Rescue workers at the devastated federal building here said Wednesday they will call off their search for an estimated 20 remaining victims as early as today, while FBI investigators and a federal grand jury continued sifting evidence and information being gleaned from 13,000 tips.
The search for victims of the bombing - which by Wednesday had officially claimed 144 lives - is likely to be concluded by sunset today because of the increasing risks posed to rescue workers, city officials said, and because the force of the April 19 explosion may have obliterated the remains of those who are still missing.
Three bodies were recovered from the ruins Wednesday, an infant and two people believed to be the child’s grandparents. The discovery raised to 16 the number of children confirmed killed in the bombing.
James Texter, whose 37-year-old wife, Victoria, is among those believed buried in the rubble, said families of the missing are hoping for “closure” but also said the time has come for rescue workers to return to their homes.
“I’d rather they suspend the search than have a rescue worker get hurt in there,” Texter said. “This is already a tremendous tragedy. There’s no need to make it worse.”
Wednesday CBS-TV reported that federal investigators searching an area around Geary State Fishing Lake, near Junction City, Kan., had discovered chips of paint that could match the paint on a truck owned by Terry Nichols, who is being held by federal authorities as a material witness in the bombing.
Over the last several days, federal authorities have focused attention on the lake - searching the shoreline, sending divers to the bottom, and interviewing visitors - to determine whether it was the location used for construction of the bomb.
Investigators earlier this week said they were looking for traces of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and the tools used to mix them, as well as evidence of a yellow Ryder truck rented by Timothy McVeigh that was believed used in the bombing.
CBS said, however, investigators had located evidence - the paint chips - that would lead them to requestion Terry Nichols and consider charging him as a co-conspirator in the federal building bombing. To date, McVeigh and a mysterious fugitive suspect known as John Doe No. 2 are the only individuals charged in the bombing.