This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=michael_william_brescia_1
The “Aryan Republican Army” (ARA) commits at least 22 bank robberies across America’s Midwest. The ARA is modeled after the violent white supremacist organization The Order (see Late September 1983), which had funded itself primarily through robbing armored trucks. For a time, the group’s headquarters is in Elohim City, Oklahoma (see 1973 and After). The ARA’s leaders claim to be dedicated to the “overthrow of the US government, the extermination of American Jews, and the establishment of an Aryan Republic” on the North American continent. Members are required to read the infamous Turner Diaries (see 1978), a novel depicting the overthrow of the US government by white separatists and the genocide of minorities. The robberies in all secure between $250,000 and $500,000 for the group.
Robbery Spree - During the height of their robbery spree, ARA members target a bank about once a month, hitting banks and financial institutions in Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, and Kentucky. Sometimes the robbers dress like construction workers and flee in junk cars bought specifically for the escape. Sometimes they leave fake bombs and smoke grenades to delay pursuit; sometimes they speak in foreign languages to confuse authorities. In a December 1994 heist, one robber wears a Santa Claus suit, shouts “Ho, ho, ho!” to customers, and leaves a bomb tucked in a Santa hat. During a March 1995 robbery, the robbers leave a pipe bomb in an Easter basket. On one occasion the robbers leave a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the ashtray of an abandoned getaway car. Sometimes they wear caps or bandannas bearing the logos of the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). On another occasion the robbers buy a getaway car, a Ford Fairlane, in the name of a retired FBI agent who had worked white supremacist cases in the Northwest; on the front seat of this car they leave an article about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). When FBI agent Jim Nelson takes his speculations about the ARA public, group members send letters to several Midwestern newspapers mocking him and calling themselves the “Mid-Western Bank Bandits.”
Arrests and Convictions - By late 1995, federal and state authorities will arrest most ARA members; ARA leader Peter Kevin Langan will be convicted on multiple charges of bank robbery, and another ARA leader, Richard Guthrie, will commit suicide in prison after cooperating with authorities. Michael William Brescia and Kevin William McCarthy also cooperate with authorities in return for reduced sentences. Others convicted include Mark William Thomas and Scott Stedeford.
Promotional Video Gives Principles - In a two-hour promotional video made in January 1995 and called “The Armed Struggle Underground,” Langan, calling himself “Commander Pedro,” appears in a ski mask alongside others in fatigues brandishing weapons and fistfuls of cash. In the video, Langan says: “Our basic goal is to set up an Aryan republic.… Don’t mistake us for cultists. We, ladies and gentlemen, are your neighbors.” Langan also says the ARA supports “ethnic cleansing” similar to what the Serbians are carrying out in Kosovo. Another ARA member tells viewers that ARA intends to declare war on the American government and promises a “courthouse massacre.” In the video, ARA members state their principles: all racial minorities are subhuman, Jews are “Satan’s spawn,” whites of northern European descent are “chosen people,” and a United Nations-led “New World Order” (see September 11, 1990) threatens freedom in the United States. (Slobodzian and Fazlollah 2/4/1997; Anti-Defamation League 8/9/2002; Nicole Nichols 2003; Nicole Nichols 2003; New American 11/28/2005)
Oklahoma City Bomber a Member - In 2001, the FBI will state that McVeigh was an ARA member. It is possible that money “laundered” by him shortly before the bombing (see November 1994) came from an ARA bank robbery. (Nicole Nichols 2003)
Carole (or Carol) Howe, a former college student who became involved with a number of white supremacists and anti-government radicals at Elohim City, Oklahoma (see 1973 and After), allegedly gives federal agents repeated warnings about a bombing planned for Oklahoma City (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995). Howe left Tulsa Metro Christian Academy after falling in with local “skinheads,” and became romantically involved with Dennis Mahon, a former Ku Klux Klan member, the leader of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) organization, and the purveyor of Tulsa’s Dial-a-Racist telephone line. Mahon, 46, later says he became involved with Howe because she wrote him a letter in the spring of 1993 after calling his telephone line, claiming “she was 23, pure Aryan, considered beautiful, and wanted to fight for her race and culture. So, hey, I sent her some tapes.” Mahon will say that he considered Howe brilliantly intelligent and well-spoken, and wanted to make her a movement spokesperson: “I was going to get her on Oprah. Most of our women are not very intelligent. All they can say is ‘n_gger this’ and ‘n_gger that.’ She could have been our Aryan spokeswoman.” Mahon began taking her to Elohim City. The relationship had soured by the summer of 1994, and in August 1994, after filing a restraining order against Mahon, Howe was recruited as an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). In a letter to her parents explaining her decision to work for the government, she says: “I don’t like America as she is today. But I don’t think she is past saving. And if there’s something I can do to help this country realize a glimmer of her potential greatness, then I must do it. These people intend to start a war here within the next few years. They have the power, means, and support to do it. This war would especially devastate America.” Between August 1994 and March 1995, Howe supplies the BATF with 38 audiotapes’ worth of surveillance. She tells her handler that Elohim City leader Robert Millar is spoiling for a new revolution, and repeatedly gives sermons preaching violence against the US government, particularly the BATF. He says that the group will expand its influence throughout the Midwest, and other militia groups will unite with the Elohim City forces to contend with the government. She is briefly deactivated after an apparent suicide attempt, but will be reactivated after the bombing, when she says the sketch of the “John Doe No. 2” suspect (see April 20, 1995) resembles one of the Elohom City residents, probably neo-Nazi Andreas Strassmeir. The day after the April 19, 1995 bombing, Howe will tell a reporter that she warned the BATF that Strassmeir and Michael Brescia (see 1992 - 1995) had “cased” the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in preparation for the bombing (see November 1994). She will also claim to have told her handler, BATF agent Angela Finley, about the Elohim community’s preparations for a much larger assault, perhaps as a prelude to the long-anticipated “race war” they had so often predicted. Government sources will say Howe made no warnings until after the bombing, when she tells federal agents of Mahon’s and Strassmeir’s plans. After the bombing, her information will consist largely of reporting on the Elohim residents’ attempts to lock down their own alibis. Howe will say that she saw accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) at the compound, then withdraw that claim. Federal agents will consider her answers speculative and lacking in evidence, though reports by some BATF and FBI agents may contradict that assessment. Mahon will later say that Howe attempted to entrap others at the Elohim City compound into committing illegal acts, apparently alluding to his suspicion that she was an informant. In March 1995, the BATF releases Howe as an informant, saying she is erratic and unreliable, though some reports indicate that she may serve as an informant well into 1996. (Graff, Cole, and Shannon 2/24/1997; Serrano 1998, pp. 267-268; Nicole Nichols 2003; Nicole Nichols 2003; Nicole Nichols 2003)
Law professor Douglas O. Linder will later use a book by two death-row inmates, Secrets Worth Dying For by David Hammer and Jeffrey Paul, to claim that a number of white supremacists from the Aryan Republican Army (ARA—see 1992 - 1995, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, and November 1994) and Elohim City (see November 1994 and April 5, 1995) may help Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see September 13, 1994, October 20, 1994, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) construct his bomb at this time. Hammer and Paul will write their book after spending time in the Florence, Colorado, “Supermax” prison with McVeigh (see June 2, 1997). Linder himself will say that the claims lend themselves to dispute, as the trial record does no more than “hint at th[e] possibility” of someone besides McVeigh and his co-conspirator Terry Nichols (see March 24, 1988 - Late 1990, December 22 or 23, 1988, October 12, 1993 - January 1994, and February - July 1994) being involved in the bomb construction, and “[a]ny book written by convicted death row inmates raises credibility concerns.” However, Linder says other evidence gives the Hammer and Paul claims at least some credibility.
McVeigh Receives Help in Building Bomb? - According to the authors and Linder, ARA members, possibly including a bomb expert McVeigh will later call “Poindexter” (see March 1995), join McVeigh in early April to work on the bomb. The men probably camp at Geary Lake, where on April 14 McVeigh meets with Nichols to receive some cash (see April 13, 1995). This same evening, a Junction City pizza delivery man brings a pizza to Room 25 of the Dreamland Motel, where he gives it to a man identifying himself as “Bob Kling,” an alias used by McVeigh (see Mid-March, 1995) to rent the Ryder truck used to deliver the bomb (see April 15, 1995). The delivery man later tells an FBI interviewer that “Kling” is not McVeigh. Linder, via Hammer and Paul, will say that the man who takes the pizza “was, most likely, ARA member Scott Stedeford.” Linder, drawing on Hammer and Paul’s material as well as his own research, believes that McVeigh, Nichols, and, “probably,” the never-identified “John Doe No.2” (see April 15, 1995 and and April 20, 1995) drive to Oklahoma City (see April 16-17, 1995), with McVeigh and “Doe” in McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis (see April 13, 1995) and Nichols in his pickup truck. McVeigh parks the Marquis in a parking lot near the Murrah Building, and all three ride back to the Dreamland Motel in Nichols’s truck. McVeigh leaves Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City with a Ryder truck on April 17 (see 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. April 17, 1995), after renting it under the name “Robert Kling” and telling the employees he plans on using it for a four-day trip to Omaha.
Conflicting Stories - At this point, Linder will write, the accounts of what happens become quite divergent. McVeigh leaves for his storage locker in Herington, Kansas, either alone or in the company of Elohim City resident Michael Brescia (see April 8, 1995). At the Herington storage facility, McVeigh, perhaps in the company of Brescia, meets either Nichols or “Poindexter.” (In their book, Hammer and Paul will quote McVeigh as saying Nichols is “a no-show” at the locker, and complaining, “He and Mike [Fortier] were men who liked to talk tough, but in the end their b_tches and kids ruled.”) McVeigh and his partners load bags of fuses and drums of nitromethane into the Ryder truck. In his authorized biography American Terrorist by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, McVeigh will claim that he and Nichols also load bags of fertilizer into the truck, and he and Nichols finish constructing the bomb at Geary Park on the morning of April 18 (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). McVeigh, according to Michel and Herbeck, drives by himself towards Oklahoma City in the Ryder truck, parking for the night near Ponca City and sleeping in the cab. Hammer and Paul will tell a different story. They will claim that the fertilizer is loaded into a “decoy” truck and then two trucks, not one, drive to Oklahoma City. In their version of events, the bomb is finished on the night of April 18 in a warehouse in Oklahoma City by McVeigh, Poindexter, and ARA member Richard Guthrie. After the bomb is completed, according to Hammer and Paul, Guthrie or another ARA member kills Poindexter by cutting his throat; the explanation to McVeigh is, “Soldier, he was only hired help, not one of us.” (Linder will admit that Hammer and Paul’s version of events is “sensational” and may not be entirely reliable.) FBI interviews will later include a couple who own a diner in Herington recalling McVeigh, Nichols, and a third, unidentified man having breakfast in their restaurant on the morning of April 18 (see 8:00 a.m. April 18, 1995). Witnesses will recall seeing a Ryder truck and a pickup truck at Geary Lake later this morning. This afternoon, a hair salon owner sees McVeigh and an unidentified companion enter their business and attempt to get haircuts (see April 18, 1995). Owners of a steakhouse in Perry, Oklahoma, will tell FBI investigators that they see McVeigh and “a stocky companion” eat dinner in their restaurant around 7 p.m. this evening. Linder will conclude, “We might never know exactly who assisted McVeigh in the 24 hours leading up to the dreadful events of April 19, but the McVeigh-and-McVeigh-alone theory, and the McVeigh-and-just-Nichols theory, both seem to stretch credulity.” (Douglas O. Linder 2006)
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), in the company of two self-avowed white supremacists, Andreas Strassmeir and Michael Brescia of the white supremacist compound Elohim City, Oklahoma (see 1973 and After and April 5, 1995), allegedly goes to a strip club, Lady Godiva’s, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While he is at the club, he tells one of the strippers, “I am a very smart man.” She responds, “You are?” and McVeigh replies: “Yes I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life” (see March 1995). A number of eyewitnesses will later place McVeigh in the strip club this evening. (Douglas O. Linder 2001; Nicole Nichols 2003) Brescia is a member of the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a group with which McVeigh has some ties (see 1992 - 1995). Security cameras apparently record McVeigh’s conversation with the stripper. (Douglas O. Linder 2006) The source of this story is private investigator J.D. Cash, who sometime after the bombing will launch his own investigation to prove that McVeigh acted as part of a much larger conspiracy (see June 30, 1997). Cash will produce a videotape taken from a security camera to prove his allegation, but the audio quality is poor; it will be difficult to discern whether the man in the tape says “April 19, 1995” or just “April 1995.” The dancer will insist that McVeigh is the man she spoke to, but the contention does not match with documented evidence of McVeigh’s movements; McVeigh was staying at the Imperial Motel in Kingman, Arizona, on March 31 (see March 31 - April 12, 1995) and on April 7, one day before his alleged appearance at the strip club, he paid for another five days at the motel. A maid at the Imperial will later tell investigators that she saw McVeigh every day during that time period, and that his blue Pontiac never left the parking lot. (Serrano 1998, pp. 267)
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995) wakes up near Ponca City, Oklahoma (see Noon and After, April 18, 1995), and at about 7:00 a.m. begins driving toward Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck (see April 15, 1995) containing a massive fertilizer bomb (see 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). McVeigh will later tell authors Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, who will write his authorized biography American Terrorist, that he has cold spaghetti for breakfast. “Meals ready to eat… are meant for high intensity. I knew I was going through a firestorm and I would need the energy,” he will say. He will tell the authors that he made an “executive decision” to move up the timing of the blast several hours; he will also tell them that he drives to Oklahoma City alone. He wears a T-shirt with a drawing of Abraham Lincoln in a “Wanted” poster and the words (shouted by John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin) “SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS” (“thus ever to tyrants”); the shirt also features the Thomas Jefferson quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” and a picture of a tree dripping with blood. McVeigh takes Interstate 35 to Interstate 40 to Interstate 235, and takes the Harrison/Fourth Street exit. According to Mike Moroz, a service manager at Jerry’s Tire in downtown Oklahoma City, two men in a large Ryder truck stop between 8:25 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. to ask directions to Fifth and Harvey Streets, the location of the Murrah Building. Moroz will later identify the two men as McVeigh and an as-yet unidentified man, shorter, darker-skinned, and wearing a baseball cap; he later tells a USA Today reporter that McVeigh gets out of the driver’s side of the cab and walks over to speak with him, while the other man remains in the cab. Moroz’s version of events will remain unverified. (PBS Frontline 1/22/1996; Eddy et al. 6/3/1997; Thomas 6/3/1997; Douglas O. Linder 2001; Douglas O. Linder 2006) Three witnesses later say they see McVeigh near the Murrah Building around 8:40 a.m. (PBS Frontline 1/22/1996)
Alternate Versions of Events - An alternate version of events has McVeigh traveling to Oklahoma City with white supremacist Michael Brescia (see (April 1) - April 18, 1995 and April 8, 1995) in the passenger seat, which would explain why Moroz sees McVeigh and another man with him. And another version of events is later given by Ed Kirkpatrick, a local structural engineer, who will claim to see McVeigh and “a white guy” in his thirties or forties meeting a Middle Eastern man at a downtown McDonald’s around 8:30 a.m. According to Kirkpatrick, McVeigh sends the white man for coffee while he talks to the Middle Eastern man sitting in a Dodge Dynasty with a blue tag. The white man becomes upset, Kirkpatrick will say, and McVeigh leaves him at the McDonald’s. Kirkpatrick says he witnesses the white man throw a .45 handgun into a nearby dumpster. Yet another version of events will be provided by an unnamed mortgage company employee, who says he sees the Ryder truck being followed by a yellow Mercury at Main and Broadway; the employee will claim he sees McVeigh driving the Mercury. This version of events is echoed by a statement given by lawyer James R. Linehan, who will say that he sees McVeigh driving erratically in a battered yellow 1977 Mercury that matches the description of McVeigh’s getaway car (see April 13, 1995), first spotting the Mercury stopped beside him at a red light on the south side of the Murrah Building. He will describe the driver as hunched over the wheel and with his face obscured, either by a hood or by hair (McVeigh’s hair is close-cropped and McVeigh is not wearing a hooded pullover). No one is in the car with him, Linehan will say. The Mercury suddenly “peels out” and runs the red light, Linehan will say, then circles the building, drives around the Murrah Building, and then drives into its underground building. Linehan will remember the car as having no rear license plate. Before the car disappears into the underground parking garage, Linehan gets a better look at the driver, and Linehan will say he has a sharp nose, no facial hair, a sharp chin, and smooth features. Linehan will say that when he sees news footage of McVeigh’s yellow Mercury on television, he leaps to his feet, points at the TV screen, and yells: “That’s the car! That’s the car!” (Stickney 1996, pp. 251; PBS Frontline 1/22/1996; Douglas O. Linder 2006) Linehan’s version of events will be reported by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard A. Serrano in an August 1995 story. Linehan will be interviewed by the FBI, but will not testify before the grand jury investigating the bombing. He will also be interviewed by lawyers representing McVeigh. (Stickney 1996, pp. 251-252)
Law enforcement authorities call off the search for the so-called “John Doe No. 2,” believed to be another person involved in the Oklahoma City bombing (see 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995 and April 20, 1995). Officials say the sketch identifying the man is of an innocent person. The sketch has been “enhanced” twice to further aid in identification. (Douglas O. Linder 2001; Indianapolis Star 2003) Government prosecutors say that the person believed to be depicted in the sketches is Todd David Bunting, an Army private from Fort Riley, Kansas; they say that Bunting has no connections to McVeigh or the bombing. A witness has told the FBI that he saw Bunting at Elliott’s Body Shop, a truck rental agency in Junction City, Kansas, on April 17, two days before the blast, either in the company of accused bomber Timothy McVeigh (see April 21, 1995 and April 24, 1995) or standing close to him while McVeigh rented the Ryder truck used in the bombing (see 5:00 a.m. April 18, 1995 and 8:15 a.m. and After, April 18, 1995). Authorities now believe that Bunting was at the rental shop on April 16, the day before McVeigh’s visit, or perhaps April 18, the day after. The FBI releases a statement that says in part: “That individual… resembles the sketch previously circulated as the second of two men who rented the truck on April 17 and who has been called John Doe No. 2.… [The FBI] has determined that individual who has been interviewed was not connected to the bombing.” Some investigators believe that the witness, the rental agent at the shop, became confused under pressure from investigators to recall the details of the second man he says he saw with McVeigh. (Johnston 6/14/1995; Mickolus and Simmons 6/1997, pp. 811; The Oklahoman 4/2009) Bunting will later say that it is his face depicted in the composite sketches of “John Doe No. 2.” (Thomas 12/3/1995) He closely resembles the sketch, and has a Carolina Panthers baseball cap with lightning strikes down the sides, much like the cap Doe No. 2 was said to wear. He even has a tattoo on his right arm where one witness said Doe No. 2 has a tattoo. The press learns of the Bunting identification before the FBI can hold an official press conference announcing its findings, and reporters trek to Timmonsville, South Carolina, where Bunting is attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, to interivew him; some reporters even barge into the funeral home. Bunting will later stand before cameras and reporters in a press conference held in Fort Riley, where he says he was at Elliott’s Body Shop in the company of another man, Sergeant Michael Hertig, to rent a truck and pack up his belongings to transfer to Fort Benning. He talks of the FBI’s questioning of him, and of the chill he felt when he learned he was being connected to the bombing, however tenuously. Author Richard A. Serrano will later write that after repeated humiliating press reports of false identifications of Doe No. 2 (see April 20, 1995 and May 1-2, 1995), the FBI wants the problems of Doe No. 2 to “go away… dissolve from the nation’s consciousness.” Serrano will suggest that agents deliberately found an innocent man, Bunting, who bears a strong resemblance to the sketch, and decided to use him to end the speculation. If true, the FBI’s efforts will be fruitless: the speculation will continue for years, with a Web site, “John Doe Times,” posted by an Alabama militiaman, hosting anti-government postings and criticism of the ongoing investigation. The far-right “Spotlight” newsletter will say in 1996 that federal agents had employed “dupes” to bomb the Murrah Building, and that McVeigh and Doe No. 2 were mere patsies. The newsletter will claim that Doe No. 2, a government provocateur, lives in hiding on an Indian reservation in upstate New York. Others will speculate that Doe No. 2 is white supremacist Michael Brescia (see August 1994 - March 1995, (April 1) - April 18, 1995, April 8, 1995, and 8:35 a.m. - 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995), who bears a close resemblance to the sketch. Brescia later pleads guilty to crimes unrelated to the bombing and will deny any involvement. (Serrano 1998, pp. 265-266) Author Nicole Nichols, an expert in right-wing domestic terrorism unrelated to accused co-conspirator Terry Nichols, will later speculate that Doe No. 2 is actually Andreas Strassmeir, a gun aficianado and member of the militaristic Elohim City compound along with Brescia (see 1973 and After). Press reports later state that McVeigh denies any involvement by Strassmeir (see February 28 - March 4, 1997). Prosecutors will later reiterate that Bunting is “John Doe No. 2” and reiterate that he has no connection to the bombing (see January 29, 1997).
Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike