Victim relatives watch, react

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 11, 2001

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY – The scene was quiet and respectful Monday as more than 200 survivors and victim relatives watched as Timothy McVeigh was put to death for blowing up the Alfred P.

Monday, June 11, 2001

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The scene was quiet and respectful Monday as more than 200 survivors and victim relatives watched as Timothy McVeigh was put to death for blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Kathleen Treanor, whose 4-year-old daughter, Ashley Eckles, died along with Treanor’s mother- and father-in-law, said there were no expressions of emotions during a closed-circuit telecast.

The telecast of the execution was shown to 232 survivors and family members at the Federal Transfer Center, where a wide-screen television was set up.

Larry Whicher, whose 40-year-old brother, Alan, was killed, said he was shocked when the blank screen suddenly showed McVeigh.

”He stared directly into that video camera, and the stare said volumes,” Whicher said.

”I think Alan would be pleased, not with the death of Timothy McVeigh but at the toughness and fairness that this nation has shown as a whole.”

Treanor carried a photo of Ashley and said she thought of her daughter ”every second of the way.”

”This is a completion of justice, and that’s what I’ll remember about today,” Treanor said.

She said she felt for McVeigh’s father, Bill McVeigh, because ”he has lost his son and I know the pain he must be feeling today.”

Attorney General John Ashcroft, who authorized the closed-circuit telecast, was in Oklahoma City when Timothy McVeigh was put to death, a government official said. Ashcroft did not watch the telecast, but wanted to be in Oklahoma City to be with the families of the bombing victims, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At the site of the bombing, now a memorial, there were prayers and the bitter knowledge that ”it still hurts.” No official announcement of McVeigh’s death was made. People heard it from radio, or gathered around a small battery-powered television. Many then began to slowly leave.

Janice Smith, whose brother Lanny Scroggins died in the April 19, 1995, bombing, prayed with her children at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, then left after getting word at 7:14 CDT a.m. that McVeigh was dead at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

”It’s over,” she said. ”We don’t have to continue with him anymore.”

Renee Findley, whose friend 41-year-old Teresa Lauderdale was killed, stood at the memorial with Lauderdale’s parents, John and Gloria Taylor.

”There’s some relief, but it really doesn’t change anything,” Findley said. ”It still hurts.”

Said John Taylor, ”We will hurt tomorrow just as we did yesterday.”

Earlier, a silent vigil began without fanfare – 168 minutes, one minute for each victim. Lynne Gist, whose 32-year-old sister, Karen Gist Carr, died in the bombing, broke into sobs as she knelt at the memorial.

At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, near the memorial, death penalty protesters gathered at the ”Jesus Weeps” statue, held hands and recited the Lord’s prayer when it was announced McVeigh was dead.

”The U.S. government has chosen to be on the wrong side of history today,” said Kevin Acers, president of the Oklahoma City chapter of Amnesty International. He said what McVeigh did was a catastrophe, but his death ”accomplishes little or nothing.”

McVeigh packed his rage against the government inside a Ryder truck. He lit the fuse on his ammonium nitrate bomb, parked the truck outside the glass-fronted Murrah building and made his escape, leaving Oklahoma City to deal with the horror of its detonation.

Nineteen children in the building’s day care center were among those killed when the bomb sheared the face from all nine floors.

”It is definitely time for Mr. McVeigh to go,” Martha Ridley, who lost her 24-year-old daughter, Kathy, said as she awaited the telecast. ”And the only thing I’m going to say after that is, ‘Good, I’m glad he’s gone.’