AUSTIN, Texas — Timothy McVeigh sometimes laughed, joked around and appeared to show little remorse as he described for his attorneys his 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, recently discovered defense documents show.
Asked in one defense interview whether he was single, he said: “Yes. Any bachelorettes out there?”
Another time, he “roared with laughter,” according to the documents.
He also said he hoped he would be acquitted and that his trial would embarrass the federal government.
The defense documents were donated to the University of Texas by his lead trial attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid. They include a 246-page transcript of McVeigh’s confidential statement made to Jones in September 1995.
The existence of the documents came to light recently.
Worrying over magazine
He once griped that prison guards withheld his Playboy magazine “for two days straight,” the documents show.
“Tim was especially anxious to see it because it contains a story about him,” an attorney wrote. “Tim said that the … story in Playboy ‘made me look manly.’”
He complained another time that an FBI agent photographed his genitals while collecting hair samples from his body. He worried the photo would be sold “to the tabloid media or porno magazines,” according to one defense memo.
Blocking thoughts of kids
His attorneys noted in one document he expressed no remorse.
His attorneys wrote: “He stated that his conscious mind knew that the people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing had families, that the children killed had mothers, and he fully realizes the consequences of his actions, but he was able to ‘turn it off’ in order to perform his mission.
“He stated that the normal emotions and feelings were there inside him, but he was able to cover them up in order to carry out the bombing.”
He is quoted in another defense document, though, as saying, “I know it’s terrible to lose a child, especially (for) a mother. … I empathize with pain. It’s not that I’m callous. Everyone has feelings.”
At war with government
Much about McVeigh’s attack was disclosed in testimony at his trial and in a biography published shortly before his execution in 2001. Also, some defense documents about his admissions were leaked to the media before his trial.
Still, the documents at the university’s Center for American History provide some new insights.
A federal jury in Denver in 1997 found McVeigh guilty of the bombing, the bomb plot and the murder of eight federal agents.
The documents show McVeigh considered pleading guilty if it would “save” his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols. He was told it would not.
He also considered an insanity defense that would claim “McVeigh did not believe it was wrong because he believed he was at war, a war initiated by the government.”
In one of the first interviews, in May 1995, he told his attorneys that he already had received fan mail, including one marriage proposal and $10 in cash.
He told his attorneys he did not know his target, the Murrah Building, had a day care center but that probably would not have deterred him. He said he told friends, Michael and Lori Fortier, that he was aware children may be among the victims.
“I told them, you know, ‘Children may die. There may be a pregnant woman working there or there may be someone walking down the street or someone may have taken their child to work with them. Do you understand that?’” he said, according to the September 1995 transcript.
The explosion resulted in 168 deaths. Nineteen children died, mostly at the day care center.
McVeigh justified the bombing, saying the federal government “drew first blood” when more than 70 Branch Davidians, including children, died April 19, 1993. McVeigh bombed the Murrah Building exactly two years later. He said he hoped to “wake Americans up to the tyranny of government,” according to a defense memo.
The Davidians died when the FBI raided their religious compound near Waco, Texas, and a fire broke out.
McVeigh believed the FBI set the fire. An official investigation concluded the Davidians set the fire themselves.
The FBI raid ended a 51-day standoff at the compound. That standoff began when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to arrest the Davidians’ leader, David Koresh, on weapons charges. The bureau’s name has since changed.
McVeigh visited the area near Waco, Texas, during the standoff. He said he was in Michigan preparing to return to Waco when he learned of the fire. “I remember tears came into my eyes,” he said.
He said he was particularly upset when the Davidians’ flag blew away.
“Sure enough, the ATF goes in and raises their flag over the ruins,” he said in September 1995. “‘Great, there are a bunch of charred babies laying in there you raised your flag over. Yeah, you conquered a lot, buddy.’ So this just pretty much hammered me down that I would — I was going to do whatever I could to wake people up and help people fight this because this is wrong.”
The defense documents reflect he “roared with laughter” in one 1995 interview after describing for his attorneys a cartoon critical of the government’s action at Waco. The FBI found the cartoon and other papers in his getaway car.
He insisted he acted mostly alone, with some help from Nichols. Jones doubted him, telling McVeigh that McVeigh was keeping secret other co-conspirators.
“Tim said it was too risky to let other people know of the bombing,” according to a defense memo. “Tim advises that if there was a ‘army’ as Stephen (Jones) suggests, there would have been simultaneous bombings.”
Jones had McVeigh take a polygraph test that asked if others were involved. McVeigh failed it. The polygrapher concluded McVeigh lied when he said only Nichols helped him.
“Tim now regrets submitting to the examination. Tim said that he had ‘an emotional reaction to some questions,’” one attorney wrote.
McVeigh also told his attorneys he was disappointed in the reaction to the attack, that he had not woken up Americans.
He gave his attorneys a cartoon of a flock of chickens armed with pitchforks and clubs. The flock is stopped at the door of a farmer’s house. The lead chicken said: “Again? Why is it that the revolution always gets this far and then everyone just chickens out?”
McVeigh wrote underneath the cartoon, “Reflections of my life ….”
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