Mother of Okla. bomb victim to attend trial

April 02, 1997


Staff Writer

BOONSBORO - Bette Whicher can't imagine not trying to get a seat at the first Oklahoma City bombing trial, which began Monday in Denver.

"If you had a child or relative that was murdered by anybody, you'd want to be at the trial," said Whicher, 63, of Boonsboro, whose 40-year-old son, Alan Whicher, died in the bombing. "You need closure."

In the case of a natural death, the funeral provides that closure, she said.

With a violent crime, it's different, said Whicher, who was persuaded not to look at her son's body before it was buried. She regrets that now.


"No matter what condition it was in, I should have seen it," said Whicher, who was relieved to get seats in the courtroom for herself and daughter Diane Wollard of Hagerstown during week 14 of the bombing trial.

The defendant, Timothy McVeigh, 28, is accused of igniting the bomb that blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Alan Whicher, a U.S. Secret Service agent, was one of 168 people killed by the blast.

Both McVeigh and Terry Nichols, 42, are charged with conspiracy and murder in the bombing. Nichols' trial will follow McVeigh's. Both face execution if convicted.

Because of the large number of survivors and family members wanting to attend the trial, the U.S. Department of Justice devised a lottery system to determine who would get seats in the courtroom, Whicher said.

She said she hopes to be able to watch some of the trial beforehand on closed-circuit television in a room set aside for 320 people - survivors of the blast or relatives of those who died in the explosion.

That will give her a good idea if the media's coverage is doing the trial justice, she said. Meanwhile, she plans to subscribe to an Oklahoma City newspaper to get as much information as possible.

Because he was a federal employee, Alan Whicher is specifically named in the murder indictments, his mother said.

His widow, Pamela Whicher, will testify at that point in the trial, she said.

Seven months before the bombing, Alan Whicher took over as assistant special agent in charge of the Oklahoma City field office, located in the building, she said.

Then a recent widow, Bette Whicher said she had been planning to sell her home and move to Oklahoma City, where her son had moved with his wife and three children.

She and her daughter were gathering things for a yard sale on the day of the bombing, she said.

Since she has never been to a trial, Whicher said she isn't sure how it will affect her. But it's important to be there, she said.

"To find out about the accused, about the facts, mostly why the person would even do something like that," said Whicher, who said it bothers her that Americans would kill other Americans to protest the government.

Whicher said she has the free time to attend the trial that many others don't have.

"Somebody has to be there that was family to Alan besides the greater family of the Secret Service. And kind of as the representative of all the mothers that lost sons."

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