The Third Man?

by Gerald Posner


A lot of eyewitnesses believe they spotted a suspect the government never found in the Oklahoma Bombing. Is he out there, or a figment of fertile imaginations?

Editor’s Note: Following the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, The New Yorker editor Tina Brown assigned reporter Gerald Posner to investigate the possibility that there was an additional suspect in the bombing. Posner traveled throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas gathering interviews, and accessed a large cache of FBI 302 files. In time for the second anniversary of the bombing, Posner filed the story with The New Yorker, but Brown never published the piece, fearing the FBI could release information that would sabotage the article.

While shorter excerpts of this article have appeared in TIME and The Daily Beast, it has never before been published in full. Posner has updated portions of the article to reflect new findings. In This Land Digital for iPad, you can read the entire 9,000 word article as written in 1997. Included with this exclusive work are 7 pages of discovery timelines and 20 pages of Posner’s notes from the field–notes that he took from internal FBI files that remain sealed to this day.

The article is only available in the print edition of This Land, which you can purchase here.

Excerpt from the article:

The Dreamland Motel, in Junction City, Kansas, beckons drivers along Interstate 70 with its large red, star-shaped sign, its name in flashing lights, underscored with the motto “Clean, Quiet, Reasonable.” All twenty-four rooms in the 1960s-styled one floor stone building face the highway. On Good Friday, April 14, 1995, Lea McGown, the 44-year-old German-born owner glanced up from the wooden counter in the motel’s main office as a battered, rusty yellow Mercury drove slowly down the driveway’s steep incline. She was tired after spending the day celebrating her son’s seventeenth birthday, but as she did seven days a week, she rose to meet her new guest.

She was accustomed to all kinds of visitors at the motel she had owned since 1988. Left with two young children ten years earlier by the American soldier she had married in Germany, she had created a successful business. McGown had also earned a reputation for her fierce independence, including personally protecting her property with her double-barreled shotgun to running off drug dealers who frequent small Midwest motels that line major interstates. When Timothy McVeigh walked into McGown’s office that Friday, of course, he would have judged her incorrectly—by her appearance she seemed merely a petite, pretty blonde, with kind, blue eyes. The inquisitive mind that developed as the daughter of a policeman, or the fearlessness with which she conducted her own late night security checks in a town with one of Kansas’s highest crime rates, was not immediately evident.

“I am quite isolated,” McGown told me in the Bavarian-style apartment she lives in behind the motel’s office. “We are way out in the middle of nowhere, and he sees a single woman, and a foreigner at that. He probably figures it’s the perfect place to be nobody.”

Read the rest of the article by buying a copy of the print edition.