- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Mass murderer Timothy McVeigh gorged himself with ice cream and went silently to his death yesterday without offering remorse or consolation for victims of his Oklahoma City terror attack.
McVeigh, 33, died without apparent pain at 7:14 a.m. local time, lying on the surgical table wrapped in a bedsheet up to his armpits.
His dead eyes, still open, stared up into the television camera that sent an uncomfortably close-up image of the "face of evil" to 232 survivors and family members watching in Oklahoma City, not far from the scene of the crime.
"Pursuant to the sentence of the U.S. District Court … Timothy James McVeigh has been executed by lethal injection," Warden Harley Lappin announced at 7:27 a.m. at an outdoor podium on a drab, rainy morning.
McVeigh parked a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. The bomb killed 168 persons, including 19 preschool children — the deadliest and most costly terrorist attack on American soil.
News leaked out quickly after the execution that the self-declared agnostic who publicly rejected the concept of an afterlife secretly accepted last rites of the Catholic Church, while rejecting a priests company as spiritual adviser.
And instead of speaking his last words, the usually talkative McVeigh relied on a handwritten copy of "Invictus" to portray himself as the unconquered and unafraid "master of my fate."
"My head is bloody, but unbowed," was his oft-used favorite line from the 1875 British poem whose title is Latin for unconquered. Author William Ernest Henley died in 1903 after a lifetime battling near-disabling birth defects.
That image seemed ironic for a man who long ago lost control of his circumstances and was now strapped down in an execution chamber and intubated to receive fatal injections by the government he portrayed as his enemy.
"There has been a reckoning," President Bush declared 90 minutes after Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos pronounced McVeigh dead and listed the federal execution as a homicide under Indiana law.
"May God in his mercy grant peace to all, to the lives that were taken six years ago, to the lives that go on, and to the life that ended today," Mr. Bush said during a personal appearance in the White House briefing room.
"Im elated. It was wonderful for me," said Sue Ashford, who escaped injury at her job in an office across the street. "I didnt want him to draw another breath. Ill breathe cleaner air."
Miss Ashford was among 10 relatives and survivors flown overnight to Terre Haute on a government plane to witness the post-dawn execution.
"I really wanted him to say something. If a person speaks, he also gives facial expressions, and you know what hes thinking regardless of his words," said a disappointed Paul Howell, whose daughter, Karan Shepherd, died in the blast.
There was little protest despite forecasts that thousands of demonstrators would descend on Terre Haute. A small and orderly parade was staged before sunset Sunday and a 168-minute candlelight vigil was held on the prison grounds from 4:12 a.m. yesterday until the execution hour.
Sister Helen Prejean, who heads a coalition of groups that oppose capital punishment and is the author of "Dead Man Walking," decried the execution.
"What were doing is basically emulating the behavior of Timothy McVeigh, killing him because he killed other people," she said.
Repairing an electronic problem with the closed-circuit television link to Oklahoma City delayed the execution by about four minutes.
Then U.S. Marshal Frank Anderson got clearance from the Justice Department command center and Mr. Lappin gave the signal, "We are ready."
At that cue, an unseen executioner watching from another room set in motion through an intravenous tube in McVeighs right leg the deadly flow of medicines that kill quickly when used in the dosages and combination employed in execution chambers nationwide.
The prisoners cheeks puffed briefly and he took a deep breath but showed few other signs that he felt the chemicals coursing into his body.
Crocker Stephenson, a media witness from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, marveled at the "remarkably subtle process in which he slipped from life to death" during the injections.
"There was no sign of suffering, no sign of discomfort, no sign of fear," he said of the man whom prison officials said went to his death with cooperation and cordiality toward the warden.
Warden Lappin expended few words in describing McVeighs last night, and said he forgot a few details. Reporters noted that he and U.S. Marshal Anderson often looked away from McVeigh during the execution.
"I anticipated this to be a very difficult thing to do, and it was. I think today my thoughts and prayers are with the many victims of this tragedy in Oklahoma City," Warden Lappin said.
At 1:30 a.m. yesterday McVeigh met Warden Lappin for 30 minutes in the holding cell. The warden explained to him what would happen, including details of the sequential injection of sodium thiopental to sedate him, pancuronium bromide to paralyze the muscles and prevent breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heartbeat.
The former soldier and Bronze Star recipient, who contemplated suicide in 1991 after washing out of tests to join the Green Berets, showed steely-eyed calm during the death watch, sleeping at times, eating a quart of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and watching television before being escorted to the execution chamber.
He still viewed himself as the victor and a prospective martyr to those who share his distrust of the federal government.
"He once told me that in the crudest of terms its 168 to one," said Lou Michel, a co-author of the biography "American Terrorist" and an execution witness invited by McVeigh.
McVeighs body remained in the death house for almost two hours after the execution until a Cadillac hearse arrived with an official escort to take it away, and Dr. Amos said last night she understood he already had been cremated. There was no autopsy, and the destination of his ashes remained a family secret.
"It was hard to believe that McVeigh is actually dead and gone," said Carla Wade, a TV reporter whose father was killed by the bomb.
"Today reminded me of the day of the bombing, kind of surreal when youre part of something that is so huge and part of history," the KATV reporter said during her assignment here.
While his present team of attorneys used McVeighs death as an argument to abolish capital punishment, trial lawyer Stephen Jones of Enid, Okla., continued yesterday to promote his theory that a larger conspiracy was involved.
McVeigh had contradicted that claim, which is the focus of Mr. Jones book "Others Unknown," released in its latest version on May 9, a week before the original execution date.
"Im not trying to say he was innocent. He has exaggerated his guilt to protect others. He played a role, but he was a foot soldier, a mule, not the general," said Mr. Jones, who was estranged from his former client in recent months.
McVeigh denied that theory in letters to several newspapers, including one published Sunday by the Buffalo News.
"For those die-hard conspiracy theorists who will refuse to believe this, I turn the tables and say show me where I needed anyone else. Financing? Logistics? Specialized tech skills? Brainpower? Strategy? … Show me where I needed a dark, mysterious 'Mr. X!" he wrote.
Except for the daily Tribune-Stars "extra" published at midmorning, Terre Haute was quite subdued yesterday.
As a precaution to insulate the community from loss in case of terrorist reprisal for the execution, the courthouse closed for the day along with most local and state government offices. Parking in front of the Terre Haute federal building was banned and the street made one-way to prevent a replay of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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