Secret tape shows moment in Murrah bombing history

A long-secret video recording from the Oklahoma City bombing case reveals a slice of history — a trooper’s search of bomber Timothy McVeigh’s getaway car.
McVeigh is never shown on the 28-minute recording obtained by The Oklahoman.

Still, the recording from the trooper’s dashboard camera provides a unique and somewhat eerie perspective: what McVeigh saw in the first minutes after his capture along Interstate 35 in northern rural Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Charlie Hanger turned on the camera after arresting McVeigh on the morning of the attack. He said at McVeigh’s trial that he had intended to record his interview of McVeigh, but pushed the wrong two buttons.

McVeigh was handcuffed in the front passenger seat.
Hanger, now sheriff of Noble County, said in a speech in August, "I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time, and things fell in place.”

The Oklahoma City National Memorial plans to use the recording in a documentary about McVeigh’s arrest to be shown at the museum next year.

The memorial obtained a copy of the recording from the FBI on Dec. 17 after learning about its existence from Hanger and The Oklahoman. The memorial provided a copy to The Oklahoman.

The museum focuses mostly on the tragedy itself, the victims and the worldwide response, but officials have added exhibits in recent years that show more about the bombing investigation.

"People want to feel good about something bad,” said Kari F. Watkins, the memorial’s executive director. "Seeing that justice was served makes people have a sense of pride, that good overcame evil.”

The trooper’s recording was not shown at any of the three bombing trials. It is one of several video recordings that have remained secret since the FBI gathered them as evidence in 1995.

The trooper stopped McVeigh 75 minutes after the April 19, 1995, bombing after noticing McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis was missing a license tag. McVeigh was arrested during a traffic stop after the trooper discovered a loaded .45-caliber Glock handgun beneath his jacket.

Hanger did not know the significance of the arrest until two days later when federal agents identified McVeigh as a suspect in the bombing. McVeigh was still in the Noble County jail for the concealed weapon offense.

The recording shows Hanger walking to the getaway car, writing down a vehicle identification number and searching the interior. He then returns to his patrol car.

A few minutes later, Hanger walks back to the getaway car, makes sure its doors are locked, checks the trunk and rolls up the driver’s window.

The trooper then drives across the I-35 median and goes south toward Perry.