J.D. CashTwo Ryder Trucks Used in OKC BombingSat Apr 16, 2005 01:44188.8.131.52
Two Ryder Trucks Used in OKC Bombing
by J.D. Cash
Junction City and Herington, Kansas It has been over a year since these small mid-western communities were thrust into the spotlight, but residents here still bristle when a reporter shows up on the doorstep. Following the arrests of bombing suspects, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Junction City and Herington were inundated by hoards of fast talking and often poorly mannered media types from almost every corner of the globe. All of this unwanted attention showered down on residents of the central Kansas flint hills, because, the government alleges, ex-army buddies, McVeigh and Nichols, launched from here a carefully crafted conspiracy to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Last year's April 19th bombing left 168 persons dead, hundreds more injured, and millions of dollars in property damaged.
While universal agreement on "who and why" still remain as elusive as the infamous John Doe #2, many of these Kansas residents say they have seen their faith in government especially tested, because of the government's inability to provide credible answers and make arrests of other persons they believe conspired with McVeigh and Nichols.
We don't miss much here!!
This is a farm community, says Barbara Whittenberg, and we don't miss much of what folks are up to. The owner-operator of Herington's Sante Fe Trail Diner and Motel continues, Terry lived just a block from here and he and McVeigh would come in from time to time....I served breakfast to McVeigh and Nichols and another person,...the Saturday before the bombing. Adding, While they were eating, parked outside, they had a Ryder rental truck...But now we know it wasn't the one that was used in downtown Oklahoma City...And, we all know, there are other people involved in this thing, but the FBI acts like they don't believe any of us! Then, with an air of conspiracy, she wonders out loud, Or, maybe they do know everything and (officials) aren't going to do anything about it.
Mysteries of the 2nd Ryder truck
Among many of the locals who vividly recall activities of McVeigh and Nichols, in the days before the bombing, the certain belief exists that the defendants (and other unknown persons) had, for a time, a second Ryder truck. But when such information is passed to the FBI, witnesses say the agents don't appear interested or the sightings are wholly discounted.
The problem the government has with these reports, center around the fact that the rear axle recovered, only hours after the bombing, was traced to Elliot's Body Shop in Junction City, and it belonged to a 1993 Ford truck chassis. Computer records and eyewitness testimony of Elliott's employees clearly indicate that a person fitting the description of McVeigh rented that vehicle at 4:22 p.m., Monday, April 17th. Thus, any witness recollections of McVeigh, Nichols and other persons, associated with a Ryder truck, prior to Monday afternoon, differs with what the Grand Jury was told when only two suspects were indicted last August 10th. And, it is such growing discrepancies in the government's case that is sure to provide the lawyers for the bombing defendants "ammunition" in their quest to cast reasonable doubt in the minds of the trial jury when the case goes to court in Denver, later this year or early next.
Bomb was built in Second Truck
If there is one thing certain in all this, there was a second Ryder truck! Says McVeigh's court appointed attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, Oklahoma. And the men who built the bomb, did so, on the 10th, 11th and 12th of April. Days before my client came to Junction City.
Parroting this theory is Michael Tigar, who represents Terry Nichols. Tigar told the Nichols family, after the arraignments of the co-defendants, last year, The bomb that blew up the federal building was built by other people several days before McVeigh "showed up"...and, the government's case will suffer when that comes out.
The Government's Case
Widely reported since the bombing, Terry Nichols had only recently purchased a home in Herington, Kansas when Timothy McVeigh arrived from Kingman, Arizona, on Friday, April 14th. The government contends that during the next few days, the pair set about putting the final touches on their plans to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.
Federal authorities further say that McVeigh called Elliott's Body shop on that same Friday and reserved a 20 Ryder truck. Next, on Saturday, the 15th of April, the government has said that McVeigh went to Elliott's and put down a deposit to hold the truck. Then, on Monday afternoon, the 17th of April, employees at Elliot's report that a man fitting the description of Timothy McVeigh, but using the alias Bob Kling, paid for and left with a 1993 Ryder rental truck. On both Saturday and Monday, employees of the rental establishment maintain that McVeigh was accompanied by the mysterious subject of a nationwide manhunt, John Doe #2.
The Government still contends that it wasn't until Tuesday morning, April 18th that McVeigh and Nichols took the truck to Geary Fishing Lake, south of Junction City, and while there, mixed a fertilizer and fuel oil bomb. And, it was this very same truck, prosecutors told the Grand Jury, which was used to carry the bomb from Kansas to Oklahoma City � where it was subsequently detonated by Tim McVeigh in front of the federal building at 9:02 a.m., April 19.
A chronology of several eyewitnesses interviewed reveal a much more intriguing tale, though. Take, for instance, Mr. James Sergeant of Herington, Kansas.
April 9, 1995 was Sergeant's last day in the military and so he decided to begin his retirement with a few days of fishing.
Arriving, Monday morning, April 10, (two days before McVeigh leaves Kingman, Arizona to drive to Kansas) Sergeant clearly recalls seeing a yellow Ryder truck, parked at Geary State Fishing Lake. Off and on, all that day, the witness remembers several men working in the cargo area of the truck. Parked near the rental truck was a rust colored pickup truck and white sedan.
The next morning, when Sergeant pulled down to the shore, he was surprised to see the truck still there. I really began to wonder why someone would be wasting their money on a rental truck out there at a lake...No one was ever fishing, either. Sergeant added, perplexed, I could never see what was going on, because they had the truck backed down to the edge of the water and so no one could see inside the cargo area, unless they were in a boat...I was fishing from the bank.
Wednesday, April 12th was Sergeant's last morning to visit the lake before the bombing, and when he did, he was again surprised to find the same inexplicable activity going on.
Reports, Sergeant, �None of it made any sense...I couldn�t make out the faces of the men, but they were still messing around on the third day I fished there.� Adding, �That same yellow moving van was parked in about the same spot each of the three days I was there.�
Extending the time the truck was seen at the lake, is a neighbor of Sergeant�s from Herington, who, by coincidence, sold Terry Nichols and his wife, Marife their home, only weeks earlier.
Georgia Rucker drives each school day along Highway 77, to Junction City, to take her son to parochial school. Some 17 miles north of Herington, she and her son pass within a 150 yards of the eastern shore of Geary Lake. On the mornings of April 13th and 14th the Herington real-estate broker and her son noted the odd site of a bright yellow moving van parked near the shore of the lake.
�During that time of year, there isn�t any foliage yet and that truck really stood out...My son and I kept joking about why people would be paying rent on a moving van while it just sat out there.� Rucker added, �There were some other vehicles there, but I don�t remember what kind.� Adding, �I didn�t drive to Junction City again, until Tuesday..., because school was out on Monday the 17th. Again, on Tuesday, I did see a yellow truck out there � in the very same place.�
But what Mrs. Rucker and her son didn�t realize, until sometime later, was that the truck they saw on Tuesday morning, the 17th, was a wholly different truck than the one they saw parked at that same location the previous week. And, it will be this Ryder truck, that will be delivered the very next morning to the front of the ill-fated, Murrah Federal Building.
The Dreamland�s infamous guest
To owner-manager Lea McGown, he was just another drifter. The Dreamland Motel has seen thousands over the years. Hugging the access road which parallels the main highway into Junction City, the 60�s era roadside motel is clean, comfortable and inexpensive. Timothy McVeigh would spend his final few days of freedom here.
�When he checked in, (Friday, April 14th) he was driving a yellow Mercury sedan,� recalls McGown. �The car was trashy looking, but Mr. McVeigh was neat and seemed pleasant.�
The following day, McGown recalls that America�s most notorious criminal defendant was wheeling into her parking lot with a large moving van. �Mr. McVeigh parked outside my office window and came inside,� McGown related. �He asked if he could park the truck in front of his room...I told him no, he should park in under our sign � so others could get through the lot easier.�
Asked to describe the truck, Ms. McGown clearly remembers, �It was the next to the largest size, that Ryder rents...And, it was an older model � maybe 8 to 12 years old.� Adding, �The next day (Easter Sunday, April 16) he pulled in with it again, in mid-afternoon.�
Also, relating some odd behavior that day, was McGown�s son. And, his mother still recalls watching the scene with him.
�For several minutes, one day, McVeigh was outside my window, working with the latch on the cargo door of the older truck...Eric came in laughing and said, �Watch him mother, he keeps wrestling with that latch � trying to get it to lock.... All he has to do is raise the door up and then slam it�.
But McVeigh wouldn�t raise the cargo door � apparently he was concerned about what the other guests in the parking lot might see inside the hold of that vehicle.
New Truck Arrives
Ms. McGown and her son have been interviewed by the FBI on several occasions since the bombing. In fact, it was Ms. McGown�s identification of a sketch artist drawing of John Doe #1 that led federal law enforcement officials to the Perry jail, where McVeigh was being held on unrelated traffic and firearms charges. The pair also recall the day McVeigh arrived at the motel with a different Ryder truck.
�On Monday evening (April 18), I saw Mr. McVeigh in a truck that was smaller and much newer.� Recalls McGown. �I never said anything about it to him, but I wondered,...what was wrong with the other one?� Adding, �The next morning, around 5:00, I heard doors slamming and when I looked outside around 6:00, the truck was gone...I never saw Mr. McVeigh again until he was shown on television, after his arrest.�
Last Sighting in Herington � One block from Nichols home!
Returning from a sales meeting in Manhattan, Kansas, Carol (name protected by request) saw a Ryder truck in the parking lot of a diner in Herington, just after midnight, April 19th.
�I saw a large Ryder truck and cream colored large mid-eighties sedan sitting in the parking lot of Sante Fe Trails Diner. At the time, I thought the owner of the restaurants� sister had just come to town.� Further explaining, �Barbara (Whittenberg) was expecting her sister anytime...she was moving here.�
Was this the �second� mysterious Ryder that witnesses associated with the cream colored sedan at Perry Lake the week earlier, or was it the truck McVeigh is alleged to have used in the actual bombing?
Cattle Baron�s Restaurant
Sitting at the crossroads of highways 64 and 77 is Perry, Oklahoma's best steak house; guests there recall seeing two strangers sitting in the rear wing of the restaurant � sipping beer and eating steaks around 7:30 p.m. the day before the bombing.
Some of our customers have been interviewed by the FBI, said co-owner, Judy Leonard. Adding, I saw the men, they were young. One had short light brown hair, like McVeigh's, the other ...I don't remember as well as some of the customers do....We noticed them here around 7:30....Some of the people say it was McVeigh for sure and the John Doe #2 fellow... Then Ms. Leonard said, One thing is for sure, while the two were here that Tuesday evening, outside was a Ryder truck matching the description of the one used in the bombing.
Bomb Materials Transferred
Many witnesses interviewed in Junction City and Herington are, today, certain, that on Tuesday, Timothy McVeigh and other conspirators transferred the barrels containing the explosives from the older Ryder truck to the truck McVeigh is believed to have rented Monday evening. Theories abound as to why this was done. Some believe that the other members of the conspiracy wanted to tie McVeigh to the crime, making him the fall-guy. But for whatever the reason, resident's interviewed all agree, the official line presented by the government is incomplete.
J.D. CASH OKC BOMBING
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