Kentucky Anthropologist Remembers Waco Siege 25 Years Later

Posted at 5:17 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 17:17:08-04

Thursday made 25 years since the Waco siege in Texas. That’s when a standoff between federal agents and the religious cult, the Branch Davidians, came to a fiery end. A Kentucky forensic anthropologist was there and sat down with LEX 18 to discuss that dark time.

Dr. Emily Craig was there on April 19, 1993, the day the Waco siege ended. She was new at anthropology at the time and was called in to help identify the remains of the men, women, and children killed at the Branch Davidian compound. The Branch Davidian compound was led by cult leader David Koresh.

Dr. Craig said that it was her first mass fatality and to date, one of her toughest.

"The children were lead like lambs to slaughter, they had no idea what was coming, the adults were there by their own free will," she said. 

For two weeks, she was on the ground helping to identify the remains and determining how people died in the mass murder/suicide. Dr. Craig said that people were shot, stabbed, and beaten to death. Many of the children suffocated. She said she had to review videos of the once happy children in order to identify them.

“In the morgue, we had to compare the smiles on the videos with the teeth on the table, that was horrible," said Dr. Craig. 

25 years ago, there was no digital photography. Dr. Craig, who was a medical illustrator for 15 years, sketched her own drawings of the deaths. Sadly, Waco was just the first of other tragedies Dr. Craig had to work. After that, she worked the Oklahoma City Bombing and 9/11 in New York City.

LEX 18’s Leigh Searcy asked Dr. Craig how she was able to do her job.

“You have to be able to deal with what you see with an open mind, but then you have to close your mind and your heart and walk away or it will kill you," she said.