The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Trial of Timothy McVeigh: A Chronology

April 23, 1968
Timothy James McVeigh is born.
June 1984
Tim's parents, Bill and Mickey, permanently separate.
May 24, 1988
McVeigh, already with developed "survivalist" inclinations (having read, among other books, the Turner Diaries), joins the army.  He meets Terry Nichols in basic training in Georgia.  They both serve later at Fort Riley, Kansas.
May 15, 1989
Nichols receives an honorable discharge.
March 1991
McVeigh returns from four months service in the Persian Gulf War.  He begins 30 days of Special Services training at Fort Bragg, before returning to Fort Riley.
April 1991
McVeigh moves into an off-base home in Herrington, Kansas, where he will live for the next eight months.
December 1991
McVeigh leaves his army unit and moves to upstate New York, near Buffalo, to live with his father.  He begins working for a security company. 
McVeigh becomes increasingly disenchanted with politicians, taxes, anti-gun activists, and U. S. foreign policy.  He experiences bouts of serious depression, including thoughts of suicide.  He writes angry letters to newspapers and to his congressman on subjects such as his objection to inhumane slaughterhouses and a proposed law prohibiting the possession of "noxious substances."   He urges friends to read the Turner Diaries, a book urging violent action against the United States government.
Summer 1992
McVeigh has a long stay at the Michigan home of Terry Nichols, who shares McVeigh's growing hatred of the federal government.
August 21-31, 1992
McVeigh follows with great interest news stories about the government's 10-day effort to arrest Idaho survivalist Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge.  A deputy marshal and Weaver's 14-year-old son are killed the first day.  The next day Randy Weaver is wounded.  The incident ends with a federal agent shooting and killing Weaver's wife, leading to Weaver's surrender.  McVeigh finds the government's conduct appalling.
October 1992
McVeigh moves out of his father's home and into a Lockport, New York apartment.
January 26, 1993
McVeigh quits his job at the security company, sells most of his belongings, and begins a series of long road trips.  He begins selling guns and military items at gun shows, including one show where he meets and befriends a gun dealer named Roger Moore.
February 28, 1993
The U. S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), using about 80 armed agents, attempts to execute a search and arrest warrant (for possession of illegal weapons) against the Branch Davidians, a religious community headed by David Koresh and based in central Texas, near the city of Waco.  The raid ends unsuccessfully and badly, with six Branch Davidians and four agents killed.  What will turn out to be a 51-day stand-off begins at the Mount Carmel compound.
March 1993
McVeigh, incensed by reports of the siege at Mount Carmel, travels to Texas to visit the site.  He is blocked at a checkpoint three miles from the Branch Davidian's compound.  On March 30, an interview with McVeigh about the siege and his feelings toward the government, including a photo, runs in the S.M.U. college newspaper.
April 19, 1993
The FBI and army attack the Mount Carmel compound of the Branch Davidians.  Tanks ram holes in the building and CS gas is pumped inside.  Pyrotechnic devices are fired into the building, igniting a fire that soon became an inferno.  Seventy-four men, women, and children are found dead inside the building.  McVeigh watches reports on the dramatic events from the Nichols family farm in Michigan.
May-September 1993
McVeigh meets Andreas Strassmeir, security head for the militant, far-right compound "Elohim City", at  at Tulsa gun show. 
McVeigh, visiting Michael Fortier in Kingman, Arizona, tells Fortier it is time to take violent action against the United States government.  McVeigh stays in Kingman for five months, working a security job for minimum wage.  During this time, McVeigh and Fortier discuss forming a militia for battle against "the New World Order," represented--they thought--by the government's actions at Waco. 
McVeigh continues to sell weapons at gun shows.  In the fall, he leaves for Michigan to see Nichols.
October 12, 1993
McVeigh and Nichols drive to Elohim City, a compound for members of the militant right in eastern Oklahoma.  The meeting at Elohim City includes person later to be convicted for a series of bank robberies in the Midwest.  (A speeding ticket two months later, for an infraction just a few miles from Elohim City, indicates that McVeigh made repeat visits to the compound.)
October 1993-January 1994
Nichols and McVeigh go to a gun show in Arkansas, where they consider buying a house.  The two men return to Michigan.  McVeigh, using the name "Tim Tuttle," begins buying nitromethane (a key ingredient in explosives) at hobby shops.
February 1994
McVeigh takes a job in lumberyard in Kingman, Arizona.
Spring-Summer 1994
McVeigh's behavior moves increasingly out of the mainstream.  He turns his Arizona home into a bunker and begins making and exploding small bombs.  On March 16, he renounces his U. S. citizenship. He openly promotes his apocalyptic world view and begins using methamphetamine.  In July, he and Fortier steal various items from a National Guard armory and McVeigh trespasses on top secret government land, "Area 51" near Roswell, New Mexico. 
August-September 1994
In August, McVeigh cases a bank in Buffalo, Oklahoma, but decides not to rob it.  In early September, McVeigh travels to Gulfport, Mississippi to investigate a rumor that the town had become a staging area for United Nations troops and equipment.
September 12, 1994
McVeigh participates in military maneuvers at Elohim City.  (A September 13 hotel receipt confirms his presence in the area.).
September 13, 1994
McVeigh begins plotting to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  On the same day, and not coincidentally, a new ban on assault weapons becomes law.  (According to the government's complaint filed after the bombing, this date represents the beginning of the McVeigh-Nichols conspiracy to destroy the federal building.)
September 22, 1994
McVeigh rents a storage unit in Herington, Kansas, which he uses to store explosive ingredients.
September 30, 1994
McVeigh buys his first ton of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer that is a key ingredient in McVeigh's bomb, at a farm cooperative in McPherson, Kansas.
October 3, 1994
McVeigh burglarizes a quarry near Marion, Kansas, and steals dynamite and blasting caps.  He and Nichols drive to Arizona, where they stay for two weeks.
October 18, 1994
McVeigh and Nichols buy a second ton of ammonium nitrate in McPherson, Kansas.
October 20, 1994
McVeigh and Nichols drive by the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.  They get out of their car, and time the distance to a place McVeigh would be at the time the bomb would go off.
October 21, 1994
Wearing a biker disguise, McVeigh purchases nearly $3,000 worth of nitromethane, a racing fuel used in bomb construction, from a Dallas, Texas track.  After purchasing the fuel, they travel to Kingman, where McVeigh and Fortier test the explosives mixture.
November 1994
In a plan arranged by McVeigh, robbers breaks into the home of Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore, and makes off with guns and valuables.
Meanwhile, Andreas Strassmeier and (Elohim City) and Dennis Mahon (Tulsa, associated with KKK) make the first of three trips to Oklahoma City to investigate possible bombing targets.  The ATF, through the reports of undercover agent Carole Howe, is aware of their plans.
December 1994
McVeigh and Michael Fortier drive to Oklahoma City, where McVeigh points out his target.  FBI documents also point to McVeigh's participation this month in bank robberies, along with other criminal elements from Elohim City.
January 1995
McVeigh and Nichols discuss bombing plans while living out of rented rooms in Kansas.
February 1995
Explosive material is moved from Arizona into McVeigh's Herington, Kansas storage unit.  In the middle of February, McVeigh moves into Fortier's Arizona home, where he will stay for one month.
After a meeting involving officials of the ATF, FBI, and U.S. Attorney's Office, a planned raid of Elohim City is called off.
March 1995
Terry Nichols thinks about backing out of the bombing plan.  McVeigh obtains a fake ID.   By the end of the month, he is clear that he doesn't want to be involved on the day of the bombing, now set to coincide with the second anniversary of the attack at Waco.
April 5, 1995
McVeigh places a 15-minute phone call to Elohim City.
April 5-12, 1995
McVeigh lives out of a rented motel room in Kingman, Arizona.  Fortier tells McVeigh he doesn't want to participate further in the bombing plot.  On April 8, McVeigh is videotaped by a security camera in a Tulsa strip club.  He is at the club with Andreas Strassmeir and Michael Brescia, two residents of Elohim City.  McVeigh can be heard on the tape telling a dancer at the club, "On April 19, you'll remember me for the rest of my life."
April 13, 1995
McVeigh visits Oklahoma City and finds a place to leave a car to use after the bombing.  He inspects his storage shed in Herington, Kansas.
April 14, 1995
McVeigh buys a 1977 Mercury Marquis in Junction City, Kansas.  He also calls a rental shop in Junction City to reserve a Ryder truck.  He meets with Terry Nichols at Geary Lake (Nichols gives McVeigh some cash) before checking into the Dreamland Motel in Junction City.
April 15, 1995
McVeigh, using the name "Robert Kling," puts down a deposit for a Ryder truck at Elliot's Body Shop.
April 16, 1995
McVeigh meets Nichols at a Dairy Queen in Herington.  They drive in separate cars to Oklahoma City, where McVeigh leaves his getaway car.  The two men then drive back to Kansas.
April 17, 1995
McVeigh picks up the Ryder rental truck in Junction City and drives the truck back to the Dreamland Motel.
April 18, 1995
McVeigh leaves the Dreamland Motel in the Ryder truck in the early morning.  McVeigh drives to his storage unit where he meets Nichols.  The men load bags of fertilizer and drums of nitromethane into the truck.  McVeigh and Nichols drive separately to Geary Lake park in Kansas, where the two men mix the explosive components.  In the afternoon, McVeigh heads south toward Oklahoma in the Ryder truck.  He parks the truck for the night near Ponca City, Oklahoma, and sleeps in his truck.
April 19, 1995
McVeigh awakes near Ponca City and about 7 A.M. begins driving toward Oklahoma City.  He wears a T-shirt with a drawing of Abraham Lincoln and the words (shouted by John Wilkes Booth) "SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS" ("thus ever to tyrants").  About 8:50 A.M., McVeigh enters Oklahoma City.  As he drives the Ryder truck up NW 5th Street shortly before 9:00, he lights two bomb fuses.  He parks the truck at a drop-off point in front of the Murrah Federal Building, locks the truck, and walks quickly toward a nearby YMCA building.  At 9:02 A.M., the truck explodes, taking with it much of the Murrah Building and seriously damaging many nearby buildings.  Eventually, it will be determined that 167 people died, and over 500 were injured, in the explosion. McVeigh hops into his Mercury and heads north out of the city.  At 10:20 A.M., while driving north on I-35, McVeigh is stopped for having no license plates on his vehicle.  He is arrested for having no vehicle registration, no license plates, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.  He is booked and lodged in the county jail in Perry, Oklahoma. 

Meanwhile, federal agents find the vehicle identification number of the Ryder truck, and head off to Junction City, Kansas to determine who might have rented it.

At 9 P.M., white supremacist Richard Snell is executed in Arkansas after having told prison officials for four days that there would be a big bombing or explosion on the day of his execution (Denver Post story).  Snell is connected with several of the men in Elohim City involved in a plot to attack federal buildings.
April 21, 1995
A former co-worker in New York identifies Timothy McVeigh as the "John Doe No. 1" depicted in police drawings.  A warrant is issued for McVeigh's arrest.  Authorities discover that McVeigh is still in Perry, where he is scheduled to appear before a judge on his misdemeanor charges.  McVeigh is taken to Tinker Air Force base near Oklahoma City.  McVeigh is arraigned in the evening.

Terry Nichols turns himself in to authorities in Herington, Kansas.  He consents to a search of his home.
April 28, 1995
A U. S. magistrate orders McVeigh held without bail.
May 4, 1995
Due to the instability of the remaining structure, the search for additional bodies at the explosion site is called off.
May 10, 1995
Terry Nichols is charged in connection with the bombing.
June 14, 1995
Authorities call off the search for "John Doe No. 2," concluding the sketches are of an innocent person.
August 8, 1995
Michael Fortier and his wife testify before a grand jury investigating the bombing.
August 11, 1995
A grand jury indicts McVeigh and Nichols on murder and conspiracy charges.
October 20, 1995
Attorney General Janet Reno authorizes prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
December 1, 1995
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals removes Oklahoma District Judge Wayne Alley from the case and assigns the case to Judge Richard Matsch of Denver.
February 20, 1996
Citing the defendant's right to an impartial jury, Judge Matsch moves the trial from Oklahoma City to Denver.
October 25, 1996
Judge Matsch orders separate trials for McVeigh and Nichols, with McVeigh to be tried first.
February 28, 1997
Newspapers publish reports that McVeigh has confessed.
March  31, 1997
Jury selection begins in the McVeigh trial.
April 24, 1997
Opening statements are presented in the McVeigh trial.
May 21, 1997
The prosecution rests after having presented 137 witnesses.
May 28, 1997
The defense rests after having presented 25 witnesses.  Closing arguments are set for the next day.
June 2, 1997
McVeigh is convicted on all eleven counts.
June 13, 1997
After hearing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial, the jury unanimously decides that McVeigh should be sentenced to death.
September 29, 1997
The Terry Nichols trial opens.
December 23, 1997
Nichols is convicted of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and involuntary manslaughter.  He is found not guilty of use of a weapon of mass destruction.
January 7, 1998
The jury deadlocks on the sentence for Nichols.
May 27, 1998
Michael Fortier, who failed to warn authorities of the bombing plan but testified against McVeigh and Nichols, is sentenced to 12 years in prison.
June 4, 1998
Terry Nichols is sentenced to life in prison.
September 8, 1998
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds McVeigh's conviction.
March 9, 1999
The U. S. Supreme Court refuses to hear McVeigh's appeal of his conviction.
July 13, 1999
McVeigh is transferred to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
March 12, 2000
McVeigh is interviewed by Ed Bradley on the CBS program 60 Minutes.
April 19, 2000
Dedication ceremonies are held at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  The event marks the fifth anniversary of the bombing.
January 16, 2001
After McVeigh says he wants to drop all appeals of his death sentence, an execution date of May 16 is set.
May 10, 2001
Six days before the scheduled execution, the Justice Department admits that it found over 4,000 pages of evidence that should have been turned over to the defense before trial, but wasn't.  Attorney General Ashcroft postpones the execution for 30 days to allow defense attorneys to review the newly released documents.
June 1, 2001
McVeigh changes his mind and allows his attorneys to file appeals to delay the execution.
June 7, 2001
An appeal court denies McVeigh's request for a stay of execution, and McVeigh announces that he is ready to die.
June 11, 2001
McVeigh is executed as survivors and relatives of victims watch on closed-circuit television. McVeigh is pronounced dead at 7:14 A.M.
May 26, 2004
After being tried in state court in Oklahoma on 160 charges of first-degree murder, Terry Nichols is found guilty of all charges.  The jury deadlocks on the death penalty, thus sparing his life.
January 20, 2006
Michael Fortier is released from prison after serving 10½ years of his 12-year sentence.

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