Justice Department officials said Thursday that more arrests were possible in the Oklahoma City bombing, and they rejected suggestions that the investigation had stalled, saying complex conspiracy cases take time.
“We have plenty of leads, and we are at what in any other investigation would be a very early stage,” Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick said at a news conference. “I would not foreclose additional defendants at some time in the future, but I would not predict when that might be … or with any certainty whether that will occur.”
Meanwhile, government attorneys asked a judge to deny bail to suspect Terry Nichols, calling him a flight risk. They cited statements by Nichols that he no longer considers himself a United States citizen. He faces a possible death sentence for the April 19 bombing that claimed 168 lives.
“Even the most stellar background could not justify release, given the probable cause finding that Nichols bears legal responsibility for a crime of this unprecedented horror,” the motion said.
Much of the investigation centers on possible associates of Terry Nichols and suspect Timothy McVeigh, particularly McVeigh’s sister Jennifer and his Arizona friend Michael Fortier.
Gorelick, the Justice Department’s second-ranking official, refused to comment on details of the case, but said, “I’m confident that at the end of the day we will have everyone who participated in this event.”
That may or may not include the long-sought John Doe No. 2, whom witnesses said they saw with McVeigh at a truck rental agency and a Kansas motel in the days before the bombing. During her news conference, Gorelick raised the possibility that this person may not have been involved in the plot.
“I think at the end of the day, we will know who John Doe 2 is, whether he was a participant in this event,” she said.
John Doe No. 2 suspects have ranged from McVeigh’s former Army buddies to Nichols’ 12-year-old son Josh, who would be no more than an innocent bystander, according to officials.
Officials are also trying to determine what roles, if any, Fortier and Jennifer McVeigh may have played in the nation’s worst act of terrorism.
Fortier has acknowledged being with Timothy McVeigh during a prebombing reconnaissance mission of the Oklahoma City federal building, but has denied any involvement in the plot itself, officials said. They have rejected his overtures of a possible plea bargain until he discloses more information about the plan.
While not discussing details of the investigation, Gorelick defended the practice of plea bargaining in general, as long as it “measures the person’s culpability and that the person who is testifying does indeed pay a price.”
Agents think Jennifer McVeigh, who lives in upstate New York, has extensive knowledge of her brother’s actions before the bombing, but she is described more as a witness than a suspect.
Her attorney, Joel Daniels, said she has denied any involvement in the fertilizer-bomb attack.