The search for bodies in the bombed-out federal building was halted early today as firefighters found the remains of all but two of the victims, Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen said.
The grim discovery in the last 6-foot pile of unsearched rubble brought the death toll to 165. Hansen said the missing bodies were those of two adults.
Among the sets of about 20 remains uncovered late Thursday were those of the last three children unaccounted for in the April 19 terrorist bombing.
With the search at an end after 17 days, families will be allowed to gather at the site for one last, private remembrance, possibly this weekend.
In Washington, Attorney General Janet Reno insisted Thursday the trail hasn’t gone cold in the hunt for John Doe 2 but admitted disappointment that the elusive second suspect in the bombing has not been identified or taken into custody.
But she said the FBI is following thousands of leads in the deadliest domestic terror attack in U.S. history.
The arrest and release of two drifters originally believed linked to bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, the only person charged so far, demonstrate that “it is also important that people who are not guilty, who are not implicated, are quickly clarified as such,” Reno said.
“And so I’m glad that that process worked where those very unusual coincidences took place,” the attorney general said.
With the government offering a $2 million reward, a hot line has gotten more than 36,000 calls, from which more than 14,800 substantive leads have been written up and sent to FBI offices around the nation, a federal official said on condition of anonymity.
Despite their release, Gary Alan Land and Robert Jacks have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the bombing, a Justice Department official said in Washington.
That was done as a precaution, said the official, who demanded anonymity. The penalties for lying to a grand jury are greater than those for lying to the FBI, and the grand jury can issue warrants to search any of the men’s possessions or property, the official noted.
Throughout the day, about 50 firefighters worked through the last pile of rubble in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
With the end of the search, federal officials in Washington will now have to decide whether to rebuild at the site. Sentiment is strong in Oklahoma City to raze the site and put up a memorial to the victims.
Federal agents moved through the shell of the building, looking for confidential files and other paperwork from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The last out-of-town search and rescue team, a unit from Orange County, Calif., made a side trip to an elementary school before flying home.
“We are all going back much better people than we came because of this experience,” Audrey Connor told children at Tinker Elementary School who had sent the team a big packet of letters. “You have given us so much.”