‘John Doe 2’ Flees Media While Back Home for Mother-in-Law’s Funeral
TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Relatives fended off a media horde Wednesday and closed ranks around Todd Bunting, identified as the man in the John Doe 2 sketches, who had been sought in the Oklahoma City bombing but now is said not to have been involved.
Bunting, 23, an Army private based at Fort Riley, Kan., was in Timmonsville to attend a memorial service for his mother-in-law, Alma McKay, who died Monday in a traffic accident. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday.
The Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday that the man sought as John Doe No. 2 had no role in the bombing. The statement did not name Bunting, but federal officials, speaking only on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the man who resembles the three John Doe 2 sketches is Bunting.
Police Chief Willie Connor warned reporters against bothering the McKay family while they grieved.
``It’s a pretty close-knit family. I wouldn’t mess with them tonight,″ he said. ``You might get your feelings hurt.″
A woman standing in the front yard of a house belonging to a relative of Bunting’s wife said Bunting left Timmonsville and went to Columbia on Wednesday afternoon to escape the media.
Pointing to television cameras 50 yards up the road, the woman, who would not identify herself, said: ``We keep these stations on the air, we support them, and this is the payback we get. They stand up the street like vultures.″
A teen-age girl with the woman tried to take a reporter’s notebook.
The Florence Morning News first reported the Bunting connection last week, quoting his wife, Denise, as saying her husband was questioned by the FBI at Fort Riley in late May.
In addition to living in Timmonsville, a community of fewer than 2,500 residents about 70 miles east of Columbia, Bunting has also lived in Sumter County, the Florence paper reported.
Bunting joined the Army in March 1994 and has been at Fort Riley since September. He is in Company A of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry and is on leave until the end of the month.
``I believe he’s a good soldier,″ said Maj. Ben Santos, a Fort Riley spokesman.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ Associated Press Writer Michael J. Sniffen in Washington also contributed to this report.