Bombing Survivors Have Mixed Emotions

Oklahoma City bombing survivors and victims' families were divided among those who want Timothy McVeigh's execution delayed and those who can't wait to see him die.

Some survivors were disappointed U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch refused to grant a stay of execution Wednesday.

"I'm wondering now that if Tim is executed, will we ever know?" said Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons were killed in the blast. "We have been fighting so long for the truth. We need to know who killed our little ones."

McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Monday. His attorneys said they will appeal Matsch's ruling, hoping for a stay and a hearing on why the FBI didn't turn over thousands of documents related to the 1995 bombing until last month.

Matsch said nothing in the documents raised any doubts that McVeigh was guilty in the blast that killed 168 people.

In Pendleton, N.Y., McVeigh's father, Bill McVeigh, said he was disappointed by the ruling but not surprised.

"I think the longer he lives the better. It's easiest on me," said Bill McVeigh, who showed no reaction to the news. "But ... it's going to happen eventually."

He said he wasn't optimistic about an appeal, particularly in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the next step in the legal system.

"The only chance he might have is the (U.S.) Supreme Court," he said. "Timmy more or less told me that. He said, 'Dad, you're never going to get anything from the 10th circuit."'

He guessed that his son, with whom he last spoke a month ago, went forward with an appeal to expose mistakes by the government. "He wants to stay around long enough so people know they screwed up in his case, too," McVeigh said.

"I have nothing against the FBI," the father added, "but even I'm starting to wonder."

Kathy Wilburn lost two grandsons in the blast.

"He certainly deserves to die for what he did, but I'm not in favor of killing him," Wilburn said. "I believe with him dies the truth. And the truth is more important to me than to see the man die. My grandchildren will be just as dead whether he lives or dies."

Many others in Oklahoma City were pleased with the judge's decision. Some crowded around televisions in delis and restaurants as it was announced during the lunch hour.

Bombing survivor Calvin Moser said he doesn't think the FBI withheld evidence intentionally.

"When you look at the number of documents that they acquired, there's bound to be mistakes made," he said.

Paul Howell, who lost his 27-year-old daughter in the bombing and was among those chosen to watch the execution in Terre Haute, Ind., said he was shocked Matsch denied the stay.

"I want it to go forward," he said. "I think everybody does."

On Monday, the elder McVeigh will not be home, nor will he be in Terre Haute. He said he will lower the American flag fluttering outside his house before leaving town for an undisclosed location.

"I wanted it up for Memorial Day, that's what a flag is for," he said. "I don't want it up when he's executed."

One regret he has about leaving the house is that a final phone call from his son will probably go unanswered. Bill McVeigh said he will be at a telephone number not on his son's approved call list.

"He owes me a phone call, he sort of promised," the father said, "but I probably won't get it."