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Profile: Timothy James McVeigh
a.k.a. Tim Tuttle, T. Tuttle, Terry Tuttle, Shawn Rivers, Tim Johnson
Timothy James McVeigh was a participant or observer in the following events:
Michael Fortier, the friend of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) who has been helping McVeigh in the plotting (see February - July 1994, February 17, 1995 and After, Mid-March, 1995, and April 3-4, 1995), tells McVeigh that he will no longer help him (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995). With McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols refusing to take an active role in the actual bombing (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995), McVeigh wants Fortier to assist in the bombing itself. McVeigh asks Fortier if he will go to Oklahoma City with him to detonate the bomb. Fortier replies, “Never.” McVeigh then asks if Fortier will help him escape, saying, “If I can make it to Las Vegas somehow, give me a ride out into the desert.” Fortier replies, “I won’t do that either.” Fortier will later recall that McVeigh has become increasingly disgusted with him, calling him “domesticated,” and says that McVeigh calls him “names” and gives him “dirty looks.” Fortier will recall: “He said it [domesticated] like it was a curse word. As if that was something that was bad. He was urging me to leave my wife and travel with him on the road, sort of like being desperadoes or something.” Fortier tells McVeigh that he would never abandon his family. “I’m not going to help you do this.” McVeigh tells Fortier: “We can’t be friends any longer. I’m going to Colorado to find some real friends, some manly friends.” After their conversation, McVeigh calls his father and tells him he and Fortier have had a falling out, and that he can no longer contact McVeigh by dialing the Fortier’s telephone number. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 123-124]
Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, who has told his fellow conspirator Timothy McVeigh that he does not want to participate in the actual bombing (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995), takes his wife Marife and their daughter Nicole to Michigan, his home state, to take part in a number of gun shows. Nichols’s movements will later be traced by the FBI. The Nichols stay at a Motel 6 in Joliet, Illinois, on the evening of April 5, and on April 6 they stay at the Caro Motel in Caro, Michigan. Both times, they register under their own names, and note their vehicle’s license plate as Michigan VW 1460. During this time, Nichols writes to his father and promises to see him in May or June; the postmark on the letter is from Las Vegas, Nevada. It is possible that Nichols mails the letter to his ex-wife Lana Padilla, who lives in Las Vegas, to have her remail it for him. Around this time, he purchases a fuel meter at Fort Riley, Kansas, approximately 600 miles from their location in Michigan. Nichols will later claim the fuel meter is broken, and will place an ad in a newspaper to sell it. On the evening of April 7, Nichols stays by himself at the President Inn in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On April 8, McVeigh receives a letter from Nichols, which he later claims makes no mention of the bombing plot. On April 8, Nichols stays at the Motel 6 in Walker, Michigan. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
According to a 1998 book about the Oklahoma City bombing, One of Ours by Richard A. Serrano, bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, who has told his fellow conspirator Timothy McVeigh that he does not want to participate in the actual bombing (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995), obtains a new Kansas driver’s license, takes out insurance on his blue pickup truck, and orders state license plates. After considering a number of new career ventures, such as organic blueberry farming, he has decided to start a business selling military-issue surplus MREs (meals ready to eat). He has labels and business cards printed up for the new venture, and purchases $3,250 worth of military surplus items he intends to sell, mostly weaponry and accessories such as laser sights, blowguns, and air rifles, all scheduled to arrive on April 20. He reserves two sales tables at an upcoming gun show in Hutchinson, Kansas. Nichols will later insist that he has had little real contact with McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), and is trying to build a new and peaceful life with his family. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 135-136] According to a chronology of events compiled by McVeigh’s lawyers, Nichols is either in Michigan for a round of gun shows or en route. This is confirmed by motel receipts and other evidence later gathered by FBI investigators. It is hard to reconcile Serrano’s claim, most likely sourced from dubious statements given to the FBI by Nichols after the bombing (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995), with the FBI evidence.
Jennifer McVeigh, the sister of future Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) who has at least some knowledge of her brother’s plans (see November 1994 and Mid-December 1994), is preparing to leave her family home in Pendleton, New York, for a vacation in Florida. She stays up late packing and separates many of the items her brother has sent to her in recent weeks. She places his military records and personal items in one box, and his letters to her, his political documents, and his Waco videotapes (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After) in a second box. She had asked him weeks before if he wanted her to destroy the literature and tapes, and he said no. She puts the box with his records and personal items in her closet, and gives the box containing the documents, letters, and tapes to a friend, Rose Woods, to keep for her. She begins driving to Florida early the next morning. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 124-125]
Lady Godiva’s, a strip club in Tulsa. [Source: Douglas O. Linder]Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), in the company of two self-avowed white supremacists, Andreas Strassmeir and Michael Brescia of the white supremacist compound Elohim City, Oklahoma (see 1973 and After and April 5, 1995), allegedly goes to a strip club, Lady Godiva’s, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While he is at the club, he tells one of the strippers, “I am a very smart man.” She responds, “You are?” and McVeigh replies: “Yes I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life” (see March 1995). A number of eyewitnesses will later place McVeigh in the strip club this evening. [Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Nicole Nichols, 2003] Brescia is a member of the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a group with which McVeigh has some ties (see 1992 - 1995). Security cameras apparently record McVeigh’s conversation with the stripper. [Douglas O. Linder, 2006] The source of this story is private investigator J.D. Cash, who sometime after the bombing will launch his own investigation to prove that McVeigh acted as part of a much larger conspiracy (see June 30, 1997). Cash will produce a videotape taken from a security camera to prove his allegation, but the audio quality is poor; it will be difficult to discern whether the man in the tape says “April 19, 1995” or just “April 1995.” The dancer will insist that McVeigh is the man she spoke to, but the contention does not match with documented evidence of McVeigh’s movements; McVeigh was staying at the Imperial Motel in Kingman, Arizona, on March 31 (see March 31 - April 12, 1995) and on April 7, one day before his alleged appearance at the strip club, he paid for another five days at the motel. A maid at the Imperial will later tell investigators that she saw McVeigh every day during that time period, and that his blue Pontiac never left the parking lot. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 267]
A 1977 Mercury Marquis similar to that owned by Timothy McVeigh. [Source: Classic Cars (.com)]Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) visits Oklahoma City and finds a place to leave a car after he bombs the Murrah Federal Building. He has left Kingman, Arizona, and stayed overnight at a motel in Amarillo, Texas. McVeigh arrives in Oklahoma City around noon, and does not drive by the Murrah Building, but instead finds the drop site for his getaway car. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Buys Getaway Car - He then drives to Kansas, inspects his explosives stored in a Herington storage unit (see September 22, 1994 and (February 20, 1995)), and notes that his Pontiac is blowing smoke and stalling out, most likely from a blown head gasket. After making a quick run to a storage shed in Council Grove, Kansas, taking some of the explosive materials from that shed and combining them with the materials in the Herington unit, he buys a 1977 Mercury Marquis as a getaway vehicle from Thomas Manning, who owns a Firestone dealership in Junction City, Kansas. (McVeigh is using a similar plan to those executed by the Aryan Republican Army, or ARA, which uses “junk” cars to make their getaways after robbing banks—see 1992 - 1995. McVeigh has some affiliations to the ARA—see December 1994.) McVeigh trades in his deteriorating 1983 Pontiac station wagon (see January 1 - January 8, 1995) and $250 cash for the Mercury, telling Manning that he needs a “cheap car” to “get me to Michigan.” Manning, who recognizes McVeigh from his days as a soldier at Fort Riley (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990), has the Mercury, which he bought eight days ago for $150 and is planning to use for parts. Others at the dealership have used it for local errands, and they had worked on its transmission and other elements. McVeigh agrees to pay $300 cash, but when he tells Manning he will not have enough money to get back to Michigan, Manning knocks $50 off the price for McVeigh. McVeigh has Manning send the service form to the Nichols’s farm address in Decker, Michigan, and the bill of sale to his postal drop in Kingman, Arizona. “It doesn’t matter,” McVeigh tells Manning, “because I’m going to junk the Mercury out when I get to Michigan.” On the sale form, he lists his employer as the US Army, and claims he is still stationed at Fort Riley. Firestone mechanic Art Wells does some work on the Mercury to ensure it is road-ready, including swapping out a bald rear tire for a spare. McVeigh’s old Pontiac is later taken to a local junkyard and then confiscated by investigators. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/30/1995; New York Times, 12/3/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 127-130; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] McVeigh buys an oil filter from a WalMart in Arkansas City, Kansas, near the state line, around 6 p.m. on April 13, and on the 14th, swaps the damaged Pontiac and $250 for the Mercury. Nichols tries to return the filter to another WalMart on April 15. The receipt will later be found in Nichols’s wallet; it bears the fingerprints of both McVeigh and Nichols. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 11/4/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 127]
Arranges Truck Rental - While Wells is prepping the Mercury, McVeigh goes to a pay phone in front of a nearby bus depot and makes two phone calls using a Spotlight telephone card (see August 1994). The first is to Nichols’s home in Herington, and lasts less than a minute. The second is to Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City to inquire about the rental rates for a large Ryder truck capable of carrying 5,000 pounds of cargo (see April 15, 1995). He uses the alias “Bob Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995). Office clerk Vicki Beemer will later recall McVeigh asking how many pounds a 15-foot truck would hold; when she tells him around 3,400 pounds, he tells her, “I need a truck that will hold 5,000 pounds.” Beemer informs him he needs a 20-foot truck. She tells him he can reserve such a truck, but he will have to put down a deposit on April 15 or he cannot have the truck by April 17, as the shop is closed on Easter Sunday, April 16. McVeigh agrees, and walks back to the Firestone dealership, where he puts the Arizona license plate from the Pontiac onto the Mercury. He puts his belongings into the Mercury and drives away. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 130-131]
Rents Room - McVeigh then rents a room at a local motel, in which he will stay until he makes his final trip to Oklahoma City to deliver the bomb (see April 13-14, 1995).
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), having finished buying a getaway car for the upcoming bombing and arranging to rent a Ryder truck to deliver the two-ton bomb (see April 13, 1995), checks into Room 25 of the Dreamland Motel just outside of Junction City, Kansas, off of I-70, the connecting highway between Fort Riley and Junction City. He fills out a registration card under the name “Bob Kling,” then reconsiders, throws that registration card away, and fills out another card under his own name, giving his address as 3616 N. Van Dyke, Decker, Michigan, the Nichols family farm (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). He writes the license plate number for his Mercury, but it is illegible, according to motel employees. He rents the room for four days, through April 17. Motel owner Lea McGown will later say that McVeigh talks her into reducing the room rate from $28 to $20, and will recall: “He’s a talker. He paid attention to his appearance. He was a very neat person. The feeling was he just washed his pants and put them on.” She will also remember him driving the Mercury, which she says has Arizona license plates, and remembers him later parking a Ryder truck behind the motel (see April 15, 1995), a recollection that conflicts with records indicating McVeigh does not pick up the truck until April 17 (see April 16, 1995 and 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). Lea’s son Eric McGown, who does maintenance work around the motel, will recall talking with McVeigh about the car, the Arizona plate, and the desert heat. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/30/1995; New York Times, 12/3/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 131-132; Douglas O. Linder, 2001]
Recollections of Ryder Truck - Both Lea McGown and her son Eric later claim to have seen the Ryder truck at the motel before April 17. Eric McGown will be quite clear, saying he sees McVeigh with the truck twice, once when he asks him to move it to a different parking space and again when he sees McVeigh having some difficulty closing the rear door of the truck. He will also tell investigators, “Once I saw the Ryder truck, I never saw that Marquis again.” A Junction City resident, Herta King, whose son David lives in Room 24 of the motel, will also claim to have seen the Ryder truck at the motel on April 16. She will say that she comes to the motel around 12:30 p.m. to visit her son because he is depressed and to bring him an Easter basket. “I saw a yellow Ryder truck sitting right there, and I could not see my son’s car because the Ryder truck blocked the view,” she will say. When she visits her son again around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., she will say, the Ryder truck is gone. In 1998, author Richard A. Serrano will write: “If the McGowns [and King] are right, then there was a second truck and McVeigh played some sort of role with that truck, too. And perhaps with someone other than Nichols. But if the McGowns are mistaken, if they are innocently caught up in the rush of hysteria that came with the search for the Oklahoma City bombers, then their recollections were nothing more than fodder for conspiracy theorists and defense lawyers hoping to confuse a trial jury.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 146]
Witnesses See Unidentified Man with McVeigh - Two witnesses later say they see another man who may be with McVeigh. Helicopter mechanic Shane Boyd, also staying at the motel, will tell investigators that he sees a bushy-haired man who resembles sketches of the so-called “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995) in the parking lot near McVeigh’s room. Boyd will remember the man as smiling. Junction City resident Connie Hood drives into the parking lot shortly after midnight to visit David King; she sees a man throw open the door of Room 23, next to King’s room, as if he is expecting someone. He then closes the door. Hood later describes the man as being stocky, having thick, dark, brushed-back hair, and an olive complexion. She will say he resembles the sketches of “John Doe No. 2” but is not identical. The description does not match Nichols’s appearance. The FBI will dust Room 23 for fingerprints; McGown will confirm that Room 23 is not rented this evening, though it is possible, she will say, that someone might have taken a key to have a look at the room and is coming out when Hood arrives. [New York Times, 12/3/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Timothy McVeigh, a white supremacist finalizing his plans to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) and staying at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas (see April 13, 1995), orders delivery food from Hunan’s Chinese Restaurant under the alias “Bob Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995). Restaurant employee Yuhai Bai takes the order; as her English is not good, she has the customer spell his last name, K-L-I-N-G. McVeigh waits an hour, then calls again to prompt the delivery. The delivery person, Jeff Davis, brings the order of moo goo gai pan to Room 25 sometime around 5:30 p.m. He is late because of a rainstorm and because of road construction. McVeigh pays $11 for the delivery in cash. Davis will later tell investigators that he is sure the man identifying himself as “Kling” was not McVeigh, fellow conspirator Terry Nichols (see March 1995 and April 5-10, 1995), nor the person depicted in sketches and known as “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995). He will describe the man paying for the order as tall, with collar-length blonde hair. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 136, 145] A 1998 book, One of Ours, will identify the restaurant as “Hunam Palace.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 136]
A clerk at a Junction City check-cashing business refuses to cash a check from two men later identified as “John Doe No. 1” and “John Doe No. 2,” suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20, 1995). “No. 1” will later be identified as bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh. The clerk will recall, “They said, ‘We need the money right away because we’re going on emergency leave,’” apparently indicating that they are in military service. She refuses to cash the check because they refuse to show her identification. She will later say they left angry and mumbling curses. “They got real hyper,” she will say. “But that often happens around here.” [New York Times, 4/22/1995]
Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City. Two Ryder trucks similar to the one rented by McVeigh are visible. [Source: Luogocomune (.net)]Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, April 13, 1995, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) rents a Ryder panel truck from Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas. McVeigh uses the alias “Robert [or Bob] Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995). [CNN, 5/9/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 132; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] McVeigh wants a one-way rental of a 20-foot Ryder and a hand truck. He says he intends to drop off the Ryder and the hand truck in Omaha, Nebraska. McVeigh pays in cash. He pays the entire rental fee of $280.32 instead of a mere deposit, so he will be able to get in and out of the store quickly on April 17, when he intends to pick up the truck, and is adamant that he needs the truck by 4:00 p.m. He declines insurance, telling store owner Eldon Elliott he does not need it because he is a truck driver for the Army. Elliott gives McVeigh two days free because he believes McVeigh is in the military. McVeigh will later tell his lawyers that the employee who rents the truck to him, presumably Elliott, is “a dumb guy,” though he could be referring to Elliott’s employee Tom Kessinger, who is also involved in the transaction. McVeigh drives back to the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, and returns the oil filter he bought from WalMart the day before. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 1/13/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 133] A chronology prepared by McVeigh’s lawyers will later state that McVeigh buys a car battery, not an oil filter. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] The New York Times will later erroneously report that McVeigh uses the alias “William B. Kling” to rent the truck, not “Robert Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995). [New York Times, 4/23/1995] An unidentified man, later designated as “John Doe No. 2” by federal authorities (see April 20, 1995), is apparently with McVeigh. The man will later be described as being of medium build and having a tattoo on one arm. Authorities will not determine his identity, and will remain unsure if this man was actually with McVeigh or merely another customer. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 810]
Timothy McVeigh, preparing to execute the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), tells his friend and fellow co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see April 16-17, 1995), “Something big is going to happen.” McVeigh had mailed two letters to his sister Jennifer (see March 9, 1995 and April 7, 1995) telling her that “something big is going to happen,” and followed them with an envelope full of clippings from the novel The Turner Diaries (see 1978). When she learns of her brother’s arrest in connection with the bombing, she will burn the clippings. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; New York Times, 5/7/1997; Anti-Defamation League, 2005] Press reports will say that Jennifer in turn has already told friends in December 1994 that “something big is going to happen in March or April, and Tim’s involved” (see Mid-December 1994), but she will deny saying this. [New York Times, 8/4/1995] This information will later be included in an affidavit accompanying an arrest warrant for Nichols (see April 25, 1995).
Terry Nichols, involved in the upcoming Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) with his friend and co-conspirator Timothy McVeigh (see April 15, 1995), purchases an unknown amount of diesel fuel from a Conoco service station in Manhattan, Kansas. The diesel fuel will become an essential ingredient in the bomb. [New York Times, 5/12/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] In his 1998 book One of Ours, author Richard A. Serrano will say that Nichols visited a Conoco station in Junction City, Kansas, not Manhattan. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 134]
Sign for the Dreamland Motel, where Timothy McVeigh is staying. [Source: Guardian]Lenard and Diana White, a farm couple from Cheney, Kansas, wake up from an uneventful evening spent in Room 29 of the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas. They had driven to Junction City to meet their son, who had just been discharged from the Army at Fort Riley, and their new grandchild. They stopped at the Dreamland the previous evening after a storm began brewing. Unbeknownst to them, the Whites are four rooms down from Timothy McVeigh, who is planning to execute the Oklahoma City bombing (see April 13, 1995). According to Diana White, she wakes up around 8 a.m. and leaves the room to get some morning coffee. She sees what she will later describe as “an old, faded yellow car” with an Arizona license plate. Her description matches that of McVeigh’s 1977 Mercury Marquis. “I have an old car in the dead car pile,” she will elaborate, “a small Ford, that is that color. That was a favorite color of 1977, and it just gave me nothing but trouble.” She returns to her room with coffee, and asks her husband, “Can you believe that they drove that car from Arizona?” The Whites take a stroll outside and walk past the Mercury. Diana White will later recall the license plate as being firmly attached. “I don’t know what it was fastened with, bolts or screws or what. But I know it was an Arizona tag, and it was on there solid.” The Whites leave for home around 9:30 a.m. They do not claim to have seen a Ryder truck at the motel, which conflicts with the motel owner’s recollection of seeing one that day but jibes with FBI records that show McVeigh picks up the truck the day after (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). [Serrano, 1998, pp. 135-136]
The Murrah Federal Building before the bombing. [Source: Oklahoma City National Memorial (.com)]Oklahoma City bomb plotter Terry Nichols (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, November 5, 1994, and November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995) meets his partner Timothy McVeigh (see April 15, 1995) at a gas station next to a Dairy Queen in Herington, Kansas, where Nichols lives (see (February 20, 1995)). (McVeigh had expected to meet Nichols at Geary State Park in Kansas earlier this morning, but Nichols failed to appear.) The two travel separately to Oklahoma City to scout the location for planting the fertilizer bomb they have constructed (see December 22 or 23, 1988 and September 13, 1994); McVeigh leaves his getaway car (see April 13, 1995), backing it up against a brick wall and leaving a note (that obscures the car’s VIN number) asking that the car not be towed. They then drive back to Kansas, arriving sometime before 2:00 a.m on April 17. Nichols drops McVeigh off at a McDonald’s restaurant in Junction City, and drives back to Herington. Nichols has already told McVeigh he does not want to be directly involved in planting the bomb (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995). When the bomb detonates three days later (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), Nichols is at his Kansas home. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Nicole Nichols, 2003]
Different Account of Events - In statements given to authorities shortly after the bombing (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995 and April 25, 1995), Nichols will tell a very different version of events. Nichols will say that on April 16, Easter Sunday, he plans on taking his family to mass at a local Catholic church, drives to the church, and returns with the news that there are no services being held. Instead, Nichols will say, he and the family drive 25 miles to St. Xavier’s in Junction City. They then return home and have an Easter meal. Sometime after 3:00 p.m., he will say, McVeigh calls him and asks him to pick him up in Oklahoma City, asks him to tell his wife Marife that he is driving to Omaha, not Oklahoma City, and asks him to “keep this between us.” McVeigh, Nichols will say, has a television that once belonged to Nichols’s ex-wife Lana Padilla, and wants Nichols to come get the television. Nichols will say he wants the television as his son Joshua, who usually lives with Padilla but is visiting him, wants to watch television during his stay. Joshua asks to go with his father to Omaha and Nichols turns him down. Nichols drives from Herington to Oklahoma City, a five-hour trip, picks up McVeigh, and drives to Junction City, Kansas. Nichols will say that he drives by the Murrah Federal Building two or three times before seeing McVeigh in an alley and picking him up. During the drive to Junction City, McVeigh tells Nichols, “Something big is going to happen” (see April 15, 1995). Nichols, who will claim to be unaware of any plans to detonate a bomb (see March 31 - April 12, 1995), asks, “Are you going to rob a bank?” to which McVeigh repeats his previous statement, “Something big is going to happen.” According to Nichols’s story, he then drops McVeigh off in Junction City and returns to Herington sometime after midnight. Marife Nichols will confirm that Nichols brings a television into the house with him; she will see it when she wakes up on April 17. It is old and almost completely unusable, being without an antenna; Nichols will later get cable television activated. Nichols will claim that on April 17, the family watches rented videos on the television, including The Lion King, and will claim that he spends some of the day puttering around the house, trying to fix a broken fuel meter that he wants to resell. He will say that he takes the family to eat dinner at a steakhouse that evening, then drives to the airport to see Joshua off (see (6:00 p.m.) April 17, 1995). Nichols will say that he will not hear from McVeigh again until April 18 (see Late Evening, April 17, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995, and Early Afternoon, April 18, 1995). [New York Times, 4/26/1995; Associated Press, 3/16/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 146-148]
A series of phone calls provides evidence to some of a larger conspiracy at work behind the imminent Oklahoma City bombing (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995 and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995).
April 16 Calls - A phone call from the Decker, Michigan, residence of Kevin Nicholas, a friend of bomber Timothy McVeigh (see December 18, 1994 and January 1 - January 8, 1995) is placed to a number in Wilmington, North Carolina (the phone log incorrectly identifies the city as “Williamington”). The phone conversation lasts one minute. McVeigh’s co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, is from Decker (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990), and both he and McVeigh have friends there (see Summer 1992). At 8:02 p.m., a phone call is placed from the St. George, Utah, residence of John Bangerter Sr. to the Restaurant Tea Service in Flagstaff, Arizona, lasting 23 minutes. Bangerter’s son John Bangerter Jr. is a member of the Army of Israel (sometimes called the Sons of Israel), a white supremacist and Christian Identity (see 1960s and After) militia group. At 9:57 p.m., a phone call is placed from Bangerter’s residence to Nicholas’s residence. That call lasts 38 minutes. (Source Lawrence Meyer will assume that Bangerter Jr. places the calls, as he does not have a telephone in his name.)
April 17 Calls - At 1:57 p.m., a phone call from the Nicholas residence is placed to the same Wilmington number. The call lasts one minute. At the same time, a call from the Bangerter residence is placed to the Oklahoma City Radisson Inn, lasting one minute. At 1:59 p.m., Bangerter Jr. calls the Restaurant Tea Service in Flagstaff, and talks for one minute. At the same time, a phone call from the Bangerter residence goes to the Oklahoma City Radisson Inn.
April 18 Calls - At 8:49 a.m., a call from Bangerter’s house is placed to the Restaurant Tea Service in Flagstaff, lasting 25 minutes. At 6:39 p.m., a call from Bangerter’s house is placed to the Oklahoma City Radisson Inn, lasting 11 minutes. At 9:02 p.m., a call from Bangerter’s house is placed to the Oklahoma City Radisson Inn, lasting one minute.
April 19 Calls - In the hours after the bombing, two calls are placed from the Bangerter residence. The first takes place at 12:34 p.m., to a phone number in Las Vegas, and lasts 45 minutes. The second takes place at 2:41 p.m., to the Restaurant Tea Service in Flagstaff, and lasts 37 minutes.
Meaning Unclear - The telephone records will later be collected by McVeigh’s lawyers for his defense against charges stemming from the bombing (see Early 2005). In and of themselves, the phone calls prove nothing, particularly as no information about the content of the conversations is made available. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Entity Tags: Lawrence Meyer, Army of Israel, John Bangerter, Jr, Kevin Nicholas, Terry Lynn Nichols, Timothy James McVeigh, Restaurant Tea Service (Flagstaff, Arizona ), John Bangerter, Sr, Oklahoma City Radisson Inn
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
On April 17, Timothy McVeigh, planning to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) and apparently casting about for someone to help him (see March 31 - April 12, 1995 and April 5, 1995), calls his old Army friend and roommate, John Kelso from his room at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas (see April 13, 1995). McVeigh shared an apartment with Kelso during their days at Fort Riley, Kansas (see January - March 1991 and After). Kelso, living in an Alliance, Nebraska, apartment, does not answer the call; he is at his job as an engineer on the Burlington Northern Railroad. Press reports will later state that Kelso hears a voice on his answering machine say to someone else on the caller’s end: “He’s not home. He’s at work.” On April 21, two days after the bombing, FBI agents, tracing the call to the Dreamland Motel, quiz Kelso about the call. Kelso says he did not even know who made the call until the agents inform him it was McVeigh, and he tells them he has not seen McVeigh since McVeigh left the Army in 1992. Kelso will characterize McVeigh as a “froot loop.” [New York Times, 8/13/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] McVeigh will later deny placing the call. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Junction City, Kansas, resident Connie Hood, who with her husband is going to the Dreamland Motel to visit her friend David King, has to wait to pull into the motel parking lot to let a large Ryder truck pull into the lot ahead of her. Three days ago, Mrs. Hood saw a man at the motel whom she will later say resembles a sketch of an unidentified “person of interest” in the upcoming Oklahoma City bombings, “John Doe No. 2” (see April 13, 1995 and April 20, 1995), in Room 23, the room next to Room 25, occupied by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Mrs. Hood will say that today she sees both doors of the Ryder cab open, and watches the driver, whom she will say is not McVeigh, walk into the motel office. The driver has dark hair and resembles the man she saw on the previous occasion. Mrs. Hood says that minutes later she sees the same man leave the motel office and climb into the driver’s side of the truck. Around the same time, according to Mr. Hood, a man he will identify as McVeigh comes out of a motel room, gets into the passenger side of the truck, and the truck drives away. King, staying at the motel, will later tell authorities that he sees the Ryder truck with a trailer attached to it around 3:30 p.m. Inside the trailer is something large wrapped in dingy white canvas; King will say: “It was a squarish shape and it came to a point on top. It was about three or four feet high.” Later in the day, the trailer is gone, but the truck remains. King will also recall seeing a third party, someone resembling “John Doe No. 2,” in Room 23, next to McVeigh’s Room 25, a recollection bolstered by a similar statement from his friend Connie Hood, who will say she also saw the man both on April 15 and tonight. The motel manager will say that no one is registered for Room 23, but King will later say he hears the television going in 23, and also say he saw McVeigh and a man who resembles McVeigh’s accomplice Terry Nichols loitering around the room and getting sodas from a machine. Investigators will pore over Room 23 for clues. [New York Times, 4/30/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
A large Ryder truck similar to that rented by Timothy McVeigh. [Source: RevGalBlogPals (.com)]Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, April 13, 1995, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) stays in his room at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas, for most of the day. Around 3:00 p.m., he walks to a convenience store and calls a taxi. The taxi drops him off at a McDonald’s restaurant on the corner of I-40 and Washington Street. A security camera films McVeigh buying a fruit pie and walking out of the restaurant around 3:57 p.m. McVeigh walks from the McDonald’s to Elliott’s Body Shop, where he has reserved a 20-foot rental Ryder truck (see April 15, 1995). It is raining; McVeigh has no hat. A young man in a Pontiac Fiero picks up McVeigh and drives him to Elliott’s. The manager, Eldon Elliott, is in the shop, along with an employee, Vicki Beemer. Beemer asks McVeigh for his driver’s license number, and he gives her the number he has memorized from the fraudulent license he has made for “Robert Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995). The information he provides is: Bob Kling, Social Security Number 962-42-9694, South Dakota driver’s license number YF942A6, home address 428 Malt Drive, Redfield, South Dakota. The listed designation is 428 Maple Drive, Omaha, Nebraska. While McVeigh is waiting for the transaction to process, he makes small talk with Beemer about Easter and paying taxes; Beemer will later remember smiling at McVeigh, and after seeing the birth date of April 19, 1972 on the Kling license, telling him, “I’ve been married longer than you’ve been alive.” McVeigh had asked for a dolly, but the shop has none to provide him; instead, Beemer calls Waters TruValue Hardware and reserves a dolly for him. McVeigh takes possession of the Ryder truck, and drives to the hardware store to pick up the dolly, in the process making an attempt to avoid being filmed by the store’s security camera. He is given the dolly, throws it in the truck, and drives back to the motel. By now it is around 5:00 p.m. He sees Eric McGown, motel owner Lea McGown’s son, who tells him he cannot park the truck near the swimming pool. Instead, McVeigh parks the truck in front of the motel against the sign. He returns to his room, where he stays the night. During the evening, according to one source, he destroys the Kling ID by peeling back the plastic and burning the paper, then throwing the ashes and the plastic in the toilet. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 148-149; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] (When McVeigh is arrested, he apparently presents the Kling driver’s license to the state trooper who pulls him over—see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995. Either the reports that McVeigh destroys the Kling driver’s license are incorrect, or McVeigh destroys another Kling ID.)
Garbled Recollection of Taxi Drive - Taxi driver David Ferris takes McVeigh to the McDonald’s. It is a short drive, and the fare is only $3.65; McVeigh gives Ferris no tip. Ferris will later be questioned by FBI agents, and the taxi driver will tell a garbled, contradictory story. At first, he breaks down and tearfully denies ever seeing McVeigh, saying, “I never picked up McVeigh.” Later he will change his story and tell of taking a man strongly resembling McVeigh, wearing a white T-shirt and Levis, from the convenience store to the McDonald’s. He will recall the man as having a military bearing and a crew cut, and being very polite. Asked if it was McVeigh, Ferris will say, “In all probability, yes.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 148]
Second Man Sighting Begins 'John Doe No. 2' Controversy - Residents and visitors to the motel later testify to seeing McVeigh and another, unidentified man with the Ryder truck well before 5:00 p.m, a man described as lantern-jawed, with a tattoo on his upper arm, and wearing a baseball cap; it is this sighting that begins the controversy of “John Doe No. 2,” McVeigh’s supposed accomplice (see 3:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). Beemer and Elliott later tell investigators that they believe McVeigh is in the company of a second man, though they will be unable to provide a description of any kind. Elliott will later say: “There was another gentleman standing there in the corner. I just barely glanced at him as I walked by.” Beemer will say: “I don’t know who he was. It was just another man. They just came straight to the counter. They were both in the office.” Another shop employee, Tom Kessinger, will later say he, too, saw the second man, remembering the blue-and-white baseball cap and the tattoo, but Kessinger will fail to provide an accurate description of McVeigh, saying that he was wearing “military camo” and khaki pants, both of which are inaccurate. FBI investigators will later tell Robert Millar, the leader of the white supremacist community living at Elohim City (see 1983, January 23, 1993 - Early 1994, April 1993, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, August 1994 - March 1995, August - September 1994, September 12, 1994 and After, September 13, 1994 and After, November 1994, December 1994, February 1995, March 1995, (April 1) - April 18, 1995, April 5, 1995, and April 8, 1995), that McVeigh calls the community on April 18, in an effort to tie the “John Doe No. 2” sighting to someone in the community. It is possible the FBI mistakes that alleged call for one McVeigh makes to an old Army buddy (see April 17-21, 1995). [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 149] Author Richard A. Serrano will later note: “The FBI was able to show that McVeigh had ridden alone in a taxi that afternoon from the Dreamland Motel to a McDonald’s restaurant near the Ryder agency. And at the McDonald’s, McVeigh was caught on camera—again alone. From there, the FBI assumed, he walked along the frontage road to the Ryder shop. Why would he need anyone with him at all?” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 260]
Entity Tags: Eric McGown, Elliott’s Body Shop (Junction City, Kansas), Dreamland Motel (Junction City, Kansas), David Ferris, Eldon Elliott, Vicki Beemer, Waters TruValue Hardware (Junction City, Kansas ), Timothy James McVeigh, Robert Millar, Richard A. Serrano, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lea McGown, Tom Kessinger
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
During the evening, Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see (February 20, 1995)) takes his family, including his son Joshua Nichols, who usually lives with his mother Lana Padilla in Las Vegas (see November 6, 1994), to dinner. He then drives Joshua to the airport. Nichols has already told his fellow conspirator Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) that he does not want to directly participate in the bombing (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995). However, after putting Joshua on the airplane, he makes two phone calls using the Spotlight telephone card he and McVeigh have previously used (see August 1994). One is to Padilla, telling her that Joshua is on the airplane. The second is to McVeigh, who is preparing to leave the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas (see April 13, 1995). McVeigh tells Nichols that he has rented the Ryder truck he will use to deliver the bomb (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 146-150]
Around 9:00 p.m., major league baseball scout Larry Wild is pumping gas for himself at Cardie’s Corner, a Herington, Kansas, gas station and convenience store. Wild, a Herington native, will tell investigators that he sees Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, April 13, 1995, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) and an unidentified man standing near one another inside the store. He does not recognize either man. He will say he does not see them leave; investigators will note that the house of McVeigh’s fellow conspirator Terry Nichols (see (February 20, 1995) and (6:00 p.m.) April 17, 1995) is only a few blocks away. Wild will say that the unidentified man fits the general appearance of the “John Doe No. 2” sketch (see April 15, 1995 and 3:00 p.m. April 17, 1995), though it is not an identical resemblance. Wild will describe the man as shorter and stockier than McVeigh, with dark, brushed-back hair and a dark complexion. He speculates the man may be Hispanic, Native American, or both. The man wears a light-blue denim jacket, Wild will recall. [New York Times, 12/3/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
According to documents later filed with a federal court, witnesses see a large Ryder truck parked behind Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols’ house in Herington, Kansas (see (February 20, 1995) and (6:00 p.m.) April 17, 1995), late in the evening. Nichols is working with Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, April 13, 1995, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) to carry out the bombing, though he does not want to take a direct part in the bombing itself (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995). [New York Times, 5/12/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] It is hard to reconcile this sighting with McVeigh’s own recollections of the timeline of events; McVeigh has the Ryder truck at a Junction City motel until around 5:00 a.m. (see 3:30 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995).
Two men enter a hair salon, Gracie & Company, in Junction City, Kansas, for a haircut. The men will later be identified as “John Doe No. 1” and “John Doe No. 2,” suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20, 1995). Salon owner Kathy Henderson will identify the two to the FBI, and later to the press. One man, “No. 2,” with brown hair and a square jaw, asks for a haircut for both himself and his friend. The other, “No. 1” (later identified as Timothy McVeigh, who will detonate the bomb), has light skin and a crewcut. Henderson will identify the two after seeing the sketches released by the FBI. Henderson turns the two away because, as she will recall, the salon was “all booked up.” She will recall of “No. 2”: “It was strange. He did not need a haircut. He was very well groomed.” In subsequent interviews, Junction City residents will recall seeing McVeigh in several places over the last few weeks, usually in the company of his unidentified friend (see April 15, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995, and 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995). [New York Times, 4/22/1995] This witness identification clashes with the chain of events as laid out by McVeigh and the FBI (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995 and Noon and After, April 18, 1995).
David Hollaway of the Cause Foundation speaks to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995 and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) sometime today via telephone. The Cause Foundation is a non-profit organization founded to provide legal help to Americans with far-right views and/or militia ties. [Stormfront (.org), 1/1994; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] FBI investigators will later show that McVeigh makes the phone call to Hollaway. Apparently McVeigh does not identify himself by name, but simply calls himself “a patriot.” He tells Hollaway, whose group is suing the government over the Branch Davidian tragedy (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After), that the lawsuit is pointless because “justice is corrupt” and the government would beat the lawsuit. Hollaway agrees with McVeigh’s general statements, but says: “[I]f we win the case, it will put a damper on the government. If we lose it, we will put hypocrisy on trial.” McVeigh retorts that actions, not lawsuits, are needed now. “These people in government need to be sent a message,” he says. Hollaway warns: “Watch what you say. It’s not smart to use a telephone to discuss matters.” According to reporter Howard Pankratz, Hollaway gets “an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach” during the phone call. Asked about McVeigh’s statement about “sen[ding] a message,” Hollaway says, “Most callers don’t mean anything by it, and if they do I don’t want to know it.” He will go on to say that most of the phone calls he gets are from “ranters,” but McVeigh “sounded intelligent.” Hollaway will report the phone call to the FBI after the bombing, who will then tell him the identity of his caller, and he will later complain that McVeigh’s lawyers attempt to use his conversation with McVeigh to construct a conspiracy theory of the bombing that would either exonerate their client or lessen his culpability. Hollaway will say that he immediately connected the conversation with McVeigh to the bombing the next day: “It clicked that instant, right then. They [the news people] were running around, and I was going: ‘Holy s___! I will be lucky to live through this. This is really bad.’” For a brief time, Hollaway will worry that he might be connected to the bombing, because he was a bomb technician in the military. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 173; Denver Post, 3/11/1997]
David King, staying at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, later tells investigators that around 3:30 a.m. he is drinking beer and watching movies with a friend when he hears a noise. He looks out of his motel room window and sees a man he later identifies as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) sitting in the passenger seat of a large Ryder truck (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). According to King, the dome light is on, the glove compartment is open, and McVeigh is poring over a map. King leaves the motel just before dawn and sees McVeigh still sitting in the Ryder truck. When King returns between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., he notices that the truck is gone. Federal investigators later determine that McVeigh leaves the motel for good sometime before 5:00 a.m. McVeigh will later tell his lawyers that he wakes up around 4:00 a.m. and leaves the motel around 5:00 a.m., but does not sit in the truck as King says. [New York Times, 4/30/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] King saw McVeigh at the motel the day before (see 3:00 p.m. April 17, 1995). Another witness, motel owner Lea McGown, will say that she wakes up around 4:00 a.m. and sees McVeigh in the driver’s seat of the Ryder truck (not the passenger seat as King alleges). The dome light is on, she will recall, and McVeigh is hunched over as if he is studying a map. By 5:00 a.m., she will recall, the truck is gone. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 150]
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) leaves the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas (see 3:30 a.m. April 18, 1995), and drives his rented Ryder truck (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995) to Herington, Kansas, where he has planned to meet with his co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see (February 20, 1995)) at 6:00 a.m. The plan is for McVeigh and Nichols to meet in the parking lot of the Pizza Hut near the storage unit where they have stored materials for the bomb (see September 22, 1994), leave Nichols’s truck at the Pizza Hut, and ride in the truck to the storage shed. Nichols, who has told McVeigh he does not want to participate directly in the bombing (see March 1995 and March 31 - April 12, 1995), does not appear. Nichols will later tell FBI investigators that around 6:00 a.m., McVeigh calls him asking to borrow his pickup truck to pick up some items and look at vehicles, and asking him to pick up McVeigh on his way to an auction in Fort Riley, Kansas (see November 20-21, 1997). At 6:15 a.m., McVeigh begins loading the truck himself, first loading empty drums and then beginning to load the seven boxes of fuel-oil gel. At 6:30 a.m., Nichols arrives in his truck. McVeigh has already loaded 20 50-pound bags of fertilizer into the truck. Nichols wants to leave and wait until sunrise to finish loading the truck, but McVeigh refuses. Nichols drives his truck to the Pizza Hut and walks back to the shed. Nichols then helps McVeigh load another 70 bags of fertilizer and three 55-gallon drums of nitromethane. McVeigh and Nichols leave in the shed a Ruger Mini 30 rifle, a duffel bag, LBE rifles and extra magazines for the guns, a smoke grenade, a hand grenade, a CS gas grenade, a shortwave radio, three KinePal explosive sticks similar to dynamite sticks, two changes of McVeigh’s clothing, three license plates, and a shovel. McVeigh tells Nichols, “If I don’t come back for a while, you’ll clean out the storage shed.” Nichols and McVeigh drive to Geary Lake State Park, Nichols in his pickup truck, McVeigh in the Ryder. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 150; Douglas O. Linder, 2001]
Nichols Tells Different Story - Nichols will later describe to investigators (see April 25, 1995) a somewhat different chain of events. According to Nichols, McVeigh calls him at 6 a.m. and asks him to come to Junction City; according to Nichols’s statement, he drives to Fort Riley, where he intends to spend most of the day at an auction (see November 20-21, 1997), and lets McVeigh have the truck. Nichols will say that McVeigh returns the truck later this afternoon and the two drive to a storage shed, where McVeigh instructs Nichols to clean out the shed if he does not “come back in a while.” [New York Times, 4/26/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Witnesses See McVeigh in Junction City, McVeigh Will Say Witnesses Are Mistaken - Two witnesses will later say they see McVeigh and another, unidentified man park a Ryder truck in front of a Hardee’s restaurant in Junction City sometime during the morning, but McVeigh will later tell his lawyers that this does not occur. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Two witnesses see whom they believe to be Oklahoma City bombing suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, (February 20, 1995), and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) at a diner in Herington, Kansas. Barbara Whittenberg and her husband Robert own the Santa Fe Trail diner in Herington; the restaurant is near Highway 77, which leads to Junction City (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). Early in the morning, Barbara Whittenberg sees McVeigh, Nichols, and a third man she does not recognize eating together in her restaurant. They have three separate vehicles in the parking lot—a white car with an Arizona license plate (see April 13, 1995), a Ryder truck (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995 and 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995), and a pickup truck, presumably the truck owned by Nichols. Whittenberg’s son Charlie notices the car’s Arizona license plate and strikes up a conversation with the three, a conversation that Barbara Whittenberg joins. Whittenberg recognizes Nichols as an occasional patron, and recognizes McVeigh from a single visit he made sometime earlier. The third man has a dark complexion, she will later tell investigators, and looks Hawaiian. She will say that the third man bears a general resemblance to the sketch of “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995), but his face is thinner, his cheekbones more prominent, and his nose wider than what the sketch depicts. During their brief conversation, she asks where they are going, and the third man replies, “Oklahoma.” She replies that she has relatives in a town south of Oklahoma City; the remark, she will recall, stops the conversation. “It was like ice water was thrown on it,” she later says. The men stay for about an hour, she will recall, and leave around 9:00 a.m. After 2:00 p.m., she and her husband drive to Junction City, she will recall, going past the entrance to Geary State Fishing Lake, the site where the FBI will later say Nichols and McVeigh assemble the bomb. The Whittenbergs see a Ryder truck parked by the lake and think of the three men. The truck appears identical to the one they had at the diner. “They couldn’t find a place to stay,” she will remember saying. According to chronologies assembled by the FBI and McVeigh’s lawyers, the two have left the lake before 2:00 (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). [New York Times, 12/3/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
A remote, yet accessible area of Geary State Lake Park. [Source: Leisure and Sports Review (.com)]Oklahoma City bombing conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, having finished loading McVeigh’s rented Ryder truck with the bomb components (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995), arrive at Geary State Lake Park, Kansas, where they begin assembling the bomb. (A diner owner will later say she sees McVeigh, Nichols, and a third man eating breakfast at her establishment between 8 and 9 a.m.—see 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995. It is possible that the 8:15 a.m. time of arrival is slightly erroneous.) Each 55-gallon drum has the contents of seven 50-pound bags of fertilizer and seven 20-pound buckets of nitromethane. They use a bathroom scale to weigh the buckets of nitromethane. They slit open the bags of ammonium nitrate, pour the fuel into empty plastic barrels, and mix in the racing fuel, turning the white fertilizer pellets into bright pink balls. After 10 minutes or so, the components will blend sufficiently to cause a tremendous explosion if detonated by blasting caps and dynamite, which they wrap around the barrels. McVeigh runs the main fuse to the entire batch through a hole in the storage compartment into the cab of the truck, allowing him to light the fuse from inside the cab. When they finish, Nichols nails down the barrels and McVeigh changes clothes, giving his dirty clothes to Nichols for disposal. Nichols also takes the 90 empty bags of fertilizer. The rest of the “tools” are placed in the cone of the bomb. They finish sometime around noon. Nichols tells McVeigh that his wife Marife (see July - December 1990) is leaving him for good. Nichols says he will leave McVeigh some money and a telephone card in the Herington storage shed (see September 22, 1994). They shake hands and Nichols wishes McVeigh good luck. Before they drive off in their separate vehicles, Nichols warns McVeigh that the truck is leaking. As they drive away, McVeigh sees two trucks pulling in. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 150-151; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] Nichols will drive from the lake to a military surplus auction at Fort Riley, Kansas. He then picks up address labels and business cards for his new surplus-reselling business (see April 6, 1995). McVeigh will drive back to the Dreamland Motel to check out, and head towards Oklahoma City (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995). [Serrano, 1998, pp. 151] Witnesses will later tell FBI investigators that around 9:00 a.m. they see a large Ryder truck parked next to a blue or brown pickup truck at the lake. Around 10:00 a.m., Sergeant Richard Wahl of Fort Riley and his son arrive at Geary Lake about 50 yards away from where McVeigh and Nichols are mixing the bomb. As the morning is cold and rainy, they wait for about an hour trying to decide whether or not to put their boat in the water. Wahl sees the Ryder truck and the blue pickup parked together near the boat ramp, though he cannot see anyone near the two vehicles. He will recall seeing the side door on the Ryder open and later seeing it closed. Other visitors to the park say they did not see any large yellow truck, and some will claim to have seen the truck at the park a week before, adding to the confusion surrounding the circumstances. Investigators will later find an oily substance which smells like fuel oil at the spot indicated by witnesses that the trucks were parked (see April 15-16, 1995). [New York Times, 5/12/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 150-151]
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, having finished constructing the bomb with his fellow conspirator Terry Nichols at a state park in Kansas (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995), drives his rented Ryder truck carrying the assembled bomb components towards Oklahoma City. He stops either in Arkansas City, Kansas, or Winfield, Kansas, to get gas, and begins driving down Route 166, stopping at a Total gas station near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. He then pulls into a rest stop at Emporia, Kansas, on State Highway 77. He discards his map and his MREs (military meals-ready-to-eat). He checks the load to ensure that it has not shifted. He puts the truck rental agreement, in the name of “Bob Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995), and a forged student ID in the name of “Tim Tuttle” (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994) in the midst of the 55-gallon drums containing the bomb components, presumably so they will be destroyed in the blast. (McVeigh later tells his lawyers that the ID bore the name Kling, and not Tuttle, though he will also indicate that he has previously destroyed the Kling ID—see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995.) He takes I-35 to the Blackwell exit near Ponca City, and pulls into the truck parking lot so that the leaking diesel fuel can leak onto the grass. He eats at the McDonald’s restaurant across the street. Wearing a black hat, black jeans, a blue coat, sunglasses, and a pistol in a shoulder holster, he walks into either a Best Western or Days Inn to rent a room, then decides against it. Instead, he parks the truck for the night and sleeps in the truck. [New York Times, 4/26/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Douglas O. Linder, 2001]
Clerks on duty at the Newkirk, Oklahoma, E-Z Mart on US Highway 77 will later tell investigators that they remember a large Ryder truck (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995 and 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995) possibly accompanied by a pickup truck pulling up to the store. Only one of the two men in the truck(s) actually comes inside; the clerks will later say that the man who comes inside resembles Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see September 13, 1994, March 1995, and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). The man buys gasoline and burritos from the freezer section. Another man remains with the truck; the clerks will later say he resembles fellow conspirator Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). The FBI will later dust the store for fingerprints. Investigators believe that the two men leave Newkirk and drive to Perry, Oklahoma, north of Oklahoma City. Another account claims that two other people are in the Ryder truck with McVeigh. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] This witness identification clashes with the chain of events as laid out by McVeigh and the FBI (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995 and Noon and After, April 18, 1995).
Witnesses will later claim that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995 and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) enters Perry’s Cattle Baron’s Steakhouse in Perry, Oklahoma, in the company of another, unidentified man (see April 20, 1995). The witnesses, owners Terry and Judi Leonard, will later say they see a large yellow Ryder truck in the parking lot when they arrive at the restaurant around 7:00 this evening, and notice the two strangers sitting at a table near the door to the bar area. A customer will later inform the FBI that he bumped into McVeigh in the hallway between the dining room and the front door. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] This witness identification clashes with the chain of events as laid out by McVeigh and the FBI (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995 and Noon and After, April 18, 1995).
A gas station attendant, Fred Skrdla, sees a large yellow Ryder truck drive into his station, the Cimarron Travel Plaza truck stop, outside of Billings, Oklahoma. Billings is about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City. Skrdla will later tell investigators that he sees a man, presumably Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 15, 1995), buy gasoline sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. The man pays in cash, Skrdla remembers. Skrdla will say he is busy at the time and does not recall if the man has a companion. When he later sees composite drawings of “John Doe No. 1” and “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995), he will recognize one of them as the man who bought the gasoline. When he later sees television coverage of McVeigh being “perp walked” out of the Noble County Courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma (see April 21, 1995), he is sure that the man he saw paying for the gasoline was McVeigh. [New York Times, 1/13/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 151]
A surveillance camera south of Wichita, Kansas, films a Ryder truck with two men inside and two other men in a dark pickup following closely behind. Some believe the Ryder truck is driven by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), accompanied by unidentified accomplices. Witnesses say the two men in the Ryder truck stop for coffee sometime in the early morning hours at Jackie’s Farmers Store in Mulhall, Oklahoma, off of Highway 35, about an hour north of Oklahoma City. Witnesses will later say that Mulhall postmaster Mary Hunnicutt is in the store and stands next to McVeigh. Hunnicutt will later tell reporters that she has been advised by the FBI not to discuss her experience, because she may be called upon to testify. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] These sightings do not coincide with McVeigh’s own chronology of events (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995).
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) wakes up near Ponca City, Oklahoma (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995), and at about 7:00 a.m. begins driving toward Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck (see April 15, 1995) containing a massive fertilizer bomb (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). McVeigh will later tell authors Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, who will write his authorized biography American Terrorist, that he has cold spaghetti for breakfast. “Meals ready to eat… are meant for high intensity. I knew I was going through a firestorm and I would need the energy,” he will say. He will tell the authors that he made an “executive decision” to move up the timing of the blast several hours; he will also tell them that he drives to Oklahoma City alone. He wears a T-shirt with a drawing of Abraham Lincoln in a “Wanted” poster and the words (shouted by John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin) “SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS” (“thus ever to tyrants”); the shirt also features the Thomas Jefferson quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” and a picture of a tree dripping with blood. McVeigh takes Interstate 35 to Interstate 40 to Interstate 235, and takes the Harrison/Fourth Street exit. According to Mike Moroz, a service manager at Jerry’s Tire in downtown Oklahoma City, two men in a large Ryder truck stop between 8:25 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. to ask directions to Fifth and Harvey Streets, the location of the Murrah Building. Moroz will later identify the two men as McVeigh and an as-yet unidentified man, shorter, darker-skinned, and wearing a baseball cap; he later tells a USA Today reporter that McVeigh gets out of the driver’s side of the cab and walks over to speak with him, while the other man remains in the cab. Moroz’s version of events will remain unverified. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Denver Post, 6/3/1997; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Douglas O. Linder, 2006] Three witnesses later say they see McVeigh near the Murrah Building around 8:40 a.m. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Alternate Versions of Events - An alternate version of events has McVeigh traveling to Oklahoma City with white supremacist Michael Brescia (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995 and April 8, 1995) in the passenger seat, which would explain why Moroz sees McVeigh and another man with him. And another version of events is later given by Ed Kirkpatrick, a local structural engineer, who will claim to see McVeigh and “a white guy” in his thirties or forties meeting a Middle Eastern man at a downtown McDonald’s around 8:30 a.m. According to Kirkpatrick, McVeigh sends the white man for coffee while he talks to the Middle Eastern man sitting in a Dodge Dynasty with a blue tag. The white man becomes upset, Kirkpatrick will say, and McVeigh leaves him at the McDonald’s. Kirkpatrick says he witnesses the white man throw a .45 handgun into a nearby dumpster. Yet another version of events will be provided by an unnamed mortgage company employee, who says he sees the Ryder truck being followed by a yellow Mercury at Main and Broadway; the employee will claim he sees McVeigh driving the Mercury. This version of events is echoed by a statement given by lawyer James R. Linehan, who will say that he sees McVeigh driving erratically in a battered yellow 1977 Mercury that matches the description of McVeigh’s getaway car (see April 13, 1995), first spotting the Mercury stopped beside him at a red light on the south side of the Murrah Building. He will describe the driver as hunched over the wheel and with his face obscured, either by a hood or by hair (McVeigh’s hair is close-cropped and McVeigh is not wearing a hooded pullover). No one is in the car with him, Linehan will say. The Mercury suddenly “peels out” and runs the red light, Linehan will say, then circles the building, drives around the Murrah Building, and then drives into its underground building. Linehan will remember the car as having no rear license plate. Before the car disappears into the underground parking garage, Linehan gets a better look at the driver, and Linehan will say he has a sharp nose, no facial hair, a sharp chin, and smooth features. Linehan will say that when he sees news footage of McVeigh’s yellow Mercury on television, he leaps to his feet, points at the TV screen, and yells: “That’s the car! That’s the car!” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 251; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Douglas O. Linder, 2006] Linehan’s version of events will be reported by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard A. Serrano in an August 1995 story. Linehan will be interviewed by the FBI, but will not testify before the grand jury investigating the bombing. He will also be interviewed by lawyers representing McVeigh. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 251-252]
Entity Tags: James R. Linehan, Jon Hansen, Ed Kirkpatrick, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jerry’s Tire (Oklahoma City), Timothy James McVeigh, Murrah Federal Building, Richard A. Serrano, Lou Michel, Mike Moroz, Michael William Brescia
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
The Alfred P. Murrah Building after being bombed. [Source: CBS News]A truck bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people in America’s worst domestic terrorist attack. Timothy McVeigh, later convicted in the bombing, has ideological roots both in the Patriot world and among neo-Nazis like William Pierce, whose novel, The Turner Diaries (see 1978), served as a blueprint for the attack. [Washington Post, 4/20/1995; Southern Poverty Law Center, 6/2001; Clarke, 2004, pp. 127] Initially, many believe that no American set off the bomb, and suspect Islamist terrorists of actually carrying out the bombing (see 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After). Their suspicions prove groundless. Investigators will find that the bomb is constructed of some 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, carried in 20 or so blue plastic 55-gallon barrels arranged inside a rented Ryder truck (see April 15, 1995). The bomb is detonated by a slow-burning safety fuse, most likely lit by hand. The fuse is attached to a much faster-burning detonation cord (“det cord”) which ignites the fertilizer and fuel-oil mixture. [New York Times, 4/27/1995] The Murrah Federal Building houses a number of federal agencies, including offices for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF); the Social Security Administration; the Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Veterans Affairs, and Agriculture departments; and the Secret Service. [Washington Post, 4/20/1995] It encompasses an entire city block, between 5th and 4th Streets and Harvey and Robinson Streets, and features a U-shaped, indented drive on 5th that allows for quick pickup and delivery parking. The entire building’s facade on this side is made of glass, allowing passersby to see into the offices in the building, as well as into the America’s Kids day care center on the second floor, which by this time is filling with children. It is in this driveway that McVeigh parks his truck. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 99-102]
Entering the City - McVeigh drives into Oklahoma City, entering around 8:30 a.m. from his overnight stop in Ponca City, Oklahoma; the details reported of his entrance into the city vary (see 7:00 a.m. - 8:35 a.m., April 19, 1995). At 8:55 a.m., a security camera captures the Ryder truck as it heads towards downtown Oklahoma City [Douglas O. Linder, 2006] , a sighting bolstered by three people leaving the building who later say they saw the truck parked in front of the Murrah Building around this time. At 8:57, a security camera captures an image of McVeigh’s Ryder truck being parked outside the Murrah Building in a handicapped zone. One survivor of the blast, Marine recruiter Michael Norfleet, later recalls seeing the Ryder truck parked just outside the building next to the little circle drive on 5th Street leading up to the main entrance of the building. Norfleet had parked his black Ford Ranger in front of the Ryder.
McVeigh Lights Fuses - McVeigh drives the Ryder truck west past the Murrah Building on NW Fourth Street, turns north on a one-way street, and turns right on Fifth Street. He pulls the truck over and parks near the Firestone store, next to a chain-link fence. He then lights the five-minute fuses from inside the cab (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995), sets the parking brake, drops the key behind the seat, opens the door, locks the truck, exits, and shuts the door behind him. A man later claims to have hit his brakes to avoid someone matching McVeigh’s description as he crossed Fifth Street around 9:00 a.m. McVeigh walks quickly toward a nearby YMCA building where he has hidden his getaway car, a battered yellow Mercury Marquis (see April 13, 1995), in the adjoining alleyway, crossing Robinson Street and crossing another street to get to the alleyway. He begins to jog as he approaches his car. He later says he remembers a woman looking at him as she is walking down the steps to enter the building; he will describe her as white, in her mid-30s, with dirty blonde hair. According to McVeigh’s own recollection, he is about 20 feet into the alley when the bomb goes off. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 184-185; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 158; Douglas O. Linder, 2006; The Oklahoman, 4/2009]
Truck Explodes - At 9:02 a.m., the truck explodes, destroying most of the Murrah Building and seriously damaging many nearby buildings. Eventually, it will be determined that 168 people die in the blast, including 19 children. Over 500 are injured. The children are in the second-story day care center just above the parking space where McVeigh leaves the Ryder truck. McVeigh will later tell his biographers that he is lifted off his feet by the power of the blast.
Devastation and Death - When the bomb detonates, the day care center and the children plummet into the basement. The building, constructed with large glass windows, collapses, sending a wave of flying glass shards and debris into the building and the surrounding area. The oldest victim is 73-year-old Charles Hurlbert, who has come to the Social Security office on the first floor. Hurlbert’s wife Jean, 67, also dies in the blast. The youngest victim is four-month-old Gabeon Bruce, whose mother is also in the Social Security office. One victim, Rebecca Anderson, is a nurse who runs towards the building to render assistance. She never makes it to the building; she is struck in the head by a piece of falling debris and will die in a hospital four days after the blast. Her heart and kidneys will be transplanted into survivors of the bombing. [Denver Post, 6/3/1997; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 153-154; Oklahoma City Journal Record, 3/29/2001] Sherri Sparks, who has friends still unaccounted for in the building, tells a reporter in the hours after the blast, “Oh, I can’t stand the thought of… those innocent children, sitting there playing, thinking they’re safe, and then this happens.” The explosion leaves a 30-foot-wide, 8-foot-deep crater in the street that is covered by the wreckage of the building’s upper floors. The north face of the nine-story building collapses entirely. [Washington Post, 4/20/1995; Washington Post, 4/22/1995] Mary Heath, a psychologist who works about 20 blocks from the Murrah Building, says the blast “shook the daylights out of things—it scared us to death. We felt the windows shake before we heard the noise.” In a neighboring building, a Water Resources Board meeting is just commencing; the audiotape of the meeting captures the sound of the blast (see 9:02 a.m. and After, April 19, 1995). [Washington Post, 4/20/1995; The Oklahoman, 4/2009] Norfleet, trapped in the Marine Corps office, is thrown into a wall by the explosion. His skull is fractured, and a shard of glass punctures his right eye. Three separate arteries are pierced, and Norfleet begins bleeding heavily. Two supply sergeants in the office are far less injured; Norfleet asks one, “How bad am I hurt?” and one replies, “Sir, you look really bad.” One of the two begins giving Norfleet first aid; Norfleet later recalls: “He immediately went into combat mode and started taking care of me. He laid me on a table and he started looking for bandages to administer first aid. And while I was laying on that table, I just knew that I was losing strength and that if I stayed in the building, I would die.” Norfleet wraps a shirt around his head and face to slow the bleeding, and the two sergeants help him to the stairs, through the fallen rubble, and eventually out. Norfleet will later say that he follows “a blood trail of somebody that had gone down the steps before me” to get outside, where he is quickly put into an ambulance. He loses almost half his body’s blood supply and his right eye. He will never fly again, and will soon be discharged for medical incapacity. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 161-162] Eighteen-month-old Phillip Allen, called “P.J.” by his parents, miraculously survives the blast. The floor gives way beneath him and he plunges 18 feet to land on the stomach of an adult worker on the floor below, Calvin Johnson. Landing on Johnson’s stomach saves P.J.‘s life. Johnson is knocked unconscious by the blast and by the impact of the little boy falling on him, but when he awakes, he carries the toddler to safety. P.J.‘s grandfather calls the child “Oklahoma’s miracle kid,” and media reports use the label when retelling the story of the miraculous rescue. P.J. is one of six children in the day care center to survive the blast. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 275-277] Some people later report their belief that the Murrah Building was rocked by a second explosion just moments after the first one, the second coming from a secure area managed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) that illegally stored explosives. Law professor Douglas O. Linder will later write, “Both seismic evidence and witness testimony supports the ‘two blast theory.’” [Douglas O. Linder, 2006] That theory is later disputed (see After 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995).
Explosion's Effects Felt Miles Away - Buildings near the Murrah are also damaged, seven severely, including the Journal Record newspaper building, the offices of Southwestern Bell, the Water Resources Board, an Athenian restaurant, the YMCA, a post office building, and the Regency Tower Hotel. Two Water Resources Board employees and a restaurant worker are killed in the blast. The Journal Record building loses its roof. Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen later recalls, “The entire block looked like something out of war-torn Bosnia.” Every building within four blocks of the Murrah suffers some effects. A United Parcel Service truck 10 miles away has its windows shattered by the blast. Cars in parking lots around the area catch fire and burn. Millions of sheets of paper, and an innumerable number of glass shards, shower down for hundreds of feet around the building. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 28-30]
Truck Axle Crushes Nearby Car - Richard Nichols (no relation to bomber Timothy McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols), a maintenance worker standing with his wife a block and a half away from the Murrah Building, is spun around by the force of the blast. They throw open the back door of their car and begin taking their young nephew Chad Nichols out of the back seat, when Richard sees a large shaft of metal hurtling towards them. The “humongous object… spinning like a boomerang,” as Richard later describes it, hits the front of their Ford Festiva, smashing the windshield, crushing the front end, driving the rear end high into the air, and sending the entire car spinning backwards about 10 feet. Chad is not seriously injured. The metal shaft is the rear axle of the Ryder truck. Later, investigators determine that it weighs 250 pounds and was blown 575 feet from where the truck was parked. Governor Frank Keating (R-OK) points out the axle to reporters when he walks the scene a day or so later, causing some media outlets to incorrectly report that Keating “discovered” the axle. The scene will take investigators days to process for evidence. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 32; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 187-189]
First Responders Begin Arriving - Within minutes, survivors begin evacuating the building, and first responders appear on the scene (see 9:02 a.m. - 10:35 a.m. April 19, 1995).
McVeigh's Getaway - McVeigh flees the bomb site in his Mercury getaway car (see 9:02 a.m. and After, April 19, 1995), but is captured less than 90 minutes later (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995).
Entity Tags: Mary Heath, Phillip (“P.J.”) Allen, Regency Tower Hotel (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), Oklahoma City Journal Record, Michael Norfleet, Murrah Federal Building, Richard Nichols, Social Security Administration, Sherri Sparks, Timothy James McVeigh, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Terry Lynn Nichols, Jon Hansen, Southwestern Bell, Jean Hurlbert, Ed Kirkpatrick, Frank Keating, US Secret Service, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Water Resources Board (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ), Young Men’s Christian Association, William Pierce, Gabeon Bruce, America’s Kids (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ), Chad Nichols, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Calvin Johnson, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Charles Hurlbert, US Department of Agriculture, Douglas O. Linder
Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, Domestic Propaganda, US Domestic Terrorism
According to later press reports, Chevie Kehoe (see June 1997), a former Elohim City (see November 1994 and April 5, 1995) resident staying at a motel in Spokane, Washington, wakes early and demands that the motel lobby turn the television to CNN, saying that “something is going to happen and it’s going to wake people up.” The motel owner will later tell reporters that Kehoe becomes elated when the news of the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) is reported, shouting, “It’s about time!” It is possible that Kehoe may have had advance warning of the blast through his Elohim City connections (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995). [Douglas O. Linder, 2006]
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, having just set a massive fertilizer bomb to explode in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), executes his getaway plan, which centers around a Mercury Marquis (see April 13, 1995) parked near the Murrah Federal Building, the target of the bomb. McVeigh is almost into a parking lot when the bomb goes off. The wall of the building on his left comes down, and he is struck by falling debris in the left leg. He steps over a fallen power line and removes ear plugs he has been wearing. He crosses Broadway and is seen by a woman exiting a shop; he shakes his head at her as if to say he does not know what has happened. He turns right on Broadway and 7th, walks a quarter of a block, crosses NW 7th Street, and walks north along an alleyway before turning east on 8th Street. He crosses a set of railroad tracks, approaching the building where he parked the Ryder truck containing the bomb (see April 15, 1995). According to one source, a mail delivery man approaches McVeigh and says, “Man, for a second I thought that was us that blew up!” McVeigh reportedly replies, “Yeah, so did I” and keeps walking. (The source for the mailman’s statement is a document purportedly created by the McVeigh legal defense team—see February 28 - March 4, 1997; other reporters will try and fail to corroborate the statement.) McVeigh checks over the Mercury for damage, gets in, and starts the car; it takes about 30 seconds to start. He lets it warm up for another 30 seconds, by which time he can hear sirens approaching. After briefly working with the transmission, the car lurches into gear and he pulls out slowly, driving through the alleyway to Oklahoma Street, a one-way southbound street. He manages to get onto Highway 235 to Interstate 44, then finally to I-35 north. He is captured by a state trooper less than 90 minutes later (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 272]
Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charles Hanger. [Source: The Oklahoman]Timothy McVeigh, who has just detonated a massive fertilizer bomb that has devasted the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), gets into his Mercury Marquis getaway car (see April 13, 1995) and flees north out of the city (see 9:02 a.m. and After, April 19, 1995). At 10:17 a.m., while driving north on I-35 outside of Billings, Oklahoma, about 60 miles north of Oklahoma City, McVeigh is stopped for having no license plates on his vehicle by Oklahoma Highway Patrolman Charles Hanger, a trooper nicknamed “The Hangman” for his zeal in pursuing violators. According to later testimony, there is a radio blackout in force because of the bombing, allowing police to keep the airwaves clear. Hanger had been ordered to go to Oklahoma City, but then had those orders countermanded and was told to resume his duties.
Roadside Stop - Hanger stops McVeigh’s car and calls his office on a cellphone to check the car, but forgets to activate his dashboard camera, so no video record of the arrest is made. Hanger later says he was apprehensive because another trooper had been shot on the same highway two weeks earlier. McVeigh, cooperating with Hanger’s directions, exits the vehicle and begins walking towards Hanger, hands empty. “I stopped you because you weren’t displaying a tag,” Hanger says. McVeigh looks at the rear of his car, clearly unaware that he lacks a license plate. He says he has not had the car long and that is why he lacks a plate. Hanger asks to see a bill of sale, and McVeigh tells him the paperwork is still being drawn up. Hanger does not believe this statement, and asks to see McVeigh’s driver’s license. McVeigh reaches into his back pocket and takes out a camouflage-colored billfold. As he does so, Hanger notices a bulge under McVeigh’s windbreaker. Hanger asks McVeigh to pull open his windbreaker. McVeigh says calmly, “I have a gun.” Hanger orders, “Get your hands up and turn around.” McVeigh complies. Hanger puts the muzzle of his gun to the back of McVeigh’s head. He orders McVeigh to walk to the back of his car. “My weapon is loaded,” McVeigh says. “So is mine,” Hanger replies. He then tells McVeigh to place his hands flat on the trunk of the Mercury and spread his legs. McVeigh complies. Hanger removes the pistol from McVeigh’s shoulder holster and tosses it onto the shoulder of the road, well out of McVeigh’s reach. McVeigh tells Hanger he has another ammunition clip on his belt, and Hanger removes this as well. “I also have a knife,” McVeigh says. Hanger removes the blade from a brown leather sheath and throws it to the roadway. “Why the loaded firearm?” Hanger asks. “I have a right to carry it for protection,” McVeigh replies. Hanger handcuffs McVeigh, walks him to his squad car, and puts him in the front passenger seat, belting him in. He then goes back to pick up the gun, the ammunition clip, and the knife. McVeigh, at Hanger’s request, recites the serial number of the Glock. Hanger comments, “Most wouldn’t know the serial number on their weapon,” and McVeigh replies, “I do.”
Arrest and Booking - The dispatcher reports over the radio that Timothy James McVeigh has no outstanding warrants, and there is nothing in the system on the Mercury or on McVeigh’s pistol. Hanger arrests McVeigh for having no vehicle registration, no license plates, and carrying a concealed weapon—a loaded 9mm Glock semiautomatic pistol (see August 16, 1991). According to prosecutors and Hanger’s own recollections, McVeigh is very polite and cooperative with Hanger, answering questions, “yes sir,” and “no sir,” and saying he has served in the military and as a security guard. “No, sir, I did not intend to break your laws,” he tells Hanger. “I just carry the gun for protection.” Hanger later says he interviews McVeigh in the car, but will say: “I didn’t take any notes. It was just friendly chit-chat.” McVeigh tells Hanger that he just bought the car from a Firestone dealership in Junction City. Hanger has his dispatcher call for information on the car. Hanger searches the Mercury, finding nothing of immediate interest, but when he walks back to his car, he notices McVeigh fidgeting in his seat (see April 21, 1995). Hanger asks if McVeigh wants his car towed into town (at his own expense) or left on the road; McVeigh tells him to leave it where it is. Hanger locks the car and drives McVeigh to Perry, Oklahoma. During the trip, McVeigh asks Hanger again and again when he can get his gun back. Sometime around 11:00 a.m., McVeigh is booked and lodged in the county jail in the Noble County Courthouse in Perry. He is given prisoner number 95-057, photographed, and fingerprinted. Except for one brief demand to know when he will go to court, courthouse officials remember McVeigh as polite and soft-spoken. Hanger has no idea who he has caught; he takes his wife to lunch before turning in the gun and ammunition he confiscated from McVeigh. [Washington Post, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 4/29/1997; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 176-180; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Indianapolis Star, 2003; Fox News, 4/13/2005; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, 2006] McVeigh has a permit to carry the gun, but is in violation of the law because he is carrying it concealed, and because he has another weapon, the knife, also on his person. [New York Times, 4/23/1995] Later, Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson says that Hanger, suspicious by nature anyway, had trouble with McVeigh’s story. “Particularly with his story that he was always on the road, he just didn’t believe,” Gibson will say. “And when he grabbed his gun and there was no reaction, no shock, that didn’t seem right, either. Neither did his story. Charlie said, ‘If you were in the military, when were you a security guard?’ and he said when he was on vacation. So things didn’t really jibe.” [New York Times, 4/23/1995] McVeigh’s gun is later found to be loaded with at least one Black Talon “cop-killer” bullet capable of penetrating body armor. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 177] Pat Livingston, a pawn shop owner in Ogden, Kansas, will recall selling McVeigh’s friend Terry Nichols two Glock semiautomatic pistols in February 1995. He also recalls selling McVeigh a similar Glock in 1991, and a Tec-9 assault pistol in 1993 (see February - July 1994). Livingston later says he remembers McVeigh well: “I knew that name as soon as I saw it on TV. That guy McVeigh, he wrote me a hot check for the Tec-9 in 1993.” [New York Times, 4/23/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] Author Richard A. Serrano will later report that the pistol McVeigh is carrying is a .45-caliber Glock military assault pistol, Model 2.1. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 177] Left in McVeigh’s car are a blue baseball cap and a legal-sized envelope, sealed and stuffed with documents and clippings. Some of the documents include an excerpt from the racially inflammatory novel The Turner Diaries (see 1978), quotes from Revolutionary War figures, and newspaer clippings. [New York Times, 4/29/1997]
False Driver's License Leads to Clues - Though he presents a false driver’s license, in the name of “Robert Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995 and April 15, 1995), McVeigh gives his home address as 3616 Van Dyke Street, Decker, Michigan. The address is the farm of James Nichols, the brother of Terry Nichols (see December 22 or 23, 1988). This information leads federal agents to both the Nichols brothers (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) and later to McVeigh himself as a suspect in the bombing. [Washington Post, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 6/3/1997] McVeigh lists James Nichols as his “next of kin.” [New York Times, 4/23/1995] Some versions of events have McVeigh destroying the Kling driver’s license (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995), giving Hanger his real license, and citing the Decker, Michigan, address as an emergency contact. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 178-180] McVeigh empties his pockets at the jail: the contents include $650, four rounds of ammunition, his billfold, keys, yellow coins, a roll of antacids, and a set of earplugs, which will later be tested for explosive residue. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 191; Serrano, 1998, pp. 181]
Oddities - Later, the FBI speculates that the Arizona license plate, bearing the number LZC646, the Mercury once bore fell off sometime between the time McVeigh bought the car and the time Hanger pulled him over. It is also possible, the FBI will say, that McVeigh or his accomplice moved the license plate to another car after the bombing (see April 29, 1995). The license plate was originally registered on February 1, 1995 to a 1983 Pontiac station wagon owned by McVeigh (see January 1 - January 8, 1995), who then gave a mail drop in Kingman, Arizona (see February - July 1994), as his address. Press reports later claim that McVeigh traded the Pontiac and $250 in cash for the Mercury, and put the Pontiac’s license plate on the Mercury (a later press report states that McVeigh may have forgotten to transfer the Pontiac’s license plate to the Mercury—see May 16, 1995). A statement by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says the Kingman mail drop address was used by a “T. Tuttle” (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994 and December 1993) in 1993 to advertise a “LAW launcher replica,” which the advertisement said fired “37 mm flares,” for sale in The Spotlight, a publication of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby. A LAW is a “light anti-tank weapon.” [New York Times, 4/27/1995]
Entity Tags: Mark Gibson, James Nichols, Charles Hanger, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Timothy James McVeigh, Richard A. Serrano, Pat Livingston, Noble County Courthouse (Perry, Oklahoma), Anti-Defamation League, Terry Lynn Nichols
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Water Resources Board members and others flee into the streets after the bombing. [Source: The Oklahoman]A Water Resources Board meeting is commencing in the water board building just north of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, on the northwest corner of 5th and Harvey. As always, the meeting is audiotaped. Cynthia Lou Klaver, a Water Resources Board attorney, is there to help mediate a dispute from Ardmore, Oklahoma, involving a farmer who wants to drain scarce groundwater to open his own bottled-water business, a plan disputed by a small number of his neighbors. “We were getting ready to open it [the arbitration] up around nine that morning,” Klaver will later recall. She brings the group together in a third-floor boardroom, turns on a small cassette tape recorder, and begins the meeting. She has just begun to describe how the meeting will proceed when a huge, devastating roar thunders through the entire building. Pieces of ceiling and office furniture come crashing down. The roar, the sound of the explosion that devastates the Murrah Building (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), is captured on the tape, as is Klaver’s voice. “Everybody get out… out!” she screams. “Watch the electricity lines. Watch the lines!… Out the back door. All the way to the right.… Let’s get out of here!” Klaver later remembers wondering if the entire building is going to collapse, and will recall the tremendous amount of falling debris and live electrical lines. She and recording secretary Connie Siegel Goober try to help some of the elderly people out of the room, but find that the door is blocked. They force open a back door and lead their charges out of the room into a hallway. Klaver is one of the last people out of the building. Soon she and others are in the street, dazed and coughing on the thick smoke hanging in the air. She sees a coworker, Mike Mathis, who is attempting to drive himself to the hospital with a deep cut on his forehead. Klaver drives him, using his pickup truck. After officials let her back into the building, she will retrieve the audiotape. It will become one of the key pieces of evidence in the trial of the bomber, Timothy McVeigh (see April 25, 1997). She will also find a clock that had stopped after being shaken off the wall; it reads 9:02. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 158-160; The Oklahoman, 4/2009]
Luke Franey, an explosives expert for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF, sometimes called the ATF), is on the ninth floor of the Murrah Federal Building when the bomb goes off (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Though he is an expert on explosives, he is unable to immediately identify the kind of explosion that rocks the building. He tries to extricate himself from the debris, and almost immediately comes across a small tape recorder in the rubble. He begins making dictated notes into the microphone, trying to preserve his impressions for history and for any possible prosecution that might be forthcoming. “It’s April 19,” he says, breathing hard. “I’m making this tape for evidence purposes.… I was sitting at a desk on the ATF office on the ninth floor talking about obtaining an arrest warrant.… During that conversation, a loud explosion occurred, blowing me from my desk across the hall into the opposite office. It took me a minute to figure out what happened. But once I regained my senses I heard people screaming for help. I looked. I got out of my office. The building is basically destroyed. The DEA office is gone. There’s a sheer dropoff outside of my office.… The building has been ripped apart and there’s a straight dropoff approximately nine floors straight down.” Franey continues his observations, which are punctuated by muffled screams and the noise of emergency sirens. He is unable to find any survivors. “I can’t get any verbal responses,” he says. “I’m just holding tight. I’m not hurt. A little bit disoriented, I guess.” He notes the phone lines are dead. “Hell, I don’t know what else to say. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.” Franey turns off the machine at 9:05 a.m., three minutes after the blast, and turns it on again around 9:20 a.m. “I want to put this down before I forget. Right after it detonated, I got up and looked out the part of the building that wasn’t there. I could see where the Greek restaurant across was gone and there was a huge orange-colored flame with black smoke. I don’t know if it was a natural gas explosion that did this. I have no idea. I don’t know whether it was a bomb or a gas explosion or whatever. I’m not sure. But hell, who knows, it might be important.” Franey finds a large evidence poster board and writes on the back, “ATF Trapped, 9th Floor,” and props it in a window jamb. He later escapes across an outside ledge that slopes at a 45-degree angle, and will testify at the trials of bombing conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 160-161; Associated Press, 5/28/2001]
In the hours after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), some believe that the bombing was the work of Islamist terrorists. Televised news reports air theories of Islamist involvement, and say that eyewitnesses have reported seeing “Middle Eastern-looking men” fleeing the scene of the crime. [Los Angeles Times, 4/20/1995; Fox News, 4/13/2005] One eyewitness describes a man running from the scene clad in a black jogging outfit; many both in US intelligence and in the media assume that the man is likely Middle Eastern. One source tells reporters that the FBI has received claims of responsibility from at least eight groups, seven of which seem to be of Middle Eastern origin. Some officials privately fear that the bombing is the work of either Hamas or Islamic Jihad, two violently militant Islamist organizations. [Los Angeles Times, 4/20/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 185] Later in the day, Abdul Hakim Murad, an al-Qaeda operative in US custody, attempts to take credit for the bombing, but his associate Ramzi Yousef, also in US custody, does not (see April 19, 1995). In another instance, Jordanian-American Abraham Ahmad, attempting to fly to Jordan to visit relatives, is detained and questioned during a layover in Chicago. Ahmad, whom some sources describe as Palestinian-American, lives in Oklahoma City. A naturalized citizen who has lived in Oklahoma City since 1982, he has a background in computer science and is making a scheduled departure this morning to Jordan. His five suitcases contain, among other items, several car radios, large amounts of electrical wires, solder, a VCR, and a tool kit. He has packed a blue jogging suit and a pair of black sweatpants. Federal magistrates rush to serve him with a material warrant, moving so quickly that they misspell his name. He is stopped and questioned in Chicago before being allowed to continue his flight. He is stopped again in London, and this time is detained, strip-searched, and paraded in handcuffs through the crowded airport. He is photographed, fingerprinted, and returned to Washington before being transported to Oklahoma City. His name is leaked to the news media as a possible bombing suspect, creating a firestorm of interest; reporters crowd around his family’s home in Oklahoma City, and angry citizens vandalize his front yard. Authorities learn that Ahmad is going to Jordan for a family emergency. He will be released on April 21, will attend a memorial service for the bombing victims, and will file a $1.9 million lawsuit against the federal government. In later days, government officials such as counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will say that the possibility of Islamist involvement on some level is difficult to disprove (see Late 1992-Early 1993 and Late 1994 and November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995). [Serrano, 1998, pp. 185-186; Clarke, 2004, pp. 127; Fox News, 4/13/2005] Justice Department spokesman John Russell says of Ahmad: “He cooperated. There is no reason for him to be held.” (The Washington Post, in reporting this, does not name Ahmad, and identifies him as “Palestinian-American.”) [Washington Post, 4/22/1995] Shortly after the bombing, senior FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, who had worked with the FBI at the Branch Davidian siege outside Waco, concludes that the bomber is probably a white male with militia ties and not an Islamist terrorist (see April 19, 1995).
Federal, state, and local authorities begin hunting for clues in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and 9:02 a.m. - 10:35 a.m. April 19, 1995). The FBI has been named the lead investigative agency (see After 9:02 a.m., April 19, 1995). It begins by tracking the Ryder truck that delivered the bomb. At the bomb scene, veteran FBI agents James L. Norman and James Elliott examine the truck axle that had crushed a nearby car; Norman finds a partial vehicle identification number, PVA26007. Elliott begins a database search for the truck through the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and by 2:15 p.m. the FBI learns that the vehicle is registered to a Ryder rental firm in Miami, and the rental agreement is traceable under its registration number, 137328. A quick check with the Miami office shows that the truck, a 1993 Ford with a 20-foot body, was rented from a Ryder rental firm in Junction City, Kansas, for a one-way trip to Omaha, Nebraska (see April 15, 1995). The identification is confirmed by the Florida license plate on the remains of the Ryder truck, NEE26R, which matches the Ford rental truck. The renter is listed as “Robert Kling” (see Mid-March, 1995).
Confirmation of McVeigh as 'Kling' - FBI agents call the Junction City shop; owner Eldon Elliott (no relation to the FBI agent) answers, and the agents tell him to pull the Kling paperwork for them. At 4:30 p.m., Federal agent Scott Crabtree, the resident agent in nearby Salina, Kansas, arrives at the Junction City shop to gather information on the rental and on “Kling,” and to get the documents forwarded to FBI headquarters as soon as possible. Crabtree interviews Elliott, office manager Vicki Beemer, and mechanic Tom Kessinger. They tell him about “Kling,” and about a second man that might have been with “Kling.” From their descriptions, Crabtree gathers enough information to put an FBI sketch artist to work on drawings of two suspects who rented the truck (see April 20, 1995). The artist’s renditions are hampered by discrepancies and confusion among the three’s descriptions. They cannot agree on details about “Kling“‘s height, weight, the color of his eyes, or the look of his face. Their recollections of the second man are even more confusing and contradictory, but all three insist that there was a second man. The FBI quickly learns that the driver’s license used to rent the truck, issued to “Kling,” is false. The issue date of the Kling license is April 19, 1993, the date of the Branch Davidian tragedy (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). The next day, interviews with Lea McGown, the proprietor of the Junction City Dreamland Motel (see April 13, 1995 and 3:30 a.m. April 18, 1995), reveal that “Kling” is a man McGown identifies as “Tom McVeigh.” She will also remember his Ryder truck parked in her lot. Shortly afterwards, the FBI learns via a national crime computer check that Timothy (not Tom) McVeigh is in custody in nearby Perry, Oklahoma, on unrelated weapons and vehicle charges (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995), and that McVeigh’s description closely matches that of “Kling.” [New Yorker, 5/15/1995; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 188-191, 195; Douglas O. Linder, 2001]
Plethora of False Leads - After the sketches are released, the FBI office in Oklahoma City is bombarded with phone calls by people who claim to have seen the person, or both persons, in the sketch before the bombing. A motorist claims he saw a man running across the street near where the Ryder truck had been parked in front of the Murrah Building, and says he had to hit his brakes to keep from running into him. A woman says she saw a man strongly resembling “Kling” at the Murrah Building a week before the bombing, and “possibly again” a few days later. A meter maid tells an agent, and later a USA Today reporter, she nearly ran into the Ryder truck, and claims that the truck was going at an extremely slow speed and made her think the driver was going to stop and ask directions. A man claims to have seen “two individuals” in the Ryder truck 20 minutes before the bombing, and says one resembled the sketch of “Kling.” Another witness claims to have seen a car “speeding” away from the site of the blast, “obviously in an effort to avoid the bomb blast”; the witness is sure two people were in the car, and their testimony is later presented in evidentiary hearings by the FBI. The manager of a Texaco mini-mart in Junction City says the two men in the sketch had been hanging around his store for four months, visiting twice a week and stocking up on cigarettes and sodas. A bartender at the Silverado Bar and Grill in Herington, Kansas, where co-conspirator Terry Nichols lives (see (February 20, 1995)), says he remembers McVeigh and Nichols (both of whom he later identifies) coming into his bar every weekend for the last month, shooting pool and drinking beer. Many witnesses describe McVeigh as “polite,” and some say he comes across as a bit “funny.” At least one says the two smelled bad, as if they had just come from a pig farm—this detail comes after news reports inform citizens that the bomb had been composed of fertilizer. The FBI takes all the tips seriously, but most are quickly proven to be baseless. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 184, 224; Serrano, 1998, pp. 193-194]
Entity Tags: James L. Norman, Eldon Elliott, Dreamland Motel (Junction City, Kansas), James Elliott, Vicki Beemer, Tom Kessinger, Timothy James McVeigh, Scott Crabtree, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Insurance Crime Bureau, Lea McGown, Terry Lynn Nichols
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Timothy McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis and two Oklahoma state trooper vehicles, in a photo taken shortly after McVeigh was pulled over for not having a license plate. [Source: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law]Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), who has been stopped by a state trooper for having no license plates on his vehicle and arrested for that violation and for carrying a concealed weapon (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995), is incarcerated in the Noble County jail in Perry, Oklahoma. McVeigh tells another inmate, burglary suspect John Seward, that he had been stopped because he did not have a driver’s license or inspection sticker on his car. Seward will later tell investigators that during McVeigh’s stint in the jail, he makes two phone calls. Seward does not know who McVeigh may have called, though he believes one of the calls is to a local bondsman. McVeigh will remain in the Noble County jail, identified as Inmate 95-057, for two days before authorities connect him to the bombing (see After 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995, April 20, 1995, 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995, and April 21, 1995). [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 1-10]
Michael and Lori Fortier, close friends of suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh who have some involvement in the bombing conspiracy (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, August 1994, September 13, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, and December 16, 1994 and After), see the news broadcasts of the bombing on television in their Kingman, Arizona, home (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). They have a house guest, Marion Day Laird. Laird will later recall that the Fortiers exhibit almost no reaction to the news of the bombing. “They acted the same,” she later says. “They didn’t act any differently that I would notice.” Fortier’s recollection of his reaction is quite different. “Right away, I thought Tim did it,” he will say. “I think I thought, ‘Oh my God, he did it.’” Fortier and his wife discuss calling the FBI the day of the bombing, or at least asking advice from Lori’s father, but after seeing President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno promise the death penalty for those responsible (see 4:00 p.m., April 19, 1995), they decide to tell no one. Later, when the FBI tracks them down and begins pressing them for information, Michael Fortier will lie about their involvement. “I felt Tim was like a buffer zone,” Fortier will say. “If people thought he was guilty, then that would bring suspicion down on myself. But if he was innocent, then surely I would have no knowledge.” In the days after the bombing, when FBI investigators first question the Fortiers, as Michael Fortier will recall, “I told them I didn’t think Tim was capable of it.” When asked about the possible involvement of suspected accomplice Terry Nichols, Fortier will say: “I just gave a negative answer that I didn’t know nothing about Terry. I just wanted to push him aside and not even have to think about him.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 239-240] Investigators become more interested in the Fortiers after learning that a local reporter seeking to interview the couple is greeted with a shotgun and the words, “Stay away from here.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 184]
Abdul Hakim Murad is in a US prison awaiting trial for his alleged role in the Bojinka plot (see January 6, 1995). Told about the Oklahoma City bombing that took place earlier in the day (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), he immediately takes credit for the bombing on behalf of his associate Ramzi Yousef. However, Yousef, also in US custody at the time, makes no such claim (see 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After). An FBI report detailing Murad’s claim will be submitted to FBI headquarters the next day. [Lance, 2006, pp. 163-164] A Philippine undercover operative will later claim that Terry Nichols, who will be convicted for a major role in the Oklahoma City bombing, met with Murad, Yousef, and others in the Philippines in 1994, and discussed blowing up a building in Oklahoma and several other locations (see Late 1992-Early 1993 and Late 1994). Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later comment: “Could [Yousef] have been introduced to [Nichols]? We do not know, despite some FBI investigation. We do know that Nichols’s bombs did not work before his Philippine stay and were deadly when he returned.” [Clarke, 2004, pp. 127] Mike Johnston, a lawyer representing the Oklahoma City bombing victims’ families, will later comment: “Why should Murad be believed? For one thing, Murad made his ‘confession’ voluntarily and spontaneously. Most important, Murad tied Ramzi Yousef to the Oklahoma City bombing long before Terry Nichols was publicly identified as a suspect.” [Insight, 6/22/2002] Also on this day, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, an associate of Yousef and Murad who is being held in the US, is moved from a low security prison to a maximum security prison. [Lance, 2006, pp. 164] But despite these potential links to Muslim militants, only five days after the Oklahoma City bombing the New York Times will report, “Federal officials said today that there was no evidence linking people of the Muslim faith or of Arab descent to the bombing here.” [New York Times, 4/24/1995] Murad’s claim apparently will not be reported in any newspaper until two years later [Rocky Mountain News, 6/17/1995] , when lawyers for Nichols’s bombing partner, Timothy McVeigh, tell reporters that their defense strategy will be to claim that the bombing was the work of “foreign terrorists” led by “a Middle Eastern bombing engineer.” The lawyers will claim that the bombing was “contracted out” through an Iraqi intelligence base in the Philippines, and it is “possible that those who carried out the bombing were unaware of the true sponsor.” The lawyers also say it is possible, though less likely, that the bombing was carried out by right-wing white supremacists, perhaps from the Elohim City compound (see 1973 and After, 1983, 1992 - 1995, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, August 1994 - March 1995, September 12, 1994 and After, November 1994, February 1995, and April 5, 1995). [New York Times, 3/26/1997] The claims of foreign involvement will be discredited (see 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After).
The FBI’s Clint Van Zandt, a “profiler” at the bureau’s behavioral science unit, discounts the idea that the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) is the work of foreign terrorists. Instead, Van Zandt notes that the date of the bombing is the two-year anniversary of the Branch Davidian debacle (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). Van Zandt worked the Branch Davidian case. He concludes that the perpetrator is white, male, in his twenties, with military experience and possibly with ties to far-right militia groups. Van Zandt says the perpetrator is likely angry about the Davidian and Ruby Ridge (see August 31, 1992 and August 21-31, 1992) incidents. Coinciding with Van Zandt’s prelimilary profile, terrorism expert Louis R. Mizell notes that the date is “Patriot’s Day,” the date of the Revolutionary War battle of Lexington and Concord, and a date revered by the militia movement (see 9:00 p.m. April 19, 1995). Van Zandt’s profile is an accurate description of bomber Timothy McVeigh. [Douglas O. Linder, 2006; TruTV, 2008]
Richard Wayne Snell, a right-wing extremist who helped concoct plans to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1983 (see 1983), is executed in prison some 12 hours after Timothy McVeigh detonates a fertilizer bomb outside that same building (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Snell is affiliated with the far-right groups Aryan Nations (see Late 1987 - April 8, 1998) and the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord, and has connections to the now-defunct violently extremist group The Order. Snell was convicted of two murders: the 1983 robbery and murder of Texarkana pawnbroker William Stumpp (whom Snell wrongly believed was Jewish), and the shooting death of a black state trooper, Louis Bryant, who in 1984 pulled Snell over for a traffic violation near De Queen, Arkansas; Snell shot Bryant as he approached his vehicle, then shot him to death as he lay on the ground. (In his trial, Snell argued that he killed Bryant in self-defense.) He fled the scene of Bryant’s murder and was chased to Broken Bow, Oklahoma, where he was wounded and subdued by officers. In his car, those officers found the gun Snell used to murder Stumpp. Snell now terms himself a “prisoner of war.” Right-wing paramilitary groups have protested his execution, calling him a “patriot,” and term the federal government “the Beast.” Snell, who has published a periodic white supremacist newsletter, “The Seekers,” was the focus of a March 1995 issue of another organization’s newsletter, the Montana Militia, which reminded its readers that Snell’s execution was set for April 19, stating: “If this date does not ring a bell for you then maybe this will jog your memory. 1. April 19, 1775: Lexington burned; 2. April 19, 1943: Warsaw burned; 3. April 19, 1992: The fed’s attempted to raid Randy Weaver, but had their plans thwarted when concerned citizens arrived on the scene with supplies for the Weaver family totally unaware of what was to take place (see August 31, 1992 and August 21-31, 1992); 4. April 19, 1993: The Branch Davidians burned (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After); 5. April 19, 1995: Richard Snell will be executed—unless we act now!!!” The Montana Militia’s plan of action was to flood the Arkansas governor’s office with letters protesting Snell’s execution. Snell’s jailers later say that for the last four days, Snell has predicted something “big” would happen on the day of his execution (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995). On his last day, Snell is allowed a visit by Elohim City founder Robert Millar (see 1973 and After), his “spiritual advisor,” where they watch the events of the Oklahoma City bombing unfold on television. Snell reportedly chuckles over the bombing, though Millar will say Snell is “appalled” by the reports. Snell’s last words are a threat directed to Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker (D-AR), as he is being strapped to a gurney for execution by lethal injection. “Governor Tucker, look over your shoulder,” Snell says. “Justice is coming. I wouldn’t trade places with you or any of your cronies. Hail the victory. I am at peace.” McVeigh will not mention Snell, and there is no evidence linking Snell or his colleagues to the Oklahoma City bombing. [New York Times, 5/20/1995; Stickney, 1996, pp. 161-162; Time, 2/24/1997; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Anti-Defamation League, 8/9/2002] Snell’s widow will later say she has no reason to believe her husband had anything to do with the bombing. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 271] Millar brings Snell’s body back to Elohim City for internment. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 270]
Entity Tags: Montana Militia, Jim Guy Tucker, Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord, Aryan Nations, Louis Bryant, Richard Wayne Snell, Robert Millar, William Stumpp, Timothy James McVeigh, The Order
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
The sketches of “John Doe No. 1” and “John Doe No. 2” as released by the FBI. [Source: The Oklahoman]The FBI releases sketches of the two men believed to be responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing the day before (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). The men are identified as “John Doe No. 1” and “John Doe No. 2.” [Indianapolis Star, 2003; The Oklahoman, 4/2009] The sketches are based on interviews with witnesses in Oklahoma City and in Kansas (see April 15, 1995). FBI agent Raymond Rozycki speaks to three employees at Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas, who give him most of the details used to compile the sketches (see April 13, 1995 and April 15, 1995). [Fox News, 4/13/2005] Additionally, Attorney General Janet Reno announces a $2 million reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the bombers. [Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 809] The sketches are released on the authority of lead FBI agent in charge Weldon Kennedy (see After 9:02 a.m., April 19, 1995). In the following days, updated sketches are released, showing “John Doe No. 2” in profile and wearing a baseball cap with lightning streaks on the side. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 193, 261]
One Identified within a Day; Second Never Identified, May Not Exist - Within a day, “John Doe No. 1” is identified as Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). Lea McGown, the owner of the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas, speaks to FBI agents and recognizes “Robert Kling” as “Tom McVeigh,” a man who stayed in the motel the week before (see April 13, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). McVeigh had checked into Room 25 on Friday, April 14, she says, and stayed through the weekend. She also remembers McVeigh driving a large Ryder truck to the motel. “John Doe No. 2,” described as a stocky, swarthy man with a lantern jaw and a tattoo on his arm, will never be conclusively identified (see June 14, 1995). Agents seal off Room 25 and begin going over it for forensic evidence. [New York Times, 4/24/1995; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 194; Indianapolis Star, 2003] In 1998, author Richard A. Serrano will characterize “John Doe No. 2” as the man who “either got away with the biggest crime in US history or is a man who never lived.… Discounting the crank or ‘hysterical’ sightings (see February 17, 1995 and After, April 13, 1995, April 15, 1995, April 15, 1995, 3:00 p.m. April 17, 1995, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995, 9:00 p.m. April 17, 1995, 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, April 18, 1995, and (1:00 a.m.) April 19, 1995), only three people ever saw John Doe No. 2. Eldon Elliott, Vicki Beemer, and Tom Kessinger, the three Ryder employees (see April 13, 1995 and April 15, 1995), would recall only minor details about the man, and their recollections were as shadowy as his face.” Beemer will later say: “They were both in the office. I really don’t recall what the other guy—he was in there, but I don’t really recall where he was standing exactly.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 259-260]
False Sightings - Bogus sightings and detentions will abound after the sketches of “John Doe No. 2” are released. In Georgia, motorist Scott Sweely is stopped by a local sheriff and ordered to crawl out of his car window and lie facedown on the asphalt. Someone at a gas station told local police that Sweely looked like the sketch of Doe No. 2. Sweely is taken into custody and grilled by federal agents for four hours before being released. In Minnesota, a man resembling Doe No. 2 is arrested at gunpoint at the Mall of America. In California, a man AWOL from the US Army is rousted from his home and transferred to Los Angeles, where crowds scream and demand “justice” be carried out against him. A former Army friend of McVeigh’s, Roger L. Barnett (see January - March 1991 and After and January - March 1991 and After), is considered a possible Doe No. 2. Barnett resembles the descriptions of the supposed accomplice—he is stocky and has a skull-and-crossbones tattoo on his arm. He also lives near the Arkansas state line, close to the gun dealer whom alleged co-conspirator Terry Nichols robbed to help finance the bombing (see November 5, 1994). However, time cards from his workplace show Barnett was at work the entire week of the bombing, and he passes a lie detector test. Another Army friend, Ray Jimboy, now working as a fry cook in Okemah, Oklahoma, is briefly considered a possibility, but a lie detector test clears him. For a time, Joshua Nichols, Terry Nichols’s son, is considered a possible Doe No. 2, though Joshua is 13 years old. The FBI is bombarded with calls; one husband even tells agents that the Doe No. 2 sketch is his wife. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 260-262]
Entity Tags: Janet Reno, Vicki Beemer, Elliott’s Body Shop (Junction City, Kansas), Federal Bureau of Investigation, Eldon Elliott, Dreamland Motel (Junction City, Kansas), Tom Kessinger, Timothy James McVeigh, Weldon Kennedy, Scott Sweely, Raymond Rozycki, Lea McGown, Ray Jimboy, Richard A. Serrano, Joshua Nichols, Roger L. Barnett, Terry Lynn Nichols
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) removes all the items left by fellow conspirator Timothy McVeigh (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995) in their Herington, Kansas, storage unit (see September 22, 1994). Nichols will put the items into his garage (see (February 20, 1995)). [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996] He also attempts to establish an alibi for himself by spreading an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate fertilizer (one of the components he and McVeigh used to construct the bomb) on his front yard; neighbors will later say the fertilizer is so thick on his yard that it looks like snow, and his yard will quickly become heavy with weeds from the over-fertilization. He dallies around on his front porch, presumably so neighbors will see him there. Neighbors will later say they were surprised to see so much of the usually reclusive Nichols. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 200]
A quilt square sewn as part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. [Source: Oklahoma City National Memorial]When the citizens of Kingman, Arizona, hear of the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), community leaders raise $11,000 for the victims and commission a ladies’ quilting bee. The women of the town sew 150 quilts for the victims and their families. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh lived on and off in Kingman for two years before the bombing, and stored some of the bomb materials in that town (see November 1991 - Summer 1992, May-September 1993, September 1993, February - July 1994, May 1994, September 13, 1994 and After, October 4 - Late October, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, December 16, 1994 and After, January 31 - February 12, 1995, February 17, 1995 and After, and March 31 - April 12, 1995). [Serrano, 1998, pp. 87]
The evening of April 20, Carl Lebron, a security guard in Buffalo, New York, is watching the late news on ABC when he sees the sketch of the two suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing (see April 20, 1995). Lebron instantly notes that “John Doe No. 1” looks like his former colleague, Timothy McVeigh (see November 1991 - Summer 1992 and Mid-November 1994). Lebron, who worried about McVeigh’s political extremism and emotional stability when the two worked together, visits the Buffalo FBI office on the morning of April 21 and says he believes the sketch is of McVeigh. Field agent Eric Kruss thanks Lebron and sends him home, but when Lebron walks in his door, his phone is ringing—Kruss is coming to bring him back to the field office. Lebron tells Kruss and other agents of McVeigh’s fanatical beliefs and his extreme agitation over the Branch Davidian tragedy (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). He also tells the agents that McVeigh’s last known mailing address was a postal drop in Kingman, Arizona (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, May 1994, and September 13, 1994 and After). Lebron asks what he should do if McVeigh suddenly reappears in his town; the agent replies: “Don’t worry. We’ve already got him” (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). [Serrano, 1998, pp. 194-195]
Federal authorities investigating the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) find the address left on suspect Timothy McVeigh’s recent hotel registration (see April 13, 1995 and 3:30 a.m. April 18, 1995). The address is of the family farm owned by James Nichols, the brother of McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols. Late in the evening of April 20, FBI investigators speak with two detectives from Sanilac County, Michigan, David Hall and Paul Cowley. Hall and Cowley had gathered information about bombing experiments that had taken place on a farm belonging to James Nichols (see December 22 or 23, 1988 and October 12, 1993 - January 1994). By 9 a.m. on April 21, Hall and Cowley facilitate an interview between the investigators and Kelly Langenburg, James Nichols’s ex-wife. By this time, Langenburg has spoken with her son Chase and gathered more information for the investigators. After speaking with the investigators, the agents tell local police officers that “[t]his is the best information we’ve received so far, and we’re going to run with [James Nichols].” Langenburg also tells the agents that Terry Nichols had been married to her sister, Lana Padilla (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990 and November 1988). Agents then contact Padilla in Las Vegas, and on April 21, teams of agents interview her and her son Joshua, Nichols’s son. She confirms that she has spoken to Nichols earlier this day, and gives the FBI his address in Herington, Kansas (see (February 20, 1995)). She says that Nichols is “an associate” of McVeigh’s. At this point, the FBI considers James Nichols a more likely suspect for a co-conspirator than Terry Nichols. [New York Times, 6/27/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 200]
Suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), currently being held without bond in the El Reno Federal Corrections Center (see April 21, 1995), has his 1977 Mercury Marquis trucked to the FBI warehouse from where he was forced to leave it on the highway (see April 13, 1995 and 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995) and thoroughly searched. A handwritten sign, apparently left under the windshield, is in the car; it reads: “Not abandoned. Please do not tow. Will move by April 23. Needs battery and cable.” The battery and cables are in working order; FBI investigators believe the sign was placed under a windshield wiper when McVeigh left the car in an alley near the Murrah Building to serve as his getaway vehicle (see April 16-17, 1995). They also find a thick manila envelope stuffed with anti-government documents on the front seat. Supervisory Special Agent Steven Burmeister and Agent William Eppright photograph the envelope, then, wearing protective gear, open it. Inside are two stacks of papers folded into thirds and a single note written in McVeigh’s handwriting that reads, “Obey the Constitution of the United States and we won’t shoot you.” Eppright and Burmeister put the envelope in a plastic container and continue processing the car. They then examine the documents in the envelope. They include excerpts from The Turner Diaries (see 1978), with some passages highlighted; a recounting of the Battle of Lexington and Concord from the Revolutionary War that was originally misdated April 29, 1775, and corrected by McVeigh to read April 19, 1775; documents railing against taxation and overzealous government agents; documents urging the weakening of the federal government in favor of states’ rights; and one article claiming the government has “initiate[d] open warfare against the American people.” Many of the articles are about the Branch Davidian siege and its tragic ending (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After), including an article from Soldier of Fortune magazine that claims the government committed “acts of treason, murder, and conspiracy” during the siege. The smallest clipping contains a quote from Revolutionary War leader Samuel Adams, printed in big letters: “When The Government Fears the People, THERE IS LIBERTY. When The People Fear the Government, THERE IS TYRANNY.” Under these words, McVeigh has written, “Maybe now there will be liberty!” Eppright dates and initials the clipping, and replaces the envelope and all its contents in its container. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 217-220]
The FBI says it has ascertained the identity of “John Doe No. 2,” a second suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing (see April 18, 1995, 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20, 1995). The bureau says it believes “No. 2” is from Oklahoma, but is unsure of his current whereabouts. The FBI does not release the name of the suspect. [New York Times, 4/22/1995] The FBI’s announcement may be related to information it has gleaned from witnesses in Herington, Kansas, who told investigators that they had seen both “John Doe No. 1” (bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh—see April 21, 1995) and “No. 2” staying with McVeigh’s alleged co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) at Nichols’s Herington home (see (February 20, 1995)). [New York Times, 4/26/1995] Two months later, the FBI will announce that “No. 2” is an Army private with no connection to the bombing (see June 14, 1995).
A former co-worker in New York identifies 27-year-old Timothy McVeigh, suspected of being the Oklahoma City bomber (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), as “John Doe No. 1” depicted in police drawings (see April 20, 1995). Authorities issue a warrant for McVeigh’s arrest, and quickly learn that he is under arrest in the Noble County Courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma, for misdemeanor weapons charges (see After 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995); a check of McVeigh’s Social Security number matches one flagged by the FBI as belonging to a suspect in the bombing, a check made because McVeigh is from out of state. McVeigh is arrested by federal agents less than an hour before making $5,000 bail on the charges. “He came desperately close to making bail,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson will later say. [Washington Post, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] This afternoon, Joe Wolfinger, the head of the FBI’s Buffalo, New York, office, calls Niagara County Sheriff Tom Beilein and asks him to run a background check on McVeigh, who grew up in Pendleton, New York, just below the US-Canadian border (see 1987-1988). Beilein will later report he finds nothing. Deputies from Beilein’s force along with state police officers meet with federal agents at the home of McVeigh’s father, Bill McVeigh, who is stunned by the news that his son may be the one responsible for the bombing. Police soon find themselves working to keep members of the local and national media from overrunning the house. A state police officer lowers the McVeighs’ American flag to half-mast. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 24, 179-180] It is likely that the former co-worker is Carl Lebron, who once worked with McVeigh as a security guard (see April 20-21, 1995).
The business card Timothy McVeigh hid under his car seat. [Source: TruTV]Trooper Charles Hanger, who arrested Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995), remembers McVeigh fidgeting under the seat of his squad car after being handcuffed and placed in the front passenger seat. Hanger searches the seat and finds a business card shoved underneath. The card belongs to Paulsen’s Military Supply in Antigo, Wisconsin. On the back are notes written by McVeigh: “TNT at $5 a stick. Need more. Call after May 1.” It also has the name “David” written on it. Hanger also finds a private security badge he had taken from McVeigh; he had slipped it into his shirt pocket and forgotten about it. He turns both over to the FBI. Federal investigators will use the card to conclude that McVeigh intended to execute more bombings. Two military supply dealers, Edward Paulsen of Antigo, Wisconsin, and his son David Paulsen, of Melrose Park, Illinois, will later testify as to their possible interactions with McVeigh. [New York Times, 4/29/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 181]
Suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is transported from an Oklahoma jail cell to a helicopter, surrounded by police. [Source: The Oklahoman]White supremacist Timothy McVeigh, held in the Noble County Courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma, for misdemeanor weapons charges (see After 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995), is identified as the FBI’s prime suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), as “John Doe No. 1” depicted in police drawings (see April 20, 1995). According to Assistant District Attorney Mark Gibson, if the local judge had not been busy with a divorce case, McVeigh would have been arraigned and released the day before. “In most cases this guy would have been bonded out yesterday,” Gibson tells a reporter. “God was watching us.” Gibson learns of McVeigh’s status as the bombing suspect from Noble County Sheriff Jerry Cook, who is informed over the telephone by a BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agent in Washington, and is incredulous that the person being hunted throughout the nation (see After 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995) is in his own rural courthouse. McVeigh is waiting outside a courtroom for his bail hearing and release; instead, Gibson escorts him back to his cell in an upper floor of the courthouse to await federal authorities. Cook shuts down the jail telephones and implements a security perimeter around the building. Judge Danny G. Allen, aware that McVeigh will soon be taken into federal custody, provides McVeigh a hearing on his traffic and weapons charges, and after listening to McVeigh denying ever doing anything illegal, sets McVeigh’s bail at $5,000 and sends him back to his cell. Shortly after noon, a group of FBI agents arrives in Perry via helicopter, with more on the way. By this time, many people in and around the courthouse are aware that McVeigh is the bombing suspect, and reporters are beginning to gather outside the courthouse. McVeigh attempts to telephone a local lawyer, but because Cook has shut the phones off, he is unable to get through. He angrily slams the phone down in its cradle, prompting jailer Farrell Stanley to later reflect that this moment is the only time anyone at the courthouse sees McVeigh display any emotion. (According to One of Ours, a 1998 book written about McVeigh and the bombing by Richard A. Serrano, McVeigh privately worries that he will be taken into FBI custody, tortured, and made to disappear without a trace.) [New York Times, 4/22/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 1-10]
Final Wait - Two FBI agents, James L. Norman Jr. and Floyd M. Zimms, arrive to take McVeigh into custody. One of them asks McVeigh if he knows why they are here, and McVeigh responds: “Yes. That thing in Oklahoma City, I guess.” McVeigh asks for a lawyer, and says he will give no more information save for name, age, and other routine information. “I will just give you general physical information,” he says. He refuses to respond to any further queries, instead listening to the increasingly loud and angry sound of the swelling crowd outside. He asks the agents, “Take me out the roof,” and explains that he wants to be taken out of the building via the roof. “Jack Ruby,” he says. “You remember what happened with Jack Ruby.” McVeigh is referring to the man who shot President Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. McVeigh believes the Dallas police allowed Ruby to get close to Oswald, and does not want the same thing to happen to him. The agents refuse, but promise he will be well guarded, for his safety and that of his escorts. Senior FBI agent James Adams decides to take McVeigh out by a courthouse entrance, with the sheriff’s van backed up near the door. McVeigh and the surrounding agents and other officials will only be exposed to the crowd for a few minutes. Adams later says that he never thought to put a bulletproof vest on McVeigh. After another agent takes McVeigh’s fingerprints, McVeigh is brought back to his cell for one last, brief stay. On the way back, he sees news coverage of the crowd gathered around the courthouse. He tells fellow inmate Tiffany Valenzuela that he did not bomb the Murrah Federal Building, and says the sketch being circulated of the bombing suspects (see April 20, 1995) does not look like him. He asks Valenzuela to look out of her window and see if she can spot federal agents “on the roof” or “outside.” She advises him to relax, saying, “I’m sure they got the wrong man anyway.” He admits to being “kind of paranoid” because “everybody’s out there.” FBI agents take possession of McVeigh’s mug shot, his fingerprint card, booking receipts, clothing, and the mattress he slept on in his cell; the fingerprint card and other belongings will be tested for explosive residue.
Meeting with Local Lawyer - Local lawyer Royce Hobbs, who has been trying without success to meet with McVeigh, finally gets the meeting he has asked for after filing a petition with Judge Allen alleging that McVeigh is being held incommunicado. Allen allows the two to meet briefly, and Hobbs tells McVeigh to keep his mouth shut. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 191; Serrano, 1998, pp. 1-10]
Perp Walk - Federal agents take McVeigh out of his cell, place him in handcuffs and leg irons, and escort him out of the building. “I’m not scared,” McVeigh mutters to himself. “I’m not scared now.” He is escorted into the parking lot to the sheriff’s van. The crowd spots him and begins screaming imprecations: “Baby killer!” “Burn him!” “Rip his head off!” “Killer!” “Murderer!” and “B_stard!” McVeigh does not react, and shows no emotion during the brief “perp walk” to the van. He is taken to a helicopter and flown to Tinker Air Force Base outside of Oklahoma City. News broadcasts later show photographs and video of McVeigh being “perp walked” in an orange jumpsuit, surrounded by FBI agents as the crowd jeers and screams; these images are replayed thousands of times over the following days and months. [Washington Post, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/22/1995; Stickney, 1996, pp. 179; Serrano, 1998, pp. 1-10; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] One onlooker, Darrin Rucker, tells a reporter, “They should give him a taste of his own medicine and put him inside a bomb and blow it up.” [Washington Post, 4/22/1995] McVeigh later says he was focused on looking for snipers in the crowd, moving his eyes in the Z-pattern he had learned in the Army. He later says he wasn’t afraid to die, but was intent on surviving to tell his side of the story. [CNN, 12/17/2007] He also later says he twice asked for a bulletproof vest, but was “ignored” by the jailers. His sister Jennifer McVeigh will express her anger at the media’s response to her brother’s appearance. “What would they have said about any look he had?” she will ask. “I mean, what do they want? You want him to walk out with a big smile on his face? What would they say about that? What kind of look do they expect from someone who has just been accused of a crime like that? I think the sun was shining in his eyes, first of all. He was squinting. I think that was part of it.… How would you like it if a bunch of people were staring at you, screaming ‘Baby killer!’ I don’t think you can assume a reason for everything. You can’t assume a reason for the way somebody looks at all times.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 178-179] McVeigh will be arraigned in a federal court hearing at Tinker Air Force Base (see April 21, 1995).
Entity Tags: US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Farrell Stanley, Tinker Air Force Base, Floyd M. Zimms, Darrin Rucker, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Danny G. Allen, Tiffany Valenzuela, Timothy James McVeigh, Richard A. Serrano, Royce Hobbs, James L. Norman, Jr, James Adams, Jerry Cook, Jennifer McVeigh, Murrah Federal Building, Noble County Courthouse (Perry, Oklahoma), Mark Gibson
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Federal authorities publicly identify Timothy McVeigh, the accused Oklahoma City bomber (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), as a member of the Michigan Militia (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, April 1994, and January 1995), and say the Nichols brothers, his suspected co-conspirators, are also affiliated with the organization (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995). After McVeigh’s arrest, authorities discover residues of ammonium nitrate and high explosives in his car. They also find political documents and a note from 18th-century philosopher John Locke citing his “right” to kill “political oppressors.” The package includes a copy of the Declaration of Independence, material on the 1993 Branch Davidian assault (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After), material on Revolutionary War battles, an anti-government leaflet, and quotations from political philosophers. Included in the documents are copied passages from the overtly racist novel The Turner Diaries (see 1978 and April 21, 1995). Later examination of the copied pages show that the pages describe the bombing of FBI headquarters that, in the novel, touches off a white “Aryan” revolution and the subsequent slaughter of blacks and Jews. The Turner Diaries passage contains the following quote: “The real value of our attacks today lies in the psychological impact, not in the immediate casualties. For one thing, our efforts against the System gained immeasurably in credibility. More important, though, is what we taught the politicians and the bureaucrats. They learned today that not one of them is beyond our reach. They can huddle behind barbed wire and tanks in the city, or they can hide behind the concrete walls and alarm systems of their country estates, but we can still find them and kill them.” Another document in the car contains a quote from Revolutionary War leader Samuel Adams that reads: “When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Underneath, in McVeigh’s handwriting, is an additional note: “Maybe now, there will be liberty.” [Washington Post, 4/22/1995; Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 809; New York Times, 6/3/1997; Anti-Defamation League, 2005]
El Reno Federal Corrections Center. [Source: Federal Bureau of Prisons]White supremacist Timothy McVeigh, held by federal officials on suspicion of being the Oklahoma City bomber (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), is arraigned in a makeshift federal courtroom at Tinker Air Force Base near Midwest City, Oklahoma. He is arraigned before a federal magistrate on charges of maliciously damaging federal property. Merrick Garland, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington, arrives in time to handle the hearing for the FBI. Garland is displeased by the lack of openness in the hearing, and arranges to have a dozen reporters in the “courtroom.” McVeigh, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and socks with no shoes, is led into the room and given a copy of the criminal complaint, or affidavit, against him. The affidavit is signed by an FBI agent, and in 14 paragraphs lays out the government’s case for holding McVeigh on suspicion of carrying out the bombing. The affidavit includes evidence given by Carl Lebron, McVeigh’s former fellow security guard (see April 20-21, 1995), though Lebron is not identified in the document. According to Lebron, McVeigh was “known to hold extreme right-wing views” and had been “particularly agitated” about the Branch Davidian debacle two years earlier (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). The affidavit says McVeigh visited the site of the Davidian compound in Waco during the standoff (see March 1993), and later expressed “extreme anger at the federal government” and said the government “should never have done what it did.” Reporter Nolan Clay for the Daily Oklahoman later recalls: “He seemed like such a kid. I’ve covered courts for years, and I’ve seen hundreds of killers and usually they have an aura around them of being a killer. That look in their eyes. You can tell in their eyes they’re killers, and they are scary. But he looked like the kid next door. It’s true, that image about him. I was very surprised by that.” McVeigh enters no plea at the arraignment.
Transferred to Federal Prison - After the arraignment, McVeigh is transferred to the El Reno Federal Corrections Center, just west of Oklahoma City. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 196-198] He is represented by two local lawyers, public defender Susan Otto and private attorney John Coyle, who has specialized in death penalty cases. [New York Times, 4/22/1995] At El Reno, McVeigh is held in a cell with thick glass walls eight feet high; Coyle has to shout through the glass so that McVeigh can hear him. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 223] According to law professor Douglas O. Linder, McVeigh tells Otto and Coyle, “Yes, I did the bombing.” Any such admission would be privileged and not divulged to law enforcement officials. [Douglas O. Linder, 2006]
Conditions of Incarceration - McVeigh refuses to provide any more information than his name, Army rank, and serial number, and allegedly tells investigators that he considers himself a prisoner of war. According to reporter Michelle Green, “The implication was clear: He saw himself as a revolutionary in the hands of the government he allegedly hoped to destroy.” [People, 5/8/1995] He will later deny reports that he considers himself a prisoner of war, and refused to give any information besides name, rank, and serial number (see June 26, 1995 and June 26, 1995). McVeigh is given the same privileges as most prisoners at El Reno, a medium-security federal facility: he is allowed to send and receive mail, read newspapers, receive visitors, and listen to the radio, though he has no television access. Reportedly during his time at El Reno he will receive at least four marriage proposals from women writing to him in prison. He will meet with his lawyers on a near-daily basis and will receive two visits from his father. He reads the Dallas Morning News and a number of right-wing publications, from the mainstream newspaper, the Washington Times, to the more extremist Spotlight, the John Birch Society’s New American, and a number of newsletters from militia leaders James “Bo” Gritz and Jack McLamb. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 194]
Entity Tags: Carl Edward Lebron Jr, John Coyle, Douglas O. Linder, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tinker Air Force Base, El Reno Federal Corrections Center, Terry Lynn Nichols, Merrick Garland, Timothy James McVeigh, Michelle Green, Susan Otto, Nolan Clay
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Federal investigators probing the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) visit Jennifer McVeigh, the sister of just-arrested bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). She is visiting a high school friend, Dennis Sadler, in Pensacola, Florida (see April 7, 1995). As she later recalls, she was driving Sadler to pick up his paycheck when she heard the news of her brother being connected to the bombing come over the car radio; stunned, she pulled the car over and began chain-smoking. Sadler drove them home, where she called her father for news. Sadler will recall being in the car with her when the news of her brother’s arrest came over the radio. According to one of Sadler’s roommates, David Huckaby, she later said, “I can’t believe I was saying the other day, ‘Hang this person,’ and it’s my brother” (see Mid-December 1994).
She Destroys Evidence - Jennifer McVeigh took a sheaf of clippings her brother had given her, including copied excerpts from the violently racist novel The Turner Diaries (see April 7, 1995 and April 15, 1995) into the laundry room behind the garage, and burned them. “I was scared,” she later tells investigators. “I just heard Tim’s name announced, so I figured you would come around sooner or later to talk to me.”
She Is Questioned - The questioning is cordial, according to Huckaby, but, he will later recall, one of the agents tells Jennifer, “If you don’t help us we’ll charge you, too.” Two days later, agents return with a warrant to search the house and her pickup truck. The search turns up a cache of books, letters, and documents, many of them expressing anti-government and white supremacist ideologies, sent to her by her brother (see March 9, 1995 and April 15, 1995). Agents show the roommates some of the letters sent to Jennifer by her brother; one of them reads in part: “Be careful on the phones, because the G-Men are watching. Use the pay phone.” Another instructs her not to try to contact him after April 1, 1995, “even if it’s an emergency.… Watch what you say, because I may not get it in time, and the G-men might get it out of my box, incriminating you.” The agents begin questioning Jennifer again, and this time, Huckaby will recall, she tells them, “I’m not going to help you kill my brother.” Huckaby and the other rooommates later tell reporters about her burning her brother’s papers. “She did it out of panic,” Sadler will recall, adding, “It was nothing that would have been important anyway.” Another roommate, John Donne, will tell reporters that she watched news reports of the bombing on television with the rest of them. “You couldn’t peel her away” from the set, Donne will recall. At some point during the broadcasts, Donne will say, she said, “Whoever did that should fry.” Authorities also search the McVeigh family home in upstate New York. [New York Times, 8/4/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 236-237]
"Fear Tactics" - Later, Jennifer McVeigh will accuse the investigators of using “fear tactics” to frighten her into talking. “They played a lot of games with me, a lot of things to get me talking,” she will tell a reporter from Time magazine. “They totally broke me down. I thought I could handle it on my own. I guess I couldn’t.… I didn’t have time to think things out. It was constant pressure altogether.” She will add that in a later session in her New York home: “They showed me pictures of burned, dead kids. They put me and my mother in this room with all these huge posters with my name and a picture all blown up with all these possible charges against me… like life imprisonment, death penalty, and this and that. My mother was in tears when we walked away; they just crushed her.” [New York Times, 8/14/1995] Investigators have, with consent, searched McVeigh’s father’s home in Pendleton, New York. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996]
Did She Know of the Bomb Plot? - In 1996, author Brandon M. Stickney will write that Jennifer McVeigh may have returned to Pendleton days earlier than reported, and hidden from police and press at her friend Mary Butler’s apartment in Lockport. A mutual friend later says that Butler was acting “very strange, almost scared out of her mind” in the days after the bombing. Butler told the friend, “You do not know the whole story” of the bombing, leading the friend to believe “she knew something was going on.” The friend will assert that Jennifer McVeigh was indeed staying with Butler. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 182]
James Nichols, the older brother of accused Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995), is taken into FBI custody as a material witness. The FBI lacks evidence to immediately arrest James Nichols, but considers him a strong possibility of being a conspirator in the bombing plot (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20-21, 1995). Shortly after the bombing, as James Nichols will later recall, FBI agents descended on his home town of Decker, Michigan, drawn there by the address given by suspected bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995) to a Kansas motel just days before the bombing. The address is that of Nichols’s family farm, where McVeigh has stayed frequently in the past (see April 20-21, 1995). At first, Nichols hears rumors of an “FBI raid” on Decker, and finds them hilariously “far-fetched.” He will later tell a reporter: “Decker? The Oklahoma City bombing? I mean, everyone knows that’s the kind of thing a terrorist or an intelligence agent would do in a foreign country, not something a hick from Podunk, USA would do to his fellow citizens, his own countrymen. Not a chance!” Nichols runs some errands in town, including putting down a $2,000 deposit on a tractor engine he is having rebuilt, when he drives into a roadblock put up by local police officers. He can see federal agents on his farm from the road, and identifies himself to a police officer. [Jerusalem Post, 4/23/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 232]
Taken into Custody - Nichols will later recall: “The government agents surrounding my farm possessed enough firepower to easily defeat a small planet. As I approached my driveway, an ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, also called BATF) agent who mistakenly thought he was in a ninja movie—I could tell by the way he was dressed and by the way he acted—jumped in my car and ordered me not to move, while pointing an assault rifle at my face in a nervy menacing manner. This guy seemed to be a recruit from the KGB or Gestapo or something, and was obviously a loose cannon who was also a few bricks short of a full load—a prerequisite for any adult who wants to dress and act like a Ninja turtle.” The federal agents who arrived at Nichols’s farm had come dressed in SWAT outfits. Nichols will go on to talk about the “cold eyes of a fanatic” over “the barrel of a fully automatic assault rifle” trained on him as the agent steers him onto his property. “Does this guy want to take it out on me because he wasn’t fortunate enough to be involved in the turkey shoots at Waco (see August 31, 1992 and August 21-31, 1992) and Ruby Ridge (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After)?” Nichols will later recall wondering. Nichols is taken into custody and held on unrelated charges of conspiring with his brother and McVeigh to make explosive devices (see April 25, 1995), keeping him in a local prison.
Admits to Making Small Bombs on Farm - Nichols tells the agents that over the past few years, he has seen his brother and McVeigh make and detonate “bottle bombs” using brake fluid, gasoline, and diesel fuel. Sometimes he joined in with the bomb-making, he admits, but says the explosive devices were extremely small. He admits that McVeigh has stayed at the farm before, and says he believes “McVeigh had the knowledge to manufacture a bomb.”
Witnesses Add Details - A neighbor, Dan Stromber, tells agents that he had seen the Nichols brothers make explosive devices by mixing fertilizer, peroxide, and bleach in plastic soda bottles. “We’re getting better at it,” he recalls James Nichols saying to him. Stromber also says the brothers were angry and resentful over the sieges at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, the same incidents to which James Nichols will later refer. “The judges and President Clinton should be killed” because of the incidents, Stromber recalls James Nichols saying. “The FBI and the ATF are to blame for killing the Branch Davidians at Waco.” Stromber also recalls a young man named Tim staying on the farm in 1994 (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994), and recalls him always wearing “camouflage clothing” and carrying “a pistol” with him. A second neighbor, Paul Izydorek, recalls the man’s last name as “McVeigh,” and recalls him taking part in the bomb experiments. A confidential source informs the FBI of two men’s attempts to buy liquid nitro model airplane fuel and 200 ziplock bags from a hobby store in Marlette, Michigan, one using the name “Tim Tuttle,” an alias used by McVeigh (see December 1993). And Indiana seed dealer Dan Shafer tells investigators about the 1988 incident where James Nichols drew a picture of a building remarkably similar to the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and talked about bombing it (see December 22 or 23, 1988).
Searching the Farm - Agents hold Nichols in custody for days, trying to determine what, if any, involvement he had in the bombing. They search his farm, and find large tanks of diesel fuel, 28 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer similar to that used in the Oklahoma City bombing, and, in a field by an outbuilding, find jagged-edged shards of metal that appear to be bomb shrapnel. In the farmhouse they find copies of far-right white supremacist magazines such as The Spotlight, a paper envelope with a document quoting Adolf Hitler, 28 blasting caps, a safety fuse, and a manual telling how to clear fields and ditches with dynamite. Videotapes alleging sinister government conspiracies at Ruby Ridge and Waco lie atop Nichols’s television set; copies of pamphlets written by Davidian leader David Koresh and photographs from the Waco siege lie on the floor. Discarded envelopes addressed to James Nichols from “T. Tuttle” lie nearby. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 232-235]
Entity Tags: Murrah Federal Building, Dan Shafer, Dan Stromber, James Nichols, Timothy James McVeigh, Terry Lynn Nichols, Paul Izydorek, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
White separatist Terry Nichols (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, November 5, 1994, and November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995), learning that the federal authorities have connected him to the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), decides to turn himself in to local authorities in Herington, Kansas (see (February 20, 1995)). [Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 810; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Nicole Nichols, 2003]
Drives to Police Station - It is unclear if Nichols knows that his ex-sister in law has cooperated with authorities (see April 20-21, 1995). He suspects that he is being watched, but does not realize that a team of three FBI agents from the mobile command post at Fort Riley is surveilling him, a single-engine FBI airplane is circling overhead, and a larger surveillance team is en route. The first agent to arrive is Stephen E. Smith, who learns little about Nichols from Police Chief Dale Kuhn except that the address they have for him in Herington is accurate. Smith then meets two other agents from the command post and they drive to Nichols’s home on Second Street. Nichols, who is listening to radio reports about the investigation, picks up a broken fuel meter from his garage, tells his wife Marife (see July - December 1990) he is going to “do something about” the meter, gives her $200, and loads her and their young daughter Nicole into his truck. Unbeknownst to Nichols, he and the family are being followed by Smith and the two agents, who saw him pulling out of his driveway. (At this moment, the FBI is more interested in Nichols’s brother James—see April 20-21, 1995. Smith’s primary assignment is to compile background information on James Nichols.) When a second car joins Smith’s car in tailing Nichols, he realizes he is being followed. Nichols waves at the cars. He then turns into the driveway of the local Surplus City store, steps out, then thinks better of it and re-enters his truck. Instead, he goes to the Herington Public Safety Building, which houses the local police station. He tells Marife that if agents ask her about his whereabouts on Easter Sunday (see April 16-17, 1995), she should tell them that he went to Oklahoma City, not Omaha as he had told her that day. The two FBI cars pull into the building parking lot close behind. [New York Times, 7/2/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 200-202]
'I Want to Talk to Somebody' - At 3:05 p.m., Nichols walks into the police station with his wife and their young daughter Nicole. Nichols is carrying his daughter in his arms; the FBI agents assume incorrectly that he intends to use her as a shield for possible gunfire. Marife Nichols will later describe her husband as “scared [and] anxious to know what’s going on.” According to Assistant Chief Barry W. Thacker: “He said: ‘My name is Terry L. Nichols. I just seen my name on television. I want to talk to somebody.’ I said: ‘Come on in. I think I can find somebody for you to talk to.’” Nichols, seemingly angry and agitated, says: “I’m supposed to be armed and dangerous. Search me.” Marife Nichols takes Nicole from her husband, and he removes his green jacket while Kuhn attempts to calm him. Outside, Smith and the other agents huddle together in the parking lot, worrying that Nichols may be attempting to take hostages in the police station. They call their supervisors in Kansas City; meanwhile, Kuhn reassures them that Nichols is not being belligerent. Shortly thereafter, Smith and the other agents enter the station. Nichols demands of them, “Why was my name on radio and television?” Smith explains they want to talk to him because he “is an associate of Timothy McVeigh.” The agents, along with some of the local constabulary, take Nichols to the basement and begin a lengthy interrogation session, led by Smith and fellow agent Scott Crabtree. Kuhn will testify that his officers tell Nichols three times that he is free to leave if he chooses. Instead, Nichols chooses to stay, telling one officer that “he was afraid to leave” and return to his home. From Washington, lead FBI counsel Howard Shapiro advises the agents to keep Nichols talking. [New York Times, 4/24/1995; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 202-203] FBI agents will interrogate Nichols and his wife Marife for nine hours (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) and search Nichols’s property (see Evening, April 21, 1995 and After).
Entity Tags: Howard Shapiro, Dale Kuhn, Barry W. Thacker, Herington Public Safety Building (Kansas), Federal Bureau of Investigation, Timothy James McVeigh, Stephen E. Smith, Terry Lynn Nichols, Scott Crabtree, Nicole Nichols, James Nichols, Marife Torres Nichols
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Modern-day logo for the Lockport Union Sun & Journal. [Source: Lockport Union Sun and Journal]Brandon M. Stickney, a reporter for the Union Sun & Journal of Lockport, New York, receives a frantic phone call from his editor, Dan Kane, ordering him to go immediately to an address in Pendleton, New York, eight miles away. The man identified as a suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995), is from Pendleton, and his family still lives there. The address is of the McVeigh family home. Stickney, who will later write a book on McVeigh entitled All-American Monster, begins interviewing friends and family members over the following days and writing articles about McVeigh for his newspaper. Initially, some of the information Stickney garners is incorrect: one of his first articles reports that McVeigh was said to have hung out with a “less than reputable crowd” during his high school days at nearby Starpoint High, a statement that is contradicted by friends such as Pam Widner, who accurately characterizes McVeigh as an honor student. Widner steers Stickney towards people who knew McVeigh well, and the picture that Stickney compiles of McVeigh is that of a bright, personable young man with a strong interest in computers and a shy, awkward demeanor towards women, whose broken, troubled family life may have presaged his later actions (see 1987-1988). Widner “proved how easily the mass media could misrepresent McVeigh,” Stickney will later write. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 11-16, 74-75]
Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, November 5, 1994, and November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995), having turned himself into the local police in Herington, Kansas (see 2:00 p.m. and After, April 21, 1995), is interrogated for nine hours by federal authorities and consents to have his home and truck searched (see Evening, April 21, 1995 and After). [Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 810; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Nicole Nichols, 2003]
Nine-Hour Interrogation, No Recording Made - Starting around 3:15 p.m., FBI agents interrogate Nichols for over nine hours. Nichols agrees to speak without a lawyer present. The agents do not record the interview, instead making handwritten notes on it. Preliminary questions include verification of his Social Security number (which he says he never uses because he does not believe in having a federal government number; he also says he does not pay federal taxes (see March 16, 1994)) and his job (self-employed dealer of military surplus). They then ask him when he heard that he might have been involved in the bombing. Nichols says he only heard of his alleged involvement earlier in the day. He says he knew bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh during their stint in the Army (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990). He says that he saw the sketches of the two bombing suspects (see April 20, 1995), but does not believe the sketch of “No. 1” looks like McVeigh. He explains that once he heard about his being a suspect, he decided to go directly to the local police instead of federal agents, because “I didn’t want another Waco” (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). Apparently Nichols means he did not want to become involved in an armed standoff with police and FBI agents. He says he realized he was being followed when he pulled into the Surplus City parking lot, and came directly to the police station. Agents Stephen E. Smith and Scott Crabtree then begin asking him about his brother James, and he gives some information about his earlier life in Decker on his brother’s farm, and notes that McVeigh had lived with them for a time (see Summer 1992 and October 12, 1993 - January 1994). At this point, around 3:30 p.m., the agents inform him that he is not a suspect, but a witness. Nevertheless they ask him to read aloud a form titled “Interrogation; Advice of Rights,” that sets forth his rights to have a lawyer present or to remain silent. He refuses to sign the form. Smith will later testify, “He said the word ‘interrogation’ sounded like the Nazis.” The US Attorney for Kansas, Randall K. Rathbun, tells reporters, “He refused to sign the form, indicating that since it dealt with interrogation, he said that was a word that reminded him of Nazi Germany and he refused to sign the form dealing with his rights.” From Washington, lead FBI counsel Howard Shapiro advises the agents that they need to secure Nichols’s oral acknowledgment that he is waiving his rights to legal representation, and advise him again that he is free to go. Shapiro adds that if Nichols does leave, the agents should follow him and arrest him once a warrant for his detention as a material witness is available. Nichols waives his rights to a lawyer and agrees to continue speaking. Shapiro advises the agents not to tell Nichols about the warrant for his arrest being prepared, as it may discourage him from talking. [New York Times, 5/11/1995; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Denver Post, 12/24/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 203-205] He signs a Consent to Search form allowing agents to search his home and pickup truck, though his lawyers will later claim he believes his wife will be allowed to be present during the search. He says repeatedly that he hopes the agents searching his home can tell the difference between cleaning solvents and bomb components: “There is nothing in my house or truck that could be construed as bomb-making materials,” he says. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 205]
Denies Knowledge of Bombing - Nichols denies any foreknowledge of McVeigh’s bombing, saying merely that McVeigh had told him “something big” was in the offing (see April 15, 1995). He tells his questioners that the first he heard of the bombing was while watching a television demonstration at the Home Cable Television sales outlet in Herington. The agents ask him when he last had contact with McVeigh. According to Nichols, he sent McVeigh a letter in February 1995, asking McVeigh if the next time he was in Las Vegas, he could pick up an old television set from his ex-wife Lana Padilla; Nichols says he wanted the television set for when his son Joshua visited.
Tells of Long Easter Trip to Oklahoma City, Junction City for Television - On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, April 16, Nichols says, McVeigh called and asked him to come to Oklahoma City to pick up the television set (see April 16-17, 1995). “I’m pressed for time to get back east” to his family in New York, Nichols says McVeigh told him. “If you want your television, you’ll have to come to Oklahoma City.” Although Oklahoma City is some 250 miles away, Nichols agreed to make the trip. He also agreed to tell his wife that he was going to Omaha, not Oklahoma City, at McVeigh’s request. Nichols explains: “He [McVeigh] has a private nature. He has told me that no one is to know his business. Some of the things he wanted kept private were trivial matters. He just doesn’t want people to know what he is doing. That is just his nature.” Nichols tells the agents that before Easter, he had last heard from McVeigh in November 1994 or perhaps early 1995 (see February 20, 1995 and April 11, 1995). He then says: “In my eyes, I did not do anything wrong but I can see how lawyers can turn stuff around. I did not know anything. Lawyers can turn stuff around.” He denies ever seeing McVeigh at any motel in Junction City, Kansas (see September 22, 1994, January 19 - January 27, 1995, and (February 20, 1995)), says he has no knowledge of McVeigh renting a Ryder truck (see April 15, 1995, April 16-17, 1995, Late Evening, April 17, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995), and was never asked by McVeigh to buy any materials related to making bombs (see September 13, 1994, September 22, 1994, September 30, 1994, October 3, 1994, October 4 - Late October, 1994, October 17, 1994, October 18, 1994, October 20, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, October 29-30, 1994, November 5, 1994, November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995, November 7, 1994, November 9, 1994, January 19 - January 27, 1995, January 31 - February 12, 1995, February 20, 1995, March 1995, March 17, 1995, April 5-10, 1995, April 15-16, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). He says he drove to Oklahoma City and picked up McVeigh near the Murrah Federal Building (see April 16-17, 1995). McVeigh loaded the television into the pickup, Nichols says, along with a green duffel bag. They then headed towards Junction City. Nichols says he met McVeigh in an alleyway and never saw McVeigh’s car, which he says McVeigh claimed was broken down. Asked what they talked about, Nichols responds, “McVeigh talked in code.” He only later understood what his friend meant when he said “something big” was going to happen; he claims that he thought McVeigh was talking about robbing a bank. The conversation then turned to the Branch Davidian tragedy (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After), and McVeigh said he was interested in a protest rally for April 19 in Washington, DC. Nichols says he does not know why McVeigh wanted to go to Junction City. Maybe McVeigh had another car there, Nichols speculates. He let McVeigh off in Junction City, ate by himself at a Denny’s restaurant, and made the short drive home.
Second Trip to Junction City - On Tuesday, April 18, Nichols says, McVeigh called him around 6 a.m. and asked to borrow his pickup. Nichols says he met McVeigh in Junction City, and spent the morning at a military surplus auction while McVeigh used the truck. When they met up again in the early afternoon, all McVeigh had, Nichols says, was his green duffel bag. Explaining why McVeigh had had the truck for hours and brought back no items, Nichols explains, “Tim lives and travels light.” He then tells of picking up items from a storage locker McVeigh has rented (see April 20, 1995), and says that was the last time he saw McVeigh. The agents would find some of McVeigh’s belongings in his garage: a sleeping bag, rucksack, and rifle. [New York Times, 5/11/1995; PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 205-208; The Oklahoman, 4/2009]
Morning's Events - Nichols says he spoke to his ex-wife Lana Padilla earlier that day, angering his wife Marife, who announced she wanted to go back to the Philippines. “I’ve got friends there,” he says she told him. “I don’t have friends here. You got friends like Tim.” Marife does not like McVeigh, Nichols says, complaining that he lives his life “on the edge” and drives too fast. As for his conversation with Padilla, Nichols says she asked him about $3,000 he had apparently given her for their son Joshua. Investigators will later speculate that the money came from a robbery Nichols perpetrated in order to fund the bombing (see November 5, 1994). He says he went to a local lumberyard, then came back home.
Turning Up the Heat on Nichols - Nichols and Marife watched a few minutes of television together, and that was when they saw news reports identifying McVeigh as a suspect in the bombing. “I thought and swore that I could not believe it was him because he was heading back to see his family!” he says. “And he was back there in Oklahoma City? When I heard his name on TV, that is when I figured out why my name was on the radio, because I was his friend.… I was feeling shock, because I heard my name. How am I involved? How am I connected to it? I must not have known him that well for him to do that.” Nichols says he and McVeigh had become somewhat estranged, in part because McVeigh did not like Nichols’s penchant for practical jokes. The agents lean in and begin demanding to know if McVeigh executed the bombing, and if Nichols had any role in it. It is apparent they do not believe Nichols’s stories. Nichols, talking fast, says: “I feel upset that I’m involved, in a sense, because of him, and knowing that I am not.… I feel I cannot trust anyone any more than Tim. I would be shocked if he implicated me. Tim takes responsibility for his actions, and he lives up to his arrangements.… I cannot see why he would do it.” The agents ease off for a bit, and ask Nichols about his recent fertilizer purchases. He admits buying two 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate at a Manhattan, Kansas, elevator, for which he has the receipts. He intends to sell it in one-pound bags at gun shows, to be used as fertilizer. He has already sold a few bags at earlier gun shows, he says: “If I sell any more at these shows, they will question me.” He says he spread some of the leftover fertilizer on his lawn just recently. (Investigators will later determine that the fertilizer was probably left over from the bomb-making process (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995).) He did not mention the fertilizer earlier, he says, because ammonium nitrate can be used to make an explosive compound, and “[i]t would make me look guilty to a jury.” He says he is working to build a new career as a military surplus dealer and create a peaceful life for himself and his family (see April 6, 1995). While he has worked gun shows with McVeigh in the past, he says, he does not know any of the other vendors, and though they never associated with militia members, he did recently sell 30 MREs (military “meals ready to eat”) to members of the Michigan Militia. Sometimes he heard talk about the Davidian tragedy and federal law enforcement officials at the shows, but he rarely took part in the conversations. He admits to having some anti-government feelings, and has read some of the literature, but says others got “hyped” about it and talked about taking action. McVeigh “was much more hyped about Waco,” he says. McVeigh is very knowledgeable about explosives, and is “capable” of building a bomb such as the one detonated in Oklahoma City, he says, but the agents should not assume he actually carried out the bombing. Nichols denies having specific knowledge himself of how to build a fertilizer bomb similar to that used in Oklahoma City, though he says the information is readily available. McVeigh is particularly fascinated with guns, Nichols says, and is extremely knowledgeable about them. He notes some common acquaintances, including Michael Fortier (see December 16, 1994 and After, Mid-March, 1995, April 5, 1995, and April 19, 1995 and After). whom he merely identifies by his last name and does not disclose that the three of them served in the Army together. Nichols admits to having rented a number of storage facilities in Las Vegas (see November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995) and in Kansas, including one in Herington (see September 22, 1994) and another in Council Grove (see October 17, 1994 and November 7, 1994), but he just uses them for storing household items, he says, along with a few guns and ammunition. After more questioning, Nichols admits that he now suspects McVeigh might well be the bomber. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 208-214] One source says that the FBI first learns of Fortier from Nichols’s 12-year-old son Joshua, who phones the bureau from his Las Vegas home and speaks with agent Debbie Calhoun about Fortier. [Stickney, 1996, pp. 183]
Break and Resumption - Everyone, including Nichols, is tired. At 6:10 p.m., they take a break, and give Nichols a glass of water and two slices of pizza. They refuse to let him see his wife. Special Agent John F. Foley sits with Nichols, and they talk casually until about 7:00 p.m. Smith and Crabtree resume the questioning, and ask Nichols to verify that the house or garage is not “booby-trapped.” He says it is not, and gives them a map of his house that indicates where guns and ammunition are stored on his property. Nichols repeats much of what he said earlier, insisting that his story about McVeigh’s borrowing his pickup truck on April 18 is factual and that he fully intends to build a new life for himself with his family. While McVeigh had grown increasingly agitated about the federal government and had become more radicalized, Nichols says, he himself just wanted to settle down. At 11:15 p.m., they play him an audiotape of his ex-wife Lana and his son Joshua urging him to cooperate. The tape upsets Nichols. Just after midnight, they hand him copies of the letters he had left at his ex-wife’s house urging McVeigh to “Go for it!” (see November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995). Nichols says he wrote the letter to take the place of a will, worried that he might not return from the trip he took to the Philippines. During the last two hours of interrogation, a new pair of agents, Foley and Daniel L. Jablonski, begin pressuring Nichols, accusing him of lying. Nichols does not respond to the new tactics. He refuses to take a polygraph exam, and refuses to sign a form certifying that he has been advised of his Miranda rights. He ends by denying any involvement whatsoever in the bombing. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Serrano, 1998, pp. 208-214]
Wife Questioned for Six Hours - Marife Nichols is questioned for six hours (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21, 1995).
Warrants Signed - Oklahoma City’s chief federal judge, David L. Russell, is at the FBI’s command center, and after the decision is made in Washington to procure a material witness arrest warrant, Russell signs it. It is faxed to the police station in Herington at 4:46 p.m. FBI agents interrogating Nichols do not tell him that the material witness warrant is now available; lead agent Thomas A. Price will later say he did not want to interrupt the interrogation. Russell will say he is not aware that Nichols is being interviewed by the FBI, and, noting language on the warrant that says Nichols “has attempted to leave the jurisdiction of the United States,” will say that the language is “inconsistent” with Nichols’s voluntary presentation at the police station.
Public Defender Denied Access - Public defender David J. Phillips, the federal defender for Kansas, learns from television reports that Nichols is in custody and has asked for legal representation. Phillips repeatedly calls the Herington police station, but is told that no one is available to speak with him. At 9:10 p.m., he calls a federal prosecutor in Topeka and is told that Nichols is not being arrested, and that Nichols is not the “John Doe” the FBI is looking for. Price will testify that he is aware of Phillips’s attempts to contact the police, and has told Police Chief Dale Kuhn to write down Phillips’s number. “[I]f Nichols asked for counsel, we’d provide the number,” Price will testify. Phillips will represent Nichols beginning April 22. [New York Times, 7/2/1996]
Possible Militia Affiliation - The FBI says it has reason to believe Nichols is a member of the Michigan Militia (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994); spokesmen for the Michigan Militia say Nichols is not a member and their group has no connection to the bombing [New York Times, 4/22/1995] , though a relative says that both brothers are indeed members of the group. A neighbor of Nichols, Randy Izydorek, tells a reporter that Nichols is proud of his affiliation with groups such as the Michigan Militia. “He told me it’s nationwide and it’s growing,” Izydorek says. [New York Times, 4/23/1995] (Militia spokesmen have said the group ejected Nichols and his brother James for “hyperbolic language,” apparently referring to calls for violence.) [New York Times, 4/24/1995]
Nichols Arrested and Jailed, Admits to Using Aliases - Shortly after midnight, the agents formally serve the warrant on Nichols and arrest him. At 12:24 a.m., Nichols is incarcerated in Abilene, Kansas. The afternoon of April 22, he is transferred to a jail in Wichita, Kansas, in the custody of Smith and Crabtree, where he will make his initial court appearance. Nichols continues to talk; during the drive, he admits to using a number of aliases, including Ken Parker (see October 17, 1994, November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995, and November 7, 1994) and Jim Kyle (see October 17, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, November 5, 1994, January 19 - January 27, 1995, and January 31 - February 12, 1995). McVeigh, he says, often used aliases such as Shawn Rivers (see September 22, 1994 and October 1994) and Tim Tuttle (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, November 22, 1993, December 1993, February - July 1994, and November 30, 1994). McVeigh liked to use aliases, he says, and Nichols went along with the practice. “But we parted ways last fall,” he says. “The way we both live did not jive.” His brother James always “got along well” with McVeigh, he says. [PBS Frontline, 1/22/1996; New York Times, 7/2/1996; Denver Post, 12/24/1997; Serrano, 1998, pp. 215]
Entity Tags: Terry Lynn Nichols, Debbie Calhoun, David L. Russell, Scott Crabtree, Thomas A. Price, Timothy James McVeigh, Dale Kuhn, Ronald G. Woods, David J. Phillips, Daniel L. Jablonski, Randy Izydorek, Stephen E. Smith, Nicole Nichols, Howard Shapiro, Randall K. Rathbun, Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Nichols, Joshua Nichols, John F. Foley, Michigan Militia, Lana Padilla, Michael Joseph Fortier, Marife Torres Nichols, Murrah Federal Building
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
The home, pickup truck, and property of suspected Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995, 2:00 p.m. and After, April 21, 1995, and 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) are searched by federal authorities while FBI agents are grilling Nichols and his wife Marife, both of whom are in police custody in Herington, Kansas. Agents are also involved in searching the Decker, Michigan, home and property of Nichols’s brother James, as bomber Timothy McVeigh listed James Nichols’s residence as his home address (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). Initial searches of both sites turn up bomb materials, including five 60-foot safety fuses with blasting caps, Primadet explosive, five gasoline cans, a fuel meter, several containers of ground ammonium nitrate fertilizer, three empty bags of ammonium nitrate, a receipt for the purchase of the ammonium nitrate, four white barrels with blue lids made from material resembling the blue plastic fragments found in the bomb debris, and weapons that may be illegal to possess, including an anti-tank weapon. In searching Terry Nichols’s home and property, agents also find a cache of documents, many concerning the Branch Davidian debacle (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After) and espousing sometimes-violent anti-government sentiments, and a hand-drawn map of the Murrah Federal Building and its environs (see September 7-8, 1996). They find a spiral notebook that seems to be a combination phone book and diary, including dates and amounts for storage locker rentals, notations of the aliases used to rent the lockers (including the aliases “Ted Parker” and “Joe Kyle”), notes about “Tim” and “places to camp,” and some notations by Nichols’s wife Marife that describe quarrels she has had with her husband. And they find a telephone card whose number was used by McVeigh to make calls in his hunt for bomb-making materials (see August 1994). The weapons, map, and materials found may tie either or both Nichols brothers to the bomb plot. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/23/1995; New York Times, 4/26/1995; New York Times, 5/12/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 229; Indianapolis Star, 2003; Douglas O. Linder, 2006] Nine of the guns found in Nichols’s home—a Savage .30-06 rifle, a Remington .30-06 rifle, a Ruger carbine, a Ruger Mini-30 rifle using 7.62-millimeter ammunition, two Ruger Mini-14 rifles, a Winchester 12-gauge Defender shotgun, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, and a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter pistol—are similar to those stolen from an Arkansas gun dealer some six months ago (see November 5, 1994). Prosecutors believe Nichols, or perhaps Nichols and bombing suspect McVeigh, carried out that robbery to help fund the bomb plot. Of 33 weapons listed as found in Nichols’s house on the FBI’s Evidence Recovery Log, six rifles, two shotguns, and a pistol appear to be the same models as stolen weapons on the Garland County Sheriff’s office record of the robbery. They also find a safe-deposit key they believe was taken during the robbery (see November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995). [New York Times, 6/17/1995] Nichols is told during the interrogation that agents have found a number of large plastic drums or barrels in his garage. He says he bought these at a dump in Marion, Kansas, and used them to haul trash. Agents also found a large fuel meter in the garage; Nichols says he bought this from a sale in Fort Riley, and says it is broken. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 212-213] A relative of the Nichols brothers tells the FBI that “James Nichols had been involved in constructing bombs in approximately November, 1994, and that he possessed large quantities of fuel oil and fertilizer,” according to an affidavit filed with the court. “Terry Nichols was in Decker, Mich., on or about April 7, 1995, visiting his brother, James Nichols, and may possibly have been accompanied by Tim McVeigh.” James Nichols (see December 22 or 23, 1988) is currently held in the Sedgwick County jail in Wichita, Kansas, as a material witness to the bombing (see April 21, 1995 and After). [New York Times, 4/23/1995]
According to FBI spokespersons, the bureau believes the Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) may involve more people than accused conspirators Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (see April 21, 1995 and 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995), and is searching locations in and around Kingman, Arizona, where McVeigh last lived (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, September 13, 1994 and After, and December 16, 1994 and After). According to the New York Times, the FBI is “searching for evidence of a conspiracy hatched by several self-styled militiamen who oppose gun laws, income taxes, and other forms of government control.” The high desert outside of Kingman is an area known to be a training ground for at least one such group, the Arizona Patriots. It is not known whether McVeigh or Nichols have any connection with that group. The FBI is also investigating whether an explosion in Kingman two months ago had any connection to McVeigh (see February 1995). House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), after visiting Oklahoma City in the aftermath of the recent bombing, praises the FBI’s investigation thus far, and says the FBI should be given broad new powers to infiltrate political fringe groups. [New York Times, 4/23/1995]
Suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) is being held in the Oklahoma County jail in Oklahoma City, after being temporarily moved from a federal facility in El Reno, Oklahoma (see April 21, 1995). McVeigh is charged with destroying federal property, which can be a capital offense when the destruction leads to death. McVeigh’s lawyer John Coyle says he will seek to have the case moved to another city. “I can’t think of a case that could use a change of venue more than this one,” he says. [New York Times, 4/23/1995]
CBS News erroneously reports that the FBI has captured “John Doe No. 2,” the second suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20, 1995). The man in question, David Iniguez, was a deserter from the US Army base in Fort Riley, Kansas, who had left the base in August 1994. Suspected bomber Timothy McVeigh once served as an Army gunner at Fort Riley (see January - March 1991 and After), and FBI investigators have speculated that McVeigh and Iniguez may have known one another. No evidence tying Iniguez to the bombing ever surfaces. He does not resemble the sketch of “John Doe No. 2,” and has no tattoo on his arm as the suspect is described as having. Still, Iniguez is taken to a court in Los Angeles after being arrested on unrelated charges, escorted into the courthouse by a half-dozen FBI agents, and taunted and jeered by a crowd of about 30 people who shout, “Coward!” and “Why did you do it?” [New York Times, 4/23/1995; New York Times, 4/30/1995] It is possible, but not certain, that CBS bases its reporting on information from the FBI that stated it had located “John Doe No. 2” two days ago (see April 21, 1995).
Michael and Lori Fortier, close friends of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh who took part in the conspiracy to build and detonate the bomb (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, August 1994, September 13, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, and December 16, 1994 and After), are closely questioned by FBI agents. Federal agents have combed through their home town of Kingman, Arizona, compiling evidence and questioning friends and neighbors. The Fortiers have pretended to know nothing about the bomb plot (see April 19, 1995 and After) and continue to lie to investigators. Michael Fortier tells agents that his trip to Oklahoma City to “case” the target of the bombing, the Murrah Federal Building (see December 16, 1994 and After), happened in a far different way than the evidence suggests: Fortier says that he hitched a ride to Kansas to buy guns from McVeigh for resale. The agents do not believe his story. He tells agents that he never heard McVeigh discuss anything to do with bombmaking, and says he only discussed guns and government issues with McVeigh, “never, ever” discussing blowing up any buildings. On May 6, perhaps cracking under the stress of the interrogations and the intense, negative media coverage (reporters are camped out in front of his home and filing stories about him being an accomplice in the bombing), he asks agents to stop interrogating him. “I don’t want to cooperate,” he says. “I can’t be of any more help. I don’t know anything.” The agents accuse Fortier of being heavily involved in the bombing conspiracy, and of lying about his involvement. One agent calls Fortier a “baby killer,” the same imprecation leveled at McVeigh after his arraignment (see April 21, 1995). After the agents threaten to “raid” his home, Fortier agrees to cooperate. The agents give him enough time to get his wife, their two-year-old daughter Kayla, and their cats out of their trailer home. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 240-243]
The FBI says that evidence compiled on the Oklahoma City bombing shows that it was planned for months by accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995) and a small number of co-conspirators. The statement by the FBI echoes statements made earlier by Attorney General Janet Reno (see April 22, 1995). Evidence shows that McVeigh was driven in part by his rage at the government’s handling of the Branch Davidian standoff two years earlier (see April 19, 1993). McVeigh has refused to cooperate with investigators, and reportedly has shown no remorse or emotion of any kind, even when confronted with photographs of dead and maimed children being taken from the devasted Murrah Federal Building. The attack was timed to coincide with the Branch Davidian conflagration of April 19, 1993, investigators say, and was executed after months of planning, preparation, and testing. Some investigators believe that McVeigh may lack the leadership skills to plan and execute such a plot, and theorize that the ringleader of the conspiracy may turn out to be someone else (see April 21, 1995 and After). Evidence collected from the Ryder truck, particularly shards of blue plastic from barrels containing the fertilizer and fuel oil that comprised most of the bomb’s elements, point to the involvement of Terry Nichols, a friend of McVeigh’s who is coming under increasing scrutiny as a possible co-conspirator (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995). Similar barrels were found in Nichols’s garage in his Herington, Kansas, home (see (February 20, 1995)), along with other evidence tying him to the bomb’s construction.
Investigating Possible Involvement of Sister - Investigators are in the process of searching the home of McVeigh’s younger sister Jennifer, who has returned from a vacation in Pensacola, Florida (see April 7, 1995 and April 21-23, 1995). They are also poring over Jennifer McVeigh’s 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck, registered in New York. Investigators say the two siblings are very close, share similar anti-government views (see March 9, 1995), and have had numerous conversations in recent months (see Mid-December 1994). Jennifer McVeigh is taken into federal custody as well, as a witness, not as a suspect, and is released on April 25, after an intensive interrogation session that leaves her frightened and angry. “They told me Tim was guilty,” she will later recall, “and that he was going to fry.” According to her recollections, the agents threaten to charge her as a co-conspirator unless she gives them evidence against her brother, but she refuses to cooperate. She does reveal some information about her brother’s involvement in gun dealing, his strong belief in the US Constitution as he and right-wing white separatist groups interpret it, and his obsession with the violently racist novel The Turner Diaries (see 1978). “He had people he knew around the country,” she tells agents, mentioning three: “Mike and Lori and Terry.” Terry is Terry Nichols. “Mike and Lori” are McVeigh’s close friends Michael and Lori Fortier (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, August 1994, September 13, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, April 19, 1995 and After, and December 16, 1994 and After). She tells them about watching anti-government videotapes with her brother, in particular one called “Day 51” about the Waco siege. “It depicted the government raiding the compound, and it implied that the government gassed and burned the people inside intentionally and attacked the people,” she tells the agents. “He was very angry. I think he thought the government murdered the people there, basically gassed and burned them down.” The agents ask if by the government, he meant the FBI and the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, also abbreviated BATF). “He felt that someone should be held accountable,” she answers, and says her brother believed no one ever had been held responsible. She shows them the “ATF Read” letter he had written on her word processor (see November 1994) that concludes with the exhortation, “Die, you spineless cowardice [sic] b_stards!” She says that McVeigh had told her he had moved out of a “planning” stage into an “action” stage, though he never explained to her exactly what “action” he intended to take. Later, she will sign a statement detailing what her brother had told her. She will always insist that he never spoke to her about ammonium nitrate, anhydrous hydrazine, or any of the chemical components of the bomb, and had never spoken to her about the scene in The Turner Diaries that depicts the FBI building in Washington being obliterated by a truck bomb similar to the one used in Oklahoma City. The FBI seizes a number of her belongings, including samples of her antigovernment “patriot” literature. But, they determine, Jennifer McVeigh was never a part of her brother’s conspiracy.
Interviewing Alleged Co-Conspirator's Ex-Wife - Investigators are also interviewing Nichols’s ex-wife, Lana Padilla, who currently lives in Las Vegas. The press speculates that she is cooperating with the investigation and may have been taken to a undisclosed location for security reasons. Investigators are combing through a large body of writings McVeigh left behind, many of which detail his far-right, anti-government ideological beliefs. From what they have read so far, McVeigh believes that his Second Amendment rights are absolute, and he has the right to live without any restraints from the government. They have not found any documents detailing any operational plan for the bombing, nor have they found evidence that McVeigh directly threatened any government buildings or personnel. The FBI is offering a $2 million reward for information about McVeigh and the bombing. [New York Times, 4/24/1995; New York Times, 4/24/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 237-238]
Entity Tags: Michael Joseph Fortier, Janet Reno, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Branch Davidians, Jennifer McVeigh, Lori Fortier, Timothy James McVeigh, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Terry Lynn Nichols, Lana Padilla
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
The court-appointed lawyers for suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, public defender Susan Otto and private attorney John Coyle (see April 21, 1995), ask to be taken off the case. Both Otto and Coyle say they knew people killed in the blast (including Coyle’s law partner Gloyd McCoy) and cannot be objective in defending McVeigh. Coyle’s family has been threatened by people who apparently do not want Coyle to defend McVeigh. “Someone in as much trouble as Mr. McVeigh is entitled to 100 percent commitment from his lawyer,” Coyle says. “I personally witnessed the carnage. I had a friend die in the explosion.” Witnessing the aftermath of the blast “call[s] me to question whether or not I could give 100 percent. I just don’t see how any lawyer in Oklahoma City can be objective about anything in this case.” Before asking to withdraw, Otto and Coyle file a motion to transfer the case out of Oklahoma (see April 22, 1995); Coyle says the motion is “very important for this young man, if he is to get a fair trial.” The motions are filed in Federal District Court in Oklahoma City, a building that was damaged in the bombing and has been closed until today, when it is opened solely to allow McVeigh’s lawyers to file their motions. Coyle says McVeigh “understands” his reasons for withdrawing. Coyle lost a friend and fellow lawyer, Mike Weaver, in the blast, and himself was in a county courtroom that was damaged by a slab of falling rock. Otto’s office was damaged, its windows blown out, and her car was crushed in a parking lot. Coyle says he will suggest replacements for himself and Otto. [New York Times, 4/22/1995; New York Times, 4/24/1995; Stickney, 1996, pp. 223-224; Indianapolis Star, 2003] On May 8, attorney Stephen Jones will be assigned to represent McVeigh (see May 8, 1995). [Indianapolis Star, 2003]
The stricken father of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), William “Bill” McVeigh, issues his first and only statement to the press concerning his son. He sends the statement via fax to selected newspapers. The statement reads: “I would like to express my deepest sympathy for the people and families of those involved in the Oklahoma City explosion. I am very sorry for what happened and feel terrible about it. My prayers are with the victims, families, and people of Oklahoma. I would also like to thank my friends and neighbors for their kind words of support. This is the only statement I am making to anyone in the news media, and I will make no further statements.” Bill McVeigh will speak to reporters in the future, but rarely, and will spend most of his time isolated in his Pendleton, New York, home, missing work and having his telephone number changed. McVeigh’s mother Mildred “Mickey” Frazer, having long ago divorced Bill McVeigh, moved to Florida, and remarried, issues her own brief statement, giving a handwritten note to a sheriff’s deputy. It reads: “I just want to say I feel deep sympathy for the victims and families involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. I have had only brief contact with my son the past 10 years and only know details from what I have been watching on TV the past few days. That is all I wish to say at this time.” She signs the note “Tim’s Mom” and adds, “P.S. Please leave our family alone.” She will also remain in seclusion for the next few months. McVeigh’s older sister Patricia Davis, who left New York with her mother and also lives in Florida, issues a similar statement to her mother’s, saying she has “not been involved in my brother’s life for the last nine years” and noting “[t]he only information I have regarding this tragedy is what I’ve learned like the rest of the American public through the news media.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 185-188]
With the news that the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) was not carried out by foreign terrorists (see 10:00 a.m. April 19, 1995 and After) but apparently by Timothy McVeigh, a former US soldier from upstate New York (see April 21, 1995), the news media suddenly begins exploring what the New York Times calls “the murky world of the extreme right, of paramilitary groups with names like The Order, Aryan Nation Group, White Aryan Resistance, Posse Comitatus, Bruder Schweigen, or Duck Club, whose members rail against Jews, blacks, Communists, Muslims, and bankers, train with weapons, and above all, [despise] the federal government.” Journalism professor James P. Corcoran, who wrote Bitter Harvest, a book about one of the heroes of the far right, Gordon Kahl (see February 13, 1983 and After), tells the Times: “The one common thread [between these organizations] is Big Government. There are shadings in how they blame it—some believe Jews control the government, others that moneyed interests do, others that it’s too big, too intrusive, that it’s planning to take away their guns, their money. But government is always evil.” [New York Times, 4/24/1995] People magazine reporter Michelle Green reports: “[I]t is clear that [McVeigh] and his cohorts have emerged from America’s most chilling microculture—homegrown resisters who believe the federal government is bent on destroying the very people from whom it derives its power. Reactionaries who have organized themselves into paramilitary units like the Michigan Militia (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994, January 1995, and April 21, 1995), which claims over 12,000 members, they share the belief that the Justice Department is determined to stamp out individual liberty and the right to bear arms. Their battle cry: ‘Remember Waco’ (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). Like McVeigh, who made a bitter pilgrimage to the ruins of the Branch Davidian compound in Texas (see March 1993), the most radical are convinced that the cultists who died in the attack… were martyrs targeted by Big Brother. In fact government investigators believe that the massacre in the federal building in Oklahoma City, headquarters for some of the agents who stormed the Davidians’ compound, was timed for the second anniversary of the Waco disaster—and intended as a payback.” [People, 5/8/1995]
Terry Nichols and his brother James Nichols are charged by a Michigan federal court with conspiring to help suspected Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh build explosives at Terry Nichols’s farm in Michigan (see December 22 or 23, 1988). Judge Monti Belot rules that Terry Nichols will be held without bail, and will be transferred to Oklahoma City sometime after noon on May 5; the delay in the transfer gives Nichols’s public defender, Steven Gradert, time to file a possible appeal. (Gradert also alleges that when the FBI first interviewed Nichols—see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995—he may not have understood his rights under the law.) The complaint, filed in a federal court in Michigan, does not directly link either of the brothers to the Oklahoma bombing. It does accuse both brothers of building what the complaint calls “bottle bombs” and of experimenting with other explosives with McVeigh in 1992 and 1994 (see April 2, 1992 and After, November 1991 - Summer 1992, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, and February - July 1994). Until today, both the brothers were held, not as suspects, but as material witnesses (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995); the conspiracy charges are designed to keep them behind bars until investigators can find more solid links between them and the bombing plot. An affidavit accompanying the complaint says that, like McVeigh, both Nichols brothers blamed the government for the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After); authorities have alleged that part of McVeigh’s motivation for the bombing was revenge for the 1993 debacle (see April 24, 1995). An initial version of the affidavit says a witness, Daniel Stomber of Evergreen Township, Michigan, had heard James Nichols “stating that judges and President Clinton should be killed, and that he blamed the FBI and the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] for killing the Branch Davidians in Waco.” A revised affidavit made public later deletes that information. James Nichols’s lawyer, Miriam Siefer, calls the information in the affidavit “quite stale.” The complaint itself says that James Nichols informed federal agents that his brother and McVeigh had been at his Michigan farm off and on since December 1991. James also told agents that his brother had obtained survival books that had information about bombs, and said he believed McVeigh knew how to build a bomb. The affidavit says James has admitted to building small bombs with McVeigh and his brother, but denied ever buying ammonium nitrate, one of the key ingredients in the Oklahoma City bomb. However, the affidavit says all three men were known to possess quantities of fertilizer and fuel oil, the same materials used in the Oklahoma City bomb, and says that Terry Nichols admitted to FBI investigators that he had bought at least 100 pounds of ammonium nitrate in the recent past. The affidavit says a witness told agents that all three men built other devices made of prescription vials, black powder, blasting caps, and safety fuses, which they detonated in empty fields of James Nichols’s 500 acres. Shrapnel was found in the fields, the affidavit says. Investigators found 28 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and a 55-gallon drum of fuel oil on James Nichols’s farm; both ingredients are common on many farms, but James Nichols has claimed to be an organic farmer and thusly would not ordinarily use such materials. The affidavit says that in December 1993, McVeigh used an alias to buy liquid nitro airplane fuel, which could be used with other chemicals to improvise explosives (see December 1993). The complaint and affidavit will be presented to a federal court in Wichita, Kansas, on April 26. James Nichols will be released a month later without bond; US District Judge Paul Borman will rule that the government failed to link him to the bombing (see May 22, 1995). [New York Times, 4/26/1995; Boston Globe, 4/26/1995; New York Times, 4/25/1996; Mickolus and Simmons, 6/1997, pp. 810-811]
Entity Tags: Monti Belot, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dan Stomber, Miriam Siefer, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, Terry Lynn Nichols, Paul Borman, Steven Gradert, James Nichols, Timothy James McVeigh, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
The press reports that the FBI is closely investigating the “money trail” left behind by accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995). Witness reports say McVeigh and his suspected confederate had “thousands of dollars” in their possession in the days before the attack, though McVeigh has only worked sporadically at low-paying jobs for the last few years. The suspicion is that McVeigh and his suspected colleague or colleagues engaged in criminal activities, particularly bank robberies (see August - September 1994 and December 1994) and other thefts (see October 3, 1994 and November 5, 1994). Authorities are examining a half-dozen unsolved bank robberies in Kansas City, Missouri, and elsewhere in the Midwest, where two or more armed men used explosives to rob banks. Investigators say they do not as yet have hard evidence of just how McVeigh raised the money needed to finance his bombing plot. One September 1994 bank robbery in Overland Park, Kansas, was carried out by two men whose descriptions generally match those of McVeigh and his unnamed, suspected partner, “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995). [New York Times, 4/26/1995] It is possible that some of the robberies were carried out by the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist group to which McVeigh has ties (see 1992 - 1995) and which may have helped McVeigh fund his plot (see November 1994).
The press reports that since the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) and the arrest of former Army sergeant Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995), soldiers and citizens of Fort Riley, Kansas, have suffered anger and vitriol from other people outraged by the attack. Since McVeigh and suspected co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see April 25, 1995) were both soldiers, and McVeigh was once stationed at Fort Riley, “a lot of people seem to be blaming all of us because of a couple of fools,” says Fort Riley’s Sergeant Chris Killerbrew. “That’s not right.” Killerbrew recalls being in Oklahoma City three days after the bombing, and, with his family, going into a store to cash an out-of-town check. When he told the clerk his family was from Junction City, Kansas, a town near Fort Riley populated largely by current and former soldiers and their families, and used by McVeigh to stage the bombing (see April 13, 1995, April 15, 1995, April 15, 1995, April 16-17, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995, and April 18, 1995), a man in the store said: “Junction City, that’s where those bombers, those baby killers are from. Why don’t you go back to where you belong?” An angry Killerbrew informed the man that he and his family were in Oklahoma because his three-year-old niece had been killed in the bombing. Many other soldiers say that the charges against McVeigh, a decorated veteran of the Gulf War (see January - March 1991 and After), have wounded their pride and shaken their morale. Fort Riley spokesman Major Ben Santos says, “What we want to tell folks around the country is that there is more to us than the current situation.” Corporal Perez Blackmon says that he and many of his fellow soldiers feel betrayed and angry that “one of our own could have done something like this.… This uniform means pride, the highest state of honor. It gets no better than this, and he disgraced it.” Nearby resident Scott Sanders says the accusations against McVeigh make “us all look bad, like this is some center to train terrorists.” Clarence Thomas of Junction City says: “I wouldn’t move anywhere else. This McVeigh guy didn’t stay and live here. He wasn’t one of us.” [New York Times, 4/27/1995]
The US government denies two press reports concerning the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). One report, disseminated by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, says that federal investigators have discovered a diary by bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995 and April 27, 1995) that contained threats to bomb federal buildings in Phoenix and Omaha. Attorney General Janet Reno says during a news conference, “I have not received any evidence to that effect.” And the Defense Department denies reports that Army explosives might have been used in the bombing. [New York Times, 4/27/1995]
US magistrate Ronald L. Howland orders Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995) held without bail. Howland rules there is “an indelible trail of evidence” linking McVeigh to the bombing, and orders him detained. FBI agent John Hersley testifies that at least three witnesses place McVeigh near the Murrah Federal Building minutes before the blast that almost destroyed the building and killed over a hundred people. Hersley also testifies that McVeigh’s clothing bore chemical residue that matched the explosives used in the blast. The hearing is held in the El Reno Federal Corrections Center instead of the usual courtroom setting because of security concerns, in a prison cafeteria converted for the purpose. Only lawyers, FBI agents, and a small number of journalists are present, along with McVeigh, who is heavily cuffed and shackled. Hersley testifies that one witness, a meter maid, saw someone she believes to be McVeigh driving a Ryder Rental truck similar to the one that detonated in front of the Murrah Building. A second witness, Hersley says, saw someone who he believes to be McVeigh walking away from the Ryder truck after parking it in front of the building. A third witness saw what he believes to be two men (see April 20, 1995) driving away from the scene of the blast in a yellow Mercury (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). Hersley says that other witnesses saw McVeigh bring a Ryder truck to the Dreamland Motel in Junction City (see April 13, 1995), and saw him again in the truck a day before the bombing (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). The other person to testify is trooper Charles Hanger, who arrested McVeigh on unrelated gun charges (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995). McVeigh’s lawyer John Coyle tells the judge that his client chooses to “stand mute” during the hearing, and later points out that none of the witnesses cited by Hersley actually saw McVeigh detonate the bomb. At the beginning of the hearing, both of McVeigh’s lawyers, Coyle and Susan Otto, again ask to be removed from the case (see April 24, 1995) because of their personal experiences with the bombing. “We heard it,” Otto tells Howland. “We smelled it. We lived there in it.” Otto lists the names of 10 people she and Coyle knew who were killed in the bombing. They both repeat their request that McVeigh’s trial be moved from Oklahoma City (see April 22, 1995). [New York Times, 4/27/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 223-224; Douglas O. Linder, 2001] Coyle will later tell reporters, “The reasons I accepted the appointment in the first place is that I’ve never seen anyone who needed a lawyer more than that boy did.” Now, however, “[t]his is a case where I know too many people. In a sense, I feel like a victim. Everyone in Oklahoma City feels like a victim. [McVeigh] deserves a lawyer who would have no hesitation in his defense.… If ever anyone needed a lawyer, it is this young man. And it should not be me.” [New York Times, 4/28/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 225]
Entity Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charles Hanger, El Reno Federal Corrections Center, Timothy James McVeigh, Ronald L. Howland, Dreamland Motel (Junction City, Kansas), Susan Otto, John Hersley, John Coyle, Murrah Federal Building
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Renowned defense lawyer Roy Black, who has refused to defend Timothy McVeigh. [Source: USLaw (.com)]With accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s two court-appointed lawyers, John Coyle and Susan Otto, asking to be removed from the case (see April 24, 1995 and April 27, 1995), it is unclear who will step up to represent McVeigh. Oklahoma defense lawyer Allen Smallwood tells a reporter: “I’ve said to many people, the acid test of a criminal defense lawyer is could you represent Hitler or Adolph Eichmann? And, yes, I could have. But the publicity and the downside to my life personally would be far, far greater in representing McVeigh than Hitler.” McVeigh is widely regarded as a pariah, and many lawyers fear that to associate themselves with his case would do them irreparable personal and professional harm. Officials at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers say they are confident he will have the best defense possible. America has a long tradition of providing expensive and talented lawyers to represent even the most reviled and unpopular clients, going back to 1770, when future president John Adams represented British soldiers accused of murdering five colonists. If new lawyers are appointed, as seems likely, they will be chosen by the Defender Services Division of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington. Indications are that several lawyers have already been contacted about the case or expressed an interest in it and that the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is sounding out possible volunteers in case its help is sought. Oklahoma City defense lawyer Robert A. Manchester says bluntly: “The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution says everybody has a right to counsel. That doesn’t mean they have a right to me.” An American Bar Association ethics rule allows lawyers to turn down appointments if the client is “so repugnant to the lawyer as to impair the lawyer-client relationship.” A number of prominent defense lawyers have already said they would not defend McVeigh. Roy Black, the Florida lawyer who defended William K. Smith, a Kennedy family cousin, on rape charges, has refused, saying: “I find I do the best job in cases where I’m really interested in what I’m doing, and believe in the people and have enthusiasm for it. If no other lawyer was available to take the case, I think I would have the obligation to take it. I don’t think that’s the situation here.” White-collar defense lawyer Carl Rauh says he would not defend accused bombers such as McVeigh. Jack Zimmerman, who defended Branch Davidian Steve Schneider (see March 13, 1993), says he would not defend a client accused of treason unless he was personally convinced of the client’s innocence. Zimmerman’s colleague Richard DeGuerin, who defended Branch Davidian leader David Koresh (see March 13, 1993 and March 29-31, 1993), notes: “You have to understand that the information known about this case is what’s being fed to the public by the authorities. We found out in Waco the public was not being fed the truth.” Lawyers William Kunstler and Ronald Kuby, who have made their reputations defending high-profile, unpopular clients, say they only take clients from the political left or members of minorities whom they feel can be made to represent social issues. “We don’t represent right-wing murderers,” Kuby says. “If I wanted to represent right-wing murderers, I’d become a corporate lawyer.” Kuby says he does not believe that anyone from the American left would have committed such a violent crime. And Manchester notes the difficulty any lawyer will face in becoming involved in such a trial. “My estimate is that whoever gets into the case is going to be faced with 70- to 90-hour weeks solid for six to eight months at $40 an hour for out-of-court time,” he says. “You’re starting two leagues behind the government, and you’ll run all the way until the final day of trial to try and catch up.” Los Angeles defense lawyer Harland Braun, who earlier in his career prosecuted five members of the notorious Manson Family, says: “The government had better make sure they have good cases that are well documented. Otherwise, you’re not only going to create martyrs, but you’re going to create perpetual questions like the JFK thing: Did this guy really do it or was he part of a plot? So you’d better know what you’re doing.” [New York Times, 4/28/1995] McVeigh’s lead lawyer will be Stephen Jones (see May 8, 1995).
Entity Tags: Harland Braun, Timothy James McVeigh, William Kunstler, Allen Smallwood, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Carl Rauh, Stephen Jones, Susan Otto, Ronald Kuby, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, John Coyle, Jack Zimmerman, Roy Black, Robert A. Manchester, American Bar Association, Richard DeGuerin
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Federal authorities say that the Arizona license plate missing from accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s Mercury (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995) appears on a vehicle in a security camera videotape made near the Murrah Federal Building just before the bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Authorities believe the second suspect in the bombing, “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995), may have used that vehicle for his getaway. The videotape shows both the vehicle—not McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis—and the Ryder truck containing the bomb. The Associated Press attributes the report to a federal official who speaks on condition of anonymity. [New York Times, 4/29/1995]
Marife Nichols, the wife of suspected Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see April 30, 1995), is being held in FBI custody, ostensibly on a voluntary basis, though she will later contend she is being held against her will (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995). She is allowed to make phone calls. She calls Terry’s father Robert Nichols in Michigan, and has a conversation which is recorded by the FBI, apparently with her knowledge. Robert Nichols asks about his son James, currently in FBI custody as a third suspected conspirator (see April 25, 1995), along with his brother Terry and Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). Robert then asks Marife how she is doing, and how Nicole, the young daughter of Terry and Marife, is doing. She answers: “Oh, we’re doing fine. Everything is okay. I mean, they give us anything that we need here, and we’re fine.” She says she wants to return to her home country of the Philippines (see July - December 1990). “It would be a lot better for me to, uh, since you know I, I need to talk to my parents,” she says. “I wanted to go home, too. Uh, but I think they need to ask me a lot of, uh, questions about activities that we did ever since I got back here from Philippines.” Of her husband, she says: “I, I only talked to him once, on the telephone, and uh, he mainly just want me to go home. He, um, same as, as, you been watching the news?” Robert Nichols says he has, and she continues, “Yeah it’s, it’s all the same as, uh, James is, has, you know he’s just a material witness.” She asks if James has ever spoken to his father about any bombing plots, but Robert Nichols has no intention of passing along any potentially incriminating evidence against either of his sons. “No, it’s all news to me,” he says. Author Richard A. Serrano will later theorize that Marife is trying to flatter the FBI into letting her go with her repeated assurances that she and her daughter are being treated well. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 230-231]
Terry Nichols, a suspected accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) currently jailed in Wichita, Kansas, tells a jailer he wants a different book than the one he has been given to read. This book, he says, has a story “about an innocent man who is charged with murder, two counts, and it took him 14 years to get out of prison.” The guard replies, “Is that right?” and Nichols says, “I guess you really don’t know what your friends will do.” Nichols is apparently referring to suspected bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). When the guard asks him who he is talking about, Nichols replies: “I’m talking about some of my friends, my friends. We were good friends. For five years… but it looks like… maybe he did it. And I think I may have… I may have accidentally helped him in doing it” (see September 13, 1994, September 22, 1994, September 30, 1994, October 3, 1994, October 4 - Late October, 1994, October 17, 1994, October 18, 1994, October 20, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, October 29-30, 1994, November 5, 1994, November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995, November 7, 1994, November 9, 1994, January 19 - January 27, 1995, January 31 - February 12, 1995, February 20, 1995, March 1995, March 17, 1995, April 5-10, 1995, April 15-16, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). The guard will file a report on the conversation, and add the following: “His last few words appeared to have been very hard for him to say. I believe he wiped a tear from his right eye.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 216]
Federal officials confirm a news report that investigators have found a September 1994 receipt for the purchase of 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate by Terry Nichols (see September 30, 1994 and April 25, 1995), who has been charged in an unrelated bomb-building conspiracy with accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995 and April 24, 1995). According to a report by the Dallas Morning News, McVeigh’s fingerprints were found on the receipt. Ammonium nitrate was one of the key ingredients in McVeigh’s bomb. FBI investigators found the receipt wrapped around gold collector coins in a drawer in Nichols’s Herington, Kansas, home. [New York Times, 5/1/1995; Washington Post, 11/7/1997]
Federal investigators probing the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) search a site at the Geary County State Fishing Lake just south of Junction City, Kansas, where accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995 and April 24, 1995) assembled the bomb he used to devastate the Murrah Federal Building (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). Witnesses have told investigators that they saw a yellow Ryder truck similar to the one used by McVeigh at the lake on April 18. Investigators find traces of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO), the components of the bomb. [New York Times, 5/1/1995]
Federal investigators begin searching the Kingman, Arizona, home of Michael Fortier, a known friend and associate of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990, May-September 1993, February - July 1994, September 13, 1994 and After, September 13, 1994, October 4 - Late October, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, December 16, 1994 and After, 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995, April 19, 1995 and After, April 21, 1995, and April 24, 1995). Agents have been questioning Fortier and his wife Lori for days (see April 23 - May 6, 1995).
A dozen cars filled with about 20 agents drive onto Fortier’s property; Fortier’s trailer home sports an American flag and a yellow Revolutionary War-era banner showing a coiled snake and a “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan. The agents rope off the area with yellow tape. As the agents approach Fortier’s home, a neighbor and friend, James Rosencrans, emerges from his house and advances on the agents carrying a pistol and a rifle. Rosencrans gets into an argument with sheriff’s deputies, and is arrested for disorderly conduct. [New York Times, 5/1/1995] Rosencrans will not remain in custody. Soon after the altercation, he will tell a reporter that when he heard the news of the bombing, he thought of McVeigh and said at the time, “Our boy’s been busy.” [New York Times, 7/3/1995]
The FBI issues a nationwide alert for two men wanted as material witnesses in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). The men, Gary Allen Land and Robert Jacks, are under suspicion by federal investigators of having ties to bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995 and April 24, 1995). Land and Jacks, who live on disability checks and drive aimlessly around the country in a 1981 Ford Thunderbird, rented a room in an Arizona motel near McVeigh’s room in the first week of April. On April 19, Land and Jacks checked into the Deward and Pauline’s Motel in Vinita, Oklahoma, some 180 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. On April 20, the day after the bombing, they checked into the Dan-D Motel in Perry, Oklahoma, where McVeigh was being held by local authorities on unrelated charges (see 9:03 a.m. -- 10:17 a.m. April 19, 1995), checked out after just a few hours, and returned to their motel room in Vinita, some 140 miles away, where they stayed until April 24. Investigators believe that Land and Jacks may have been able to find out that McVeigh was being held by the local police, perhaps through an intermediary. Investigators tell reporters that the hunt for Land and Jacks may prove the contention that McVeigh was a part of a larger conspiracy (see April 24, 1995 and After). Some federal officials suggest Land may be “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995), based on his superficial resemblance to the sketch. Investigators search the Vinita and Perry motels, interviewing the managers and searching the rooms occupied by the two men. Land’s Thunderbird has an Arizona license plate; the car is registered to the address of the El Trovatore Hotel in Kingman, Arizona, the town where McVeigh spent so much of his time before the bombing. The managers of the El Trovatore say that Land and Jacks rented three different units from them between November 1994 and April 1995. The El Trovatore is a short distance from the Imperial and Hill Top Motels, where McVeigh stayed from April 1 through April 12 (see March 31 - April 12, 1995). The managers say that Land and Jacks told an employee that they were driving to Oklahoma to look for jobs; Jacks told another employee that he was Land’s uncle. Motel employees describe the two as, the New York Times writes, “brooding beer drinkers who sometimes played country music, but for the most part kept to themselves.” Neither man worked, employees say, but both paid their rent in cash and sometimes left their rooms during the morning as if they were going to jobs. Jacks told them that he and Land drove to nearby Needles, California, once a month to pick up their checks. At dawn on May 2, a dozen FBI agents in SWAT gear raid the two men’s motel room in Carthage, Oklahoma (the motel manager’s wife stays up all night making pancakes for the agents while they prepare for the raid). The two spend 18 hours in custody while agents search the room and the Thunderbird, using a remote-controlled robot to open the car’s doors in case it is wired to explode. Land and Jacks have no connection to McVeigh, and know nothing of the bombing. They will make a brief and memorable appearance on ABC’s Nightline a few nights later, where they boast of being long-time drunks and talk about their treatment at the hands of the FBI. [New York Times, 5/1/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 263-264] USA Today will put their pictures on the front page, above the fold, giving the impression that the FBI has solved the bombing case with the “capture” of these two “suspected conspirators.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 193]
Dan Kane, the managing editor of the Lockport, New York, Union-Sun & Journal, testifies about two letters to the editor his paper printed that were written by Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh (see February 11, 1992). Kane testifies before a grand jury hearing evidence of McVeigh’s involvement in the bombing. A Union-Sun & Journal employee recently told a reporter: “We have a longstanding policy; we print every letter.… We have a fair amount of that kind of mail, and it’s probably encouraged because we allow it” to be published. [Los Angeles Times, 4/27/1995]
FBI crime laboratory technicians comb through over 15,000 “entries” (items of evidence) from the Oklahoma City bombing scene (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) and from material gathered from suspects Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995) and Terry Nichols (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995 and May 1, 1995), eventually producing over 10,000 pages of lab notes. The prime focus at the outset is on McVeigh’s personal effects. No high-explosive materials are found on McVeigh’s jacket or boots, nor are any traces found on the blanket or cloth bag recovered from his car. However, traces of explosive compounds similar to those used in the bombing are found in the inside pockets of his jeans and on his earplugs, which he presumably used to protect his hearing from the roar of the explosion. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 222-223]
Accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 24, 1995) disavows two Houston lawyers who say they have been hired by his family to represent them. One of the lawyers, Brent Liedtke, suggests McVeigh is being manipulated by his two current defense lawyers, who have said they do not wish to continue representing McVeigh (see April 24, 1995 and April 27, 1995). Liedtke goes on to accuse prison officials of denying him and his partner, Paul Looney, access to McVeigh. In a one-page “advisement to the court,” McVeigh says Looney and Liedtke have portrayed themselves as his lawyers against his wishes. He says he met briefly with them at the Federal Correctional Institution at El Reno, Oklahoma, on April 27 and told them he did not want them on the case. “Any statements made by Messrs. Looney and Liedtke to the contrary are false and unauthorized,” McVeigh’s statement reads in part. “I do not now, nor did I ever, desire their representation in this matter.” McVeigh’s “advisement” is filed by his current lawyers, Susan Otto and John Coyle. Liedtke states that he doubts McVeigh wrote the document, saying: “I don’t think he uses words like ‘Messrs’ and like this. This is not the way he talks.” Liedtke says McVeigh’s sister Jennifer (see April 24, 1995) retained Looney. [New York Times, 5/4/1995]
Michael Fortier, a suspected participant in the Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy (see May-September 1993, February - July 1994, August 1994, September 13, 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, and December 16, 1994 and After) whom the FBI believes has lied to investigators (see April 23 - May 6, 1995), unsuccessfully attempts to foil investigators by removing a cache of guns and drugs from his home. FBI personnel monitor the activities at the Fortier home, and place Fortier under court-authorized electronic surveillance of his telephone and inside his home. Soon after the wiretaps are placed, Fortier makes a number of belligerent statements to a friend, Lonnie Hubbard, in a phone call, saying if he is called to testify in any trial, he will pick his nose on camera and “flick it” at the lens. “Flick it and then kind of wipe it on the judge’s desk,” he says. He will also invite the lawyers to play a game of “pull my finger” during any such testimony, he says, between bouts of laughter. “I’m the key, I’m the key,” he tells Hubbard. “Cause you’re the key,” Hubbard replies. “The key man,” Fortier says. “That can unlock the whole mystery,” Hubbard says. “The head honcho.… I hold the key to it all.” To his brother John Fortier, he brags about the instant celebrity he will achieve, saying that he will concoct “some asinine story and get my friends to go in on it.… I found my career, ‘cause I can tell a fable.… I could tell stories all day.” To his friend Glynn Bringle, he says: “I want to wait till after the trial and do book and movie rights. I can just make up something juicy. Something that’s worth the Enquirer [a tabloid news publication], you know.” He speculates that he can sell photographs of McVeigh for $50,000, and make up to a million dollars by marketing his life story with McVeigh. “Make one cool mil,” he boasts. He tells some of his lies to a CNN reporter, in a segment that is broadcast nationwide (see May 8, 1995). Fortier’s parents, Paul and Irene Fortier, beg him to tell the truth to the federal investigators; Fortier later says the entire situation drove his father into “a nervous breakdown,” and admits lying to his father about his involvement. The FBI microphones record Fortier screaming at his mother, “Shut the f_ck up!” when she brings up the problems the family is suffering. [Serrano, 1998, pp. 240-243]
Stephen Jones. [Source: Associated Press]Attorney Stephen Jones is named by the court as the lead defender of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995). He agrees to work for a taxpayer-funded rate of $125 an hour, considerably less than his usual fee. Jones, who primarily represents large oil and insurance firms, is a Republican activist who failed to unseat Senator David Boren (D-OK) in 1990 and has represented a number of unpopular clients. He is joined by another prominent defense attorney, Robert Nigh Jr., a lawyer recommended to the case by Jones before he himself was chosen to represent McVeigh. Jones discussed the request from Judge David L. Russell with, among others, Governor Frank Keating (R-OK); Jones has done legal work for Keating in the past, and wished to ensure that his representation of McVeigh would not damage Keating’s reputation. Jones eventually accepted Russell’s request; when he accepted, Russell quipped, “I hope I haven’t signed your death warrant.” Jones replied, “That makes two of us.” To the media, Jones says: “My role is as old as the Constitution. Whether I perform professionally will be determined by how I conduct myself and whether my client is satisfied.… I did not seek or request the appointment or even encourage it in any way. I have been drafted. However, I will do my duty.… I will seek, for my part, to avoid the circus atmosphere that has prevailed in certain other well-known jurisdictional proceedings, which have included the self-promotion and self-aggrandizement of some individuals. I am a small-town county-seat lawyer.… I want to set a contrast to the O. J. Simpson [a former athlete and Hollywood celebrity recently acquitted of murdering his wife and another man in a sensational court proceeding] trial, which represents much of what is wrong with the legal process,” he says, referring to what he sees as “a lot of self-aggrandizement by all the parties: the witnesses, the jury, the judge, the lawyers.” He concludes with a warning to the press: “There is a well-recognized tension between the need for a free press and a fair trial, so I hope the ladies and gentlemen of the press will understand that I will defend this case in the courts of law.” Jones is working with McVeigh’s current lawyers, John Coyle and Susan Otto, who are preparing to leave the case (see April 24, 1995 and April 27, 1995). (When the media announces Jones’s naming to the case, one of Coyle’s staffers shouts: “You watch. He will make it all about himself.”) Jones is preparing McVeigh for a grand jury, which is being seated to hear evidence against him. McVeigh turned down the offered services of two lawyers (see May 3, 1995), but is willing to accept Jones’s services. [New York Times, 5/8/1995; New York Times, 6/15/1995; Stickney, 1996, pp. 231; Serrano, 1998, pp. 248-249; Douglas O. Linder, 2006; TruTV, 2/2009] “There’s no doubt in my mind that Stephen Jones views this to be a horrible crime,” Tony Graham, a former federal prosecutor who has often opposed Jones in court, will comment. “That he can go ahead and represent a person accused of that is the mark of a very professional lawyer.” Enid lawyer and former mayor Norman L. Grey will say: “With Stephen, you know you have a battle on your hands. I don’t think there’s a better legal mind in the area of criminal proceedings, state or federal.” [New York Times, 6/15/1995]
Conspiracy Theories, 'Necessity' Defense - Later, Jones will recall watching news footage of the bombing at his law office in Enid, Oklahoma, and remember his old elementary school being firebombed. “I recognized it as a bombing right away,” he will say. “And the minute I heard about the day care, I thought, ‘That’s it.’ Because I remembered the babies at Waco (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After). And later that night I heard about old man Snell [executed white supremacist Richard Wayne Snell—see 9:00 p.m. April 19, 1995] and I thought, ‘Yes, that’s relevant too.’” Author Richard A. Serrano will later write, “Even on that first evening, Jones was thinking conspiracy theories.” [Serrano, 1998, pp. 249] Though Jones is not forthcoming about the defense strategy he and McVeigh intend to deploy, legal observers speculate that they will base their defense on attempts to discredit government witnesses that the prosecution will use to build their case against McVeigh. Court observers say McVeigh is working actively with Jones on their defense. In the following days, Jones will begin interviewing people in Kansas, Oklahoma, and elsewhere, trying to undermine the credibility of the witnesses the prosecution is expected to bring into court. Jones is also expected to try to prove that the prosecutors’ evidence against McVeigh is largely circumstantial and therefore open to reasonable doubt. Observers doubt that Jones will try to use an insanity defense, because McVeigh is clearly competent to stand trial. They also doubt that Jones will try to allege that McVeigh was motivated by political opposition to the government, since innocent people, including children, were killed in the blast. No one feels that the prosecution will offer McVeigh any sort of plea deal. [New York Times, 5/11/1995] Researchers later learn that McVeigh wants Jones to present what some call a “necessity defense”—admitting to the bombing and justifying it by detailing what he considers the “crimes” of the federal government that his bombing was designed to prevent. McVeigh believes that if the jury hears about the government’s actions at Ruby Ridge, Idaho (see August 31, 1992 and August 21-31, 1992), and at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas (see April 19, 1993 and April 19, 1993 and After), at least some of the jurors will be sympathetic. More importantly, such a politicized trial would give McVeigh the opportunity to make his case against an overreaching federal government in the larger court of public opinion. Jones will resist presenting such a defense, in part because he believes that McVeigh has no chance of establishing, as he would be required to do to raise the defense, that the federal government put him in “imminent danger.” [Douglas O. Linder, 2006]
Third Lawyer to Join Jones, Nigh - Two weeks later, Russell will name Houston lawyer Richard Burr to join Jones and Nigh for the defense. Burr has extensive experience working with death penalty cases, and formerly directed the Capital Punishment Project of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “Any capital case, but particularly one of this magnitude, calls for our system of justice to perform as reliably, as fairly, and as humanely as it can,” Burr will say. “I feel honored to become a part of the defense team in Mr. McVeigh’s case.” [New York Times, 5/23/1995]
Entity Tags: David Boren, David L. Russell, John Coyle, Frank Keating, Tony Graham, Norman L. Grey, Susan Otto, Richard A. Serrano, Timothy James McVeigh, Richard Burr, Stephen Jones, Robert Nigh, Jr
Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism
Michael Fortier, a suspected co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990, March 1993, May-September 1993, February - July 1994, October 21 or 22, 1994, December 16, 1994 and After, 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995, and April 19, 1995 and After), tells a CNN interviewer that neither he nor accused bomber Timothy McVeigh had any involvement in the bombing. Of McVeigh, Fortier says: “I do not believe Tim blew up any building in Oklahoma. There’s nothing for me to look back and say: ‘Yeah, that might have been. I should have seen it back then.’ There’s nothing like that.” He continues: “People cannot make a judgment on his guilt by what they read in the paper. But by what I see on TV, they have. They want his blood. In America, we believe people are innocent until proven guilty. Everyone must remember that. Whoever says, ‘Forget the judiciary system, let’s just hang him now,’ those people are not Americans. They may think they are, but they are not Americans.” Fortier refuses to speculate on the identity of the so-called “John Doe No. 2” (see April 15, 1995, 9:00 p.m. April 17, 1995, 3:00 p.m. April 17, 1995, April 18, 1995, April 20, 1995, April 21, 1995, and April 29, 1995), instead continuing to defend McVeigh. “I just want to tell him to be strong. You are not alone. Right now, he might feel like there isn’t anyone on this earth who is any way supportive of him. But there is. Everyone should be supportive of him because he’s an innocent man.” Fortier is lying about his lack of knowledge of McVeigh’s involvement, and his own (see April 23 - May 6, 1995). [Washington Post, 8/9/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 243] In August 1995, Fortier will testify as to his involvement with McVeigh in the bombing plot, and will admit that McVeigh told him of his intentions to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (see August 8, 1995).
Jennifer McVeigh ( April 24, 1995), the sister of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), retains two lawyers to represent her in the event she is charged in the case. The lawyers are Joel L. Daniels and Andrew C. LoTempio, both of upstate New York, in the same area as the McVeigh family home in Pendleton, New York. Daniels has told the Buffalo News that he worries the FBI may charge Jennifer McVeigh with conspiracy. [New York Times, 5/9/1995]
Terry Nichols (see March 1995, April 16-17, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995, 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995, and 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995) is charged as a co-conspirator in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Prosecutors say that Nichols, though he did not participate directly in the bombing, played a direct and central role in carrying it out with accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995). Nichols is charged in a criminal complaint that is filed under seal with the court; a lawyer involved in the case says the prosecution may be trying to keep some undisclosed details of the evidence it is providing out of the public eye for the time being. Nichols’s lawyer, public defender David Phillips, says he expects Nichols to be indicted at any time. Nichols is being held in custody in Wichita, and will likely be moved to Oklahoma City soon. Prosecutors may be pressuring Nichols to turn state’s evidence against McVeigh, and lead them to others who may have been involved in the plot, particularly the elusive “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995). Nichols insists that he had no idea McVeigh planned to bomb the Murrah Federal Building, but prosecutors believe otherwise. One witness who may testify against Nichols is his former wife, Lana Padilla. In an interview Padilla recently gave to a tabloid television show, American Journal, she said Nichols gave her a package in 1994 that contained a key to a storage locker; the locker contained thousands of dollars in gold and silver bouillon (see November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995). In previous interviews with reporters, Padilla had not mentioned the locker. Investigators also believe that their 12-year-old son, Joshua Nichols, may have been at the rental office in Junction City where the Ryder truck containing the bomb was rented (see April 15, 1995). Some witnesses in Herington, Kansas (see (February 20, 1995)), say they saw Joshua Nichols in town the same day that McVeigh rented the Ryder truck in Junction City; a supermarket manager recalls seeing Nichols and his son on April 17, when they rented three film videos and bought a can of peanuts. “They browsed around about 30 minutes,” the manager says. “He came up to the clerk and said he was a new customer. She asked for his driver’s license and he said he didn’t have one. She asked for his Social Security number, and he just told us a number.” [New York Times, 5/9/1995; Douglas O. Linder, 2001; Fox News, 4/13/2005] Joshua Nichols tells reporters for ABC News that he was not with his father as the supermarket manager has stated. Prosecutors say Padilla put her son on a plane for their home in Las Vegas on April 17. [New York Times, 5/10/1995] Nichols is formally charged the following day (see May 10, 1995).
Federal prosecutors charge Terry Nichols, a suspected co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and May 9, 1995), with conspiring to carry out the bombing along with accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). If convicted, Nichols could face the death penalty under federal anti-terrorism laws. Nichols is escorted under heavy guard into the Wichita, Kansas, federal courthouse; a woman in the crowd screams at him, “Baby killer!” Nichols is charged with being a direct participant in the “malicious damage and destruction” of a federal building, and charged with aiding and abetting the attack. Prosecutors have not yet revealed the evidence they have against him. The charges faced by McVeigh and Nichols are likely to be augmented or replaced entirely by a broader conspiracy indictment, federal officials say. Nichols’s public defender, Steven Gradert, refuses to speculate on whether the prosecutors are attempting to pressure Nichols into cooperating with their prosecution of McVeigh. “I don’t know,” Gradert says, and adds that he believes “the government is not quite sure what the theory of this case is.” Nichols is being transported to Oklahoma, where he will be incarcerated at the El Reno Federal Corrections Center, the same facility that currently houses McVeigh. Nichols’s ex-wife Lana Padilla and their son Joshua Nichols are in Oklahoma City to testify before a grand jury empaneled to hear evidence about the bombing. The FBI is also pressuring another friend of McVeigh’s and Nichols’s, Michael Fortier, to give more information (see April 23 - May 6, 1995, May 1, 1995 and May 8, 1995). Nichols has been held in the Sedgwick County, Oklahoma, jail since April 22 as a material witness to the bombing. He is accompanied by his two public defenders, Gradert and David Phillips. Gradert calls his client “scared… upset, and… nervous.” [New York Times, 5/10/1995]
A federal grand jury in Detroit charges James Nichols (see December 22 or 23, 1988, April 21, 1995 and After, and April 25, 1995) with conspiracy to build explosives. James is the brother of Terry Nichols (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995 and April 24, 1995), accused of conspiring with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995). The charges against James Nichols do not directly accuse him of conspiring with his brother and McVeigh to build the Oklahoma City bomb; the three-count indictment, brought by Assistant US Attorney Robert Cares, applies only to crimes Nichols is alleged to have committed in Michigan. It also refers to “other persons, whose names are known and unknown to jury” who joined in the conspiracy. The indictment says the conspiracy stretched from 1988 until federal agents raided Nichols’s farm on April 21, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing, and says the government has reason to believe Nichols had “prior knowledge” of the bombing. The indictment allows law enforcement authorities to keep Nichols in custody and to cancel an upcoming hearing for Nichols’s possible release. Nichols is being held pending arraignment before a federal magistrate. The indictment is based largely on testimony from Nichols’s neighbors (see April 21, 1995 and After), and is apparently similar to evidence provided in a criminal complaint filed in late April (see April 25, 1995). The indictment adds new details, such as the allegation that in 1994 he and his brother made and stored grenades at the Nichols farm, and in 1992 the brothers and McVeigh experimented with making and detonating bombs made of “readily available materials” like brake fluid. It also cites a letter McVeigh wrote James Nichols that said in part, “Keep me posted on any ‘trouble,’” a statement Cares interprets as pertaining to the bombing. [New York Times, 5/12/1995; Serrano, 1998, pp. 235]
An FBI affidavit filed today in Oklahoma suggests that planning for the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) began as early as September 1994, when accused bombing conspirator Terry Nichols (see 3:15 p.m. and After, April 21-22, 1995 and April 24, 1995) began buying thousands of pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and rented the first of several storage sheds in small towns in Kansas (see October 17, 1994). Nichols is accused of accumulating two tons of ammonium nitrate and, just before the bombing, purchasing an unspecified quantity of diesel fuel, another essential ingredient for the bomb. The affidavit, unsealed at a hearing for Nichols at the El Reno Federal Corrections Center outside Oklahoma City and intended to show a judge that sufficient grounds exist to charge Nichols with the bombing, provides the first look at the government’s case against Nichols and accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995). The affidavit provides a chronological timeline of events that together portray Nichols and McVeigh as Army buddies turned amateur terrorists, and suggests that Nichols may have actually led the bomb-making effort, though he did not participate in the bombing itself. Nichols’s brother James Nichols has also been indicted on charges of building bombs (see May 11, 1995). However, the indictment shows no direct involvement by James Nichols or anyone else in the bombing conspiracy. The indictment specifically offers no evidence that the as-yet unidentified “John Doe No. 2” (see April 20, 1995), suspected of accompanying McVeigh when he rented the Ryder truck used to deliver the bomb (see April 15-16, 1995, 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995), is involved in the bombing, though authorities continue to search for him, believing him to be either a co-conspirator or a valuable witness. The affidavit states that “an explosive device of the magnitude” that wrecked the Murrah Federal Building “would have been constructed over a period of time utilizing a large quantity of bomb paraphernalia and materials.” Building such a bomb, the document says, “would necessarily have involved the efforts of more than one person,” although it does not say how many. The affidavit also reveals that five months before the bombing, Nichols left a letter that instructed McVeigh to clean out two of the storage sheds if Nichols were to unexpectedly die, told McVeigh he would be “on his own,” and said he should “go for it!” (see November 5, 1994 - Early January 1995). It shows that a search of Nichols’s home found numerous materials appearing to be related to the bomb, including explosive and other materials used in the bomb itself. And Nichols has admitted to having the knowledge required to make an ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) bomb such as the one used in Oklahoma City. He said he disposed of ammonium nitrate by spreading it on his yard on April 21 after reading press accounts that the substance was one of the ingredients used in the bomb, and told investigators that the materials they found at his home were “household items.” After the 13-minute hearing, US Magistrate Ronald L. Howland orders Nichols held without bail pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 18. Patrick M. Ryan, the interim US Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, reads the charges against Nichols, and says the government will seek the death penalty. Nichols is currently represented by two federal public defenders, David Phillips and Steven Gradert, but the judge is expected to appoint another lawyer to represent Nichols on the bombing charges. [New York Times, 5/12/1995]
Authorities indict Steven Garrett Colbern on federal weapons charges in Oatman, a small mining town in northwestern Arizona. They describe Colbern as a “drifter” who is wanted on weapons charges in California. Colbern becomes of far more interest to federal authorities when he tells them he knew accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995). However, authorities say they have no reason to believe Colbern was part of the bomb plot. Colbern attempted to fight off the law enforcement officials who arrested him, even attempting to pull a pistol during the brief melee, and is charged with resisting arrest as well. Investigators search his Oatman trailer and find firearms, ammunition, stolen medical supplies, and a laboratory for making methamphetamine, but no evidence linking Colbern to the bombing. Colbern tells investigators that he knew McVeigh under his alias, “Tim Tuttle” (see October 12, 1993 - January 1994 and February - July 1994), but says he knows nothing about the April 19 bombing. US Attorney Janet Napolitano says she does not want Colbern released on bail just yet. Oatman residents say Colbern came to town about four months ago, and has supported himself as a dishwasher and cook’s helper at a local restaurant. He has a degree in chemistry from UCLA and was a former research associate in DNA studies at Cedars-Sinai Research Institute in Los Angeles. Acquaintances who knew him during his youth in Oxnard, California, say he always had an interest in science and explosives. Dale Reese, who knew Colbern in a school biology club, says of Colbern: “He did talk about explosives. He was just interested in those sorts of things. He just liked making things go boom. He was very strange, very smart, kind of nerdish, kind of lonerish. I didn’t like the guy.” Authorities found a letter in McVeigh’s possession addressed to someone with the initials “S.C.,” and further investigation connected the letter with Colbern. Oatman is only 20 miles southwest of Kingman, Arizona, where McVeigh has frequently lived (see November 1991 - Summer 1992, May-September 1993, February - July 1994, September 13, 1994 and After, October 4 - Late October, 1994, February 1995, February 17, 1995 and After, and March 31 - April 12, 1995). Restaurant owner Daryl Warren tells a reporter that he has heard Colbern express anti-government and pro-Nazi sympathies in the past, and has spoken of the Arizona Patriots, a right-wing paramilitary group (see April 22, 1995). Warren says: “I do recall on two or three occasions politics being brought up, and he would always make references to the Third Reich. I was convinced that he was not too happy with our government.” Warren also says that Colbern was out of town for two or three weeks at the time of the bombing; Lou Mauro, who employs Colbern, says Colbern told him he was going to Los Angeles to visit his ailing mother and did not return until the weekend of April 22. One of Colbern’s roommates, Preston Scott Haney, says he and Colbern were together at the time of the bombing. “They [the FBI] think he is part of the Oklahoma bombing, but he was sitting right next to me when the bomb went off,” Haney says. “And he was here the week before and the week after.” Officials in Washington say they do not believe Colbern is “John Doe No. 2,” the missing man suspected of either being part of the bombing plot or a material witness to the conspiracy (see April 20, 1995). Another of Colbern’s roommates, Dennis Malzac, is also arrested on arson charges, and is suspected of being connected to an explosion behind a house in Kingman last February (see February 1995), along with a second man suspected of being in Connecticut. [New York Times, 5/13/1995] Newsweek will describe Colbern as a “gun-toting fugitive.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 193] Days later, federal officials will clear Colbern of any involvement in the bombing. They will say that they hope Colbern can shed some light on McVeigh’s activities in the months before the bombing, and may offer him leniency on the charges he faces if he becomes a witness for the government prosecution of McVeigh. Both Colbern and McVeigh frequented gun shows in the northern Arizona area, but no witnesses have come forward to say they ever saw them together. [New York Times, 5/16/1995] Authorities believe McVeigh may have tried to recruit Colbern for his bomb plot (see November 30, 1994).
Amo Roden. [Source: Amo Roden]Reporter Peter J. Boyer publishes an article in the New Yorker depicting the almost-mesmerizing attraction the scene of the 1993 Branch Davidian massacre (see April 19, 1993) has over radical right-wingers. The site of the Branch Davidian compound, on a hill outside Waco, Texas, has been razed and burned over, but enough debris remained for Amo Bishop Roden to come to the site, fashion a crude shack from fence posts, pallets, and sheet metal, and take up residence there. Roden, the wife of former Davidian leader George Roden (see November 3, 1987 and After), says God told her to come to the site to keep the “end-time church” of Davidian leader David Koresh alive. She makes money by selling Davidian memorabilia, including T-shirts and photos. “People come by every day,” she says. “And usually it’s running around a hundred a day.” Most of the people who come to the site are tourists, she says, “but some are constitutional activists.” Boyer writes that Roden’s “constitutional activists” are “members of that portion of the American extreme fringe which believes the FBI raid on the Davidian compound exemplified a government at war with its citizens.” Boyer writes that those radical fringe members regard the Davidian compound as “a shrine,” and view April 19, the date of the Davidians’ destruction, as “a near-mystical date, warranting sober commemoration.” Last April 19, two things occurred to commemorate the date of the conflagration: the unveiling of a stone monument listing the names of the dead, and the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). The man responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh, has himself made the pilgrimage to Waco (see March 1993). Alan Stone, a professor of psychiatry and law at Harvard, says the mistakes made by the federal government at Waco will continue to fuel right-wing paranoia and conspiracy theories until the government acknowledges its mistakes: “The further I get away from Waco, the more I feel that the government stonewalled. It would be better if the government would just say, ‘Yes, we made mistakes, and we’ve done this, this, and that, so it won’t happen again.’ And, to my knowledge, they’ve never done it.” [New Yorker, 5/15/1995; Amo Roden, 2010] Religious advocate Dean Kelley writes that Roden collects money from tourists and visitors, ostensibly for the Davidians who own the property, but according to Kelley, the Davidians never receive any of the donations. [Dean M. Kelley, 5/1995] Four years after Boyer publishes his article, a similar article, again featuring an interview with Roden, is published in the Dallas Morning News. Paulette Pechacek, who lives near the property, will say of her and her husband, “We expected it [the visits] for months afterwards, but it surprises us that people still come.” [Dallas Morning News, 6/27/1999]
FBI investigators tell a Buffalo News reporter that they have not yet decided whether Jennifer McVeigh, the sister of accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 21, 1995), is herself a suspect or merely a witness. Previous interrogations of Jennifer McVeigh have been problematic, with agents learning that she had destroyed evidence, and her evident unwillingness to cooperate in building a case against her brother (see April 21-23, 1995). She has been released from FBI custody (see April 24, 1995), but investigators are still considering her as a possible accomplice. “The FBI believes she knew ahead of time that something big was going to happen” (see April 15, 1995), an unidentified source tells the reporter. “But whether she knew a bomb was going to be exploded in Oklahoma City… that’s an open question. She’s a ‘tweener. Is she a suspect or just a witness? Right now, I don’t think the feds know what to do with her.” [Stickney, 1996, pp. 229] She has retained two lawyers from the Buffalo, New York, area to represent her in case charges are brought against her (see May 9, 1995). She will not be charged in the bombing, but she will testify in the grand jury investigation (see August 2, 1995).
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