August 20, 1995 in Nation/World

Woman Fears Son Died In Bomb Blast But Defense Says Severed Leg Could Belong To ‘Real’ Assailant

Los Angeles Times

As forensics research continues in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, an indigent woman expressed the belief Saturday that a severed leg found in the debris of the federal office building could belong to her drifter son.

Roberta Bennett, 60, said in an interview from an Oklahoma City shelter that she fears her son, Sidney Aaron McCallum, was killed the morning of April 19 when he visited the Social Security office in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Bolstering her fears, Bennett said, is the fact that she last saw her son dressed in military-style boots and a camouflage outfit - clothing that matches cloth found on the severed leg.

Bennett said it wasn’t until several days after the bombing that she learned her son had been at the building the day of the blast. She said she did not notify authorities immediately because he was being sought on several arrest warrants and she did not want her son, an ex-convict, to have to return to prison.

Officials in the county medical examiner’s office declined to comment on the turn of events in the search to match the limb with a person, saying they most likely will make a statement Monday.

Identifying the leg is considered crucial because defense attorneys for accused bomber Timothy J. McVeigh contend that it could have belonged to the “real” assailant.

A total of 167 victims of the blast have been positively identified, and one rescue worker also was killed. Even though the leg remains officially unidentified, the medical examiner has not opened a 169th homicide file.Local authorities are waiting for results of FBI tests. Those tests include DNA sampling as well as hair and tissue research to narrow and, it is hoped, reveal the origin of the leg.

The medical examiner’s office has said there is a 75 percent probability the leg belonged to a man younger than 30, light-skinned with dark hair and about 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Bennett described her son as 29 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, of mixed Anglo and American Indian descent and with “dark brown, almost black hair.”She said he weighed about 160 pounds, had a small mustache and the tattoo of a rabbit on his forearm.

Bennett said her son had dropped out of high school in Seattle and spent 10 years in prison. He had been a patient at Willow View Mental Institution in Oklahoma City and was addicted to drugs and alcohol.

He eventually drifted to Muskogee, Okla., she said, and she rarely saw him, usually only when he would visit her at the Jesus House halfway home in Oklahoma City.

A few days after the bombing, some of her son’s friends told her they had dropped him off at the Social Security office on the morning of the blast.

“They hadn’t heard or seen anything of him since. They said they would have reported it themselves to the police, but (the police) had back warrants for him and (the friends) didn’t want to turn him in,” Bennett said. “I was just stunned.”

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