In the months leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing, suspect Timothy McVeigh made more than two dozen telephone calls to suppliers of bomb components, The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.
Citing records from a prepaid phone calling card found in suspect Terry Nichols' house, the newspaper said 22 of the calls were made during a three-day period of September 1994 to companies including racing fuel suppliers, chemical distributors and one of the nation's largest explosives manufacturers.That wave of calls came just days before McVeigh and Nichols allegedly began buying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the same component used in the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people.
Records show the calls continued in October 1994 from Kingman, Ariz., about the same time that the suspects allegedly drove there to hide stolen explosives, the newspaper said. Three of the Arizona calls were made from the home of Michael Fortier, whom McVeigh often visited.
Fortier, a former Army buddy of McVeigh's, has pleaded guilty to knowing about the bomb plot and doing nothing to stop it. He plans to testify for the government.
While Nichols' lawyer has said his client split with McVeigh in February 1995, government sources told the newspaper that the phone records will be used in court to show that the suspects stayed in close touch in the days before the explosion.
The records show that as McVeigh traveled around the country he exchanged several calls with Nichols, right up until the day before the bombing, the newspaper reported.
Among the calls McVeigh made, the newspaper said, was an April 14, 1995, call from a Junction City, Kan., bus station to a Ryder agency there that rented the truck used in the blast.
Lawyers on both sides declined Wednesday to comment on the phone records.
The bombing indictment alleges both defendants used the card "as a means of concealing their true identities and as a means of preventing calls from being traced."
But within days of the bombing, Joel Soto, a marketing representative for a company formerly known as WCT Communications, which issued the card, said FBI agents came to the company's Santa Barbara, Calif., headquarters and obtained toll records for the 684 calls made on the card.