Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

An American Reporter Special Report
"Tim McVeigh's Day of Reckoning"

by Bill Johnson
American Reporter Correspondent
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Printable version of this story

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 11, 2001 -- Timothy McVeigh went to his death Monday=

the way he remained throughout his trial for blowing up the federal buildi= ng, silent, stoic and with defiance burning in his eyes.

And while his death at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., brought so= mewhat of an end to the tragic events begun six years, one month and twenty= -three days earlier, it left many victims and relatives of those who died b= elieving he got off too easy.

For those who had suffered through the hour= s since the bomb killed 168 people, they watched his death without the one = thing they wanted most, some explanation, a bit of contrition, perhaps even= a more rational reason for what he had done.

"What I was hoping for, and I'm sure most of us were, we could see some = kind of, maybe, 'I'm sorry,'" said Paul Howell, whose daughter, Karan, died= in the blast. "You know, something like that," added Howell, one of 24 wit= nesses at the execution in Indiana. "We didn't get anything from his face."

Instead, McVeigh even ignored his chance for a final word as he lay stra= pped to a gurney, waiting for the lethal drugs to be sent coursing through = his body. He made his public goodbye with a handwritten copy of the 1875 po= em, "Invictus," which states that although his head was bloodied, it was un= bowed. The poem ends: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my s= oul."

But some survivors said McVeigh was as wrong there as he was in setting = off the 4,500-lb. bomb as a protest of a government he felt had gone too fa= r in abridging freedoms. It was that government that had the final say, the= y said.

The execution was scheduled at 7 a.m. (CDT). Observers said his face was= blank, and then his eyes rolled back and his lips turned slightly blue. He= was pronounced dead at 7:14 a.m.

"He didn't suffer at all," said Sue Ashford, another witness in Indiana.= "The man just went to sleep or, as I said, the monster did. I think they s= hould have done the same thing to him as he did in Oklahoma," said Ashford,= who was at work in the federal court building here when the bomb went off.= She was uninjured.

Rob Nigh, one of McVeigh's attorneys, had a last meeting with his clie= nt. He declined to say what McVeigh told him, based on client-attorney conf= identiality, but said McVeigh was upbeat.

McVeigh, 33, was born and reared in Pendleton, N.Y., near Buffalo. He en= listed in the Army at age 20 and was a model soldier. He made sergeant and = was decorated for his service in the Gulf War.

But he turned against the government and left the service. His hatred so= lidified after the fiery deaths of some 80 Branch Davidians that climaxed a= standoff near Waco, Texas.

Although he remained silent for years, he finally admitted his guilt to = two reporters who wrote a book about him. And in letters to his hometown ne= wspaper, McVeigh never wavered in his defiance, insisting that his April 19= , 1995, bombing was a "legit tactic" in response to government's bullying.=

McVeigh believed the bombing would touch off a nationwide uprising again= st the government. Instead, it focused attention on radical elements in Ame= rican society, which have steadily lost membership in the past six years.=

The Rev. Ron Ashmore of St. Margaret Mary Church, who had met with McVei= gh over the past year, said McVeigh was given the Last Rites by Frank Roof,= the prison chaplain. Those rights usually require an admission of sorrow f= or past sins.

"Tim was raised Catholic"' Ashmore said. "He knows when you ask for that= , it's like saying, 'I'm sorry for everything I've done, Lord. Please love = me."

McVeigh was the first person executed by the U.S. Government in 38 years= . His body was taken to an Indianapolis mortuary, where it was cremated. = The ashes were given to one of McVeigh's attorneys for spreading in an undi= sclosed location.

While only two dozen witnesses viewed the execution in Indiana, 232 surv= ivors and relatives of victims watched it on a closed-circuit telecast. One= of them was Frances Cummins, whose husband, Richard, died in the bombing. = She said McVeigh's head and shoulders took up the entire screen and he "nev= er took his eyes off that camera."

Editor's noteThe American Reporter opened on the Internet nine da= ys before the Oklahoma City bombing, and American Reporter Correspondent Bi= ll Johnson was in earshot of the blast. His reporting over the months and = years to come distinguished our publication from the great mass of our imit= ators, and carved a milestone of lasting significance in the history of jou= rnalism on the Internet. We are profoundly grateful for his leadership and = immense contribution to this newspaper.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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