FBI finds explosives on Nichols property
Associated Press| April 2, 2005
WASHINGTON — FBI agents searching the former Kansas home of convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols have found blasting caps and other explosive materials apparently related to the 1995 attack.
The material was found buried in a crawl space of the house in Herington, Kan., FBI officials said Friday. The crawl space wasn't checked during numerous searches of the property when authorities originally investigated Nichols and Timothy McVeigh.
“The information so far indicates the items have been there since prior to the Oklahoma City bombing,” agent Gary Johnson said in a telephone interview from Oklahoma City.
The discovery, just three weeks from the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 persons, was considered likely to prove a new embarrassment to an FBI already burned by missteps in this case and the period before Sept. 11, 2001.
Nichols, who is serving multiple life prison sentences on federal and state charges, hasn't lived at the property for years. FBI officials said the information that led to the discovery indicated Nichols had buried the evidence before the Oklahoma City attack on April 19, 1995.
One of Nichols' attorneys said Friday that the discovery was either a hoax or a major failure by the FBI to find all evidence after searching the home numerous times.
“They were there often,” said lawyer Brian Hermanson, who represented Nichols in last year's Oklahoma state murder trial that ended with Nichols' conviction. “It's surprising. I would think they would have done their job and found everything that was there.
“But I'm still suspicious that it could be something planted there. The house was empty for several years, and if somebody wanted to put something there to incriminate Terry, they had plenty of time to have done it.”
Dan Defenbaugh, the retired FBI agent who ran the Oklahoma City investigation, said he was dismayed that his agency might have missed the evidence.
Johnson said the FBI was still searching the property and trying to determine how the explosive materials might be connected to the bombing and how the information came to light.
FBI agents went to the property Thursday night and then summoned a bomb squad after finding the potentially dangerous materials, spokesman Jeff Lanza said.
— The Associated Press