The Oklahoma City Bombing
Timothy McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001 for his role
in the April 19, 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people
Timothy McVeigh was
executed June 11, 2001.
On April 19, 1995, at 9:02 a.m., an explosion ripped
through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla. It
was the worst terrorist attack ever undertaken on American soil. The
blast killed 168 people - 19 of them children - and injured hundreds.
About 90 minutes later, Timothy McVeigh was stopped by
an Oklahoma state trooper who arrested him on a firearms charge. Two
days later, shortly before he was to be released, McVeigh was charged in
the bombing. His friend Terry Nichols was arrested in Kansas, and
formally charged with the bombing on May 10. Both men were indicted on
murder and conspiracy charges, and the case was moved to Denver where
McVeigh and Nichols were to be tried separately.
At the Oklahoma City
National Memorial two gates, marked 9:01 and
9:03, frame the time of the bombing (9:02 a.m.)
that killed 168 people. (Photo / James H.
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: MCVEIGH'S DEATH
gives no reasons before dying in silence
BY DIANA PENNER STAFF WRITER
Published: June 12, 2001
VICTIMS AND RELATIVES
struck by look in McVeigh's eyes
BY TERRY HORNE STAFF WRITER, June 12, 2001
of FBI files prompts 30-day delay
The decision Attorney general cites importance of
preserving integrity of judicial system in ordering
By ROB SCHNEIDER, May 12, 2001
As the Oklahoma City bomber lives
out his final days, still struggling survivors take some
solace in knowing . . .
'Evil did not triumph'
By TERRY HORNE, April 15, 2001 THE
to McVeigh: why?
Government invites 1,100 to watch execution, but many
still seek killer's motivation
By TERRY HORNE, February 4, 2001 THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR
Haute in public's eye for execution
As Timothy McVeigh's death date in May approaches, the
city is bracing for a horde of protesters and media.
By TERRY HORNE, January 20, 2001
McVeigh was found guilty on 11 counts of murder and
conspiracy on June 2, 1996, and, on Aug. 14, he was formally sentenced
to death. On Dec. 23, 1997, Terry Nichols was found guilty of conspiracy
and involuntary manslaughter, but not guilty of use of a weapon of mass
destruction and destruction by explosive. Judge Richard Matsch told
Nichols he would consider some leniency toward him if he cooperated in
helping the government learn more about the conspiracy. But Nichols
rejected the offer and, in June of 1998, he was sentenced to life in
By the end of 1998, the federal government had spent
$82.5 million investigating and prosecuting the case.
In July 1999, McVeigh was moved to the U.S. Penitentiary
in Terre Haute. In Dec. 2000, he asked for, and was granted, permission
to drop all appeals. An execution date of May 16, 2001 was set. But less
than a week before the scheduled execution it was revealed that the FBI
had failed to make available all documents on the case to McVeigh's
attorneys before the trial. The execution was delayed for 30 days to
allow for an investigation. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at
the Federal Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind. on June 11, 2001.
The following is a detailed timeline of the events
surrounding the bombing:
Sept. 13: Timothy
McVeigh begins his plot to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.
Sept. 30: The first
ton of ammonium nitrate is bought for the bomb from a farm co-op in
Oct. 18: The second
ton of fertilizer is purchased.
Oct. 21: McVeigh,
disguised as a biker, buys $2,775 worth of nitromethane racing fuel for
the bomb at a Texas track.
Dec. 16: McVeigh
drives by the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and points it out as his
target to his friend, Michael Fortier.
April 14: McVeigh
buys his getaway car, a 1977 Mercury Marquis, at a Firestone store in
Junction City, Kan. He checks into the Dreamland Motel.
April 16: McVeigh
leaves the car in Oklahoma City. His friend, Terry Nichols, drives him
back to Kansas.
April 17: McVeigh
shows up at Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City to pick up the
20-foot Ryder truck that will hold the bomb. He uses the name Robert D.
Kling and claims his destination is Omaha, Neb.
April 19: A bomb rips
through Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 a.m., killing 168
people, including 19 children, and injuring hundreds of others. McVeigh
is arrested 90 minutes later on firearms charge after a traffic stop
near Billings, Okla.
April 20: Authorities
release sketches of suspects John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.
April 21: Shortly
before he was to be released, McVeigh is recognized as a bombing suspect
and charged in the bombing; after an initial court appearance, McVeigh
is taken to federal prison in El Reno, Okla.; Terry Nichols surrenders
in Herington, Kan., and he and his brother, James, are held as material
witnesses; FBI agents conduct searches in Kingman, Ariz.; President
Clinton declares a national day of mourning for April 23.
April 23: Memorial
service with Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, the Rev. Billy
Graham; nurse Rebecca Anderson, who was helping in rescue, dies of head
In one of the most dramatic
images of the day, firefighter Chris Fields carries Baylee Almon,
who later died of her injuries. AP photographer Charles H.
Porter IV won the Pulitzer Prize for this photograph. (AP photo)
The north wall of the
Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was blown off by
explosives packed into a rented truck. (AP photo)
April 24: McVeigh’s
court-appointed attorneys ask to be taken off case.
April 25: FBI
releases enhanced sketch of John Doe No. 2.
April 26: Federal
judge orders Terry Nichols moved to Oklahoma; Clinton upgrades bombing
to major disaster.
April 27: U.S.
magistrate orders McVeigh held without bail.
April 28: Custody
hearing for James Nichols in Michigan is delayed until May 2.
May 1: FBI releases
third sketch, a profile of John Doe No. 2; search for evidence focuses
on Kansas fishing lake; FBI raids trailer home in Kingman, and agents
carry away boxes and crates.
May 2: FBI takes Gary
Alan Land and Robert Jacks into custody in Carthage, Mo., but releases
them after 18 hours; a federal magistrate in Milan, Mich., orders James
Nichols held on an explosives charge unrelated to the Oklahoma case;
Clinton asks Congress for $142 million to pay to investigate the
bombing, raze the federal building and establish replacement offices;
federal grand jury meets at Tinker Air Force Base.
May 3: Federal public
defender's office in Wichita, Kan., requests the delay of Terry
Nichols’ removal from that city to Oklahoma City.
May 4: Search of
building called off at 11:50 p.m.; two bodies left in rubble; federal
judge in Wichita delays transfer of Terry Nichols until May 10.
May 5: Rescue workers
return to scene for memorial service; Terry Nichols’ attorneys file
appeal to delay his May 10 transfer from Wichita to Oklahoma City;
Clinton expands his April 26 disaster declaration.
May 6: Relatives of
victims visit site.
May 8: Oklahoma
congressional delegation says building should be razed; memorial
services for Christy Rosas and Virginia Thompson, whose bodies remain in
building; U.S. District Judge David Russell names Stephen Jones as
McVeigh’s new defense attorney.
May 9: General
Services Administration says building will be brought down by implosion.
May 10: Terry Nichols
is charged in bombing and brought to El Reno.
Surrounded by officers,
bombing suspect Tim McVeigh is escorted from the Noble County
Courthouse in Perry, Okla. (AP photo)
May 11: Terry Nichols
makes his initial court appearance; James Nichols indicted by federal
grand jury in Michigan on explosives charges unrelated to Oklahoma case.
May 12: Steven
Garrett Colbern, a possible associate of McVeigh, arrested on unrelated
weapons charge in Oatman, Ariz.
June 14: Authorities
admit sketches of John Doe No. 2 are of innocent Army private at Fort
Aug. 7: McVeigh
attorney Stephen Jones suggests unidentified leg found in rubble could
belong to "the real bomber."
Aug. 8: McVeigh
friend Michael Fortier and his wife testify before grand jury.
Aug. 11: Grand jury
indicts McVeigh and Terry Nichols on murder and conspiracy charges.
Fortier pleads guilty to a minor firearms charge as part of a plea
Sept. 14: U.S.
District Judge Wayne Alley denies requests from both sides that he step
aside because his office and courtroom were damaged by bomb. He sets
trial for May 17 in Lawton, 90 miles from Oklahoma City.
Oct. 20: Attorney
General Janet Reno authorizes prosecutors to seek death penalty.
Nov. 21: Defense
attorneys seek to move trial out of Oklahoma, arguing that intense media
coverage tainted jury pool.
Dec. 1: Federal
appeals court removes Alley, ruling that bomb damage to his courtroom
and chambers could raise doubts about his impartiality. Chief U.S.
District Judge Richard Matsch of Denver is appointed to preside.
Feb. 20: Matsch moves
case to Denver, ruling that McVeigh and Nichols have been
"demonized" by intense media coverage in Oklahoma.
July 15: Matsch says
law establishing closed-circuit telecast of trial is constitutional. He
later orders telecast to be shown in government auditorium near Oklahoma
Oct. 25: Matsch
orders McVeigh and Terry Nichols to be tried separately, ruling that
their rights could be compromised by a joint trial. Nichols will be
tried after McVeigh.
Jan. 27: Four FBI
workers who evaluated evidence are transferred out of crime lab in wake
of federal report critical of lab procedures.
Feb. 20: Matsch
denies defense requests to eliminate testimony of six prosecution
eyewitnesses who changed portions of their accounts.
Feb. 28: The Dallas
Morning News reports that McVeigh confessed. Two other reports on
purported confession follow.
March 19: Clinton
signs bill allowing victims who are possible witnesses to attend trial.
March 31: Jury
selection begins in McVeigh’s trial.
April 22: Jury
April 24: Opening
May 21: Prosecutors
rest their case after calling 137 witnesses in 18 days.
May 28: Defense rests
after calling 25 witnesses in 31/2 days.
May 29: Closing
May 30: Jurors begin
June 2: Jury convicts
McVeigh on all 11 counts. Panel to return to decide if he should get
June 6: Prosecution
rests in penalty phase after calling 38 witnesses in two days; defense
begins its penalty case.
June 11: Defense
rests in penalty phase after calling 27 witnesses over four days.
June 12: Closing
arguments in penalty phase. Deliberations begin.
June 13: Jury decides
unanimously to impose the death penalty.
Aug. 14: McVeigh’s
death sentence is formally imposed and the details of a letter he wrote
asking that his attorney be replaced are revealed.
Aug. 20: Stephen
Jones asks to be removed as McVeigh’s attorney.
Sept. 29: Jury
selection begins in Terry Nichols’ trial.
Nov. 3: Opening
Dec. 2: Prosecutors
rest case after calling 98 witnesses in 20 days.
Dec. 11: Defense
rests after calling 92 witnesses in eight days.
Dec. 15-16: Closing
Dec. 23: Terry
Nichols is found guilty of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass
destruction for plotting to use an explosive to bomb the Oklahoma City
federal building and involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of eight
federal agents. He was found not guilty of use of a weapon of mass
destruction and destruction by explosive.
Jan. 7: Jury
deadlocks during sentencing phase of Terry Nichols’ trial.
Jan. 8: U.S. District
Judge Richard Matsch gives lawyers until Feb. 9 to file briefs on the
punishment for Terry Nichols. Matsch did not set a sentencing date.
March 23: Terry
Nichols delivered a 16-page letter to Matsch saying he would give up his
life if it would bring back the 168 people who died in the blast. The
letter stated that Nichols never wanted to harm or kill anyone or to
damage or destroy any buildings.
March 24: Matsch says
he would consider some leniency in sentencing if Nichols helped the
government learn more about the conspiracy. The judge also says he had
planned a sentencing hearing for April 17 but postponed that
indefinitely after lawyers for the bombing victims raised the issue of
restitution for the first time.
April 21: Terry
Nichols rejects an offer of leniency in exchange for information about
the Oklahoma City bombing, saying it would put him in legal jeopardy if
he is tried in Oklahoma.
April 28: Oral
arguments will be heard by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals on McVeigh’s challenge of his conviction.
May 1: Attorneys for
Michael Fortier say in federal court that their client has served two
years and eight months, which is eight months more than the term agreed
to with prosecutors, and should be released. But prosecutors have said
Fortier should serve closer to 23 years despite his cooperation. A
sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 27.
May 27: Fortier, who
had failed to warn anyone of the Oklahoma City bombing but later
testified against the men convicted in the plot, is sentenced in U.S.
District Court to 12 years in prison.
June 4: Terry Nichols
is sentenced to life in prison after he refuses to answer lingering
questions about how he helped plan and pull off the Oklahoma City
June 10: Attorneys
for Fortier file a notice that they intend to appeal his sentence on the
grounds that the penalty was based on false claims.
July 8: A motion for
a new trial for Terry Nichols is rejected. His attorneys had said
deliberations were contaminated because two jurors admitted conversing
about the case privately.
Sept. 8: The 10th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that McVeigh was fairly convicted
Sept. 22: McVeigh
asks an appeals court to rehear arguments that his conviction should be
overturned because of a tainted juror.
Oct. 7: McVeigh's
request for a rehearing is turned down by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of
Nov. 3: The U.S.
Department of Justice releases figures showing that the federal
government spent $82.5 million investigating and prosecuting the case.
McVeigh's defense cost taxpayers about $15 million. In the first 51/2
months after the bombing, the FBI used 2,592 agents and spent more than
$25.9 million. In a little over 38 months, the FBI spent $60.6 million.
Prosecutors spent $11.8 million on their own salaries, travel, rent,
supplies and other expenses.
Workmen put the finishing
touches on the Oklahoma City National Memorial. (AP photo)
March 9: The U.S.
Supreme Court refuses to hear McVeigh’s arguments that his trial was
tainted by jury misconduct and news reports that he had confessed.
July 13: McVeigh
arrives at Terre Haute’s U.S. Penitentiary.
Apr. 19: The Oklahoma
City National Memorial is dedicated. It cost $ 29 million, and is set on
three acres of land, with a reflecting pool and 168 chairs -149 big
chairs that represent the adults killed and 19 small chairs which
represent the children.
Dec. 28: Matsch
agrees to let McVeigh drop all appeals and get a prompt execution date.
He gives him until Jan. 11, 2001, to change his mind.
Jan. 11: McVeigh
reaffirms his decision to die.
Jan. 16: An execution
date of May 16, the soonest allowed by law, is set. McVeigh has another
30 days in which to seek executive clemency.
Feb. 1: McVeigh
writes a letter to The Sunday Oklahoman, questioning the fairness
of limiting the witnesses to his execution and saying he is not opposed
to a closed-circuit, or even public, broadcast.
Feb. 15: The deadline
passes by which McVeigh could have asked for clemency from President
Mar. 9: McVeigh's
attorneys and Coroner Susan Amos of Vigo County, Ind., sign an agreement
under which there would be no autopsy on McVeigh after his execution -
pending approval by Judge Matsch.
Mar. 19: Judge Matsch
says he approves of the no autopsy agreement, but noted that he believes
his jurisdiction ends when McVeigh dies.
Apr. 10: Timothy
McVeigh's father Bill McVeigh, and his sister, Jennifer, visited the
Penitentiary at Terre haute.
Apr. 12: U.S.
Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that survivors and family
members of the bombing will be allowed to watch the execution of Timothy
McVeigh on a secure, closed-circuit television feed in Oklahoma City. He
also said that 10 people, instead of eight, will be chosen to be
witnesses in person.
Apr. 18: U.S.
District Judge John Tinder ruled that the Bureau of Prisons witness
policy did not discriminate against Entertainment Network Inc. or
Liveontheweb.com , rejecting their request to broadcast McVeigh's
execution live over the Internet.
Apr. 26: Fox News
released a letter from McVeigh in which he said he considered
assassinating Attorney General Janet Reno and others instead of bombing
the Oklahoma City federal building. Other potential targets were federal
Judge Walter Smith, who presided over the Waco trial, and Lon Horiuchi,
an FBI agent involved in the shootout at Ruby Ridge.
Apr. 27: The White
House said it had received a letter to President Bush from Pope John
Paul II asking Bush to spare the life of Timothy McVeigh.
May 5: The Bureau of
Prisons upset relatives of bombing victims by allowing McVeigh to choose
author Gore Vidal as one of the "friend" witnesses to his
May 10: Six days
before McVeigh's execution, the Justice Department acknowledged finding
3,135 pages of evidence that should have been provided to the bomber's
lawyers before his trial.
May 11: Attorney
General John Ashcroft ordered a thirty-day postponement, to June 11, of
the execution to allow attorneys to review the documents they just
received. The FBI blamed an outdated computer system for its failure to
turn over the documents.
May 14: Because of
the failture of the FBI to turn over documents in McVeigh's case,
attorneys for co-conspirator Terry Nichols asked the Supreme Court to
reconsider his case.
May 24: Ashcroft said
all of the previously missing documents in the Oklahoma City bombing
case - a total of 4,034 pages - had been turned over to McVeigh's
lawyers. He emphasized that none of the documents created any doubt
about McVeigh's guilt and said he would not postpone the execution
beyond June 11.
June 1: McVeigh
changed his position on refusing any appeals and decided to allow his
attorneys to file papers in Denver to argue for a stay of execution.
June 7: Minutes after
a federal appeals court turned down his request for a stay of execution,
McVeigh abruptly dropped all of his legal appeals and said he is ready
June 11: Timothy
James McVeigh was pronounced dead at 7:14 a.m. He said nothing prior to
his execution but issued a written statement quoting from the poem Invictus
by William Ernest Henley.
Sept. 5: Wes Lane,
Oklahoma City district attorney, said he would prosecute Terry Nichols
on state murder charges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
Oct. 26: Government
records were released indicating a total of $15.1 million was spent
defending Timothy McVeigh.