Two drifters apprehended as possible witnesses in the federal building bombing, including one who bore a passing resemblance to the elusive “John Doe 2,” were released by the FBI early today.
Gary Alan Land and Robert Jacks, who had been the objects of an FBI all-points bulletin, were taken into custody at daybreak Tuesday in Carthage, Mo., after swarms of federal and state agents surrounded their motel room.
Authorities refused to say why they were held; the law allows material witnesses to be detained for 48 hours.
The two left FBI offices in Springfield, Mo., in the custody of federal agents. They showed up shortly after midnight at a wrecking company in Carthage, where the white Thunderbird they were driving had been impounded by the FBI.
With Land behind the wheel, the two drove off at 12:10 a.m., followed by a throng of reporters and photographers. Federal officials couldn’t immediately be reached to explain why they were released without a hearing.
A driver’s license photo of Land, a 35-yearold drifter with a record of petty crimes, resembled the heavyset, square-jawed figure in the FBI sketch of John Doe 2, who is wanted in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Asked if Land could be the muscular, tattooed John Doe 2, FBI spokesman Dan Vogel said: “We don’t know that. We have not determined whether he is or not.”
Earlier Tuesday, a law enforcement source in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said federal investigators were having trouble finding grounds to hold Land and Jacks.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the April 19 explosion reached 141, including 15 children. About 40 people were missing.
Investigators pursued leads in Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas, and a federal grand jury investigating bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh’s case heard testimony in Oklahoma City.
Among those testifying were Ed and Linda Paulsen, owners of Paulsen’s Military Supply in Antigo, Wis. The Paulsens were linked to the case when one of their crumpled business cards was found in the police car that took McVeigh to jail.
“We told them what we’ve been saying all along, that we have absolutely no association with the man,” Paulsen told The Associated Press.
At a hearing for McVeigh’s buddy James Nichols, FBI Special Agent Randall Farmer testified that an informant heard Nichols bragging that “the technology existed for a super bomb that could blow up a federal building.”
The conversation took place between 1987 and 1990, Farmer said.
The testimony came at a hearing on a motion to dismiss charges against Nichols, who’s being held in Milan, Mich.
He’s charged with conspiring with his brother, Terry Nichols, and McVeigh to make and detonate bombs on his Michigan farm. The Nichols brothers aren’t charged in the federal building bombing and McVeigh isn’t charged in the Michigan case.
Nichols was ordered held in federal custody until a preliminary hearing May 12.
His brother is being held in Wichita, Kan., as a material witness in the Oklahoma City case. Terry Nichols’ attorney said he would appeal an order transferring his client to Oklahoma City to appear before a grand jury.
McVeigh and the shadowy John Doe 2 are the only people named as suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Attorney General Janet Reno would only say Land was sought because he “possessed information about the bombing.” She said Land and Jacks were cooperating with the FBI, and she cautioned against speculation that Land might be John Doe 2.
“I would ask everyone to let the investigation proceed and not jump to conclusions,” she said.
Dozens of state and federal officers in riot gear and armed with shotguns and automatic weapons surrounded the Kel Lake Motel, 20 miles east of the Oklahoma line, at 6 a.m. They evacuated the other rooms, then called Land and Jacks on their room phone, telling them to come out.
“As the door opened, I could hear one of the officers yell, ‘Put your hands in the air! If you make a move, we’ll blow you away!”’ said Lee Snyder, who was delivering newspapers across the street.
The two men, who had been under surveillance since Monday night, surrendered without a struggle and were whisked away.
xxxx DEATH TOLL RISES The death toll from the April 19 explosion reached 141 on Tuesday, including 15 children. About 40 people remained missing.