Evidence seized from Terry Nichols’ house included a lethal inventory of bomb-making materials and receipts for storage sheds in Kansas towns rented last fall under assumed names, according to an affidavit released Thursday.
FBI investigators say Nichols wrote a letter to be delivered to Timothy McVeigh upon Nichols’ death telling his Army buddy to clear the sheds and “go for it!”
The evidence was detailed in an FBI affidavit unsealed in a court hearing for the 40-year-old Nichols, who is charged with McVeigh in the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
The affidavit provides the largest inventory to date of bomb-making supplies allegedly seized from Nichols’ house in Herington, Kan., after the April 19 bombing in Oklahoma City.
It also links Nichols to three storage sheds, two of which were rented last fall just before the purchase of two tons of fertilizer believed to have been a key ingredient in the 4,800-pound ammonium nitrate and fuel bomb that exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Nichols, who was shackled hand and foot, stared straight ahead when interim U.S. attorney Patrick Ryan told the court that Nichols faces the death penalty if convicted.
A search of Nichols’ house in Herington found five 60-foot detonator cords with non-electric blasting caps and several containers of ground ammonium nitrate, which can be used to help boost a fertilizer-fuel bomb, the affidavit said.
The 10-page document also said FBI agents had found a fuel meter which can be used to obtain “the proper volume of diesel oil to ammonium nitrate for a bomb.”
Nichols’ appearance before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Howland in a makeshift courtroom at the federal prison in El Reno, Okla., came 24 hours after authorities had transferred him to Oklahoma City from Kansas, where he had been held as a material witness.
McVeigh, Nichols’ Army buddy, business partner and political compatriot, has been held at the El Reno prison since being charged with the bombing two days after the attack.
Clad in a dingy white T-shirt and rumpled olive-colored pants, Nichols sat hunched over the defense table, answering the magistrate’s questions, “Yes, Your Honor” and “Yes, sir.”
Defense attorneys did not contest prosecutors’ request that Nichols be held until a preliminary hearing next Thursday.
According to the affidavit, investigators found a receipt for the September 1994 purchase of a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from a Kansas farm supply store. The receipt, under the name “Mike Havens,” bears McVeigh’s fingerprint. An additional ton of fertilizer was purchased at the same store the next month by “Mike Havens.”
The affidavit also linked Nichols and McVeigh with storage units rented in Kansas just before the two fertilzer purchases.
The affidavit submitted by agent Henry C. Gibbons also said that on April 15 and 16, Nichols had purchased more than two dozen gallons of diesel fuel from service stations in Manhattan and Junction City, Kan.
James T. Thurman, chief of the FBI explosives laboratory in Washington, concluded in the affidavit that the bomb “would have been constructed over a period of time utilizing a large quantity of bomb paraphernalia,” including fertilizer, fuel oil, boosters, detonators or blasting caps, detonation cord, fusing systems and containers.
Thurman said the bomb “would necessarily have involved the efforts of more than one person.”
Nichols waived his right to remain silent and told the FBI during initial questioning just days after the bombing that he knows how to make a bomb by blending ammonium nitrate with diesel fuel. He said he had ammonium nitrate at his home until April 21, then put it on his lawn as fertilizer after reading in a newspaper that the substance had been used in the Oklahoma City bombing.
According to the affidavit, Nichols also said he met McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City on April 16 and in Junction City on April 18, when he loaned his dark blue pickup truck to McVeigh for about five hours.
A Ryder rental truck was seen behind Nichols’ house on April 17, the affidavit said. A Ryder truck carried the Oklahoma City bomb.
A senior federal official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Nichols admitted during questioning that he had helped bring the Ryder truck from Kansas to Oklahoma City.