Oklahoma City BombingTimeline, 1994-2005

• 1994
• 1995
• 1996
• 1997
• 1998
• 1999
• 2000
• 2001
• 2002
• 2003
• 2004
• 2005


Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, using aliases, buy 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate in McPherson, Kan. About the same time, they obtain detonation cord and auto-racing fuel.

McVeigh and Nichols steal explosives from a storage locker in Marion, Kan., transporting it to another storage locker in Kingman, Ariz., where Nichols' brother James lives. They then buy another 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and put it in a storage locker in Council Grove, Kan.

McVeigh and Nichols rob an Arkansas firearms dealer of cash, weapons, ammunition, coins, precious metals and other property. Nichols places the stolen items in another locker the same Council Grove storage facility. He places other items in a Las Vegas, Nev., storage locker.

Nichols then leaves for the Philippines, where his wife's family lives, after having prepared a letter to McVeigh, to be delivered only in the event of Nichols' death. In it, Nichols tells McVeigh to either empty or extend the lease on the Council Grove storage locker containing stolen property by Feb. 1., and to "liquidate" the explosives in the other storage locker.

On the way to Kansas to pick up firearms stolen in the Arkansas robbery, McVeigh cases the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City along with Michael Fortier.


Early 1995
Nichols returns from the Philippines. The firearms stolen in the Arkansas robbery are sold and McVeigh, Nichols and Fortier split the money.

Nichols pays for the continued use of the Council Grove storage unit containing the explosives.

McVeigh obtains a driver's license in the name of "Robert Kling" with April 19, 1972, as the birth date.

April 14
McVeigh buys a 1977 Mercury Marquis in Junction City, Kan.; calls the Nichols residence in Herington from Junction City; calls a business in Junction City and, using the name "Bob Kling," inquires about renting a truck that can carry 5,000 pounds of cargo; rents a motel room in Junction City; places a deposit for a rental truck in the name "Robert Kling."

April 17
McVeigh rents a 20-foot Ryder truck in Junction City, Kansas.

April 18
At Geary Lake State Park in Kansas, McVeigh and Nichols build a bomb in the cargo compartment of the rental truck, using barrels filled with a mixture of ammonium nitrate, fuel and other explosives.

April 19
— Before 9 a.m.
McVeigh parks the truck outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

9:02 a.m.
The bomb detonates, shearing off the front of the building and killing 168 people.

About 10:30 a.m.
McVeigh is pulled over by a state trooper on Interstate 35 near Billings, Okla., about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City, because his car was missing a rear license plate. As McVeigh reaches for his wallet, the trooper notices a bulge under his light windbreaker and arrests McVeigh for carrying a concealed pistol in a shoulder holster.

Televised reports on the explosion air theories that foreign terrorists are responsible and suggest that eyewitnesses had seen Middle Eastern-looking men fleeing the scene.

Authorities are able to read a serial number on a truck axle pulled from the wreckage. A computer check reveals it matches a Ryder truck rented in Kansas two days earlier.

A Jordanian-American, Abraham Ahmad, attempts to fly to Jordan to visit relatives. He is questioned during a layover in Chicago, forcing him to miss his flight. He is detained upon his arrival in London, and then held by authorities in Virginia and again in Oklahoma City until April 21, when he is released.

The last survivor of the blast is pulled from the wreckage of the Murrah building.

April 20
Having interviewed witnesses in Oklahoma City and the Ryder depot in Kansas, authorities release sketches of suspects of two white males, John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.

April 21
Federal authorities arrest McVeigh, who resembles the sketch of John Doe No. 1, in connection with the bombing only hours before he was expected to make bail on the firearms charge in Perry. Nichols surrenders in Herington, Kan., after learning police are looking for him. Nichols and his brother James are held on material witness warrants.

April 23
President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Billy Graham speak at a memorial service for victims of the blast.

May 4
Rescue workers end the search for victims. The bodies of Christi Rosas, Virginia Thompson and Alvin Justes, who were all in the building's credit union, remain buried in unstable rubble. The death count stands at 168.

May 10
Terry Nichols is formally charged in connection with the bombing.

May 23
Wrecked hulk of the building is brought down. James Nichols, brother of Terry, is released from federal custody. Charges against him are later dropped.

May 29
The bodies of Rosas, Thompson and Justes are recovered.

Aug. 2
McVeigh's sister Jennifer testifies before a federal grand jury.

Aug. 7
McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones, suggests an unidentified leg found in the rubble could belong to"the real bomber."

Aug. 8
McVeigh friend Michael Fortier and his wife testify before the grand jury.

Aug. 10
Grand jury indicts McVeigh and Nichols on murder and conspiracy charges. Fortier pleads guilty to a minor firearms charge as part of a plea bargain. U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley is assigned to the case.

Sept. 14
Alley denies requests from prosecutors and defense attorneys that he step down from the case because his office and courtroom were damaged by the blast. He sets trial for May 17 in Lawton, about 90 miles from Oklahoma City.

Oct. 20
Prosecutors announce they will seek the death penalty against McVeigh and Nichols.

Nov. 21
Defense attorneys ask the court to move the trial out of Oklahoma, arguing that intense media coverage had tainted the jury pool.

Dec. 1
A federal appeals court removes Alley from the case, ruling that bomb damage to his courtroom and chambers could raise doubts about his impartiality.

Dec. 4
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch of Denver is appointed the judge in the case.

Dec. 12
Matsch strikes the May 17 trial date, but does not set a new timetable.


Feb. 20
Matsch moves the case to Denver, ruling that McVeigh and Nichols have been "demonized" by intense media coverage in Oklahoma.

Feb. 23
Medical examiners announce that the mystery leg belonged to a previously identified victim.

March 30
McVeigh and Nichols are transferred to a federal prison in Englewood, Colo.

April 19
Mourners gather at bombing site on the first anniversary and pause for 168 seconds of silence — one second for each victim.

May 29
Matsch rejects Nichols' civil challenge to the federal death penalty.

June 26
Matsch tells survivors and family members they cannot watch trial proceedings if they plan to testify against McVeigh and Nichols.

July 15
Matsch says a law establishing closed-circuit telecast of the trial is constitutional. He later orders the telecast to be shown in a government auditorium near the Oklahoma City airport.

Aug. 14
Matsch refuses to throw out the bulk of the evidence, and says statements Nichols made to authorities after his arrest could be used against him, but not against McVeigh.

Sept. 25
Matsch rules federal death penalty is constitutional, clearing the way for prosecutors to seek it against McVeigh and Nichols.

Oct. 25
Matsch orders McVeigh and Nichols to be tried separately, ruling their rights could be compromised by a joint trial. Nichols will be tried after McVeigh, but no date is set.

Nov. 15
Matsch sets McVeigh's trial for March 31.


Jan. 27
Four FBI workers who evaluated evidence in the Oklahoma City bombing case are transferred out of the crime lab after a federal report criticizes lab procedures.

Jan. 29
Matsch bans news media from closed-circuit telecast in Oklahoma City.

Feb. 5
Matsch decides to draw prospective jurors from a 23-county area around metropolitan Denver. He also rejects defense requests to throw out hair, fiber and handwriting analyses on grounds they are "junk science."

Feb. 20
Matsch denies defense requests to eliminate testimony of six prosecution eyewitnesses who changed portions of their testimony over the past two years.

Feb. 28
In a story on its Internet site, the Dallas Morning News reports that McVeigh confessed to the bombing. Two other reports on the purported confession follow in the next two weeks.

March 17
Matsch refuses to allow attorneys to move or delay McVeigh's trial, and orders jury selection to begin on March 31 as scheduled.

March 25
Judge Matsch reverses his previous ban on allowing victims who are possible witnesses to attend the trial.

March 31
Jury selection begins in McVeigh's trial.

April 22
Jury seated.

April 24
Opening statements begin.

May 21
Prosecutors rest their case after calling 137 witnesses in 18 days.

May 28
Defense rests after calling 25 witnesses in 3 ½ days.

May 29
Closing arguments.

May 30
Jurors begin deliberations.

June 2
After 23 ½ hours of deliberations over four days, the jury convicts McVeigh on all 11 counts.

June 13
Jury condemns McVeigh to die by lethal injection.

Aug. 13
The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reports that, in an interview, McVeigh said his lead defense lawyer "screwed up badly," and that he didn't want to keep Stephen Jones as his attorney.

Aug. 14
Before being formally sentenced to death, McVeigh tells the judge the government "teaches the people by its example."

Aug. 20
Calling his client an ingrate and a liar, Stephen Jones asks the court for permission to step down as McVeigh's lead attorney for the appeals process.

Aug. 27
A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals names Robert Nigh Jr., one of McVeigh's trial lawyers, to be in charge of his appeal.

Sept. 17
Potential jurors ordered to report for questioning on knowledge of case against Nichols.

Oct. 31
Seven women and five men are selected to serve as jurors in the trial of Terry Nichols.

Nov. 7
Prosecutors try to tie Nichols to the purchase of two tons of ammonium nitrate.

Nov. 13
Key prosecution witness Michael J. Fortier says he was once asked to join McVeigh and Nichols so they could take "positive affirmative action" against the government.

Nov. 14
Nichols's defense attorney portrays Fortier, the prosecutor's star witness, as a "thieving" liar and drug abuser.

Nov. 20
Nichols's ex-wife testifies how a letter from Nichols told McVeigh to "go for it" five months before the bombing.

Nov. 21
Attorneys for the defense try to discredit an FBI agent's account of a 9 ½-hour interview with Nichols two days after the bombing.

Dec. 3
The prosecution rests.

Dec. 4
Defense lawyers try to shift jurors' focus to "John Doe No. 2."

Dec. 12
The defense rests its case after testimony from Nichols's wife.

Dec. 16
Closing arguments begin.

Dec. 24
Nichols is found guilty on one count of conspiracy and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Dec. 30
Prosecutors seek the death penalty for Nichols.


Jan. 7
Nichols is spared the death penalty by a deadlocked jury.

Jan. 16
McVeigh's attorneys appeal his conviction, citing pretrial publicity and other factors.

April 20
Nichols rejects an offer of leniency in exchange for information about the bombing, saying it would jeopardize him if he is tried in Oklahoma.

May 27
Michael Fortier is sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about bombing plans.

June 4
Calling him "an enemy of the Constitution," a federal judge sentences Terry L. Nichols to life in prison. The sentencing closes the judicial books on a searing chapter in American history that underscored the nation's vulnerability to domestic terror.


March 8
U.S. Supreme Court rejects McVeigh's appeal.


Oct. 12
U.S. District Court in Denver denies McVeigh's request for a new trial.

Dec. 11
McVeigh files statement to the U.S. District Court in Colorado in which he gives notice to forgo further appeals and requests that an execution date be set within 120 days.

Dec. 28
U.S. District Court Judge Matsch holds hearing to make sure McVeigh understands he's dropping appeals. McVeigh says he wants execution date set but reserves right to seek presidential clemency.


Jan. 11
McVeigh lets deadline pass for changing his decision.

Jan. 16
United States sets May 16 execution date.

Feb. 16
McVeigh lets clemency filing deadline pass.

April 12
Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that survivors and relatives of victims of the Oklahoma City bombing will be allowed to witness Timothy McVeigh's execution via closed-circuit television.

May 10
FBI informs Judge Richard Matsch and Timothy McVeigh's attorneys that the bureau withheld evidence from McVeigh's trial. Justice Department begins turning over thousands of FBI bombing investigation documents to McVeigh's attorneys.

May 11
John Ashcroft orders a postponement of Timothy McVeigh's execution until June 11.

May 16
The day on which McVeigh was first scheduled to be executed.

May 31
Timothy McVeigh's lawyers ask Judge Richard Matsch to delay the execution.

June 4
Federal prosecutors file a brief opposing Timothy McVeigh's request for a stay of execution, saying newly discovered FBI documents have nothing in them that would overturn McVeigh's murder conviction.

June 6
Judge Matsch refuses to grant a stay of execution, saying newly released FBI documents do not change the fact that McVeigh is guilty.

June 7
Timothy McVeigh's lawyers approach 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in last-ditch bid to request stay of execution. The Court of Appeals declines to overturn Judge Richard Matsch's decision.

June 11
McVeigh is executed.


Jan. 7
The Supreme Court decides not to save Nichols from a second trial that could bring him the death penalty — refusing without comment to consider Nichols' claim that being tried in a state court after already being convicted in a federal court would be unconstitutional.


May 8
Nichols' wife testifies that her husband had spent so much time with Timothy McVeigh that she became jealous and eventually demanded that McVeigh stay out of the couple's home.

Mrs. Nichols testified at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Oklahoma had enough evidence for state prosecutors to try her husband.


March 2
Jury selection begins in Oklahoma state trial for Nichols.

March 11
Nichols' jury is seated.

March 23
Jury views fuses and barrels found at Nichols' home.

April 5
Nichols defense team argues others helped McVeigh.

April 5
Nichols defense team argues others helped McVeigh.

April 12
Nichols' attorneys seek dismissal of state charges.

April 21
Judge rejects Nichols' motion to throw out the case.

April 30
Prosecutors rest their case in Nichols murder trial.

May 6
A juror has a heart attack before arriving in court and is replaced by an alternate.

May 20
Defense rests in Nichols murder trial.

May 20
Defense rests in Nichols murder trial.

May 26
Nichols found guilty of 161 state murder charges.

June 12
Jury deadlocks in penalty phase, allowing Nichols to avoid the death penalty.

Aug. 9
Nichols addresses the court for the first time, proclaiming his faith in God and asking victims of the blast for forgiveness as a judge sentences him to 161 consecutive life sentences.

Aug. 19
Nichols declines to appeal convictions.


April 1
The FBI announces that, tipped they may have missed evidence a decade ago, agents searched Nichols' former home and found blasting caps and other explosive materials apparently related to the 1995 attack.