Koresh came from a dysfunctional family background and claimed to be a Christian in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He joined a splinter group that was based at the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas; the cult took the name "Branch Davidians". Here he competed for dominance with another leader named George Roden, until Roden was jailed for murdering another rival. Koresh was then accused of statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl, apparently with her parents' consent, a relationship that he sanctified as a 'spiritual marriage'.
The serving of arrest and search warrants by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) as part of an investigation into illegal possession of firearms and explosives provoked the historic 1993 raid on the center. Four ATF agents and six Davidians were killed during the initial two-hour firefight, both sides claiming the other side fired first. The subsequent siege by the FBI ended with the burning of the center, where Koresh and 79 others were found dead after the conflagration.