Netflix’s ‘Waco: American Apocalypse’ takes the viewer through the life of Branch Davidian Leader David Koresh and chronicles how he and several of his followers met their end during a massive fire at their Mount Carmel Center headquarters. The ordeal began when ATF agents rolled up to the compound outside Waco, Texas, to serve a warrant. However, the situation escalated into a firefight and an ensuing siege that lasted for 51 days.
On the last day of the siege, the FBI decided to use tear gas to force the members out, but the building somehow caught on fire, leading to a massacre. While the Netflix show investigates the incident through one-on-one interviews with Branch Davidians and law enforcement members, it talks about David Koresh’s mother, Bonnie Sue Clark. Well, let’s delve into the details and find out how Bonnie passed away, shall we?
Who Was Bonnie Sue Clark?
A native of Houston, Texas, Bonnie Sue Clark grew up alongside her sister, Beverly Clark. Interestingly, Bonnie was just 14 on August 17, 1959, when she became a mother to Vernon Wayne Howell, who would later change his name to David Koresh. David’s father left his mother even before the baby was born. Since being a teenage mother was extremely hard, Bonnie did not think much before moving in together with a violent alcoholic. However, Bonnie soon took the decision to leave her son with her mother, Earline Clark, before accompanying her boyfriend out of town.
Hence, David was primarily brought up by his maternal grandmother and only got to know his mother well when he was 7. By that time, Bonnie Sue Clark was married to Roy Haldeman and had changed her name to Bonnie Sue Haldeman. They were also proud parents to their son and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In fact, even David was impacted by Bonnie’s religious beliefs, and he went on to join his mother’s church before converting to a Branch Davidian.
Readers should note that Bonnie was never a part of the Branch Davidians and had no role to play in David Koresh’s beliefs. However, when she learned of the FBI siege at the Mount Carmel Center headquarters, she became concerned for her son’s safety. That was when she contacted Houston-based criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin and asked him to represent David in court. According to reports, Dick traveled to Waco, Texas, and even visited the compound in person during the siege.
Dick later mentioned that David refused to listen to his counsel and instead based all his actions on the will of God. Eventually, after a massive 51-day siege, the FBI decided to use tear gas in order to force David and his followers out of the compound. A tactical team went around setting the canisters on April 19, 1993, while a tank broke down several walls and windows of the primarily wooded structure. However, as the day progressed, the construction suddenly caught on fire with several Branch Davidians, including children, still inside.
Although law enforcement authorities kept asking the people inside to vacate the building, they chose to stay beside David Koresh to the very end. Unfortunately, that led to numerous deaths, as official reports claim that 76 Branch Davidians and their children were killed in the inferno. Subsequently, a team confirmed David’s body was found in the debris, although an autopsy determined that he died from a single gunshot wound. Still, once the investigation concluded, law enforcement authorities handed David’s remains over to Bonnie, who buried him in an unmarked grave after a small funeral attended by four other members of their family.
How Did Bonnie Sue Clark Die?
In the years following David’s death, Bonnie remained close to her sister, Beverly Clark, and led a quiet life. While it was difficult for her to accept David’s shocking demise, she eventually decided to pen down her experiences in a book called ‘Memories of the Branch Davidians: The Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother,’ which was published in 2007. Furthermore, she also agreed to an interview with Texas Monthly in which she reminisced about David’s childhood and talked about his work with the Branch Davidians.
Shockingly, on January 23, 2009, Bonnie Sue Clark was found stabbed to death in Beverly Clark’s house near the city of Chandler, Texas. She was 64 years old at the time of her death and was working as a pediatric nurse. Besides, people who knew her claimed she was supposed to take her sister, Beverly, to the doctor on January 23. The police also discovered that Beverly had a history of mental health issues and was alone with Bonnie when the latter was killed. Subsequently, Beverly Clark was arrested for murder, although a hearing in 2018 determined that she was not mentally fit to stand trial. Thus, to this day, the reason behind Bonnie’s murder has remained unclear.