Editor’s note: WND is serializing this week the Oklahoma City bombing reports of one of the world’s foremost investigative journalists, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph. Excerpted from his book, “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, seven chapters analyze the Oklahoma tragedy and devastate the official government version of what occurred on April 19, 1995.
Monday, Part 1revealed that “the Justice Department’s inspector general lists the Oklahoma bombing case as one of the worst examples of de facto evidence tampering by the crime labs.”
In Part 2, Tuesday, the author helped readers relive the Oklahoma City tragedy through the eyes of a family that lost two children in the Murrah Building’s daycare center, and their subsequent horror to discover rampant official lying in the tragedy’s aftermath.
Wednesday’s Part 3 established clearly that a bomb squad truck was in Oklahoma City shortly before the blast.
Today’s report presents overwhelming evidence that Timothy McVeigh “was accompanied by other men at every stage” of the crime, and that the FBI intentionally sought to avoid prosecuting other parties complicit in the worst terrorist act in American history.
Not all of the 168 victims of the Oklahoma bombing died on U.S. federal property. Some died on the streets and in the buildings of Oklahoma County, victims of murder within state jurisdiction.
It was a small point, lost on most people, but Glenn Wilburn seized on it as a second lever to pry the case loose from the U.S. Justice Department. Teaming up with State Representative Charles Key, he began a long, bitter campaign to force the district Attorney to call a county grand jury.
The endeavor seemed hopelessly quixotic. It was greeted with derision and opprobrium from the entire power structure of the state. “The worst kind of conspiracy pandering,” said Drew Edmondson, the Attorney General of Oklahoma. “The very idea that a county grand jury could uncover something that the FBI do not know already is ridiculous,” he said. Taxpayers’ money should not be spent on a “wasteful witch hunt.”
“Drop it, Mr. Key,” was the title of an editorial in The Daily Oklahoman. Drop this “weird and misguided exercise.” But Representative Key had no intention of dropping it, even if it meant political suicide. A round, voluble, impulsive man, he forged ahead, vilified by his colleagues in the Republican Party, and by Governor Frank Keating, a former Justice Department official and FBI agent.
One step at a time, Charles Key and Glenn Wilburn pushed their initiative through Oklahoma courts. The district judge blocked it twice. “This court sees no reason to reinvent the wheel,” he said. Finally, in February 1997, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahomans have a right to petition for a grand jury if they can collect the requisite number of signatures.
It was a partial victory. District Attorney Bob Macy, who had fought the Wilburns all the way, would be the prosecutor in charge of the grand jury. He could sabotage it easily enough, if he tried. But the mood in Oklahoma was changing. People had been promised that the full truth would come out in the trial of Tim McVeigh, yet none of the outstanding questions had been answered.
For months, KTOK radio in Oklahoma City had been hammering away at the incoherence of the government case. By the summer of 1997, when the first witnesses were called before the Key-Wilburn grand jury, polls showed that 70 percent of Oklahomans no longer believed the U.S. Justice Department. They no longer believed that Tim McVeigh had blown up the Murrah Building on his own on April 19, 1995. Indeed, it had reached a point where people in Oklahoma County were treating the Clinton administration’s “lone bomber” theory with open disrespect.
In principle, at least, Representative Key and his allies could now do what the federal grand jury had failed to do in 1995. The last effort had been a “dog and pony show,” in the words of Hoppy Heidelberg, a racehorse breeder of admirably stubborn temperament who had served on the grand jury in the summer of 1995.
When Heidelberg could endure the stench no longer he stepped forward and launched a blistering attack on the prosecution. The people of Oklahoma had been deceived, he said, when the bombing indictment named Tim McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and “others unknown to the grand jury.” The government had no intention of finding out who the “others” were. In fact, it had gone to great lengths to suppress evidence indicating that McVeigh was acting as part of a terrorist team on April 19, 1995.
“I knew it was a coverup when they wouldn’t show a sketch of John Doe Two to the witnesses,” he said. “They brought in all these people who knew nothing about the bombing, but they wouldn’t call the real witnesses who’d seen McVeigh at the crime scene. And why? Because they all saw other men with McVeigh, that’s why, and they didn’t want the citizens of this country to find out about that.”
John Doe Two was the thickset, swarthy suspect seen at Elliot’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas, with Tim McVeigh. The two men arrived together to rent the Ryder bomb truck. McVeigh signed the rental contract, using the alias of Robert Kling, and chatted with the staff while John Doe Two waited in silence.
There were actually two different sketches of McVeigh’s accomplice. The first one, the one that was published on the front page of almost every newspaper in America, was so inaccurate that it was worse than useless. It was a frontal portrait of a thuggish-looking man with heavy jowls. But the witness had seen only a profile of the suspect, and the FBI artist had used a highly manipulative process of choosing faces from a catalog. An outside sketch artist, Jean Boylan, was asked to try again. She drew a face that was finer, more handsome, with less of the gorilla about him. This was the real, “pretty-boy,” John Doe Two.
For almost three months he was the quarry of a massive manhunt by the FBI, or so America was led to believe. Then on June 14, 1995, the Justice Department announced that it had all been a big mistake. One of the witnesses, Eldon Elliot, had been confused when he gave his description of John Doe Two. He had mixed him up with Todd Bunting, a burly army private who came to the office a day later. (Eldon Elliot had not been the only witness, of course, but the FBI did not mention that at the time.)
The Justice Department could do or say whatever it wanted. That was the prerogative of power. The mystery was why any educated American would believe such self-evident nonsense. It was demonstrably untrue that Tim McVeigh was operating alone in Junction City before the bombing, or that he continued to operate alone in Oklahoma City on April 19. One of the few unassailable facts of this case is that McVeigh was accompanied by other men at every stage. Glenn Wilburn, Charles Key, and J. D. Cash knew it. They lived and breathed it. They had so many witnesses to prove it, that they could only laugh or cry at the preposterous representations of the OKBOMB investigation.
At the risk of being prolix, it is worth listing some of the witnesses who saw the procession of terrorists – John Doe Two, Three, Four, perhaps even more – making their way through Junction City and Herington, Kansas, and Oklahoma City in the ambit and company of Timothy McVeigh. Even those familiar with the case, however, may be surprised to learn of the trail of bitterness and frustration left by the FBI.
In interviews conducted on April 19 and 20, the staff at Elliot’s Body Shop told the FBI they saw Tim McVeigh accompanied by another man. They were not vague about it. They were categorical.
The debriefing began within seven hours of the bombing. Their memories were fresh, so fresh that they were able to provide the uncanny look-alike sketch of McVeigh, which led to his arrest. Eldon Elliot even tried to capitalize on this, selling T-shirts with the logo “We Remember Our Customers.” Contrary to press accounts, none of these witnesses has retracted the core claim that there were two men.
Eldon Elliot, owner: In pre-trial hearings on February 18, 1997, he continued to insist that “another person was standing there. I glanced at him.” Elliot went out front with the two men to inspect the truck. He said the accomplice had a “white hat with blue lightning bolts on the side.” He had told the FBI earlier that the man was “a white male, 5’7″ to 5’8″.”
Tom Kessinger, mechanic: He was taking a break in the rental office at about 4:15 pm, eating popcorn, when the two men came in. He watched them for about 10 minutes. John Doe Two was wearing “a black T-shirt, jeans, and a ball-cap colored royal blue in the front and white in the back.” He was “about 5’10”, clean-shaven, muscular, large arms, large chest, smooth complexion, thick neck, wide chin, … tattoo on his upper left arm, 26 to 27, and white.”
A year and a half later, after seven debriefings by the FBI, he said that he had confused the face of John Doe Two with Private Bunting. But this does not pass the smell test. When he was visited by Glenn Wilburn in the summer of 1996 he scoffed at the Bunting canard. “He was laughing about it and said ‘I don’t know where they came up with that one.'”
In any case, he refused to go through with the deception when questioned under oath. During the pre-trial hearings in Denver in February 1997 he repeated his claim that McVeigh was accompanied by another man. The Justice Department decided to drop him as a trial witness.
Vicki Beemer, bookkeeper: She had a friendly chat with McVeigh as he was filling out the rental papers, noting that she had been married longer than he had been alive. She testified at McVeigh’s trial that she was “very certain” there was a second man.
She told the FBI on April 19 that she “recalled a second person being along but has no recollection of that individual.” But in her appearance before the federal grand jury in Oklahoma she described him as a “stocky-built gentleman … darker complected and much larger” than McVeigh.
It seems that half of Junction City and Herington, Kansas, saw McVeigh consorting with other men over the Easter weekend, from the 14th to the 18th of April. Here is a sampler, by no means the full list.
Nancy Jean Kindle, seating hostess at Denny’s Restaurant: One of the few witnesses called to the trial, she testified that McVeigh came into Denny’s at lunchtime on Easter Sunday with two other men. One of them was a “scraggly looking man, about 5’7”. She remembers McVeigh because she asked him to spell out his name … and she thought he was “cute.”
Elenora Hull, elderly lady from Junction City: She saw McVeigh with two other men when she was having lunch at Denny’s on Friday, April 14. The men were at the next table. One of them looked “very scary.” She noticed that there were two Ryder trucks outside.
Tonya, whose last name remains confidential: McVeigh and John Doe Two came in on Monday at about mid-day. She described the man as extremely handsome, wearing a bomber jacket. He wanted a haircut but she was having to rush out to pick up a child at 12:00 p.m.
Jeff Davis, deliveryman for the Hunan Palace Restaurant: (Now a provost marshal at Fort Riley.) He delivered an order of moo goo gai pan and egg rolls to the Dreamland Motel on Saturday afternoon, April 15, at about 5:45 pm. The delivery log said “Kling, Room 25.” It was the same room that McVeigh had rented after haggling down the price to $20 a night. But the man who was standing in the doorway was not McVeigh.
Davis and the man chatted briefly. The man gave him $11 for a $9.65 order. He was at least 6’2″, aged 28 or 29, 180 to 190 pounds, with “short hair, real dark blonde” that was generally “unkempt” and “tousled about.” He had a “slight overbite,” and a marked “regional” accent.
Davis told The Denver Post that the FBI tried to talk him into saying the man was McVeigh. “I was frustrated quite a bit because they just didn’t seem to want to say, ‘Okay, there’s somebody we may not have.’ A lot of it seemed, ‘Damn! I just wish he’d say it was McVeigh so we could be done with it.'”
Hilda Sostre, maid at the Dreamland Motel: At 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, April 17, she started to unlock the door of Room 25, thinking that McVeigh had already left, when a man appeared and handed her some towels. It was definitely not McVeigh. “He was dark and not so tall, I thought he looked like one of my people,” she said, referring to her native country of Puerto Rico. “He had these big strong arms.”
Barbara Whittenberg, runs the Santa Fe Trail Inn in Herington: McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and a third man came into the diner for a coffee between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. She already knew Nichols, who used to drop in for a meal from time to time. The third man had a “Hawaiian sort of face” with “no neck, wide lips.” He looked like a bodybuilder.
She noticed that they had a Ryder truck and a car with Arizona plates. Since she was from Arizona herself, she started chatting and breezily asked where they were headed.
“Oklahoma,” said the third man.
“McVeigh looked at him and you could feel buckets of ice being poured over our conversation,” she said. “I got out of it.”
Later that day, Whittenberg stopped at Lake Geary on her way up to Junction City. Her aging husband had a bladder problem, so this was one of their regular pit stops.
She saw a Ryder truck, like the one at the diner that morning, parked at the lake. This was significant. The original indictment stated that McVeigh and Nichols had built the bomb in a Ryder truck at Lake Geary, but they said it happened on Tuesday, April 18, the day after McVeigh had rented the truck. Whittenberg saw a Ryder truck at Lake Geary on Saturday.
“The FBI never asked for a composite sketch or anything. They told me my story couldn’t be true. They just didn’t believe me,” said Whittenberg. “They told me not to tell anybody what I knew, but after a year it’s time to tell the world what’s really going on.”
The Denver Post found four other witnesses who had seen the Ryder truck sitting at the lake days before McVeigh was supposed to have rented it. After a six-month investigation, The Post concluded that two Ryder trucks were involved, not one. This extra Ryder truck, stated the newspaper, “could hold the key to unlocking one of the most enduring mysteries in the case – how many people were involved in the bombing.”
Lea McGown, the fierce but engaging German in charge of the Dreamland Motel, says that McVeigh appeared with a Ryder truck on Sunday, April 16, the day before he rented the bomb truck from Elliot’s. Her recollection is vivid.
“He backed in jerky, jerky, jerky. Like somebody who doesn’t know how to drive a truck,” she said. “I thought he was going to smash my roof.”
He parked on a soil embankment that could not support the weight. She sent her son Eric to ask McVeigh to move the truck over to the open area in front of the office. The Ryder was light yellow, with a faded appearance. She got a good look at it while she was standing at the counter waiting for customers.
The next day she noticed that McVeigh had a different Ryder truck. This was the one he had rented from Elliot’s Body Shop. It was newer, with an orange-yellow color and square cab.
“FBI came in every day for three weeks, asking the same dumb questions over and over again, twisting everything around. I wasted so much time,” she said. “They always said I’m not right, because it doesn’t fit the picture, see.”
“I’m very disappointed with the system, I must say. It’s no wonder people turn against the government. I’m not helping them any more, I can tell you that,” she said, adding that the FBI seemed to be covering up their own mistakes. “If you did something wrong, admit it, straighten it out. It’s very simple, isn’t it?”
David King, a guest at the Dreamland, noticed the same switch.
He saw an old “faded yellow” Ryder on Sunday. The next day McVeigh was there with a “brand new, aerodynamic” model, accompanied by two other men attaching a trailer. They blocked the access to his parking spot.
Herta King, David King’s mother: She testified at McVeigh’s trial that she saw the large Ryder truck parked at the Dreamland Motel that Sunday when she was bringing an Easter basket to her son.
Renda Truong, high school student: Also called to testify by the defense, she noticed the Ryder truck at the motel when she was having Easter dinner with the McGown family. Again, this was the day before the bomb truck was rented.
The crime scene
At the trial in Denver, the prosecution did not call a single witness who could place Tim McVeigh in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. This is a rather astonishing fact, when you consider that the government called 27 phone-company employees to establish that McVeigh had used a pre-paid phone card bought under the alias of Daryl Bridges.
But such was the trial: 27 witnesses brought in from all over the country to support a secondary point, but no crime scene witnesses from Oklahoma City.
This was not for lack of volunteers; Glenn Wilburn had tracked down a dozen people who had seen McVeigh between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. in the downtown area. But in every case they had seen McVeigh with other men, apparently operating as part of a terrorist cell.
The credibility of these witnesses ranged across the continuum, but several were compelling. Glenn kept his taped interviews in a box full of microcassettes in the kitchen, close at hand for visiting journalists in need of education.
Kyle Hunt, vice president of a Tulsa bank: He was arriving for an 8:30 a.m. meeting when he saw a yellow Ryder truck on Robinson Street, followed by a four-door sedan with three men inside. One of the men was looking up, straining his neck. The group looked lost. As Hunt pulled closer, the driver of the sedan warned him off.
“I got an icy cold, go-to-hell look from the young man that I now know to be Tim McVeigh. It was unnerving,” he said. “I kept tabs on the group for a few moments while we were approaching Main Street. All three men in the truck were Caucasians; and how many may have been in the Ryder, I couldn’t tell.”
Dave Snider, warehouse worker: He was waiting for a delivery in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City at about 8:40 a.m. when he saw a Ryder truck turn the corner. It was coming toward him very slowly. Thinking it was for him, he waved the truck down.
As it passed by, very slowly, Tim McVeigh glowered at him from the passenger’s seat. The driver was a darker, stockier man.
Mike Moroz, attendant at Johnny’s Tire Service: A Ryder truck pulled in at about 8:45 a.m. Tim McVeigh got out and politely asked directions to 5th Street and Harvey. There was a darker, thicker set, morose-looking man in the cab of the truck.
Daina Bradley, bombing victim: It is a gruesome story. On April 19 she went to the Social Security Office on the first floor of the Murrah Building with her mother, her sister, and her two tiny children. As she was filling out documents in front of the Fifth Street window, she saw a Ryder truck pull into a parking place between the two cars. A man got out of the passenger seat facing her, went to the back of the truck, and then strode down the sidewalk very fast toward Harvey Street. “He was acting very mysterious, and very nervous,” she said.
TOMORROW: McVeigh’s links to neo-Nazis.
Read Part 1: ‘The resurrection of President Clinton’
Read Part 2: ‘Glenn and Kathy Wilburn’
Read Part 3: Bomb squad seen before blast
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s landmark book, “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton” is available from WorldNetDaily’s online store.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has built a stellar career as a journalist, covering Central America for The Economist and The Daily Telegraph, and reporting from the United States for both The Spectator and The Sunday Telegraph, for which he was Washington bureau chief. Cambridge-educated and internationally renowned, Evans-Pritchard has recently returned to England, where he serves as The Daily Telegraph’s roving European correspondent.