NEWS 9 report
The convict, 50, started speaking to the FBI about his role in April and told his mother, sister and first ex-wife in June at the federal prison in Florence, Colo.
"I didn't like it. Oh, God, I said, 'No way,'" his mother, Joyce Wilt, said. "I told him, 'You tell me the truth. I want the truth and I don't want anything else.'"
Nichols told the FBI he first thought bomber Timothy McVeigh was going to blow up a monument to get back at the federal government, The Oklahoman has learned.
His statement to the FBI was much more detailed than the written admission he made to state prosecutors during secret, failed plea negotiations in 2003. The existence of the 2003 confession stayed secret until last November.
Nichols, for instance, told the FBI he alone robbed gun collector Roger Moore in Arkansas in November 1994 -- reluctantly -- at McVeigh's urging, sources said.
He also told his family about the robbery. Wilt recalled that Nichols told them, "Tim says, 'You're too much involved to back out now.'"
Using Nichols' statement, the FBI this spring recovered a custom-built, .50-caliber sniper rifle taken in the robbery, sources said. The gun was found near a Kansas creek, where Nichols had said he hid it. Moore said he has not been told about his gun's recovery.
The April 19, 1995, attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City left 168 dead.
Nichols described his role to the FBI and family as uninformed and reluctant. His mother said McVeigh threatened Nichols with a gun "all the time."
His account contrasts with how prosecutors portrayed Nichols at his federal and state trials.
Prosecutors called Nichols an active and willing participant. Prosecutors at both trials pointed out Nichols once wrote McVeigh, "Go For IT!!" and "As Far As Heat -- None That I Know."
The FBI would not comment on Nichols' statement. Danny Defenbaugh, the retired FBI agent who oversaw the investigation, said he has heard that Nichols spoke to the FBI.
"The statement was relatively self-serving. ... There were some admissions, yes," Defenbaugh said.
One defense attorney, W. Creekmore Wallace II, confirmed Nichols talked this year to the FBI. Lead state defense attorney Brian Hermanson said, "This is the first time he's not facing the death penalty and he can say things without fear of someone killing him."
Nichols' family contends he has Asperger Syndrome, a developmental disorder that can make a sufferer especially vulnerable to manipulation and peer pressure.
Nichols spoke to FBI agents after the FBI discovered hundreds of blasting caps and other explosives buried beneath his former house in Herington, Kan.
Sources said Nichols admitted to the FBI that in 1994 he helped McVeigh steal explosives from a Kansas rock quarry at night, buy fertilizer for the bomb from a Kansas farm store and buy nitromethane racing fuel from a Texas racetrack.
Nichols admitted he robbed Moore, taking guns and other valuables wrapped in a bedspread.
He also admitted he picked up McVeigh in Oklahoma City on Easter 1995, three days before the bombing. McVeigh drove from Kansas to Oklahoma City to park a getaway car, while Nichols followed in a truck.
Sources said he admitted helping McVeigh build the bomb in the back of a rented Ryder truck next to a Kansas lake the day before the attack. He said they kept the fertilizer and racing fuel in a storage shed in Herington.
Nichols said he cleared out the storage shed in Herington after the bombing, burying blasting caps beneath his house and hiding the gun near the creek. He said he tossed a license plate McVeigh took off the getaway car in Oklahoma City into the Kansas creek to get rid of evidence. McVeigh was arrested by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who noticed his car did not have a license plate.
Nichols described to the FBI that he acted only with McVeigh in gathering the bomb's ingredients and building it.