Suspected Accomplice in McVeigh Terror Bombing Held

Alex Chadwick talks with Wade Goodwyn about reports that an Arkansas gun collector provided Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh with some of the explosives used in the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From NPR West and Slate magazine online, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Coming up, the Air Force Academy takes on charges of religious intolerance. We'll have a report.

First, the lead. The Los Angeles Times reports today that in a letter written from his federal prison cell in Colorado, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols has implicated a third man in the bombing plot. The letter was written to a woman, Kathy Sanders, who lost two grandchildren in the Murrah Federal Building in that explosion April 19th 10 years ago. Terry Nichols accuses an Arkansas gun collector, Roger Moore, of supplying Timothy McVeigh with some explosives, and Terry Nichols charges the federal government knows of others who were involved but will not go after them. NPR's Wade Goodwyn covered the bombing and the subsequent investigation and trials. He joins us now.

Wade, welcome to the show. And who is this person, Roger Moore?

WADE GOODWYN reporting:

He's a moderately wealthy, kind of eccentric Arkansas weapons collector who lives out in the woods with his guns. In the 1990s he was a friend of Timothy McVeigh's. They met at a gun show. The two saw eye to eye when it came to politics and the federal government. Timothy McVeigh used to stay at Roger Moore's house from time to time, and McVeigh was kind of a vagabond in the months leading up to the bombing and Moore's place was one of his stopovers.

CHADWICK: In your reporting, Wade, you've mentioned that there have been allegations that Moore was involved--it came out in the trials of Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh--but that it had nothing to do with actually supplying bomb components to blow up buildings. What is it that Terry Nichols is alleging?

GOODWYN: Right. The government alleged that McVeigh cooked up a plot to rob Roger Moore of guns and money. Moore liked to keep tens of thousands of dollars of cash on hand in case something catastrophic ever happened to America, and he claimed that the government--and the government also asserted this at trial, that, at the behest of McVeigh, Terry Nichols robbed Roger Moore. He ambushed him, tied him up, blindfolded and took $60,000 in weapons and cash. And the government said that's where the money came from to buy all the fertilizer and racing fuel used to make the bomb. So up until now, Moore has been depicted as another Timothy McVeigh victim.

CHADWICK: Well, I wonder, what are the consequences of these allegations going to be? I mean, how much can you believe Terry Nichols at this point?

GOODWYN: That's a good question. Dana Rohrabacher is the House Republican from California. He's the chairman of the investigative arm of the House Committee on International Relations. He's said previously that he's considering opening another round of hearings into the Oklahoma City bombing. And in his letter--Nichols referred to Rohrabacher in his letter and said that he believed that the government knows that other conspirators were involved in the plot but that the government won't prosecute. Nichols told Kathy Sanders that he wanted to work with the congressmen to, quote, "reveal the truth in the OKC bombing."

CHADWICK: So a final question, Wade. Why did Terry Nichols send this letter to this grandmother who lost two grandchildren in the bombing?

GOODWYN: Well, Kathy Sanders came to believe soon after the bombing that there were others who helped Timothy McVeigh blow up the Murrah Federal Building. And she and her husband conducted their own investigation. They talked to witnesses in Oklahoma and Kansas, and they were outspoken about their disappointment with the way the FBI and the Justice Department handled evidence, the evidence that may have pointed to others. And she corresponded with Nichols for the same reason, to befriend him and try to find out what he knew. Maybe it's paying off.

CHADWICK: NPR's Wade Goodwyn. Wade, thanks very much for that.

GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.

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