by Bill Johnson
American Reporter Correspondent
Oklahoma City, Okla.
June 11, 2001
"Tim McVeigh's Day of Reckoning"
McVEIGH STAYS SILENT TO THE END
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.