April 23, 1968 – June 11, 2001
On Monday, June 10, 2001, Timothy McVeigh was “calm” as the hour of his death approached, spending his last day on earth in a stark 9-by-14-foot cell, watching TV, enjoying a last meal of ice cream and saying goodbye to his family and his lawyers.
“His attitude and demeanor was very good. He continued to be affable,” said Robert Nigh, a lawyer for the right-wing terrorist who killed 168 people when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
(this is Scott now) I visited the site of the bombing in early 1996.
The devastation was unbelievable. Here are a few photographs I took that day. The main building was gone already, but these steps remained.
This is a building that stood across the street.
Of course people made the fence surrounding it into a makeshift memorial.
From what I understand, this event shook Oklahoma City to the core. Literally.
Of course, I couldn’t leave without obtaining this souvenir.
You may call me morbid and sick, but at least I’m consistent. Anyway, back to Kevin’s story.
Before the execution, Nigh said McVeigh was “in amazingly good spirits,” “calm” and “acting himself.”
He slept a few hours Saturday night before he was moved Sunday morning, June 9.
Guards strip-searched and shackled McVeigh and transferred him at 5:10 a.m. from his 8-by-10-foot cell at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., to the windowless, red brick death house 500 yards away.
Once there, he was placed in an isolation cell a short walk away from the execution chamber.
“He was able to look up in the sky for the first time in years, and see the moon directly,” Nigh said.
McVeigh, 33, had an all-dessert last meal – two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream – at around 1 p.m., U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne said.
He also asked for a television with cable – and got a small black-and-white set as a special privilege. McVeigh was addicted to CNN and all-news cable TV networks.
The isolation cell where he spent the last hours before his 8 a.m. (New York time) execution by lethal injection had tan walls, a bed, a sink and toilet – and a window with a guard constantly on the watch outside.
His lawyers spent about two hours with McVeigh during the day. They said he spent time writing letters to relatives and journalists – and also made goodbyes by phone.
Later, Dunne said McVeigh was “sleeping normally,” but didn’t elaborate.
The Buffalo News printed several letters from McVeigh on the day of his execution in which he called his bombing a “legit tactic” in his war against what he believes is an oppressive federal government.
He wrote that he was “sorry” people died – but added, “That’s the nature of the beast.”
The media horde that descended to cover the nation’s first execution of a federal prisoner since 1963 far outnumbered the 200 death-penalty opponents who gathered outside the prison.
Only five death-penalty supporters gathered at a park, where one lofted a sign that read: “Bye-bye baby killer.”
Despite last-minute hints of sympathy for his victims, McVeigh never wavered from his radical-right convictions.
“He once told me that in the crudest of terms, it’s 168 to 1,” Lou Michel, a journalist who interviewed McVeigh for a book, said on ABC’s This Week.
The 33-year-old Gulf War veteran did not say a word in the final minutes before his execution.
Shortly after 7 a.m., McVeigh boosted himself on the execution gurney and was strapped down by prison officials. Wrapped tightly in a light gray sheet, McVeigh strained to look around the facility trying to make eye contact with the various witnesses to his execution, said reporters who watched him die.
The execution began when a prison official said: “We are ready.”
While he was strapped to the gurney, prison officials said McVeigh received the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Anointment of the Sick, which is believed to forgive sins and prepare the sick for the passing over to eternal life.
Around 7-a.m. local time, the curtain was drawn back and the execution witnesses were able to see McVeigh. The warden read the execution order and a U.S. Marshal checked the phone lines to make sure last-minute reprieves had not been granted by President Bush or the Supreme Court. McVeigh was not expected to request clemency, and did not.
With no last-minute reprieves, a prison official in another room not seen by the witnesses carried out the death sentence. Three chemicals were injected in this order: sodium pentothal, which causes sleep; pancuronium bromide, which stops respiration; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
When the chemicals began dripping through the yellow and gray intravenous tubing into his right leg around 7:10 a.m., McVeigh’s skin and lips became paler. Minutes later, witnesses said McVeigh made a few spasm-like movements.
As he took his final breaths, he made no additional movement and was described by one media witness as “seeming proud.” Other witnesses said McVeigh lifted his head and looked at them and then looked at the ceiling. He died with his eyes open at 7:14 a.m. (8:14 a.m. EDT).
McVeigh left a handwritten statement quoting “Invictus“, a 19th century poem by British poet William Ernest Henley. It ends with the lines, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
McVeigh’s body was removed immediately after his execution in a government van, Justice Department officials said. They would not give any information about its destination. McVeigh’s ashes were to be spread in an undisclosed location. At McVeigh’s request, no members of his family traveled to Terre Haute. His lawyers said information about his remains and any resting-place would remain privileged. In an agreement between McVeigh’s attorney and the coroner, no autopsy was to be conducted.
Ten people — members of the victims’ families and survivors of the bombing — also witnessed the execution from a room beside the death chamber.
Paul Howell, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, said McVeigh was expressionless.
“What I was hoping for is that we could see some kind of ‘I’m sorry,’ but we didn’t get anything like that. My emotions were that it was just a big relief. Just a big sigh came over my body and it felt real good,” Howell said.
More than 650 miles away in Oklahoma City, 232 survivors and family members watched on closed-circuit television.
“He actually lifted his head and looked directly in the camera, and it was as if he was looking directly at us,” said Larry Whicher, who lost his brother. “His eyes were unblinking. They appeared to be coal black. I truly believe that his eyes were telling me … that if he could, he would do it all over again.”
About a half-hour after the execution, President Bush said that McVeigh had “met the fate he chose for himself six years ago.” The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have been given not vengeance, but justice,” the president said.
If McVeigh was to be believed, he got exactly what he wanted.
He had legal challenges available to him that would have delayed his execution for many years, but he ordered his attorneys to withdraw the rest of his appeals in December 2000. Since then, he had expressed no remorse for the bombing, and called the 19 children killed in the blast “collateral damage.” He admitted that he and co-conspirator Terry Nichols carried out the blast with no one else’s help.
Compiled by New York Find a Death friend Kevin Fitzpatrick. Visit his site https://newnycbp.tumblr.com/
FURTHER TO THAT – Findadeath.com friend Terry Bellows sends this:
Just read your item on Tim McVeigh, and thought I’d drop you a line. I lived in Oklahoma City and worked in the media while living there. My mother had thought that a house blew up near their house, the blast was so loud and she lives about 10 miles from the Murrah building.
A friend of ours who is a survivor of the Murrah Bombing attended the closed-circuit broadcast of McVeigh’s death. The interesting and chilling comment aside from what was mentioned on FAD is that Tim glanced around to the different viewing rooms and looked at each window. He then let his eyes focus center…as he looked up above him…and right into the lens of the camera covering the event for the Oklahoma City Victims…and he smiled, then closed his eyes and died. Very eerie.
Also, a friend sent this chilling compilation of facts regarding the Murrah Bombing:
04 – The month of the Oklahoma City Bombing
19 – The day
95 – The year
09 – The hour the bomb went off
02 – The minute
06 – The month McVeigh was executed
11 – The day
01 – The year
07 – The hour he was pronounced dead (Okla. Time)
14 – The minute (Oklahoma time)
168 – The number of people killed
Very trippy. Thanks for that, Terry.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2001 from Findadeath.com friend Michelle:
I was told by a very good source that in the days previous to and the day of the execution, you pretty much had to have a badge in your ass to get admitted into ANYWHERE. Security was tighter then Tom Cruise’s ass. One fact that people don’t know about is there were dignitaries from all over in to see this execution. (When I get names, I’ll let you know.)
I was told………again, please use no names here………that McVeigh’s remains were sent to his father, (they DID have to give his damn body to someone!) who then, along with his attorneys, made sure that nobody knows where the ashes are scattered.
My source also lived in OKC and worked for the Federal Government when the bombing occurred. I was on a plane when it happened and freaked when I finally got to my hotel room and saw it. It took my family 2 days to get a hold of my source to make sure he and his wife were alive.
Findadeath.com friend adds:
I wanted to add some verifiable information to the Tim McVey story:
1. An empty Funeral Hearse was hired to fool reporters and divert attention from the real removal of Tim’s body, due to intense international media coverage. Prison officials ACTUALLY discreetly dumped Tim’s body into a white prison PRISON VAN, similar to the one used to transport him to the death house – possibly even the same van! Oh – did I mention – the way they removed his body – in a laundry bag. Just tossed him in the back of the van as if he were a sack of dirty underwear going to the Laundromat.
2. Where his body was taken is not a mystery, it was just “low profile” for obvious reasons. If you really look through all the articles, you’d find about 5 small-town news papers that will tell you his body was taken to “Terre Haute Crematorium” (what an original name!) and dumped right into the oven in only a cardboard box/container – not even a combustible casket. I guess they didn’t want to spend much $$$ on his cremation. I think “Terre Haute Crematorium” might even be a State crematorium – for homeless people and “potter’s field” types who’s bodies are never claimed and the State needs to dispose of cheaply. Because of real estate – I don’t think these hospitals actually bury “potter’s field” types anymore – I think they just cremate them, hold the ashes for about a year in case a long lost relative pops up. And then, I’m not sure what happens to the abandoned ashes after that. Just a side bar.
3. His ashes were spread by his lawyers at various locations in Albany, New York, including: A school (I forgot the name) a “Burger King” (I don’t know why – maybe he worked there or hung out there with friends or really like Whoppers) The remaining were RUMORED to be divided among his mom and his father.
It’s so funny – Major news sources such as Reuters/AP/CNN/MSNBC will all say: “Undisclosed location” because of the large international audience to cover their asses. However, if you go to Yahoo, and click on ALL stories related to a death – the smaller news papers, i.e., Stamford Advocate, the Norwalk Hour, are more willing to give MORE details than CNN because, who’s going to sue a newspaper that really only has local readership.
So that is where I read this information from. And there were several local papers that I got this information from. I just was never able to find out why they spread his ashes at a BK in Albany (or even WHICH Burger King it was – so I NEVER order there. YUK!) Hope that helps you out. If you want to check on my facts, just click on yahoo / Tim McVey / All coverage and look for the stories from local papers the day AFTER his execution.