Terry Nichols: Where is the Oklahoma Terrorist Now?

Image Credit: The Boston Globe

As a five-part miniseries we can only describe as equal parts baffling and haunting, Showtime’s ‘Waco: The Aftermath’ (sequel to the 2018 Paramount original ‘Waco’) is truly unlike any other. That’s because it delves deep into the reality behind what precisely transpired following the catastrophic 1993 51-day standoff at the Branch Davidian compound rather than the incident itself. Amongst it was, of course, the utter radicalization of Terry Lynn Nichols — whose actions have also been explored in HBO’s ‘An American Bombing: The Road to April 19th.’

Who is Terry Nichols?

Despite the fact Terry was born on April 1, 1955, as the third of four kids to loving parents Joyce Nichols and Robert Nichols, he was always rather shy since he was primarily raised on a farm. He thus learned how to fully operate a self-sustaining enterprise at a relatively young age, driving him to take up electives such as creative crafts and business law while still in high school. Surprisingly, he even managed not to let his introversion or educational choices hinder his experiences as he ensured to be an active part of the varsity football team, wrestling squad, and ski club.

Terry actually had dreams of becoming a physician, yet circumstances were such that he just had to move on to other ventures upon completing a single term at Central Michigan University (CMU). He subsequently held various short-term jobs, including real estate agent, carpenter, ranch hand, and family farmer — though he never really liked the life he led as the latter for several reasons. Therefore, at the age of 33 in 1988, the married father of one decided to enlist in the Army, only to request a hardship discharge following ten months owing to a conflict over custody in his divorce.

Image Credit: News 9

Nevertheless, Terry’s brief stint was enough for him to grow close to his platoon mentee Timothy “Tim” McVeigh, with whom he shared not just political views but also an interest in gun collecting. It was then that the former’s small anti-government views evolved into radicalism, driving him to attend meetings by extremist groups as well as experiment with explosives and firearms. Things got even more intense once Timothy was discharged in 1991, especially as they became fixtures in gun shows before the former went as far as to renounce his citizenship, his bank accounts, and his IDs.

Terry wholeheartedly believed the government was corrupt so he wanted them to have no jurisdiction over him, and this mistrust ultimately led him to conspire with Timothy for the 1995 bombing. He also sought revenge for the 1992 Ruby Ridge plus 1993 Waco sieges, yet his actions honestly did nothing but take the life of 168 innocent individuals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on April 19. The former had married a Filipino native through a mail-order bride agency by this point, with whom he shared two other children, though it ostensibly played little to no role in his decision to turn violent.

Terry Nichols is in Federal Custody Even Today

Terry actually turned himself in on April 21, 1995, upon learning he was wanted for questioning and then consented to a full search of his home, yielding a lot of incriminating, crucial evidence. He was subsequently indicted on nine federal counts along with 163 state criminal counts, to which he was mostly found guilty following two extensive trials in 1997 and 2004, respectively. He was first convicted of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction plus eight charges of involuntary manslaughter in a federal court, then came the state convictions for 161 counts of first-degree murder, first-degree arson, and extensive conspiracy.

Since Terry was found not guilty of indictments related to actually detonating the bomb on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the jury deadlocked on the death penalty. He was thus sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, to be followed by another 161 such life terms consecutively for the state first-degree murder charges. Hence, today, at the age of 69, the terrorist responsible for the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in US history is incarcerated at the super-maximum security ADX Florence United States Penitentiary in Fremont County, Colorado. Per the HBO original, he has since claimed a rouge FBI agent orchestrated this entire attack with the help of others, yet there has never been any evidence of the same.

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