Hunt Continues for Second Bombing Suspect; Rain Stalls Rescue
Apr. 23, 1995
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Holding toys from what once was a day care center, drenched and chilly rescuers searched, stopped, then searched again Saturday through the bombed-out, shaky ruins of the federal building. The second of two original suspects remained at large.
The suspect, one of the men whose sketches had been circulated worldwide, is described as square-jawed, with thick hair and a tattoo on his left arm, and he may not be the only one the FBI is seeking.
``We have at least one and there could be others,'' said Weldon Kennedy, special agent in charge of the investigation. ``There is much work left to be done.''
The work was being done across the country Saturday night:
_ The Daily Oklahoman reported that Timothy McVeigh, the suspect arrested Friday, had been brought to the Oklahoma County Jail from a federal prison 30 miles away for a lineup. McVeigh was returned to the prison a half-hour later.
_ The Detroit News reported that authorities searching the Michigan farm of James Nichols, an associate of McVeigh who was being held as a witness in the case, found blasting caps, safety fuses and diesel fuel. Some of the materials were similar to those used in the Oklahoma bombing, the newspaper said.
_ Las Vegas television station KVBC reported Saturday that two people were picked up for questioning from what was believed to be the home of the ex-wife of Terry Nichols, James Nichols' brother who was also being held as a witness. The FBI declined to comment.
_ In Arizona, the Mohave County sheriff's office said it was trying to determine whether a bombing about 10 miles southwest of Kingman two months ago had any connection to McVeigh. The bomb, placed about 25 yards from the back porch of an occupied house, blew its windows out. No one was injured.
McVeigh lived in a Kingman trailer park from February to June of 1994 and listed a Kingman mail drop as his address in court documents filed in Oklahoma. Sheriff's deputies said they didn't know whether he was there when the bomb went off.
FBI agents arrived Friday in Kingman. Sheriff's spokeswoman Tonya Dowe said agents were in town but would not comment further.
In Oklahoma City, searchers working beneath floodlights Saturday night in 40-degree, rainy weather were stalled yet again by a threatening crack in the building's wall. Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen said workers were four to five hours from the day care center and the social security office area, where they expect to find many bodies.
Asked about the chances of finding anyone alive, he said: ``At this point, it would almost be a miracle.''
Earlier Saturday, stiff winds, 20-degree wind chills, lightning and steady rains stalled searchers as they began the heartbreaking job of digging through the part of the collapsed building that had housed the day care center.
``The firefighters are picking up toys and looking at them and handing them to each other,'' said Hansen, clutching a red plastic fire truck in the downpour.
``It's hard to describe, really, having kids in there, hope that there may be a child still alive,'' he said. ``A broken toy is maybe a sign of broken hearts.''
In the early afternoon, rescuers were ordered to leave for fear the building was shifting. They resumed, only to be ordered out again because of an unauthorized person on the site.
The death toll remained at 78 Saturday evening, with another 150 people still unaccounted for. More than 400 others were injured in the blast caused by thousands of pounds of homemade explosives packed into a Ryder rental truck.
The first memorial service was held for a bombing victim. The Rev. Joe Grizzle encouraged Pamela Cleveland Argo's loved ones not to dwell on the many ``whys'' going through their minds and asked for prayers ``for the multitudes who will sit where we sit'' as scores of funerals follow.
McVeigh, who turns 27 on Sunday, was in the El Reno Federal Correctional Center pending court hearings Thursday. He was charged Friday night with ``malicious damaging and destroying by means of an explosive a building or real property, whole or in part, possessed or used in the United States.''
Other charges were expected to follow. The government has said it will seek the death penalty.
Brothers Terry Lynn Nichols, 40, and James Douglas Nichols were ordered held as material witnesses in separate court appearances.
In Wichita, Kan., U.S. District Judge Monti L. Belot asked Terry Nichols if he had enough time with his lawyers. Nichols said, ``I don't know if I ever will. It's all a jumble to me.''
In Michigan, James Nichols made a brief court appearance in Detroit and was ordered detained until Tuesday, when another court date is planned.
On Saturday, authorities searched Terry Nichols' home in Herington, Kan.; a day earlier they impounded his pickup, combing it for explosives.
Authorities say McVeigh, who allegedly was upset over the deaths in the Branch Davidian cult's clash with federal agents in 1993, and Terry Nichols are Army acquaintances. The affidavit for James Nichols' arrest said McVeigh listed James Nichols as his next of kin when McVeigh was booked in Oklahoma.
A relative told the FBI of hearing that James Nichols was involved in constructing bombs last fall and that he had large quantities of fertilizer and fuel, the affidavit said.
In Oklahoma City, authorities used time-lapse cameras to determine if cracks in the nine-story building were widening. The letters ``DB'' were spray-painted on many places in the rubble to identify the locations of bodies.
Fire Chief Gary Marrs said four bodies had been located in another building across the street. Some had not yet been removed, he said.
He said rescue squads _ working two-hour shifts _ wore protective suits, and some areas were disinfected because bodies were beginning to decompose. Cool weather was keeping the problem under control, he said.
Ray Blakeney, director of operations for the state medical examiner's office, said 35 of the dead had been identified, including seven of the 13 children whose bodies have been recovered.
A one-story building weakened by the blast 2 1/2 blocks away collapsed Saturday morning. Three people inside escaped without injury.
President Clinton, who plans to visit Oklahoma City on Sunday with his wife, Hillary, for a statewide prayer service, tried to calm children's fears in his weekly radio address, saying, ``We want children to know it's OK to be frightened by something like this.''
In the Republican response, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a former FBI agent, praised Clinton and thanked those who helped after the disaster. ``When Americans are threatened, when we hurt and need help, political differences and distance no longer matter,'' he said.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich toured the bomb site before dawn Saturday, talked with rescue workers and thanked them for their help.
Mayor Ronald Norick asked that bells be rung at 3 p.m. to coincide with the beginning of the memorial service, which Billy Graham was to help lead.
In Herington, authorities evacuated and barricaded a one-block area around Terry Nichols' pale-blue house for the search. Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern in Washington said James Nichols' farm in Decker was searched by investigators.
Stern said both brothers were cooperating with federal investigators. Neither man has been charged. Under federal law, prosecutors can obtain court permission to hold people as material witnesses to ensure their testimony is available for investigators.
McVeigh's arrest Friday brought strong emotions from Jannie Coverdale, whose grandsons, Elijah, 2, and Aaron 5, were recovered from the debris at the day care center at the federal building.
``When they arrested him, when they were moving him around last night, he had tight security,'' she said. ``Nobody could get close to him to hurt him. Look at the people he hurt. Where was their protection?''
McVeigh had been sitting in a county jail 63 miles away from the bombing for two days when the FBI found him. He had been stopped by a trooper because his 1977 Mercury Marquis didn't have a license plate. He was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon after the trooper took a loaded Glock semiautomatic from him, authorities said.
He likely would have posted bail and slipped away if he hadn't been recognized.
In court papers, the FBI said a former co-worker of McVeigh called Friday after seeing the sketch on television. He described McVeigh, who served in the Army at Fort Riley, Kan., as having ``extreme right-wing views'' and anger over the 1993 clash between authorities and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas.
The Waco debacle began with a deadly gun battle between the cult and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. After a 51-day standoff, FBI agents stormed the cult's fortress on April 19, 1993, and the compound went up in flames. Eighty-five people, including cult leader David Koresh, died in the siege and in an inferno investigators believe was caused by the cultists.
Waco has become a rallying cry for right-wing, anti-government extremist groups, and ATF was among some 20 agencies that had offices in the bombed building.
Elsewhere Friday, neighbors of James Nichols said the brothers attended meetings of extremist antigovernment groups. McVeigh had used the Decker address when obtaining a Michigan driver's license.
Phil Morawski, an acquaintance of McVeigh, said that when McVeigh returned from the Persian Gulf War, he complained that the Army had implanted a computer chip in his buttocks.