Wow. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years. But on this day, June 2, 1997, a federal jury found Timothy McVeigh guilty of murder and conspiracy for his role in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The government executed McVeigh in 2001 for the crime, which at the time was the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history. The bombing took place just after 9:00 a.m. on the morning of April 19, 1995. McVeigh had filled a rental truck with explosives and parked it outside the Murrah Building.
The blast shattered the north face of the nine-story structure, killing 168 people, including 19 children in the building’s day care center, and injuring several hundred more. Two days later, police arrested McVeigh, a 27-year-old U.S. Army veteran. A second suspect, Terry Nichols, surrendered in Kansas. Tried and convicted for his role in the conspiracy, Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without parole. McVeigh and Nichols were found to be members of a Michigan-based right-wing survivalist group.
Let’s talk about Terry Nichols. Digging a little deeper, I see two things that stand out.
First, he holds a record, according to Guinness, being sentenced to 161 life terms.
Second, he has an identity crisis. While his real name is Terry Nichols, he also went by the following names, for purposes of avoiding capture: Ted Parker, Joe Rivers, Shawn Rivers, Joe Havens, Terry Havens, Mike Havens, Joe Kyle, and Daryl Bridges.
That’s a total of eight aliases. No one, including his own mother, really knew Terry. I know a lot of people like that. We don’t hide behind various names, but we wear masks. We don’t want to be truly known.
Tim Keller wrote, “To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” So most of us choose to not be known. The problem with that is that until we are truly known, we cannot be truly loved.
Just ask Terry Nichols. Write him a letter, to the ADX Florence Supermax Prison in Colorado. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.