Ruth Riddle: The Waco Survivor Now Leads a Quiet Life in Canada

As a five-episode drama miniseries that lives up to its title in every way conceivable, Showtime’s ‘Waco: The Aftermath’ can only be described as equal parts baffling, gripping, and haunting. That’s because it delves deep into the unexpected, searing reality of radicalism following the extensive 51-day standoff between the federal agencies and the Branch Davidian sect in early 1993. Amongst those to thus be profiled in this original to help move the narrative along was survivor Ruth Riddle — so now, if you wish to learn more about her, we’ve got the necessary details for you.

Who is Ruth Riddle?

Although it’s unclear precisely when Ontario, Canada native Ruth Ottman joined the Branch Davidian religious movement alongside her family, it has been reported she was still relatively young. In fact, she just settled down by tying the knot with fellow member James “Jimmy” Loyle Riddle following years of unwavering service but didn’t have any children by the time 1993 rolled around. It’s hence imperative to note that despite the fact this drama indicates she admired their leader David Koresh more than anything else, no official record has ever confirmed or denied the same.

Ruth was actually one of the nine sole survivors to make it out of the fire that destroyed their base of Mount Carmel on the final day of the siege — April 19 — yet she remained loyal to her beliefs. The truth is she lost her spouse, her leader, as well as most of everyone she knew on this fateful day, but the persisting ideologies and the backing of fellow survivors ostensibly helped her a lot. This support system for her even included her sister-in-law Rita Fay Riddle, her niece Misty Dawn Ferguson, and her mother Gladys Ottoman (who’d voluntarily left the compound during the siege).

Image Credit: University of North Texas

We should also mention that Ruth had jumped out of a second-story window to save herself from the blaze, but she only did so while holding onto a copy of David’s final (incomplete) manuscript. She simply couldn’t let it burn as she felt it would soon have a higher purpose — these words have since been printed in the 1995 book ‘Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America.’ The 29-year-old was subsequently admitted to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital with burns on less than 5% of her body (arms, shoulders, and hands), smoke inhalation, as well as a broken ankle.

However, the most surprising aspect for Ruth was the fact she was then criminally indicted with federal counts related to unlawful possession of firearms, murder of ATF officials, and conspiracy. She was ultimately convicted of the lesser charge of using or carrying a weapon during an offense, resulting in her receiving the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The widower was even ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, yet the jury foreperson later admitted they never intended to give her any time behind bars as they believed she was just easily manipulated by her company.

Where is Ruth Riddle Now?

According to reports, Ruth never appealed her conviction or unnecessarily extended the legal process following her trial, which continued upon her release and deportation verdict in 1997. Therefore, from what we can tell, the now 59-year-old still resides in her homeland of Canada, where she prefers to lead an extremely quiet life well away from prying public eyes. In fact, she maintains such a distance from all things Waco and 1993 that she rarely gives interviews as well; she has seemingly only featured in a single documentary on the matter, ‘The Branch Davidians: In Their Own Words’ (2015).

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