No Bone Unturned: The Adventures of a Top Smithsonian Forensic Scientist and the Legal Battle for America's Oldest Skeletons - Jeff Benedict (2003)

Chapter 10. EVIL IS REAL

Three weeks later

Surrounded by stacks of papers on the dining-room table, Owsley attempted to finish writing his report on the trip to Waco.


“What, Kimmie?” he said to thirteen-year-old Kim standing at his side.

“Did you find any little kids down there?”

Owsley put down his pen.


“Were there any babies in there?”

“There were some babies too.”

“What happened to them?”

Owsley paused, his memory capturing competing images of carefree children on videotape before the fire with those same children’s burned, mangled bones after the fire. Over hundreds of hours, to accomplish his job, he had numbed his emotions to the evil and horror inflicted on the Branch Davidian children. He didn’t want his daughter to know the horror either.

“Sweet pea,” he said softly, “there were lots of little babies and kids that died. But I don’t think we should talk about that.”

“Can you tell me anything about the little kids?”

Owsley paused again. Since returning from Waco, he had kept his thoughts to himself. He had been reading the press reports that were critical of the federal government’s conduct with relation to the raid. Owsley had a different view. He couldn’t understand why Koresh, who had power over the children and responsibility for their safety, didn’t release them. Instead, he had them put in a munitions bunker, where they were sure to die. “There were a lot of kids. And there were safe areas that were accessible by underground tunnels. But the children weren’t put there. Instead, they were put in a place where they were sure to die.”

“Why did they put the kids there? And why didn’t the adults just take the kids out when the fire started?”

“There were some tunnels down there that they could have escaped through. But none of them got out.” He hadn’t answered her question.

Kim waited for him to say more.

“Now sweet pea, you need to go to bed.”

Owsley blamed the children’s fate on the adults—primarily Koresh—who had had control over them in the compound. Regardless of who was right, the government or the Branch Davidians, when push came to shove, the Davidian leaders should never have put the children in harm’s way. Here, they were herded into the most dangerous place on earth—a munitions bunker. Normally when working a crime scene where a body has been dismembered, burned, or butchered, Owsley would take some satisfaction out of knowing his work would likely lead to the prosecution of the killer. Not in this case, however. Scores of innocent children had been killed, and no one would be held accountable. That bothered Owsley.