Skip to main content /transcript



Family Members Witness to McVeigh Execution Recount Their Experience

Aired June 11, 2001 - 10:19   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go. Family members that witnessed the execution in person of Timothy McVeigh. Let's go ahead and listen in to their comments.

PAUL HOWELL, EXECUTION WITNESS: Everybody ready? Good morning. It's nice to see all of you here this morning. Getting a little warm? My name is Paul Howell, as most of you probably know. I lost my daughter, Karan Shepherd, in the building. She worked for the federal employees credit union. She had two young daughters, Gabriel and Brittany (ph). I'm 64. I'll turn it over to these people and then we'll ask for questions.

SUE ASHFORD, EXECUTION WITNESS: My name is Sue Ashford. I'm the only one in the one category of the uninjured survivor and I worked for the federal court across the street from the bombing. And I'm 58 years old and I'm so thrilled to be here.

ANTHONY SCOTT, EXECUTION WITNESS: My name is Anthony Scott. I work for the U.S. Army recruitment battalion on the fourth floor of the Murrah building. I lost eight people in my office and I am very honored to represent them and the other 160 people that were murdered on April 19th, 1995.

QUESTION: Mr. Howell?

HOWELL: Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Could you please tell us...


QUESTION: I'm talking. Could you please tell us how you felt being in there and if you feel any sense of peace, if not closure, some sense of peace that this man is dead?

HOWELL: Well, it was pretty emotional there for a few minutes, ma'am. It was, Timothy McVeigh, when they opened up the windows, he kind of looked at the, his witnesses and the attorneys. Then he turned around, looked at the media, kind of shook his head at them, recognizing who was in there. Then he turned his head to us and just took about a second or two. And then he turned away and didn't look at us anymore. I was hoping to look at this man, but it didn't work guys. So we went with what we felt like going in. As far as I'm concerned, I'm feeling pretty good about it right now because I know this man will never go in here and hurt us again in any form or fashion.

Anybody else?

QUESTION: What were you hoping, what were you hoping to see in his face?

HOWELL: What I was hoping for, and I am sure most of us was, is that we could see some kind of maybe I'm sorry. You know, something like that. But, you know, we didn't get anything from his face. His facial expressions were just about as calm as they could be. The only thing I noticed is that he clenched his mouth one time like he was trying to fight the sleep. But eventually he had to do it and he took two quick gulps of air and then he went to sleep at that time.

QUESTION: What was your feeling...


HOWELL: I'm sorry?


HOWELL: Sir, there's no way that we could have spoke to him. The 10 of us that was there, we kind of supported each other and made sure that everybody was doing what they needed to do and made sure they was all right.


QUESTION: Did any of you talk while this was going on?

QUESTION: Did he look like the...

HOWELL: I'm sorry back there?

QUESTION: Did he look like the monster you envisioned him to be?

HOWELL: Well, no. I mean he's not a monster, guys. I mean not when you're looking at him in the face. I mean he's just a regular human being. But, you know, there's no facial expressions on him whatsoever so there was no way of knowing just exactly what he is and how he is.


QUESTION: Could you give us a sense of the room...

QUESTION: Could you describe the emotions in the room when he was pronounced dead?

HOWELL: Do what, sir?

QUESTION: Could you describe the emotions in your room when he was pronounced dead?

HOWELL: Well, I can tell you what my emotions were. I won't speak on behalf of the rest of them because they don't want me to. My emotions was it was just a big relief, just a big sigh come over my body and it just felt like, it felt real good, sir.


QUESTION: Could the rest of you speak to that?

HOWELL: Do what?

QUESTION: Could the rest of you -- could you...

SCOTT: We were happy.

ASHFORD: I'm elated.

QUESTION: Do you think it'll serve any wider good? Do you think it'll stop other instances of this kind?

HOWELL: Do you want to answer that?

SCOTT: I think the individual is responsible for his own actions. I don't think this is meant to, for deterrence. It definitely is a deterrent to Timothy McVeigh. I mean you can't judge the mind of anybody else to say whether this might deter them from doing something, you know, as heinous as what he did. But we don't know.

QUESTION: Mr. Scott, could you give us a sense of what was going on in the room as this was proceeding? Were you all talking to each other? Were you hugging? Was there crying?

SCOTT: Well, we embraced each other afterwards.

QUESTION: In the room?

SCOTT: A sense in the room, I can only speak from my own personal advantage, I was looking directly at him. I wish that there might have been eye to eye contact, but he couldn't see us. I wanted him to see me, to somehow let him know that you didn't break the spirit that you thought you were going to break and we're here representing the people that you unjustly took their lives and you must pay for your actions.

QUESTION: Have you had any contact with the survivors who do not believe in the death penalty?

SCOTT: No, I have not.

QUESTION: Was anyone anxious (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

HOWELL: Let me answer her question there. I've been involved with a lot of the family members and survivors. I belong to one organization. The one thing that I've done in the past and will continue doing is I will be with those people. They support me in everything I've done. I talk to them tremendously and they're giving me their blessings and that's, that's helped me tremendously.


HOWELL: Yes, ma'am, back there in the back.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the fact that he didn't give some final words and had the last word (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

HOWELL: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, ma'am.

QUESTION: Was there any relief on his part that he didn't give a final statement or have the last word today?

HOWELL: No, ma'am, it wasn't. I really wanted him to say something and the reason why is because if a person speaks, he also gives some facial expressions and that's what I was looking for. You know, a lot of times you can say what you want to, but the face will tell you something different.

QUESTION: Please, sir, this is for French television. Except in the United States, the whole world is watching you and outside the United States, people are horrified by this execution. What do you want to say to the outside world?

SCOTT: The same way it was April 19th, 1995 when you looked at the TVs and saw what happened to the Alfred P. Murrah Building. It probably feels the same way.

QUESTION: But do you feel better today?

SCOTT: About that much, because we can't bring back the lives that were lost. I mean other than that, one life for 168.

QUESTION: Did it change your way of thinking about the death penalty?

SCOTT: No, it didn't.

QUESTION: You said you felt this great big relief and it was changing in the way you felt inside. Elaborate a bit on that for me. Was your daughter in there with you?

HOWELL: My daughter, along with my whole family, a lot of the other 30 or 40 people that I knew personally that got killed in the bombing, I was thinking about all those people and I kind of said a prayer to them and told them it's over with. And that's when the relief came to me, yes.

QUESTION: You said that you were thrilled to be here. Can you talk a little bit about why it was so important for you to come and if you got what you expected?

HOWELL: The reason why I was, wanted to come to this is because I've never actually seen the man personally. I've never seen him anywhere besides other than closed circuit television or the video and I'm the type of guy that needs to see somebody face to face. That's the main reason why I'm able to be here now.


QUESTION: Mr. Scott, Mr. Howell, I wanted to know over the weekend, you know, Mr. McVeigh, through his attorneys, said that he wasn't going to make a statement that would inflict any further pain. Do you feel as though that was accomplished given the fact that he only issued a written statement?

HOWELL: It doesn't make any difference, ma'am, whether it was written or whether it was spoke. It still came from him and it still done what he wanted to do.

QUESTION: Mr. Scott?

SCOTT: No, I don't feel it's, his statements came from him, his attorneys. I mean to me the statement we killed Sergeant McVeigh kind of got up under my skin a little bit and I don't know whether that was their plans or what, but him not saying anything allows everybody in his camp to do whatever it is they wanted to do or whatever they want to accomplish out here after this. So maybe that's why he didn't say anything. Maybe he didn't have the courage to say anything.

QUESTION: Why did that get under your skin?

SCOTT: Well, Sergeant McVeigh killed 168 people and that just, it doesn't...

QUESTION: Do you have any words for the McVeigh family?

SCOTT: No, I don't.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

KAGAN: We've been listening to comments from three people connected to the Oklahoma City bombing. Paul Howell lost his daughter in the bombing six years ago. Sue Ashford was an injured survivor. She was in a bank across the street. And Anthony Scott was wounded. He was on the fourth floor of the Murrah federal building when it exploded six years ago. There were there. They witnessed in person the execution earlier today of Timothy McVeigh and they were sharing their thoughts and comments and their experiences of witnessing that execution.

More coverage as well as other news just ahead. Right now we get in a quick break.



Back to the top