Beyond McVeigh

What the Feds Won’t Tell You About Oklahoma City

The FBI's admission last week that it has known since at least March about more than 3000 pages withheld in the Oklahoma City bombing case may force the reopening of the case. Attorneys for Terry Nichols have asked for a new trial. Lawyers for Timothy McVeigh, whose May 16 execution has been delayed for a month, are contemplating their next move.

The FBI says it made a bureaucratic mistake, but its actions look to some like a cover-up, especially since the papers are said to contain various documents relating to the mysterious John Doe No. 2, who many suspect was involved in the attack that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

As it stands, the case just doesn't make sense. McVeigh's recent claim that he mixed the fertilizer bomb by himself is unbelievable. Various witnesses in Kansas and Oklahoma City saw other people around the legendary Ryder truck used in the blast. Several suspicious individuals met McVeigh in the weeks before the explosion. McVeigh suggests these were onetime, casual encounters, but clues suggest otherwise.

As wacky as their claims may at first seem, conspiracy theorists say the question of whether the government knew about the plot beforehand—or even played some role in it—cannot be ignored.

This is a list of certain—but by no means all—of the events that hint at a broader plot.

JOHN DOE NO. 2: The government theory was that McVeigh, using the name Robert Kling, rented a Ryder truck from Elliott's Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas, on Saturday April 15, 1995, at about 8:45 a.m. He paid $281 and told Eldon Elliott he'd pick up the truck at 4 p.m. Monday.

When McVeigh returned, he was accompanied by a man Elliott described as white, between 5-7 and 5-8, wearing a white cap with blue stripes. He said Kling himself was a white male, 5-11 and 180 to 185 pounds.

Another employee, Tom Kessenger, told the FBI that Kling was accompanied by a second individual wearing a black T-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap colored royal blue in the front and white in the back. The man also had a tattoo on his upper left arm. Portrayed in a police sketch, this person became known around the world as John Doe No. 2. Kessenger later changed his story and identified Kling as 5-10, 175 to 185 pounds, with green or brown eyes and a rough complexion or acne.

Stephen Jones, McVeigh's attorney, pointed out that when McVeigh was booked into the Noble County jail, he was listed at 6-2 and 160 pounds, with blue eyes and a clear complexion.

JUNCTION CITY WITNESS: The government claims McVeigh placed a call for Chinese food at a restaurant in Junction City on April 15. Jeff Davis, who delivered the order to room 25 at the Dreamland Motel, said the man who took the food had "unkempt" hair and a regional accent. He told the FBI the person who accepted the delivery was not Timothy McVeigh.

The McVeigh defense pointed out that McVeigh wore his hair short, in a military style, and had no regional accent. There were no McVeigh fingerprints in room 25.

A SECOND TRUCK: Four witnesses said they saw a Ryder truck at the Dreamland, but on Sunday, April 16—a day before the government claimed McVeigh picked up a vehicle at Elliott's. This testimony gave rise to another theory that two trucks were involved in the plot.

OKLAHOMA CITY WITNESS: A young woman, subsequently trapped in the wreckage, said that moments before the blast she saw a Ryder truck park in front of the Murrah building and a slim, olive-skinned white man—with black, clean-cut hair and wearing a baseball cap, jeans, and a jacket—get out of the passenger side of the truck and walk away very fast, heading in a westward direction. Then came the explosion.

THE LEG: The lower part of a left leg was hauled out of the wreckage—the only body part never matched with a victim. One theory said it belonged to John Doe No. 2. The foot was in a combat boot, and there was some sort of military blousing strap attached to the shoe. At the trial, an expert witness for the defense suggested the leg belonged to the bomber.

THE BOMB: The government argued the explosive was built at Geary Lake near Herington, Kansas, overnight on April 18th. Speculation has always been that McVeigh and Nichols made the bomb. But experts have long pointed out it would be almost impossible for even two men to mix up a bomb of this magnitude in one night. Yet in a recent book called The American Terrorist, by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, McVeigh told the authors that he basically mixed the bomb himself.

CHARLES FARLEY: The Fort Riley civilian employee testified that when he drove down to Geary Lake to check out the fishing possibilities on April 18 he saw three other vehicles—including a truck piled with bags of what looked like fertilizer—and a group of men. According to the government's case this was the date and place of the bomb's construction.

ELOHIM CITY: McVeigh says he once considered using this far-right racist religious community in eastern Oklahoma as a hideout after the bombing. Records show he made one phone call there, on April 5, when he asked to speak to Andy Strassmeier, whom he'd met at knife and gun shows.

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