McVeigh, Nichols phone records linked to bomb parts Chemical, fertilizer firms, explosives makers called

March 21, 1997|By KANSAS CITY STAR

Telephone records of Oklahoma City bombing suspects Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols reveal that dozens of calls were made before the blast to Kansas and Missouri chemical and fertilizer dealers, explosives manufacturers and companies that supply racing fuel.

The FBI records -- roughly the size of a small-city telephone directory -- detail more than 2,000 calls and provide the first glimpse into how the government built its case by tracing events leading up to the April 19, 1995, explosion.

Prosecutors are likely to use the phone records to bolster their theory that McVeigh and Nichols planned the act together. The sequence of calls appears to parallel the government's allegations. However, defense attorneys said one issue at their trials will be proving who actually made the calls.

"I'm forbidden to comment on their [the records'] reliability," Michael Tigar, Nichols' attorney, said yesterday. But he added: "The calls that have become public knowledge that can be lTC attributed to Terry Nichols have to do with his business in trading military surplus."

Tigar declined to comment further, noting that the judge has issued a gag order in the case. McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones, also declined to comment.

Federal indictments against Nichols and McVeigh allege the men bought explosives and fertilizer during the months the phone calls were made. Authorities think the components included about two dozen 55-gallon barrels filled with a volatile mixture of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel.

"It was barrels they [the callers] were looking for," said Gina King, an employee of Container Recycling Inc. in Kansas City, Kan.

The records are compilations of phone calls subpoenaed by the FBI and obtained by the Kansas City Star. They include calls charged to a prepaid calling card in the phony name of Daryl Bridges.

According to the federal indictment, the calling card was shared by McVeigh and Nichols. The card was issued by the Spotlight, a far-right political publication.

Records also reflect calls made and received by Michael Fortier, a former Army buddy of McVeigh's who has pleaded guilty to knowing about the bombing plot. Fortier will testify against McVeigh and Nichols as part of a plea agreement.

McVeigh's trial is scheduled to begin March 31. Nichols will be tried later.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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