wrong. Mueller replied: “There’s lots of pressure, a lot going on.”

On September 14th Mueller got off work at 7 pm, and drove straight to Murphy’s house. For several days he’d been looking forward to seeing the President’s speech concerning the war on drugs. Still dressed in his uniform, Mueller sat rigidly in front of the television, staring intently at the screen, saying nothing until the speech was over. After dinner, he drove home and threw all the alcohol in his apartment away. The President had told him drinking was evil, and Mueller always obeyed his President. He also decided not to take his medication. Without a tranquilizer, however, Mueller was unable to sleep. He spent the night pacing the floor, listening to a cassette tape titled “How to Relax” by Norman Vincent Peale.

The following day, Mueller and his fiancee had a meeting with Mueller’s pastor concerning their upcoming wedding. Murphy, a Catholic, was planning to convert to the Lutheran faith. Mueller arrived at Murphy’s house looking unkempt and frazzled. He explained his unusual appearance by saying he’d “been up all night with diarrhea.” Murphy offered him some coffee, but he requested water. “Well, you know where the water is,” said Murphy. Mueller then changed his mind and asked for coffee.

While driving to the church, Murphy admitted she was nervous. Mueller uncharacteristically walked ahead of her into the church.

During the meeting, Mueller seemed preoccupied with minor matters, while Murphy tried to plan the details of the ceremony. The pastor asked if Murphy was aware of Mueller’s background. Murphy confessed she knew very little about her prospective husband. At this point, Mueller became agitated and asked to leave the room. While he was gone, the pastor told Murphy about Mueller’s mental problems. Mueller abruptly entered the room and stated it was time to leave.

The couple drove to Mueller’s apartment, which was, atypically, in a state of disarray. A bottle of pills from the Veterans Administration Hospital was on the table. “What are these for?” asked Murphy, picking up the bottle.

“You know, for a chemical imbalance caused by my drinking problem,” said Mueller evasively, while leading her into the living room.

“What do you want to tell me?” asked Mueller.

“I don’t think much of your pastor,” said Murphy.

Mueller began to cry. “If he’s going to get personal, I don’t ever want to go back to that church.”

Later that night, Mueller arrived at the Eagle Inn for dinner and discovered the booths were full. He took a seat at the counter and ordered the daily special. Les Tesch, the owner of a local gardening store, sat behind him.

“I always had a lot of respect for John,” says Tesch. “I felt he was the most sensible, down-to-earth officer on the force. We got into a discussion while he was waiting for his food. I told him I was 100% behind Reagan. I don’t think we have room in our society for people who take drugs. I told him they should get capital punishment. They should be blown away. John didn’t say anything. He just nodded his head.”

That night Mueller was unable to sleep and paced the floor continuously. At 8:30 am he arrived at Murphy’s house for breakfast looking wild and glassy-eyed. His hair was uncombed, he couldn’t sit still, and he swore repeatedly. “He’s been caught with his pants down in the squad car,” he said of one of his fellow officers. Mueller’s hands were shaking. He ate a slice of toast with peanut butter, got up to leave, kissed Murphy, and left a smear of peanut butter on her face.

Later that night, he called Murphy at work and spoke in a slow, robotic voice. “Is this Patricia or Peaches,” he asked. “What are you doing? Don’t ask me any questions. I’ll do the asking. You tell me the whole story. Tell me what you did. I know it’s been bothering you for a long time.”

“What’s the matter? asked Murphy. “Give me a hint.”

“You know,” replied Mueller.

“Stop it,” said Murphy breaking into tears. “You’re scaring me.”

“Keep it warm, keep it real warm just for me,” said Mueller. “I’m hanging up now. I’ll be here until two. You can tell me the whole story. Bye-bye.”

Murphy knew something was seriously wrong and called Mueller’s pastor. The pastor called Mueller, but Mueller refused to discuss anything, saying he had to leave for work. Murphy then called Neumeyer at the police station and asked to speak with Chief Rentmeester.

“John sounds really strange,” said Murphy. “I’m afraid something is wrong.”

Neumeyer relayed the message to Rentmeester, who responded by saying Mueller had been quietly lately, but that he was always quiet.

A few hours later, Mueller unholstered his .357 and pumped two rounds into the back of John Graham’s head. Fired at point-blank range, one of the bullets entered on the left side of Graham’s neck, creating fractures in and around the second and third cervical vertebrae and damaging the spinal chord before exiting on the right side of the neck. The second entered behind the left eyebrow, caused extensive brain damage, and exited through the right ear. Either shot would have been sufficient to kill.

Det. Sgt. Manny Bolz was the first member of the Sauk Country Sheriff’s Department to arrive at the scene of the shooting. After hearing details of the murder, he arrested Mueller and delivered him to the county jail. Bolz searched the August Derleth parking lot and found 34 marijuana plants in the bushes. He also searched Graham’s toolbox in the truck and found a baggie containing a groomed marijuana bud. Bolz’s case was not against Graham, however, who was dead, but against Mueller, and a search of his home was even more revealing.

The small, second story apartment was filled with religious books and Republican Party propaganda. There were framed photos of Bush and Reagan, a flag folded military style on a chair, a notebook filled with letters addressed to Reagan, and several self-improvement books, including How to Sell Yourself, Write Better, Speak Better, The Miracle of Speech Power, and Professionals at Their Best.

While Mueller’s strange life gradually unfolded during his trial, the unfortunate victim remained something of a mystery. “I didn’t even know John Graham existed,” Chief Rentmeester told James Romenesko of Milwaukee magazine. “Nobody in our department ever had contact with the man, even as much as giving him a warning ticket.”

Unfortunately, Crystal Graham couldn’t provide much insight into why her husband might have been driving a load of marijuana, and continued to insist he did not smoke nor cultivate cannabis. Mrs. Graham portrayed her husband as a genial, laid-back country boy whose only interests were hunting, fishing, and listening to the Statler Brothers. This does not seem strange, however, if one considers Mrs. Graham is a former undercover narcotics officer herself.

“(My husband) would talk to most anyone,” she said. “He couldn’t sit still. Four walls would get to him. He was a collector of anything and everything, and especially if it had something to do with hunting. He loved knives and guns.”

Townhome where the Grahams resided.

Born in Winter Garden, Florida, Graham was the son of migrant workers, and spent most of his youth traveling the country working on farms. He joined the air force and was stationed in San Antonio, where he married Crystal Olson. That same year he obtained a job with the phone company in Orlando, Florida. Crystal, meanwhile, joined the Orlando Police Department.

In 1971, she was given the plum assignment of infiltrating the office of a local chiropractor who was suspected of providing cannabis medication for an extra fee to clients. Crystal enjoyed this sort of clandestine work, She got into the office by answering a help-wanted ad placed by the chiropractor and got the job. For several weeks, she witnessed drug transactions and later became the state’s chief witness at the suspect’s trial.

As a result of her undercover work, Mrs. Graham became the first female officer to win the National Police Officer of the Year award, which is why she bristles at any suggestion her husband was a stoner, despite evidence to the contrary. According to her somewhat farfetched scenario, her unemployed husband was coming home with the marijuana just to show her so he could say something like: “Honey, you ain’t gonna believe this, but this stuff is growing wild. Now just look. I can go down there and cut it, and here it is,” she said.

Four days after the shooting, at the suggestion of his attorneys, Mueller was interviewed by Dr. Greist, who attempted to find out if Mueller was disassociating during the shooting. He asked Mueller to describe what happened on September 16, 1986, beginning at any previous point in time that made sense to him.

Mueller spoke at the incredibly slow rate of ten words per minute.

“I was laid off and initiated looking for work in various aspects of the employment market, and during the months of employment search learned of the Sauk-Prairie Police Department opening.

On April 11, 1984, Deputy Ward, Officer and Mrs. Chileen and I attended a meeting in Milwaukee. Vice President Bush presented an address at this meeting. Christmas, 1984, is a memorable event. The White House received Christmas cards from me. The President and Mrs. Reagan sent me a Christmas card. The Christmas card arrived on or about January 12, 1985. The return address on the Christmas card was the White House. The President and Mrs. Reagan’s congratulations for my support are contained in the Christmas card. Continuing correspondence made many changes.

In September of 1985, I traveled to Washington, DC, for the purpose of sightseeing. The Capitol tour is a highlight of my trip. When I returned to work, I was blessed with much work. Since then, my interest continues with the programs of the President.

My familiarity with all programs is limited. However, I listen intently to the words of the President.

On Tuesday, September 16, Lieutenant Harmon reported to my residence at his convenience. At approximately 1410, Lieutenant Harmon and I proceeded to Lieutenant Harmon’s residence. En route to the lieutenant’s residence, Lieutenant Harmon stated a phrase that was not familiar to me. However, I interpreted the phrase in connection with government action. The phrase was: the wild geese are flying. The meaning has been defined to me as specific commando action.

I never heard that phrase prior to Tuesday, September 16.

Continuing our travels to Lieutenant Harmon’s residence, we met no opposition, that is, we did not receive any calls. When I changed shift, I then proceeded on patrol and was requested to ask the police chief to call the police department. I delivered the message to the police chief and then was requested to assist another officer. Conservation Warden John Buss requested assistance with a vehicle containing controlled substances.

My thoughts were to administer action to prevent illicit controlled substances. At the time, I believed to be serving in my official capacity as a government servant. I believed that a continuing obligation existed and continue to believe this obligation exists. The obligation I believe exists with the specific nature of my duties with the National Security Agency. In 1969 and 1970, I believe a formal obligation existed. Since 1970, I believe the informal obligation still exists.

The shooting cannot be considered a part of my informal obligation. The actions taken at the scene of the controlled substances on Tuesday, September 16, are not a part of the written obligation that exist. The reasoning I use with that is at the present time our nation is plagued with illicit drugs. Everyone is concerned about this devastating enemy is doing what they can do in their own way to eliminate the existence of illicit controlled substances. I believed and still believe that in defense of our country, state and cities, an action that is threatening to harm the people our a nation, a strengthening move must be taken.”

Three days before Oliver North claimed innocence in the Iran-Contra-Cocaine affair on account of righteousness, John Mueller appeared in Circuit Court in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The proceedings did not take long. The prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, and four psychiatrists all agreed Mueller was suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia. Judge James Evenson ordered Mueller taken to the Mendota Mental Health Center in Madison. During the sentencing, Mueller looked passively around the room, an eerie smile fixed on his face. He continued to maintain his innocence, and was quite upset to learn he’d been fired from the Sauk City police force.

For many decades, Mueller’s grasp on reality had been tenuous and he reached for the firmest anchors he could find: God and country. But both let him down.

In a world where most people support the delusion an old man is watching everything they do, how can anyone maintain a sense of reality? It’s a paranoid’s fantasy, yet billions subscribe to it largely because influencers in the media, schools and government support the delusion.

Crystal Graham’s attorneys eventually presented a $2,880,000 lawsuit against the Village of Sauk City.

Mueller was one of the few associated with the case who was eager to talk to me.

“I would like to allow you to make some interviews,” he said over the phone, sounding confident, clear-headed, and effusively polite and gracious. “The condition would be some monetary amount,” he continued. “The amount would be $10,000. Until you meet this condition, I would ask you not to speak to my fiancee or my family.”

“Blessed are those persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Oliver North, Feb.26, 1987

I asked Mueller if he’d been following the scandal unfolding in Washington, the one that blamed the surge of cocaine into North America on a CIA-created army in Central America using Colombian cocaine to fund a war on Communism.

“Oliver North was a man who ordered generals around,” replied Mueller. “it’s strange that my life would be connected with his.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to either of us, Big Pharma was already preparing plans to addict countless millions on recently invented psychoactive substances like Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft and Adderall.

While claiming a war on drugs with one hand, they began drugging the nation with the other.


Moretum & the hidden history of cannabis

Moretum, an early poem by Virgil

A poor farmer named Simylus awakes before dawn and rekindles the embers in his hearth.
Simylus grinds grain and wakes his African slave Scybale to fetch wood for the fire. He makes dough with the flour and kneads a loaf of bread. While he waits for it to bake, he mixes garlic, cheese, coriander seeds, vinegar, and a variety green leafy herbs in a mortar and pestle, and spreads the result on hot bread and consumes it before starting out to plough his field. The poem is most notable for coining the term “e pluribus unus,” a reference to moretum being ready to eat once the various colors and ingredients have merged into a single light-green paste.


Long before humans appeared on earth, tools had already been invented by earlier primates. We don’t know which came first, fire or the mortar and pestle, but it wasn’t until primates discovered both that most of the energy that had been required by the stomach and intestines to process plants could redirect into developing bigger brains. Our distant ancestors in Africa discovered early on that pounding plants, seeds and nuts with stones made both cooking and digestion easier.

The Ebers Papyrus, named for German Egyptologist Georg Ebers, contains the first written description of a mortar and pestle. It dates to 1550 BC, although it likely was copied from much earlier scrolls. Containing 700 medicinal remedies and incantations, the scroll is 20 meters long (approximately 110 pages). Ebers bought the manuscript from Edwin Smith in 1872, and three years later, Ebers published the first translation.

In the 16th Century BC, the Phoenicians were developing their alphabet, the first hymns of the Rig Veda were recorded in Sanskrit, and the Sumerian civilization was eclipsed by Babylon. Sumerians had invented beer, discovered opium (the happy plant), and learned how to make flour by pounding wheat berries. One of their favorite treats was pistachio encrusted dates. A mortar and pestle would have been used to pound the pistachios into powder before dipping the honey-soaked dates.

The Rig Veda describes the making of soma, which was considered the greatest medicine, the “king” of healing plants. There are numerous mentions of “pressing stones” used and the clacking sounds they made. Strangely, virtually no historian seems to realize “pressing stones” is Sanskrit for mortar and pestle.


In the 1920s, some historians began pointing out the obvious: soma was most likely cannabis. In fact, the descriptions of soma match the current recipes for modern bhang, which remains a popular drink in parts of India. Whole kolas, leaves and flowers, are blanched in boiling water and then pounded into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Typically, almonds, spices and hot milk are added, but the ancient recipes often included opium and ephedra.

In the late 1930s, Reefer Madness was launched by the just-created Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and a well-funded campaign to demonize cannabis swept across the world. At the same time, a campaign to misidentify soma as a mushroom was initiated by a vice president of America’s most powerful bank.

Check with Wikipedia today and you won’t find much of anything useful in the description of soma. The academic community refuses to accept the obvious and continues to obscure the real history of cannabis.

Someday this house of cards must fall.


Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to get a mortar and pestle. Pestos are easily made using any nut or seed with any green plant and any spices. Our modern pesto recipe originated in Northern Italy in the 1600s, but for millennia before that it was known as moretum.


Also made in mortars was Manna, the food that saved the Jews from starvation. Manna was just hemp seeds crushed into hempseed flour, which was baked into wafers. I have a separate blog on that subject if you seek further proof and clarification.

Poem attributed to the young Virgil and comprised of 124 hexameter lines and written in the Greek tradition (as in Callimachus’ Hecale and other poems involving meals with gods and people, aka Theoxeny).


Already had the night completed ten
Of winter’s hours, and by his crowing had
The winged sentinel announced the day,
When Symilus the rustic husbandman
Of scanty farm, solicitous about
The coming day’s unpleasant emptiness,
Doth slowly raise the limbs extended on
His pallet low, and doth with anxious hand
Explore the stilly darkness, groping for
The hearth which, being burnt, at length he finds.
I’ th’ burnt-out log a little wood remained,
And ashes hid the glow of embers which
They covered o’er; with lowered face to these
The tilted lamp he places close, and with
A pin the wick in want of moisture out
Doth draw, the feeble flame he rouses up
With frequent puffs of breath. At length, although
With difficulty, having got a light,
He draws away, and shields his light from draughts
With partially encircling hand, and with
A key the doors he opens of the part
Shut off to store his grain, which he surveys.
On th’earth a scanty heap of corn was spread:
From this he for himself doth take as much
As did his measure need to fill it up,
Which ran to close on twice eight pounds in weight
He goes away from here and posts himself
Besides his quern,’ and on a little shelf
Which fixed to it for other uses did
The wall support, he puts his faithful light.
Then from his garment both his arms he frees;
Begirt was he with skin of hairy goat
And with the tail thereof he thoroughly
Doth brush the stones and hopper of the mill.
His hands he then doth summon to the work
And shares it out to each, to serving was
The left directed and the right to th’ toil.
This turns about in tireless circles and
The surface round in rapid motion puts,
And from the rapid thrusting of the stones
The pounded grain is running down. At times
The left relieves its wearied fellow hand,
And interchanges with it turn about.
Thereafter country ditties doth he sing
And solaces his toil with rustic speech,
And meanwhile calls on Scybale to rise.
His solitary housekeeper was she,
Her nationality was African,
And all her figure proves her native land.
Her hair was curly, thick her lips, and dark
Her colour, wide was she across the chest
With hanging breasts, her belly more compressed,
With slender legs and large and spreading foot,
And chaps in lengthy fissures numbed her heels.
He summons her and bids her lay upon
The hearth some logs wherewith to feed the fire,
And boil some chilly water on the flame.
As soon as toil of turning has fulfilled
Its normal end, he with his hand transfers
The copious meal from there into a sieve,
And shakes it. On the grid the refuse stays,
The real corn refined doth sink and by
The holes is filtered. Then immediately
He piles it on a board that’s smooth, and pours
Upon it tepid water, now he brought
Together flour and fluid intermixed,
With hardened hand he turns it o’er and o’er
And having worked the liquid in, the heap
He in the meantime strews with salt, and now
His kneaded work he lifts, and flattens it
With palms of hand to rounded cake, and it
With squares at equal distance pressed doth mark.
From there he takes it to the hearth (ere this
His Scybale had cleaned a fitting place),
And covers it with tiles and heaps the fire
Above. And while Vulcanus, Vesta too,
Perform their parts i’ th’ meantime, Symilus
Is not inactive in the vacant hour,
But other occupation finds himself;
And lest the corn alone may not be found
Acceptable to th’ palate he prepares
Some food which he may add to it. For him
No frame for smoking meat was hung above
The hearth, and backs and sides of bacon cured
With salt were lacking, but a cheese transfixed
By rope of broom through mid-circumference
Was hanging there, an ancient bundle, too,
Of dill together tied. So provident
Our hero makes himself some other wealth.
A garden to the cabin was attached,
Some scanty osiers with the slender rush
And reed perennial defended this;
A scanty space it was, but fertile in
The divers kinds of herbs, and nought to him
Was wanting that a poor man’s use requires;
Sometimes the well-to-do from him so poor
Requested many things. Nor was that work
A model of expense, but one of care:
If ever either rain or festal day
Detained him unemployed within his hut,
If toil of plough by any chance was stopped,
There always was that work of garden plot.
He knew the way to place the various plants,
And out of sight i’ th’ earth to set the seeds,
And how with fitting care to regulate
The neighbouring streams. And here was cabbage, here
Were beets, their foliage extending wide;
And fruitful sorrel, elecampane too
And mallows here were flourishing, and here
Was parsnip,’ leeks indebted to their head
For name, and here as well the poppy cool
And hurtful to the head, and lettuce too,
The pleasing rest at end of noble foods.
[And there the radish sweet doth thrust its points
Well into th’ earth] and there the heavy gourd
Has sunk to earth upon its belly wide.
But this was not the owner’s crop (for who
Than he more straightened is?). The people’s ’twas
And on the stated days a bundle did
He on his shoulder into th’ city bear,
When home he used to come with shoulder light
But pocket heavy, scarcely ever did
He with him bring the city markets’ meat.
The ruddy onion, and a bed of leek
-For cutting, hunger doth for him subdue-,
And cress which screws one’s face with acrid bite,
And endive, and the colewort which recalls
The lagging wish for sexual delights.
On something of the kind reflecting had
He then the garden entered, first when there
With fingers having lightly dug the earth
Away, he garlic roots with fibres thick,
And four of them doth pull; he after that
Desires the parsley’s graceful foliage,
And stiffness-causing rue,’ and, trembling on
Their slender thread, the coriander seeds,
And when he has collected these he comes
And sits him down beside the cheerful fire
And loudly for the mortar asks his wench.
Then singly each o’ th’ garlic heads be strips
From knotty body, and of outer coats
Deprives them, these rejected doth he throw
Away and strews at random on the ground.
The bulb preserved from th’ plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th’ hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th’ aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand ‘neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;’ with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I’ th’ mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour’s altered by so many herbs.
The vapour keen doth oft assail the man’s
Uncovered nostrils, and with face and nose
Retracted doth he curse his early meal;
With back of hand his weeping eyes he oft
Doth wipe, and raging, heaps reviling on
The undeserving smoke. The work advanced:
No longer full of jottings as before,
But steadily the pestle circles smooth
Described. Some drops of olive oil he now
Instils, and pours upon its strength besides
A little of his scanty vinegar,
And mixes once again his handiwork,
And mixed withdraws it: then with fingers twain
Round all the mortar doth he go at last
And into one coherent ball doth bring
The diff’rent portions, that it may the name
And likeness of a finished salad fit.
And Scybale i’ th’ meantime busy too
He lifted out the bread; which, having wiped
His hands, he takes, and having now dispelled,
The fear of hunger, for the day secure,
With pair of leggings Symilus his legs
Encases, and with cap of skin on ‘s head
Beneath the thong-encircled yoke he puts
Th’ obedient bullocks, and upon the fields
He drives, and puts the ploughshare in the ground.