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Lee Hancock

A Guide to the Lee Hancock Collection,
1975 – 2004, Bulk: 1993-2000
Collection 099

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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hancock, Lee
Title: Lee Hancock Collection
Dates: 1975 – 2004, Bulk: 1993-2000
Abstract: Documents, clippings, videos, and other research materials represent journalist Lee Hancock’s research into the events of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco in 1993. The materials are arranged into the following five series: Non-Branch Davidian Incidents, Media Coverage, Investigations, House of Representatives Hearings, and Lawsuits.
Identification: Collection 099
Extent: 20 boxes (10 linear feet)
Language: Materials are written in English
Repository: Southwestern Writers Collection, Special Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos

Historical Sketch

On February 28, 1993 the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to issue an arrest warrant for Vernon Wayne Howell and a search warrant for the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas on the basis of illegal weapons possession. The Branch Davidians in Mount Carmel and the ATF began a shootout that ended in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians. The occupants of Mount Carmel and government agencies remained in a standoff for fifty-one days until the FBI launched CS gas into the compound in an effort to make the Branch Davidians exit. The CS gas assault on April 19, 1993 ended in a fire in which seventy-six people inside Mount Carmel died, including twenty-three children.

After the fire a series of lawsuits and investigations began, including the 1994 criminal trial of the Branch Davidians, the 1995 congressional hearings, and a wrongful-death civil trial in 2000. The ATF and other government agencies were investigated by the FBI, the Texas Rangers and others for their handling of the raid, the standoff and the tear-gas assault.

As a journalist for the Dallas Morning News, Lee Hancock reported about the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco from the first day of the siege on February 28, 1993 until the fire on April 19, 1993. She continued to follow the story for the next ten years, including covering the subsequent investigations and trials. Through her sources, Hancock was able to retrieve documents from government agencies and release important information to the public, including the 1999 revelation that pyrotechnic CS gas was used on the last day of the siege before the fire.

After the tenth anniversary of the April 19, 1993 Mount Carmel fire, Dr. Catherine Wessinger, Professor of the History of Religions at Loyola University in New Orleans, contacted Hancock for an article Wessinger was writing about Branch Davidian standoff coverage in the media. At that point, Hancock had turned her focus to covering other stories, so she donated her research materials to Wessinger. Dr. Wessinger placed the materials in the Loyola University Archives in 2004 where initial processing of the collection began. Additional materials from Lee Hancock were donated in 2006.

In 2009, Dr. Wessinger met Wittliff Collections archivist Joel Minor at a memorial in Waco, and was impressed with his work on the Dick Reavis Papers and the Ashes of Waco digital collection. Since the Loyola University Archives had not completed processing the collection, Wessinger recommended to Lee Hancock that the collection be moved to Texas State University. The collection was relocated to Texas State University in late 2010 and processed in 2011.

Dr. Catherine Wessinger wrote two articles related to the Hancock collection, “The Lee Hancock Collection: Federal and State Materials on the Branch Davidian Case,” and “Deaths in the Fire at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel: Who Bears Responsibility?” Both articles can be found in the November 2009 issue of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, volume 13, number 2. It is available in the Wittliff Collections.

Today, Lee Hancock continues as a journalist at the Dallas Morning News. Besides the Branch Davidian standoff, Ms. Hancock has written investigative articles about such topics as the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood Shootings

Sources: Catherine Wessinger correspondence with Maggie DeBrecht, Wessinger’s article “The Lee Hancock Collection,” and materials from the Lee Hancock Research Collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Lee Hancock Collection spans 1975-2004, with the bulk of materials covering 1993, 1995, 1999, and 2000. The collection is comprised of documents, clippings, videos, and other materials that Lee Hancock collected related to the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas in 1993 and subsequent events. Except for the Media Coverage series, most materials within folders have been left in Hancock’s original order and arrangement. Therefore, there is some overlap of materials between folders, and some variance in the chronology of documents. Some date ranges span several years but only contain a few documents from each year. Folder titles in quotations are original folder titles written by Hancock.

The collection is arranged into the following five series: Non-Branch Davidian Incidents, Media Coverage, Investigations, House of Representatives Hearings, and Lawsuits. An overview of each series follows.

Series I: Non-Branch Davidian Incidents, 1975-1996 Box 1

The first series includes documents related to various siege and standoff incidents. The majority of documents are news releases and articles. Included in this series is the May 13, 1985 siege of the MOVE organization’s house in West Philadelphia that ended in the bombing of the house by police later the same day; the May 17, 1974 LAPD and Symbionese Liberation Army shootout (located in the same file as the MOVE documents); prison riots in Atlanta, Georgia in November 1987 and in Talladega, Alabama in August 1991; the federal raid of Ruby Ridge, Idaho in August 1992; documents related to the Oklahoma City Bombing by Timothy James McVeigh on April 19, 1995; and news articles on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Series II: Media Coverage 1983-2000, n.d. (Bulk: 1993-1995, 1999, 2000)
Boxes 1-6, 20

The second series consists of media coverage of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco and the events that followed. Within this series are three sub-series: Lee Hancock Articles, Other Media Coverage, and Press Releases. The Lee Hancock Articles sub-series contains clippings and photocopies of articles written by Lee Hancock for the Dallas Morning News along with a few articles written by others. The Other Media Coverage sub-series consists of news coverage not written by Hancock. The majority of materials in this series are news releases and articles but also includes VHS tapes. Box 4 folders 1-3, includes a 1988 article written about Vernon Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh), and a copy of Koresh’s Preface, Introduction, and Chapter One of his interpretation of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelations, written during the siege. Also included is a copy of the February 27, 1993 article “The Sinful Messiah” in the Waco Tribune-Herald. There is some duplication of articles between folders. The Press Releases sub-series contains press releases by the ATF, the FBI, Congressman Chet Edwards, Attorney General Janet Reno, the Department of Treasury, Department of Justice, and others. Included in this sub-series is a memorial service announcement for ATF agents killed on February 28, 1993.

Series III: Investigations 1990-2000, 2004, n.d. Boxes 6-15, 20

The third series contains documents related to the investigation, by several entities, of the events and handling of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco. The Investigations series is arranged according to the entity that conducted the investigation and produced the original documents. Since many government agencies were involved in the events in question there is some overlap of documents between agencies. The Investigations series is divided into six sub-series described below.

A. Department of Justice (boxes 6-10, 20): These files contain documents produced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its agencies, the FBI and the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The bulk of documents are FBI documents, including major event and monitor logs, negotiations between the FBI and Mount Carmel occupants, interviews and statements of those involved in the events, and VHS tapes of Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) recordings of April 19, 1993.

B. Department of Treasury (box 11): This sub-series contains interviews and reports conducted by the Department of the Treasury (DOT) and statements of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF or ATF). Since the ATF was an agency under the DOT in 1993 the ATF documents are arranged under the DOT (in 2003 the ATF was transferred to the Department of Justice).

C. Department of Defense (boxes 11-12, 20): These files contain statements and reports by the Department of Defense (DOD) and army.

D. Attorney General (boxes 12-13): This sub-series contains Briefing documents for
Attorney General Janet Reno on the events near Waco. Also included is an affidavit for a search warrant of Vernon Howell’s residence, documents related to the effects of CS gas, and a “Proposed Operations Plan.” Within this sub-series is the John C. Danforth investigation report.

E. Texas Rangers (boxes 13-14): The Texas Rangers sub-series consists of interviews, images, statements, and reports produced by the Texas Rangers. Interviews and statements by ATF agents to the Texas Rangers are here, as well as documents related to an investigation into the media leak of the February 28, 1993 raid on Mount Carmel.

F. Additional Investigations (box 15): This series contains records requested by Lee Hancock under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a folder on the protocol for a FLIR imagery trial by Vector Data Systems, and the United States General Accounting Office report on military assistance during the standoff. Also included in this series is the briefing of Dr. Igor Smirnov, recorded on VHS, on the possibility of using Russian psychotherapeutics to encourage the Branch Davidians to surrender at Mount Carmel. A viewing copy on DVD is available.

Series IV: House of Representatives Hearings 1993-1996 Boxes 15-16

The fourth series contains documents related to the 1993 and 1995 House of Representatives Hearings concerning the events near Waco. Within this series is the transcript of a 911 call made out of Mount Carmel on February 28, 1993; testimonies by ATF agents, a survivor of the Mount Carmel raid, Dick Deguerin (lawyer for Koresh during the standoff), and others; printed copies of the joint hearings before the committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives; and a summary of weapons recovered from Mount Carmel.

Series V: Lawsuits 1993-2001 Boxes 17-19

The fifth series consists of documents on lawsuits related to the events at Waco. Included in this series are documents on civil litigations, the McNamara media leak charge, David T. Hardy vs. FBI and ATF, Fifth Estate Productions, Inc. vs. Michael J. McNulty, the Bill Johnston lawsuit, and the 2000 civil trial. The “Waco-Depositions/Depo Excerpts” folder related to the 2000 civil trial includes eight 3 ½-inch floppy disks that are supposed to have copies of the documents within the folder, but only one document was retrievable from the disks and is printed and included in the file.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Preferred Citation

Lee Hancock Collection, Southwestern Writers Collection, Texas State University-San Marcos

Acquisition Information

Donated by Lee Hancock to Loyola University, 2004 and 2006, transferred to The Wittliff Collections with Hancock’s permission, 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Maggie DeBrecht, 2011

Notes to Researchers

Archival materials about the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco can also be found in the Dick Reavis Papers located in The Wittliff Collections, and at The Texas Collections at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

The following is a list of books donated by Lee Hancock but deaccessioned from the collection. Other copies of these titles can be found in the Wittliff Collections or the Alkek library general collection.

Bailey, Brad and Bob Darden. Mad Man in Waco: The Complete Story of the Davidian Cult,
David Koresh, and the Waco Massacre, 1993.
Coulson, Danny O. and Elaine Shannon. No Heroes: Inside the FBI’s Secret Counter-Terror
Force, 1999.
Docherty, Jayne Seminare. Learning Lessons from Waco: When the Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table, 2001.
Hardy, David T. with Rex Kimball. This is Not an Assault: Penetrating the Web of Official Lies
Regarding the Waco Incident, 2001.
Houteff, V. T. The Breaking of the Seven Seals: The Mystery Behind the Standoff at Mt. Carmel, (1932) 1993.
Kopel, David B. and Paul H. Blackman. No More Wacos: What’s Wrong with Federal Law
Enforcement and How to Fix it, 1997.
Linedecker, Clifford L. Massacre at Waco, Texas: The Shocking True Story of Cult Leader David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, 1993.
Madigan, Tim. See No Evil: Blind Devotion and Bloodshed in David Koresh’s Holy War, 1993.
Moore, Carol. The Davidian Massacre: Disturbing Questions About Waco Which Must be
Answered, 1995.
Theoharis, Athan G. et al. The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, 2000.
Thibodeau, David and Leon Whiteson. A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story, 1999.
Wright, Stuart A. Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the branch Davidian Conflict, 1995.
Waco: A New Revelation directed by Jason Van Vleet, VHS Tape, 1999.

Click here for a PDF version of the full finding aid