Timothy McVeigh made history on April 19, 1995 when he murdered 168 men, women, and children with explosives he planted in a truck and parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.The official investigation was called “OKBOMB” and was a massive effort. FBI agents completed around 28,000 interviews and gathered almost a billion bits of evidence on the bombing (1).
Here are 10 of the most interesting things revealed in the FBI report on the bombings (2).
10 Points from the FBI Files
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received a letter from an employee of the Cottonwood Christian Center in Los Alamitos, California that was supposedly from cult leader David Koresh. The letter was dated April 1, 1995, which would have been quite a feat since Koresh died in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993 when his religious compound, dubbed Mount Carmel, was raided by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
- After the bombing, an anonymous source called the FBI to report an encounter three or four weeks earlier with two middle-eastern gentlemen, one an older balding man in his 30s or 40s and the other in his late 20s or early 30s, who were inquiring about buying a minimart in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They said they were from Texas.
- A curious memo, heavily redacted, refers to an investigation from 1990 that is finally being closed due to there being no witnesses and the case agent questioned the dependability of the source. There is no indication how this investigation is relevant to the Oklahoma City bombing because that information is redacted.
- During the investigation, the FBI learned that the Michigan National Guard used an OPFOR (Opposing Force) for its training. Some members of the OPFOR were younger than 18 years old and used pyrotechnical equipment and Eastern Bloc semi-automatic weapons.
- Key themes that ran throughout the FBI investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing were fears of communism, admiration for Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, racism, and a love for guns and military uniforms.
- At one point, the FBI experienced a delay in its investigation due to two medical emergencies and an influx of applicant background investigations.
- A significant amount of energy was spent on investigating the right-wing militia movement, including the inclusion of newspaper clippings in the FBI files. It was noted several times by case agents that members of these groups believe the government has prisoner of war camps for people of an extreme conservative persuasion.
- One member of the Oklahoma Militia took up a collection at the militia meeting to print out copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Citizen Rule Book.
- Oklahoma Militia members gave a standing ovation to one of their members when he proclaimed that he had never filed an income tax return in his life.
- On April 19, 1995, investigators received an unsolicited application from a sketch artist to assist with their investigation. The sketch artist had also worked on the Unabomber and the Polly Klaas cases. The artist offered to “fly out immediately.”
A Look Back
According to History.com, McVeigh asked a federal judge in December of 2000 to stop appeals and set his execution date.
McVeigh died via lethal injection on June 11, 2001 in Terre Haute, Indiana (3).
In 1995, the building where the bombing occurred, the Murrah Building, was demolished because of safety concerns.
A memorial and museum now sit in that location and is now open to visitors who wish to pay their respects to the victims.