McVeigh records found in Md. prompt new search of FBI files

Material found last week includes information on alleged co-conspirators

May 15, 2001|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - A second batch of undisclosed records in the Oklahoma City bombing has been found in Baltimore, sources said yesterday, prompting the FBI to send out a worldwide directive ordering all bureau field offices and attaches to comb their files for any more documents that might not have been turned over to lawyers for Timothy J. McVeigh.

Meanwhile, new details emerged about the contents of more than 3,000 pages of documents found last week - witness statements and photographs relating to a mysterious character known as Robert Jacques, as well as surveillance tapes of sightings of "John Doe No. 2," an alleged Mc- Veigh co-conspirator.

Although the government later discounted the existence of either figure, rumors about their alleged association with McVeigh spawned endless theories of conspiracies and government cover-ups in what became the largest investigation in FBI history.

Federal officials found 3,135 pages of undisclosed material last week after collecting it from dozens of field offices around the country. After turning the documents over to lawyers for McVeigh and his convicted co-conspirator, Terry L. Nichols, seven additional documents turned up late last week in the Baltimore office, sources said yesterday. The documents were expected to be delivered to defense attorneys yesterday.

Like the materials found in other offices, the Baltimore documents were discounted by government sources, who said they have no relevance to McVeigh's guilt or innocence. Baltimore was one of dozens of FBI field offices involved in interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.

In issuing its sweeping order yesterday, the FBI sought to ensure that no additional materials will surface that should have long ago been shared with the defense.

"Everybody is checking again. The whole bureau today," said an FBI source, one of several government sources who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigation. "Everybody is going through everything again."

A Department of Justice official said authorities fear that if more material is belatedly found after this latest search, it would be all the more embarrassing to federal law enforcement.

"We certainly want all the information that is available," the official said. "We want all the information that's out there."

The Oklahoma City bombing on April, 19, 1995, was the largest terrorist attack in the United States, killing 168 people and injuring more than 500.

In the larger cache of FBI documents found last week, references to a Robert Jacques - whose last name also was sometimes spelled "Jacquez" - crop up several times, sources said.

Shortly after the bombing, a southwestern Missouri real estate broker told the FBI that three men came to his office wishing to buy secluded property that was "in the middle of nowhere." He said they told him they wanted some land with caves.

This was in November 1994, just before McVeigh and Nichols began stockpiling materials for the bomb.

The broker, William Maloney, said that two of the men fit the descriptions of McVeigh and Nichols, and he recalled that the third figure, who said his name was Robert Jacques, "did most of the talking."

But the government was never able to prove that the visitors were actually McVeigh and Nichols, or that Jacques ever existed.

Sources said the other material included photographs of people resembling Jacques. Also in the files, sources said, was information about the so-called John Doe No. 2.

Employees at the Ryder store, where McVeigh rented the truck to carry the Oklahoma City bomb, insisted that McVeigh was with a second man. That man was never found, but an FBI sketch of him was circulated nationwide.

The government later insisted that the Ryder employees were mistaken and that McVeigh had been alone, but the sightings of John Doe No. 2 persisted nonetheless.

Also in the files are surveillance tapes of John Doe No. 2 look-alikes, as well as statements from people who claimed to have seen him, sources said.

Defense lawyers are reviewing the newly disclosed materials and determining how to proceed. With McVeigh's cooperation, they are likely to ask a federal judge for more time to study the documents.

McVeigh was to have been executed tomorrow. But after the FBI files foul-up, Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed the execution until June 11.

While defense attorneys say 30 days is not long enough to review the materials, Ashcroft has said that he will not grant another postponement.

"The attorney general has been very generous with the time he's allowed," said an Ashcroft aide. "He thought it was a reasonable amount of time, and he's not going to delay it past the date he set. If McVeigh wants to push it, I'm sure he'll fight it in court."

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