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Officials Analyze Unmatched Limb Found at Oklahoma City Bomb Site

By Pierre Thomas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 8, 1995; Page A03

OKLAHOMA CITY, AUG. 7 -- A leg recovered from the rubble of the bombed federal building here has authorities considering whether an unknown attacker was killed in the explosion and has given attorneys for suspect Timothy James McVeigh an element to cast doubt on the government's case.

Experts here and at FBI headquarters are analyzing the mangled leg, clad in olive-colored clothing and a black military style boot. The attire is similar to the garb McVeigh and his associates are known to have worn regularly.

"The staff and consultants of this office continue to analyze as yet unidentified tissue recovered from the {Alfred P.} Murrah {Federal} Building bombing," according to a statement by Fred B. Jordan, chief medical examiner for the state. "Among this is a traumatically amputated left thigh and lower leg recovered on May 30, 1995. . . . The leg has not been matched to any of the known victims or survivors."

Meanwhile, with a Friday deadline for indictments in the case, federal prosecutors edged closer to a plea agreement with McVeigh confidant Michael Fortier.

In addition, Fortier's wife, Lori, has been cooperating with authorities through her attorney and may testify before a grand jury this week under immunity, sources said. They said her testimony was expected to be similar to that of her husband, who allegedly has provided authorities with information on the planning of the April 19 bombing and the involvement of McVeigh and Terry Lynn Nichols, who also has been charged in the attack that left 168 people dead and 500 injured.

Analysis revealed that the leg belonged to a light-skinned individual with dark hair, probably less than 30 years of age. But authorities know little else about the person's identity and are awaiting DNA and other test results. They have found that there is a 75 percent probability that the leg is from a man.

A number of law enforcement sources said that no conclusions can be drawn about the leg and some were highly skeptical that the body part will prove significant. The finding is not likely to change the fate of McVeigh or Nichols, the sources said. However, some acknowledged that the leg raises perplexing questions that may prove difficult to answer, including whether the leg could be from the elusive suspect John Doe No. 2, whom some FBI officials had all but given up on.

McVeigh's attorney, Stephen Jones, said the discovery of the leg provides the possibility of a primary player in the bombing and may suggest that the government "rushed to judgment" in concluding that the attack was likely the result of a limited conspiracy his client masterminded.

"There may be a logical explanation for the leg, but none comes to mind," Jones said yesterday. "There are no persons unaccounted for. It could have been a drifter nobody knows anything about. It could have been the individual that drove the vehicle used in the explosion. The third possibility is that this person was with the person driving {the vehicle}."

Jones also raised the possibility that the leg belonged to John Doe No. 2, noting that a witness placed two men, minutes before the explosion, in the Ryder truck thought to have carried the bomb.

The FBI initially had listed John Doe No. 2 as a prime suspect after witnesses said that two men, including one identified as McVeigh, were at the Kansas agency where truck used in the bombing was rented. But after weeks of exhaustive search, some FBI officials concluded that John Doe No. 2 was an Army private who had been at the agency a day earlier.

Other FBI officials said privately that they believed there was a John Doe No. 2, but they had no idea who he was. There were too many eyewitness accounts describing a dark-haired, square-jawed, muscular man to be easily discounted, the sources said.

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