McVeigh's father seeks privacy, peace

Associated Press/April 19, 2005

Pendleton, N.Y. -- Bill McVeigh finds happiness in anonymity, the kind found when he heads out-of-town on vacation or plays card games over the Internet.

"I play hearts all the time with people all over the world, and no one knows who I am," the father of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh told The Buffalo News. "It's great, and I'm not going to tell them who I am."

Bud Welch, whose daughter died in the 1995 bombing, says the older McVeigh is even more of a victim than Welch himself.

"When I go out to talk to people, I can tell them how proud I am of my Julie-Marie," he said. "Poor Bill probably doesn't even tell people he had a son."

Ten years after Timothy McVeigh detonated a deadly truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Bill McVeigh still proudly flies the American flag over his Niagara County home and struggles to comprehend his son's anger.

"I have nothing against the government. We have our problems, but it is the best country in the world," he said. "I don't think like Timmy, and I hope people realize that."

The 65-year-old father said he thinks about his son all the time, but his thoughts focus on the young man he knew before the bombing, before he was taken over by rage at the government over Ruby Ridge and Waco.

"The other day, I was thinking he's going to be 37 years old soon," he said, his son's April 23 birthday approaching.

The father does not know where his only son's ashes were spread after he was executed at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Timothy McVeigh's final wish was that his attorneys secretly dispose of his ashes to avoid desecration of the site.

"People ask me, but I don't know," Bill McVeigh said. "I wish I knew."

Timothy McVeigh, in interviews with two Buffalo News reporters for the book "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing," said he had contemplated how the bombing would affect his father. Bill McVeigh, his son rightly predicted, would survive because of a strong support network.

But the father can scarcely bring himself to talk about the bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds.

"I wish it never happened," he said, his voice trailing off.

His ex-wife, Mildred, has had three nervous breakdowns since the bombings. The couple divorced in 1986 and she has lived in Florida for years. Their younger daughter, Jennifer, is a teacher in North Carolina. Older daughter, Patricia, has lived in the South since before the bombing and has never spoken publicly about it.

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