Federal authorities in the Oklahoma City bombing manhunt Monday put out an alert for two men said to be associates of bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh. The men were said to be potential witnesses in the case.
One of the men, identified as Gary Allen Land, was said by law enforcement officials to bear a resemblance to John Doe No. 2, the unidentified suspect sought as a possible co-conspirator in the bombing, although officials emphasized they had drawn no conclusion that the two were the same man. The FBI Monday issued a new composite sketch of the suspect, a stocky man in a baseball cap, and described him as “very tan” and muscular.
“It’s a John Doe 2 hunt,” said a senior law enforcement official. “We’d like very much to talk to these people.”
On April 19, the day of the bombing, investigators believe Land and a man identified as Robert Jacks checked into a motel in Perry, Okla., the same town where McVeigh was arrested on a motor vehicle violation some 90 minutes after the blast. That same day, the two men checked into another motel in Vinita, a northeastern Oklahoma town. “We want to know why they checked into two motels the same day,” said an investigator.
With almost no hope left of finding more survivors in the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building 12 days after the massive blast, officials in Oklahoma City said they will use heavy machinery to drag debris from deep inside the shaky structure rather than risk the safety of rescue workers. The death toll rose to 139, including 15 children, with 50 people listed as missing, most of them believed buried in the deepest part of the rubble.
In Washington, meanwhile, President Clinton sharply denounced far right paramilitary groups and called for a broad national discussion on “what is causing the United States to commit the whole range of violence we see.”
“I don’t know that there’s another country in the world that would by law protect the right of a lot of these groups to say what they want to say … to assemble over the weekend and do whatever they want to do, and to bear arms, which today means more than the right to keep and bear arms; it may mean the right to keep and bear an arsenal of artillery,” said Clinton in his strongest language to date.
Besides seeking Land and Jacks, agents also searched Geary State Fishing Lake, a state park north of Herington, Kan., where witnesses have told police they saw the Ryder rental truck used in the car bombing parked two days before the blast. Combing the woods and dispatching divers into the lake, investigators were searching for evidence that materials for the massive bomb were gathered and assembled on the site, then driven to Oklahoma City.
Few details were available about Land and Jacks, who were identified by federal sources, but investigators say they have linked the two men to McVeigh based on accounts of witnesses in Kingman, Ariz., where all three men stayed in cheap motels in the weeks before the bombing. McVeigh, a drifting former serviceman with ties to paramilitary groups in Michigan and Arizona, stayed from Feb. 11-17 at the Hilltop motel and from March 31 to April 12 at the Imperial, leaving to drive east exactly one week before the bombing.
Land and Jacks rented an apartment at the nearby El Trovatore Motel, according to motel manager Bill Terranova, from last November through April 3. Terranova in a phone interview described the men as loners and recalled that they drank lots of beer and were unemployed, saying that they lived off of Jacks’ pension. When they left, Jacks said they were heading to Oklahoma, where he had children.
Terranova said he never saw McVeigh with the men, although he did recall seeing McVeigh in a neighborhood Tru-Value hardware store. Jacks, the older and more talkative of the two men, described Land as his nephew, Terranova said, noting he did not think that Land looked much like John Doe No. 2. The FBI is scouring the apartment for possible evidence in the case, he said.
The men surfaced again twice on April 19 - once at an unidentified motel in Perry and again that evening at Deward and Pauline’s Motel in Vinita, 180 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. They stayed there until Monday, April 24.
Juanita Crafton, wife of the manager of the motel, said in a phone interview that the two men arrived in a white 1981 Thunderbird.