History buff uncovered artifacts, relics at dump ground near site of deadly Branch Davidian standoff

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 4:24 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A local history buff recovered relics after the fire that burned the Branch Davidian compound in Elk, Texas to the ground and claimed nearly 80 lives.

There wasn’t much left after the fire that reduced the Branch Davidian Compound to a heap of ashes.

Very few physical reminders of the lives lived and lost here, men, women and children.

Local businessman and history buff, Otto Caldwell, made quite an interesting discovery when he stumbled upon a dumpsite not far from where the compound stood.

“Way out in nowhere in a remote dump ground, that’s where I found this stuff,” Caldwell said.

All these years, Otto has held on to these relics. Among the religious pamphlets and fliers and charred newspaper clippings, touching reminders that everyone who called the compound home, had mothers and fathers, or sons and daughters.

“I found this letter, ‘to mommy from Lisa.’ I don’t know who that was. It says, ‘I love you. Happy Mothers Days,’” Caldwell said as he displayed one of the artifacts he found at the site.

Sheila and Wayne Martin had a daughter named Lisa who was killed in the fire at the compound at just 13 years old. Her father dies in the fire, too, along with two other siblings.

Caldwell keeps the mementos in his South Waco shop. Among the treasures, reminders that there was live before David Koresh when a man named George Roden ran things for the Branch Davidians.

“George Roden ran for president of the United States at one time,” said Caldwell as he displayed an old Roden for President campaign flier.

Caldwell also has a stack of old cassette tape recordings of Koresh preaching fire and brimstone from his pulpit in the compound.

“He was pretty convincing,” Caldwell said about Koresh’s preaching in the recordings.