The Truth About Branch Davidian Cult Members Steve And Judy Schneider

Netflix's decision to air the Paramount miniseries Waco has reawakened public interest in the tragic 51-day standoff that ended in tragedy and controversy in 1993. Sites are cashing in on the excitement by revisiting the individual stories of the Branch Davidian cult members led by David Koresh. Some, such as Drummer David Thibodeau, lived to tell his tale in his own words. NPR writes that survivors Clive Doyle and Sheila Martin went on to operate a Bible study. Doyle also established himself as "the Davidians' unofficial historian and spokesman." Sadly, dozens of others weren't so lucky.

Roughly 80 Davidians, including Koresh, perished after flames engulfed their compound. Some members allegedly shot each other as part of a suicide pact. Twenty years later, Clive Doyle was still faithfully awaiting Koresh's resurrection. However, there was no such hope for Steve Schneider, whom the Waco miniseries portrays as Koresh's "right-hand man" and the trigger man who shoots Koresh during the fire, per Heavy.com. Nor was their hope for Steve's wife Judy, whom Koresh bedded and possibly fathered a daughter with. Described as a once "all-American dream couple," they would see their dreams and lives go up in smoke.

A tale of two marriages

A family member of Steve and Judy Schneider described them as "Two outgoing, super friendly, winning personalities," per the Cox News Service. Steve studied the Bible religiously, and earned a degree in religion. Judy sewed her own wedding dress, and intended to study fashion. She put her husband's studies first, though, working two jobs so that he was free to pursue his degree. Judy's mother saw her unflagging devotion to Steve as a red flag, remarking, "I liked Steve, but he was pretty controlling. He led Judy around." 

Steve also led Judy to David Koresh. After graduating in 1986, Steve failed to land a job, and Branch Davidian Marc Breault recruited him. Breault supposedly persuaded Steve by discussing dreams and meaningful visions.

Judy allowed Koresh to claim her as his wife and allegedly rejoiced when she became pregnant. All other men, including Steve, were sworn to celibacy at the Waco compound. Though, as Heavy.com details, Steve insisted he was the child's father, as did Koresh. Steve elevated to the level of second in command, and Judy worked on transcribing Koresh's Seven Seals manuscript. She was reportedly typing it during the standoff that ultimately killed her and her daughter. Both died during the fire. Steve's official cause of death was "smoke inhalation with possible traumatic head injury." Koresh perished from a gunshot, but officials failed to determine who pulled the trigger and why.