Cult leader's former wife remembers Branch Davidian tragedy

Dana Kiyabu left the compound just a year before disaster

 UPDATED 11:07 PM HST Apr 19, 2013
HONOLULU -

A 51-day standoff at a Branch Davidian compound in Texas came to a fiery conclusion 20 years ago Friday.

Nearly 80 people died, including the cult's leader David Koresh.

One of his former wives lives in Hawaii and left the sect just a year before the disaster.

Dana Kiyabu said she's grateful for the simple things in life, like hot, running water and the Koolau Mountains that backdrop her Windward Oahu neighborhood.

"I do go hiking, I find god through nature now," Kiyabu said. "But I don't go to church. I don't do organized religion anymore. Church hurts. It still does. It's been 20 years, but church hurts."

And so does each anniversary.

"Brings back a lot of memories. A lot of sad memories," said Kiyabu.

But the fiery memories of 20 years ago aren't all sad.
Kiyabu said, "It's given me more compassion and a little bit more perspective, because I'm just happy to be here now."

Kiyabu was one of dozens of Hawaii residents to join Koresh's group after hearing him preach at a Kaimuki church in 1986, eventually marrying him and having two sons together.

She left the compound in 1992 and returned home with her two children.

"After a year of knowing that I really didn't believe the way the group did, I finally admitted that I didn't want to anymore," said Kiyabu. "I knew that if we stayed, that we would die. I don't know how, but I knew that."

Still, she says she has no regrets in following Koresh.
Kiyabu said, "Had I not gone and been a Branch Davidian, I wouldn't have my children. Without my children, I don't know who I would be."

According to Kiyabu, one son now lives in Provo while the other is in the National Guard and lives with her and her husband Roy.

Do you want to print this page now?