Timothy McVeigh, the mastermind behind the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, is remarkable in that he led an utterly unremarkable life. He was quiet, polite, went to church, an underachiever in high school, uninterested in college, and stayed out of trouble. As it stands, nothing from his background would predict, or explain, the catastrophic Oklahoma City bombing, an event that killed 168 and wounded over 500.
This Timothy McVeigh wiki takes a comprehensive look at his life and tries to piece together the events that drove McVeigh to commit the second-largest domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Who Was Timothy McVeigh?
For someone who will go down in American history as one of its greatest domestic terrorists, McVeigh led a very ordinary, boy-next-door life. But it’s this normalcy that makes him one of the scariest men in the world.
Timothy James McVeigh was born in Lockport, New York on April 23, 1968 to Bill and Mildred McVeigh. He had two sisters, Patricia and Jennifer.
The McVeigh family grew up in the nearby working-class town of Pendleton, New York where they attended a local Catholic church. In fact, Timothy was confirmed Catholic.
Pendleton, which is just 30 minutes north of Buffalo, is a conservative, almost exclusively white community, with long patches of farmland separating many of the houses.
During his early years, Timothy, like any kid, liked to ride his bike and play cowboys. At around the age of seven, his paternal grandfather Ed was the first person to teach young Timothy McVeigh how to use a rifle.
McVeigh’s father Bill, a lifelong resident of Pendleton, worked the midnight shift at a General Motors auto parts plant. This was the same plant where his father worked for 30 years.
Bill McVeigh was a community-minded person who raised money for civic causes, ran bingo nights at his Catholic church, and liked to garden and golf. He is also a registered Democrat.
Timothy’s mother Mildred, or Mickey, was a travel agent.
By all accounts, the parents loved their children immensely. Their love for each other, however, was strained. The couple fought hard, loud, and often.
McVeigh vs. McVeigh
In 1978, Mildred decided the marriage was over. Bill’s quiet lifestyle was at odds with Mildred’s. She thought Bill was “too domesticated.” On nights when Bill would stay in, eat pizza, and watch the Buffalo Bills, Mildred would go out to bars, restaurants, and clubs.
There was no trial separation; Mildred just packed her bags and left. She moved to Florida but eventually returned to the area. Timothy, 10, and his sister Patti, 12, stayed behind in Pendleton with their father. Four-year-old Jennifer went with her mother but returned and lived with Bill at a later point.
Friends of Timothy do not recall seeing Mildred much after the separation, save for when she drove up, stayed for a few minutes, then left. It was thought that Timothy McVeigh had handled their breakup well.
“People ask me, ‘Wasn’t Tim crushed?’” said Father Paul Belzer, the family priest for 20 years. “But he didn’t seem to be. He lived in the same house, had the same friends. Yeah, he’d have to miss his mother, but so many of the anchors were there.”
Around this time, young McVeigh began to show a greater interest in guns. But in an area where hunting is a popular pastime, friends and family just saw this as a way for a boy to seek attention and companionship.
Timothy McVeigh: A Quiet, Smart, Underachiever
For the most part, it seems Timothy McVeigh repressed any negative emotions with regards to his parents’ divorce. He would later deny that their divorce had any lasting effect on him.
That doesn’t mean McVeigh didn’t want the kind of family his friends had.
He wanted a home where friends would hang out after school. So, he built a skateboard ramp in his driveway, invited friends over to shoot baskets, created a haunted house in his basement, and held casino nights on the weekends where he was the dealer. McVeigh charged admission to the haunted house and won money from the casino.
Years later, friends would say it was odd that he never mentioned his mother after she left. Some friends even thought his mother was dead.
McVeigh’s interest in guns continued during these years. Even though his father Bill had little to no interest in hunting, he eventually bought Timothy a .22 caliber rifle, which he used to shoot targets in the woods behind the family home.
McVeigh soon graduated to acquiring a semiautomatic BB gun that could fire 15 rounds with the pull of a trigger; no other boys had one. Students would later recall how in school, when they got bored, they’d doodle…and McVeigh would draw guns.
When McVeigh turned 14, he confided to a few friends that he was a survivalist, stockpiling food, weapons, and camping equipment. He did it “in case of a nuclear attack or the communists took over the country,” recalled one neighbor.
McVeigh was known, even at that young age, for talking patriotically and defending America. As the same neighbor noted, “some people thought maybe the divorce put Tim over the deep end.”
Timothy McVeigh showed a lot of interest in guns and being a survivalist, but that enthusiasm for learning didn’t make its way into the classroom. He was smart, but that wasn’t apparent in school. In fact, teachers at his school were surprised when he won a state Regents Scholarship in his senior year for high scores on standardized tests.
In his 1986 high school yearbook entry, McVeigh didn’t list any organized activities, even though he was on the track team. Instead he wrote, “Staying away from school, losing sleep, finding it in school.” Under future plans: “Take it as it comes, buy a Lamborghini, California girls.”
This last bit surprised classmates since McVeigh never had a girlfriend in high school, or at least not one they were aware of. McVeigh always seemed uninterested in dating. But the teen kept to himself so much that it’s not a total surprise his peers knew little about his personal life.
McVeigh was apparently so quiet his classmates sarcastically voted him “Most Talkative.”
Seeds of Dissent
Around this time, the survivalist McVeigh discovered The Turner Diaries, a right-wing novel that describes attacking FBI headquarters with a homemade bomb made of fertilizer and fuel oil. The first ent