‘Waco’: David Thibodeau Still Does Not Believe David Koresh Was a Con Man

The miniseries, Waco, dropped on Netflix on April 16, 2020, although it originally premiered on Paramount Network Jan. 24, 2018. It’s rising in popularity on Netflix, so viewers of the series all want to know more about David Thibodeau and the other survivors. 

Thibodeau — portrayed by Rory Culkin in the show — recently shared in an interview that, to this day, he still does not believe David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) was a con-man. 

What is the miniseries’ Waco’ about on Netflix?

David Thibodeau
David Thibodeau | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Viacom

Waco documents the 51-day standoff that happened in 1993 in Waco, Texas. The dramatization begins with background information on the Branch Davidians — a religious group led by Koresh. The Davidians live together at their Mount Carmel Center, learning scripture through Bible studies conducted by Koresh. 

Koresh also performs with a small group in a cover band at a local bar, where he meets Thibodeau. He invites the young man back to the Mount Carmel Center to learn scripture with him. Thibodeau ends up staying to the bitter end of the Waco tragedy. 

Meanwhile, viewers also get some background about an 11-day siege on Ruby Ridge. Gary Noesner, head of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit, helped to diffuse the situation after the ATF killed several of the people in the house at Ruby Ridge. 

Noesner is also the head negotiator for the FBI after the ATF attempts to serve a warrant with full tactical gear — guns blazing. After the death of four ATF agents and six of the Branch Davidians, the 51-day standoff ensued. The standoff ended when the FBI sent tear gas into the building. The remaining 76 people who did not get out died, including 25 children who were trapped inside.

The media and FBI painted Koresh as a con man, but Thibodeau does not believe he was

During the last few days of the standoff, Thibodeau went to Koresh and asked to take Michelle Jones (Julia Garner) and her daughter off the premise with him. However, Koresh refused to let Michelle go because he was married to her. Koresh was married to many of the women at Mount Carmel and had numerous children with them. Thibodeau was also wed to Michelle in the days before the ATF raid. 

To many people, it seems like Koresh kept the men, women, and children at the center during the standoff, putting them in harm’s way. However, Thibodeau believed that people followed him to learn the Seven Seals, but because he was conning them. 

“He wasn’t a con man, he knew the scripture inside and out, from Genesis to Revelation,” Thibodeau told The Brown Political Review. “When he gave a study, it was like he lived it. It was believable; in fact, it was more than belief.”

What happened to Thibodeau after the tragic standoff and fire in ‘Waco’?

Thibodeau was 23 when he survived the fire. He was only one of four people who survived the fire that was not sentenced to prison time. After the tragedy, Thibodeau spoke publicly about his story. He released A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story in 1999, which told his recount of the siege and his involvement with the Branch Davidians. 

However, several years later, he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress when he found out that people were shot as they were trying to escape the burning building. He became angry and upset.

“I went from being someone who could talk about everything publicly in front of an audience to being the angry *sshole that could no longer control himself because I would go over my story and become so angry that I would raise my voice, just totally lose it.”

He continues to take out his frustrations by drumming. He was happy to make the 6-part mini-series so that people can continue to remember and honor those that died.