The making of the paedophile prophet: How, 30 years ago, a Bible-obsessed loner transformed himself into an all-powerful cult leader, taking child brides, stealing his followers’ wives – and triggering the Waco massacre

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At 9.48am on a misty February morning, a lawyer raced to his office and rang the emergency services. ‘There are 75 men around our building shooting at us!’ Wayne Martin shrieked.

Gunfire was clearly audible in the background. The number on the operator’s screen indicated that Martin was calling from Mount Carmel, a sprawling building located on scrubland nine miles from Waco, Texas.

The operator transferred the call to the county sheriff’s office, where it was picked up by the deputy sheriff.

By now, Martin was screaming: ‘Tell them to fall back — we got women and children in danger! Call them off! We’re under fire . . . They’re still attacking!’

The deputy sheriff muttered to himself: ‘I can’t believe this.’

But Wayne Martin was telling the truth. As the rest of the world would soon discover, the attackers were U.S. federal agents.

What he failed to mention, however, was that the Mount Carmel men and women, stationed at first and second-floor windows, were shooting right back.

Which side fired the first shot? Even now, approaching the 30th anniversary of the Waco massacre, no one has ever been able to provide a definitive answer.

Whatever the truth, by the end of that first morning four federal agents had been killed, and 16 wounded. Also shot dead were five Mount Carmel inhabitants, including a mother of four children.

But there was far worse to come.

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