A Quest for Answers, interview with Janie Coverdale

In the spring of 1995, Janie Coverdale and her two grandsons, Aaron, age five, and Elijah, who was two years old, lived in the Regency Tower Apartments, a stones throw away from the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City ,which would be bombed on April19, 1995. The two boys went to the daycare center which was housed in the Murrah building. Janie worked at the County Assessors office, just two blocks away.

After Janie dropped Aaron and Elijah off at the daycare center that morning, she never saw them again. They would perish in the attack. “We didn’t know what happened to them until late that Saturday morning. We didn’t know from Wednesday to Saturday. Finally someone identified their bodies.”

Coverdale was at work when she heard the explosions. Coverdale is one of many people on site that day that witnessed, heard or felt, more than one explosion, in contrast to the official story, which states that one Ryder truck detonated in front of the Murrah building.

Coverdale then heard a male voice inform them that they had to evacuate the building. “I ended up across the street from my building in parking lot. When I looked North East I saw the smoke. I thought regency was on fire. A male voice behind me said it’s the federal building. And I said I gotta go. A lady grabbed me and I yanked my arm and I said I gotta go I left the boys. I got up there and I was standing screaming on 5th street and this man walked up to me on my left. And he asked me what’s wrong. And I said I left my babies there this morning. I recognized him because he was the spokesman for Waco, FBI agent, Bob Ricks. There was no way he could have been in Shawnee playing golf, as he claimed, and then a few minutes later standing by me. I could never figure why during one of the biggest investigations in history he quit his job or why he lied about his whereabouts that morning.”

One answer may be found in the fact that A joint ATF/ FBI raid on a community called Elohim City, had been planned prior to the bombing, but had been called it off for unknown reasons. The handler of ATF informant inside Elohim City, Carol Howe, testified that Howe had given the ATF and FBI information about a conspiracy to bomb an IRS building in Tulsa and the Murrah building in OKC, before the bombing. Apparently an argument had ensued between Bob Ricks and former FBI director Louis Freeh concerning this information, which resulted in Ricks leaving the FBI and being given a job by Oklahoma Governor and former FBI agent, Frank Keating. Howe’s ATF handler later had to admit in court, that government claims that it did not have prior warning, was false.

Coverdale attended the trials of McVeigh and Nichols, the FBI in Denver. At a going away party for one FBI agent, who was supposedly investigating the case, FBI agent, John Hershley, came up to her and without prompting or prior conversation said “Janie, I swear the FBI didn’t have prior knowledge.” Coverdale was confused. No one had been talking about this and it was unclear why Hershely felt the need to explain this behalf of the FBI.

“I looked at him and I said ‘Well maybe not, but what did Carol Howe know?”

In answer to Coverdale’s question, Hershley told her “we may never know” Yet, it was Hershley himself who testified in court the ATF and the FBI had prior knowledge.

“But that’s not what he told me in Denver,” Coverdale says, “They were not telling everyone the same thing. There were telling so many stories. “

Coverdale is very familiar with the Elohim City connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. Richard Wayne Snell had previously plotted to blow up the Murrah building in the early 1980’s. He was executed, oddly enough, the day the Murrah building was blown up, April 19, 1995. In prison, the morning of his execution, he asked the warden to turn on his television, and when he saw news of the bombing he became very excited. The leader of Elohim City was Snell’s spiritual adviser in prison, and the man who took Snell’s body back to Elohim City to be buried.

“There were a lot of people that could have been called to testify that were not allowed to testify,” Coverdale says, “Everyone that saw Tim the day leading up and the day of the bombing were not called to testify.” Included in this list is Rodney Johnston, who was taken to Denver to testify but never was allowed to. Johnston, who worked as a paramedic reported to FBI the night of the bombing that he had seen two men speeding away. One of these men, he would later identify as McVeigh.

The government claims that the bomb was constructed at Geary Lake, Arkansas, the day before the bombing. Most witnesses reported seeing a Ryder truck there that day, as well as several days leading up to the bombing. Almost all of them also reported seeing a brown pick up truck, which was thought to belong to Terry Nichols. But this truck did not disappear after the bombs supposed construction at Geary Lake. On April 19th, the morning of the bombing, several people would report seeing the pick up truck following the Ryder. Included in this list is the officer who pulled McVeigh over, a little over an hour after the blast, and who reported to the media that when he was pulled McVeigh over, he looked in the rearview mirror and saw that there was a brown pick up truck following closely behind. “That damn pick up truck keeps popping up,” she says.

Of the many things I have been trying to compile and document regarding the bombing, what vehicles were involved and when, is central. McVeigh is said to have rented the Ryder truck from a place called Elliot’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas on the 17th. When Coverdale went to Elliot’s to talk to the owner, she simply told him that she had lost her two grandsons in the bombing and that wanted to know what happened the day McVeigh came in the shop to rent the truck. The government claimed, despite evidence and witnesses to the contrary that McVeigh had come in and left alone.

Elliot’s reply to Coverdale’s question was “You mean, when Tim and his friend came in?”

“Tim wasn’t alone?” she responded.

Elliot told her he was not, and that he had already told the FBI this. The FBI, Elliot said, told him that he didn’t see what he knew he had seen. The last time Coverdale heard or saw Eldon Elliot, was when he did an interview with 20/20. “They had him on TV and he was crying. He kept saying ‘I know what I saw.’ Elliot insisted that someone else was with McVeigh.

Similarly, McVeigh had been caught on tape at a local McDonalds, shortly before he rented the Ryder truck, supposedly alone, from Elliot’s. It was raining that day, yet McVeigh clothes were not wet when he entered Elliot’s after walking from McDonalds in record time, as the government claims. Another strange detail emerges when we see that McVeigh was wearing different clothes in the McDonalds video, than he was reported wearing when he rented the truck from Elliot’s. Coverdale says “John Doe #2 was probably outside in the vehicle….” She said the prosecutors made a huge issue of McVeigh being alone in McDonalds, and therefore he HAD to have been alone in Elliot’s. Yet, as Coverdale points out “How many times have you gone in to grab fast food and pick some up for someone else.” Grabbing a couple hamburgers does not have to be a group effort, even for terrorist cells.

The time after the bombing would be one of the darkest and the most filled with tragedy and death in Coverdale’s life. “People just kept dying,” she explained. Shortly after the bombing, Coverdale’s ex husband died. “I chewed his butt out for dying,” Coverdale remembered. Her ex husband had told their youngest son that he had already buried too many grandchildren and he was tired. They had already suffered the death of four of their grandkids. The day after her ex-husband died, Coverdale’s mother passed away. “She said she went to heaven to be with her babies. I was going to take them to VA that summer to see her. She had talked to them on the phone before but had not met them.”

Sometimes Coverdale, in her quest, became so overwhelmed that she thought she would have to stop asking these hard questions. “I’m gonna quit, stop asking questions, leave it alone,” she would think, “But something inside me won’t let me do that. And that’s the only reason I’m not living in Denver. Because I know I needed to be back here.” many people that were involved in the bombing itself, or who were eye witnesses are still living in Oklahoma City.

“The answer is here in OKC somewhere. The answer to what happened. There is not enough family members and survivors trying to find out the truth. Some of them,” she says “are scared of the government.” One couple, who had lost their daughter in the blast, told Coverdale in 1998 that they were on Social Security now and were fearful that if they spoke out about their concerns, they government would do something to disrupt their income. “That’s the part,” Coverdale says “that upsets me. We are not supposed to fear the government. When the people, the citizens, are afraid of their own government, it just doesn’t make any sense. By the People, For the People. It used to be that way along time ago and I don’t know what happened.”

Coverdale regularly corresponds with Terry Nichols. She has established a relationship, not only with Terry Nichols but with his family and attorneys, in her quest to find what happened to her grandchildren that day. The person who held the answers to her questions, Timothy McVeigh, was executed in record time for his role in the bombing in 2001. In order to find these answers, she needs to understand who McVeigh really was.

“Tim had a tendency to tell people what he thought they wanted to hear. His own attorney, Stephen Jones, said he was a huge liar. He would give you a different story every time.” What Coverdale says is supported not only with what Jones himself has told me, but with internal defense memos and records of letters written by McVeigh to his attorneys. In fact, Jones told me that at one time, because of McVeigh’s obfuscation and changing version of the bombing, he had to employ techniques of literary criticism that he learned back in his days at the University of Texas as an English major. The literary criticism techniques were the only way the defense could come to sort through all the versions of the bombing McVeigh was giving them. They had to approach it like a disjointed and badly written horror novel which spewed from the mouth of McVeigh.

McVeigh, Coverdale says, while not being open with his lawyers, McVeigh did a lot of talking to the Dallas Morning News. It was to this paper that McVeigh made his infamous statement about the children in the Murrah daycare center, two of which were Coverdale’s baby grandsons, as being Collateral Damage, a military term used to describe innocent unintended victims of warfare. “He lied about knowing the day care center was there. He had been to the day care center.” The official story has always claimed that McVeigh did not know the daycare center was there. Yet, McVeigh himself, according to internal defense memos admitted to casing the Murrah building at least twice. “If you went down 5th street,” where the Murrah building was located, the way the building was made, it was like a sunk in living room. It was built that way. The daycare was on the second floor, which looked like the first floor. The cribs were by the window so you couldn’t miss them. The children’s hand prints were on the windows. And sometimes, I’d go to pick up my grandson Aaron, and he would say ‘Gran…I saw Miss So and So today through the window…’ He could see details from the window. If Aaron could see that, they would have noticed the daycare was there.”

I expressed my thoughts that sometimes it seemed McVeigh was not in control of the entire bombing, and not the “Master of his Fate” nor the “Captain of his Soul” as he had claimed. Coverdale says she thinks McVeigh was just an evil person. She says she believes that McVeigh tricked Nichols into participating in the bombing. Tim, she recalls, according to Stephen Jones, could not be trusted. “You could not believe a word he said. McVeigh was very vindictive.”

“No one really knew McVeigh,” Coverdale explains, “Because he was so many different people.” Coverdale’s son, who is in the Army, went back to Fort Riley, the place McVeigh referred to as his “rallying point,” to find answers. Coverdale’s son started asking questions about McVeigh. He was told that McVeigh was a racist.

Yet, this still does not explain the McVeigh, who never seemed to have expressed racist sentiments to his layers or close friends. Anti government, yes, without a doubt...Racist?...It depends who you talk to. Several internal memos detailing McVeigh’s sentiments he expressed to his lawyers, mention McVeigh’s deep fear and worry that he would be seen by the public as a “racist.” In one of these, McVeigh says that although he could sympathize with the white supremacist types, he didn’t agree with the fascist state they wanted to create, saying that any time you take over with force, you are in the wrong. Ironic. There seems to have been, at least according to the people who knew him, at least two McVeigh’s .

When Coverdale asked Nichols if he wished he never met McVeigh, Nichols told her that he is always asking “What if? What if I had been born at a different time? What if I had never joined the Army (where he met McVeigh)? What if?” Coverdale says that these questions are not doing Nichols any good. “He’s sitting there doing 120 life sentences. I don’t feel he should be doing anymore time than Michael Fortier, [another co-conspirator, who turned states evidence, and is now a free man] if he did not help to make the bomb that was used. Nichols said the bomb that he and Tim made was lumpy and no good. James [Nichols] and Terry made little bombs to blow up tree stumps. The military outfit Nichols was in didn’t make bombs. So how in the world did they learn to make a bomb that big? The government said it was 4000 pounds. Tim said it was 9000 pounds. Tim knows what size bomb it was. He was an evil person but not a dumb person. If anyone knows the size…Tim does. It blew a hole in the street so large that had to build a bridge over it.

She says that as long as she believed that middle easterners were responsible, she was hurt but not angry. “I was mad when I saw Tim was American.” Recent research, including that of California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who headed a Congressional oversight committee into the bombing and who in 2006 published a report entitled “The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection?” suggest that the bombing may have been both foreign and domestic in origin, citing disturbing links to convicted terrorist, Ramsi Yousef. Before this report, much of this would have been called “Conspiracy Theory.”

Other people who Coverdale keeps in contact with are reporters, some from the Associated Press and The New American, who pass her information when they come across a new piece of the puzzle they think might help her quest. Incidentally, Coverdale would become the first African American woman to be on the cover of The New American, a John Birch Society publication which has done extensive work on the case.

Coverdale talked about aging. Although her memory, like other survivors I have met, is impeccable for retaining the names and details of the conspiracy surrounding that destructive moment of their lives, Coverdale says she is getting older. When a detail slips her mind, she calls it her “Senior Moments,” We laughed about this, as I had never heard that phrase before.

Coverdale says that the government, including the Department of Justice, is not listening to anyone who has important information on this case. “A lot of us would be a lot better off if we just knew the truth. We have been ignored by Clinton, Reno and Gonzales.” Coverdale sought help from everyone she could think of. She even wrote a letter to John Ashcroft, who would later bar Nichols from media contact, after Nichols wrote to Ashcroft offering to tell everything he knew now that his trials were finished. “Ashcroft did nothing. I wrote all of them. None of them ever bothered to return my letters. I’m hoping we get someone in office that will just listen to us. It would be so nice.”

She says she had had a senior moment at church that morning and that every time she does she thinks about John McCain. She imagines that if he wins the 2008 presidential elections, “he will be sitting up there and they (the press) will be asking all those questions and they will be coming from every direction and he is just going to go into one long senior moment.” I told Coverdale that her senior moments are probably not quite like those of John McCain.

Coverdale says that it’s been 13 years since the bombing and she still remembers it like it was yesterday. “I still cry at night. Those kids deserve better than that. The youngest child was 3 months old. He died, his sister died, his grandmother died and they amputated his mothers leg. His aunt blew out of the building and her ear came off. Can you imagine?”

She says that her life has been difficult since the bombing and that she hopes no one ever has to go through what she has been though. “Everyday I wonder what’s going on. I don’t even like to go to the mall. I could be sitting there talking to someone who was involved. Someone wants me to shut up but I am not going to shut up. Those kids, my babies, need someone to speak for them. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder who else was involved. They can’t shut me up. Those kids deserve better than they got. They were too young to know anything about hatred, government and politics. All they knew was love and how to have fun. And some clown comes along and kills them.”

I asked her what she felt before the bodies of her grandsons had been recovered. “As long as no one verified it, I believed they were living. It was better that way.” When they got the call that recovery efforts had found the boys bodies, one of Coverdale’s sons went to identify them. Coverdale’s son came home one day and sat alone in his parked car, “I went out there. He was just sitting there. He was crying. ‘Mama,’ he said ‘I went to see my boys.’ Later on my sons told me they had decided I couldn’t see the babies. That’s how bad they were messed up. I didn’t see them. It was a closed casket. Now I wish I had gone, my imagination runs away with me and maybe they weren’t as bad as I think”

Coverdale still dreams about the boys. “Every time I had a dram about them they are living.” In one dream she is in a big house and there is a party. Elijah is dressed up but when she comes closer, he keeps backing up. She can’t catch up to him. She also has another dream where her deceased mother is in the Regency Tower apartments. ‘She is cooking and singing and the two boys are with her. I can’t see their faces but I know its them. She tell her mother “I thought you were dead” and her mother only laughs. The two boys never leave her mothers side. And then Coverdale wakes up. That was the last dream she remembers having about them. She says she dreams about them now, but when she does she wakes up and feels depressed. She doesn’t remember the dreams as well anymore. “They are too painful. It’s best that I don’t remember them.”

Lots of questions still:

Poor Carol Howe risked her life as a government informer inside of Elohim City, when she tried to tell the truth she was brought up on phony charges, after she was found innocent I believe she changed her name and has gone into hiding. Andreas Strassmeir " Andy the German" may have been John Doe and was certainly an undercover agent working in Elohim City. What I find very sad in this case is the strange death of Mike Loudenslager whose efforts saved some of the lives of children whose parents were told to change daycares. Clinton " How Dare You" and Janet Reno sure didn't leave any stones unturned as promised did they!


"Key to the Truth in Oklahoma" -- One of the best articles.

I am glad to see OC come up occasionally.
This is a must read for anyone in the 9/11 Truth movement. "Key to the Truth in Oklahoma"

great work!

Wendy gumshoe ; )

Thank you Wendy....

Janie Coverdale's story is heart wrenching. I'd like to hear more from victims and families involved, personally?

Janie Coverdale
...don't believe them!