John Doe No. 2 was the name given to the police-sketch of one of the possible suspects of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. However, as time went by the FBI decided that the man didn’t exist, despite having been seen with McVeigh and Nichols by 20 odd witnesses, both in the days leading up to and the day of the bombing itself.
The FBI claims the witnesses have forgotten or were confused by what they had seen, and they may have a point. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously flawed. But the number of credible witnesses who all say they saw the same type of man, on different days in different situations with McVeigh, places doubt upon the FBI’s excuse.
In fact reporter David Neiwert claims:
“It is similarly telling that the prosecution in McVeigh’s trial never called a single witness who could place McVeigh in Oklahoma City the morning of the bombing – largely because they too saw McVeigh with other people. A substantial number of these sightings include a man who fit the description of John Doe No. 2.”
First here are the witnesses’ recollections (largely from articles by the Village Voice’s James Ridgeway who has reported extensively on the story):
Tom Kessinger and Eldon Elliot – Tom Kessinger was the auto shop clerk who rented the Ryder truck to McVeigh in Kansas. His initial description to investigators of the man who accompanied McVeigh was the basis for the John Doe No. 2 sketch. However later, after further discussions with the FBI he decided that he must have been mistaken despite the shop’s owner Eldon Elliot and the two other employees with the men still claim they saw a man with McVeigh matching the original description.
Joann Van Buren – she remembers seeing McVeigh with two men in the Subway shop in which she worked the day before the bombing. She identified one as Terry Nichols and described the other as a “dark-haired and muscular man with an olive complexion”. On top of that, the restaurant had a working video camera that captured the men’s images. Although, the FBI has never disclosed the video, nor described it’s contents.
Rodney Johnson -- He was outside the federal building in his truck and claims, “I saw two individuals Timothy McVeigh and John Doe No. 2, cross Fifth Street just minutes before the blast and they were in step, one behind the other. They were definitely together.”
Morris Kuper, Jr. – Mr. Kuper’s statement was one of the “found” leadsheets that the FBI just discovered a month ago. He claims to have seen McVeigh get into a " light colored Mercury” with another man fitting the John Doe No. 2 description. McVeigh was later caught in a battered tan Mercury.
Diana Bradley - She was standing in line in the federal building’s social security office and saw the Ryder truck pull up to the building. She saw an “olive-complexion man with short hair, curly, clean cut. He had on a blue Starter jacket, blue jeans, and tennis shoes and a white hat with purple flames.
Charles Farley – Mr. Farley was the one witness that probably saved Nichols from the death penalty. Nichols by default received life instead of the death penalty because the jurors could not decide on death because some felt there were other men involved. They felt this way largely due to the testimony of Mr. Farley. He claims to have seen McVeigh, the Ryder truck and other men in Kansas where everyone agrees the bomb was made.
"Initially, when I got to the gate, there was one individual standing at the back of the farm truck, at the back left corner of the farm truck... I seen three individuals standing down between the Ryder truck and the brown car, one of them standing in the -- in the road just a little bit, one of them leaning against the front of the Ryder truck and the other one just kind of standing between them.
After the trial The Denver Rocky Mountain News identified the man Farley saw as local militiaman Morris Wilson, who as far as far as the paper was able to determine was never interviewed by the FBI concerning what he was doing.
"As soon as I was out, I seen an individual walking alongside of the farm truck. He was probably at the cab when I first seen him. And I was really going slow. I mean, I was just creeping. And I was going to roll the window down and ask him if he needed some help. And -- he give me kind of a dirty look and I decided, well, if you're going to be that way, me too, and I'm just going to leave; so I just drove away."
Now that we know what the witnesses claimed to have seen, the only question left if you believe them is: Who is John Doe No. 2? This is much tougher to say, but there is a favorite among those who have studied the case.
Andrew Strassmeier – Mr. Strassmeier a German national and former German Army officer was known to associate with a group of white supremacists at Elohim City, Missouri. McVeigh was also known to contact the leader of the same group Robert Millar, and was known to have asked him if the group at Elohim City could hide him after an “operation” he was planning. On top of knowing McVeigh, Strassmeier fits the build that was described by many witnesses -- “olive-complexion man with short hair… clean cut.”
Also a BATF informant (who had done good work for the ATF before it discredited her after the bombing) named Carol Howe had infiltrated the Elohim City group and claims to have “cased” the building with Strassmeier and another man twice before the bombing.
Also Larry and Cathy Wild a couple from northern Kansas claim to have seen Strassmeier at a lake near Harrington a week before the bombing. They remember their conversation with him because they noticed his foreign accent.
For the record Strassmeier disputes any claim that he was involved. He recently moved back to Germany after living in Ireland when he left the United States.