McVeigh’s Last Day

Timothy McVeigh AP

On his last day, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh showered, napped, watched CNN, paced about his cell and, as his execution time neared, tossed restlessly in bed, according to a log book kept by guards who watched over him.

McVeigh even managed to joke about the prison facilities. “This is cruel and unusual punishment,” he said when the water in his shower came out cold.

The moment was recorded in an “Execution Facility Log” maintained at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where McVeigh was put to death by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. A copy of the log was obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

The log included minute-by-minute descriptions of McVeigh's activities during his last 24 hours in a cell before being moved to the execution room in Terre Haute.

McVeigh spent much of the day lying in bed watching television - sometimes CNN. He had visitors. His lawyers, the prison warden, a staff chaplain and a prison staff psychologist stopped by at various times.

When the chaplain arrived, McVeigh covered his head with his blanket. “Small amount of head uncovered,” the log said.

Minutes later he was sitting up watching TV, the blanket wrapped around his shoulders. The chaplain stayed about a half hour. The log does not say whether the two spoke.

With his execution about 10 hours away, the log noted McVeigh became restless.

“Inmate restless in bed, moving around, rearranging blanket, grimacing,” the log said. Six minutes later: “Inmate still lying on bed watching TV. Continues to be restless, but smiling.”

McVeigh turned the TV off a half hour later but didn't sleep. “Inmate very restless, moving blankets around ... Inmate continues to be restless and is staring at the wall.”

After sleeping for a few hours, McVeigh watched more television, washed with a towel and paced the floor.

While it is normal for a death row inmate to be restless hours before execution time, McVeigh also appeared to be trying to maintain “a facade of control,” said Stephen Jones, the lawyer who defended him at his federal trial.

Jones, who has represented other death row inmates, suspected McVeigh knew his final hours would eventually become public record.

“And that's why to me it reflects guarded activity on his part. He knew it would eventually come out in public,” Jones said Saturday by phone from his Enid, Okla. home.

The last log entries are of McVeigh being placed in restraints to receive the last rites and being moved to the execution room.

“Warden is informed by the Chemical Room that death has occurred at 7:14 a.m.”

The log is called “Operation Elm Tree” log, a reference to an elm tree, now part of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, that survived the 1995 blast, which killed 168 people, including 19 children.

Portions of the log and guards' names were left out for privcy and security reasons.


© MMII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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