By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Although paramedics were rushed to the scene, they were refused entry to the prison. By the time they got inside, his body had been moved to an infirmary and the cell had been wiped clean. Oklahoma City's chief medical examiner later confirmed Trentadue died of asphyxiation, but also noted that his body was covered with bruises, cuts and boot prints. When prison authorities offered to pay for his brother's cremation, Utah lawyer Jesse Trentadue became suspicious and launched an investigation into the death that continues to this day.
He sued the FBI to turn over documents about his brother's death, as well as the agency's investigation into the Midwest Bank Bandits, a group operating out of Elohim City, a neo-Nazi compound in Oklahoma that allegedly robbed banks to fund terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Trentadue says he became interested in Elohim City after an anonymous caller told him McVeigh believed his brother had been tortured to death because he closely resembled Richard Lee Guthrie, a member of the robbery gang.
Rohrabacher's report includes chapters on Elohim City and the Midwestern Robbery Gang that draw on FBI documents Jesse Trentadue uncovered in his lawsuit. Those documents show that the FBI had informants at Elohim City who were aware that the compound was involved in planning a military strike against the government in retaliation for its early 1990s actions against armed separatists at Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Documents uncovered by Jesse Trentadue also show that McVeigh visited the Elohim City compound shortly before the bombing and made a telephone call to Andreas Strassmeir, a neo-Nazi and German army veteran with explosives training, just two weeks before the bombing.
"This phone call lasted one minute, 56 seconds," Rohrabacher's report states. "Why would McVeigh try to recruit a virtual stranger to join him in such a monstrous criminal act? Obviously there was more to this relationship than is currently acknowledged."
Guthrie was finally captured in January 1996. He "had claimed he would soon be revealing information that would blow the lid off the Oklahoma City bombing case," Rohrabacher notes in his report. "The next day he was found dead, hanging in his cell, purportedly a suicide. This suspicious 'suicide' mirrored the similar death of Jesse Trentadue, another prisoner who may have been tangentially and incorrectly linked to the Oklahoma City bombing. The death of these two prisoners, who happened to be very similar in appearance, is more than disturbing."
Jesse Trentadue says Rohrabacher's report, while inconclusive, gives him hope that someday he'll succeed in forcing the FBI to turn over all its documents on his brother's death. "Obviously, I think it is significant that my brother is mentioned in [Rohrabacher's] investigation," he told the Weekly in a recent interview. "It seems clear to me that Congressman Rohrabacher thinks my brother was murdered. . . . He was mistaken for Richard Lee Guthrie and tortured and murdered. Guthrie was going to blow the lid off the Oklahoma City bombing story, and then he went out the same way."