Death of OKC bombing responder prompts new investigation

A CNN investigation into the death of an Oklahoma City bombing first responder has breathed new life into conspiracy theories surrounding the largest act of domestic terror ever committed in the United States.

Terry Yeakey was an Oklahoma Police Officer and military veteran who rescued three people from the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. A year later Yeakey was set to receive the medal of valor for his actions, but a day before the ceremony, he was found dead. 

“He apparently tried to cut his wrists and ultimately shot himself in a nearby field in El Reno, about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City, Capt. Bill Citty said. Yeakey had been having some personal problems involving a past marriage, but the bombing also weighed heavily on him, Citty said. Yeakey carried four or five people to safety after the blast,” a 1996 report from the L.A. Times Archives describes the circumstances of Yeakey’s death. 

A recent investigation from CNN writer Thomas Lake reveals those closest to Yeakey believe he was murdered. According to the investigation, some of his former colleagues in the police force, his sister, and his ex-wife, Tonia, all suggest he was murdered, some even insisting he was murdered for “knowing too much” about the true nature of the Oklahoma City bombing.

“On the day of the bombing, Tonia said she got a phone call. It was someone at Presbyterian Hospital, telling her Terry was there,” Lake wrote in the CNN piece. “His back was injured when he fell while carrying Randy Ledger, and now Terry needed someone to pick him up. Tonia picked him up from the hospital. In the car, she says, he started to cry. “Tonia, it’s not what they’re saying it is,” he told her. “They’re not telling the truth. They’re lying about what’s going on down there.”

Conspiracy theories surrounding the 1995 bombing were largely quelled after an 18-month investigation in 1998, during which a state grand jury heard 117 witnesses, finally determining that “absolutely no one else was involved in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building”. Despite the grand jury’s ruling, reports of a mysterious “John Doe No. 2” in the van with McVeigh, or of federal employees having prior knowledge of the attack, cast a shadow of doubt over the 1998 grand jury’s determination. 

A year after the bombings, Yeakey was dead. According to CNN’s investigation, no autopsy was performed on Yeakey. 

“If the prevailing narrative is correct, Yeakey cut his own wrists, arms and neck with razor blades, bled heavily in his car, and then walked or ran about half a mile into either a field or a grove of trees, where he shot himself to death. There was no suicide note,” Lake summarizes the medical examiner’s report and police narrative.

Leading up to his death, Tonia recalled her ex-husband suggesting the pair re-marry “in the event that something happens to him”, according to the CNN investigation. After Yeakey’s death Tonia said things would go missing in her home, including a VCR, and when Yeakey’s family went to his apartment after his death, his sister Lashon told CNN, “You could tell…somebody had been in there, like, looking for something.”

Despite his death occurring in El Reno, OKCPD handled the investigation, a rare but not unheard-of subversion of jurisdiction. Yeakey’s death is still officially labeled a suicide and there exists no concrete evidence that he was murdered, but the CNN investigation raises a series of undeniable questions—inquiries that, until now, were dismissed as frivolous conspiracies. 

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