First, Roger Moore lost $60,000 in guns, precious metals and cash in November when robbers ransacked his isolated rural home near here.
Now, he says, he also has lost his privacy and reputation as federal officials and news organizations have investigated a suspected link between the robbery and the nation’s worst terrorist bombing.
Ever since authorities suspected a connection between the robbery and Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, the two suspects being held in the Oklahoma City bombing, Moore has been questioned for almost 100 hours, has taken an FBI polygraph test, has testified before an Oklahoma grand jury, has flown to Washington to identity photographs and weapons and has been besieged by reporters.
Moore, 59, now considers himself a victim, caught in a media and political cross fire.
“The FBI and the local media are portraying me as some kind of gun-toting Arkansas hick with an arsenal full of weapons, as an ‘arms dealer’ and as a member of one of these violent militia groups that run around the country bombing things,” Moore said in a series of interviews during the weekend.
That portrayal, Moore believes, may have placed his life in jeopardy. “I’ve got to worry about being shot by somebody upset by the bombing who might think I was involved, or shot by somebody in favor of the bombing who thinks I’m helping the FBI, or worse, shot by some nickel-ante trash who may want to rob my house thinking I’ve still got something worth stealing,” he said.
Moore said he does not subscribe to the views of the paramilitary movement and simply is a gun enthusiast caught in an investigative frenzy as the government tries to sort out the bombing case.
But questions about Moore arose in local news reports because he uses an alias, Bob Miller, at area gun shows he attends (“very common - everyone uses one because of all the cash involved,” he said), because of reports that he has an ammunition company (“completely false - I sell mostly ‘paint ball’ products or survival flares, and I don’t have a company,” he said) and because he did not file an insurance claim despite the $60,000 robbery (“that’s simple - the stuff wasn’t insured,” he said).
The truth, Moore believes, as does his companion, Karen Anderson, is far different.
“I am just an ordinary guy who raises horses, ducks and geese, who doesn’t belong to anything and who just happened to meet the one crazy in 250 million people capable of this horrible bombing,” Moore said, referring to McVeigh.
Moore, a retired boat builder who now makes his living playing the stock market, first met McVeigh in January 1993 at a Florida gun show.
The two saw each other again at a gun show two weeks later in Tulsa, Okla., and McVeigh spent the night at Moore’s home in late March after a visit to the Branch Davidian site in Waco, Texas.
“He was very upset about the Waco thing, but I don’t think he accomplished anything down there,” Moore said. “Mostly, he said he just stood on a hill overlooking the compound with a bunch of T-shirt vendors.”
“He was always traveling - thousands of miles was nothing to him - and he kept everything he owned in the car in duffel bags, slept in the car, too,” Moore said. “He never had any money, always complained about not having any money, and I guess I just felt sorry for him.”
McVeigh never would stay more than half a day at any one show, Moore said. “He always seemed to be looking for somebody - not something, because these shows have everything you could want in the way of materials. No, I think he was looking for somebody, maybe to help him with this bombing,” Moore said.
One crisp morning last Nov. 5, as Moore was walking toward his barn to begin his morning chores, a voice behind him ordered him to lie on the ground. He turned and confronted a tall man outfitted in camouflage clothing, Israeli army boots and a black ski mask and bearing a short-handled shotgun.
For the next hour and a half, Moore, blindfolded, listened while the robber ransacked his home, stealing a collection of 70 rifles and pistols, coins, cash and silver and gold bullion worth about $60,000.
Moore said McVeigh “wasn’t the one who pulled off the robbery - I would have recognized him. Tim really stands out in a crowd and there’s no mistaking him. He just set us up for it.”.
Federal officials believe McVeigh and Nichols may have supported themselves and financed the bombing, which killed 167 people, with a series of robberies during the past few years.