On this day in 1995

A disaffected young man four days away from his 27th birthday detonated a 7,000 lb bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Government building in Oklahoma City.

168 people aged from 3 months to 73 years of age died. Most of the 19 children killed were attending the day care facility in the building.

The perpetrator was captured, tried and executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.

Author: Low Wattage

Expat Welshman, educated (somewhat) in UK, left before it became fashionable to do so. Now a U.S. Citizen, and recent widower, playing with retirement and house remodeling, living in Delaware and rural Maryland (weekends).

22 thoughts on “On this day in 1995”

  1. A terrible terrible event

    Field of Empty Chairs: 168 empty chairs hand-crafted from glass, bronze, and stone represent those who lost their lives in the tragedy. A bombing victim’s name is etched in the glass base of each chair. The chairs represent the empty chairs at the dinner tables of the victim’s family. The chairs are arranged in nine rows symbolizing the nine floors of the building, and each person’s chair is on the row (or the floor) on which the person worked or was visiting when the bomb went off. The chairs are also grouped according to the blast pattern, with the most chairs nearest the most heavily damaged portion of the building. The westernmost column of five chairs represents the five people who died but were not in the Murrah Building when the bomb went off (two in the Water Resources Board building, one in the Athenian Building, one outside near the building, and one rescuer). The 19 smaller chairs represent the children killed in the bombing. Three unborn children died along with their mothers, and they are listed on their mothers’ chairs beneath their mothers’ names.

    From Wiki

  2. LW – Your last paragraph indicates a satisfactory outcome, albeit one effected long after Neddie was miles beyond the stable door.


  3. Soutie: Thank you.

    O Zangado: Welcome back. Yes you are right, the home grown ones seem harder to detect, and it now seems there is a whole herd running loose.

  4. I had forgotten about this. It seems like there are so many crazies in our country that events like this are re-enacted over and over. Perhaps not in such large numbers but with similar intent. And I’m sorry, OZ, but I don’t think the life of one madman equals the lives of 168 people.

  5. Jamieatdnmt . Fair point, but at least the next 168 (and who knows how many more?) are now safe from Timothy McVeigh and his ilk.


  6. Jaime

    Who has suggested that “the life of one madman equals the lives of 168 people?” Certainly no one here. If you’re against the death penalty say so, but the punishment wasn’t an act of balancing the books but justice, American justice.

  7. If the perpetrator of this atrocity were truly a madman, then he would not have been convicted here, where the English Legal system requires, I believe a “mens rea”. I have no idea if this is a requirement under US law but in my opinion it should be.

  8. I am against the death penalty.
    Interestingly, I have just reached the chapter in Kate Adie’s autobiography where she is covering the widespread reintroduction of the death penalty in the US under Reagan. She says she has seen people blown to bits but visiting a place where there were people on death row and being given the guided tour, literally turned her stomach. she had to rush outside where she was violently sick. Seems a civilised reaction to me.

  9. O Zangado :

    Fair point, but at least the next 168 (and who knows how many more?) are now safe from Timothy McVeigh and his ilk.

    OZ – if McVeigh had been imprisoned for life (as I believe he should have been) then there would have been no ‘next 168’ at risk from him. And killing McVeigh will not stop someone else murdering another 168 – or more.

    I do not believe in the death penalty – murder is murder whether it is carried out by an individual or the State.

  10. Have to agree Boa. To the best of my knowledge, there has only ever been one recorded account of someone coming back from the dead and that was only circumstantial evidence. Far too many have been executed on flimsy evidence. Life should mean life, no parole!

  11. Tocino – I agree, but then I would wouldn’t I? 🙂 Life is not a twelve year sentence in comfy surroundings…

  12. Araminta: As I understand it, legal insanity in the US is based on whether or not the person understands that what he or she has done is a crime. The accused must have a sense of morality as well as reality. In other words, you can be a psychopath and still be legally sane, if you understand the consequences of your actions. At least that is my very limited understanding of it. And of course the courts are affected by whether or not the alleged criminal feels remorse over his or her act. But I’m not a lawyer, and I didn’t follow the details of this particular trial, so I can’t really explain to you how or why he was given the death penalty. To me, anyone who bombs a building full of people falls under the category of psychopath, or madman. But again, I am neither a lawyer nor a psychologist. You’ll have to allow for my sloppy categorizing of things.

    Soutie: You might want to read the comments again. OZ’s comment that “Your last paragraph indicates a satisfactory outcome” implies that there was some balance achieved by executing McVeigh. My comment had nothing to do with the death penalty or my stance toward it pro or con. Abd OZ understood what I meant. If you want to know my stance on the death penalty I’m happy to give it but it wasn’t part of the logic of my comment.

    Primarilyl, my comment was really sharing a moment with Low Wattage about the regrettable amount of violence in the US.

  13. Boadicea – Your #12 comment noted, but in the continued absence of a “life” sentence meaning exactly that with the continued rise of “human rights” lawyers spending public funds fighting for the “rights” of the perpetrator rather that the victim, then the death penalty removes any argument. I still have serious doubts about the “deterrence effect” theory, though.


  14. Jaime; your understanding tallies with my opinion, which is what I suspected. I am not a lawyer either but it is a fundamental concept of the English legal system.

    In practice, anyone who has committed such a crime, and declared insane, would never be free to attempt this again, or so I would hope. I do not agree with the death penalty by the way.

  15. The post was intended to be a reminder to us all of the 168 innocent people who died on this day. The perpetrator was deliberately not named by me. He had his fifteen minutes of fame, back in 1995 and that was much more than he deserved. He more than earned his sentence, one of about 100 per year handed down in the whole country and became one of less than 50 where it was carried out. I will not be losing any sleep over his demise, however it came about.

  16. Just as an FYI: the legal systems, how legal insanity is determined and the death penalty vary from state to state. As of 2008, 37 states have the death penalty; 13 and Washington, D.C. do not (Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). One of the death penalty states, Nevada, lacks the death penalty out of default. Electrocution was their method and that was banned by the Supreme Court, leaving the state with a death penalty but no way to enforce it.

    I believe that there are people who are irredeemable and whose minds are darker than the grave. People who are incapable of shedding their violent impulses or existing within society without causing pain and death. What to do about them is a large question, but I cannot say that I am against the death penalty.

  17. Araminta :

    In practice, anyone who has committed such a crime, and declared insane, would never be free to attempt this again, or so I would hope. I do not agree with the death penalty by the way.

    Unfortunately, Araminta, you are wrong. I knew someone who worked at Rampton, a prison for the criminally insane. He knew of several cases where the psychs had deemed a prisoner ‘cured’. They were released, and committed another horrific crime almost immediately. He also claimed that, since these people were never brought to trial, there was often a ‘cover up’ of their release, their crime, and their re-detainment.

  18. Boadicea: I have a friend who is a psychiatrist who works in a similar establishment and yes, it does happen, hence my qualified statement, but it is not the norm. It happens yes.

    My point was rather that here in the UK, but not necessarily in the US, insanity, especially in such circumstances leads to life, in the majority of cases. The “sane”, tend to be released earlier.

  19. Another situation for the well trotted out line of-
    The only good one is a dead one!
    And the sooner the better. Only 6 years before they offed him, v speedy by US standards!
    I believe in the death penalty and as the world is so overcrowded then a few more offences ought to carry it as a penalty. Think of the savings in federal taxes.
    Being insane alone without doing anything ought to qualify, no use to man nor beast!

    never mind, they soon will do it via the soylent green scenario!

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