Terry Nichols Fast Facts
Here is a look at the life of convicted Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
Birth date: April 1, 1955
Birth place: Lapeer County, Michigan
Birth name: Terry Lynn Nichols
Father: Robert Nichols, farmer
Mother: Joyce Nichols
Marriages: Marife (Torres) Nichols (1990-2003, divorced); Lana (Osentoski) Nichols (1981-1989, divorced)
Children: with Marife Nichols: Christian and Nicole; with Lana Nichols: Joshua
Education: Attended Central Michigan University
Military service: US Army, 1988-1989
The FBI accused Nichols of helping build the bomb and arrange a getaway car for Timothy McVeigh after the bombing.
Nichols’ defense attorneys painted Nichols as a family man who had little to do with the bombing.
Nichols was not in Oklahoma City on the day of the bombing but was at home in Kansas. Prosecutors said Nichols helped McVeigh make the bomb the day before.
Nichols and McVeigh shared a fondness for guns, interest in survivalist training and a distrust of the US government.
Nichols learned how to mix fuel and fertilizer to make bombs while growing up on a farm. His father, a farmer, used such bombs to blow up tree stumps.
Nichols’ wife Marife complained at Nichols’ trial of being jealous of her husband’s close relationship with McVeigh.
May 24, 1988 – Enlists in the Army at the age of 33.
1988 – Meets Timothy McVeigh while in basic training at Fort Benning.
May 1989 – Is given a hardship discharge so he can go home to take care of his son Josh.
Fall 1993 – McVeigh lives with the Nichols brothers, Terry and James, in their farmhouse.
March 1994 – Takes a job as a farmhand in Kansas.
Fall 1994 – Quits his job as a farmhand to go into business with McVeigh, selling guns and military surplus.
October 1994 – Along with McVeigh, steals blasting caps and other explosives materials from a quarry in Kansas.
November 5, 1994 – Reportedly robs Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore to finance the purchase of bomb materials.
November 1994-January 1995 – Makes a trip to the Philippines where his wife Marife and daughter Nicole are living. Before leaving, Nichols gives his ex-wife Lana letters and instructions for McVeigh, which are to be read if he doesn’t return from the Philippines.
April 19, 1995 – A bomb explodes at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
April 21, 1995 – Nichols surrenders to Kansas police when he hears they are looking for him in connection with McVeigh.
June 4, 1998 – Judge Richard Matsch sentences Nichols to life in prison without parole after the federal jury is unable to decide on the death penalty or a life sentence.
September 13, 1999 – A federal judge rejects Nichols’ request for a new federal trial.
September 5, 2001 – The Oklahoma County District Attorney announces that Nichols will face a state trial for his role in the bombing. District Attorney C. Wesley Lane says he is going forward with the trial because he is concerned the federal conviction will be overturned.
March 22, 2004 – Nichols’ state trial opens.
April 20, 2004 – Michael Fortier testifies that McVeigh asked him to help build the bomb because “Terry was backing out.” Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison as part of a plea deal for testifying against McVeigh and Nichols.
May 26, 2004 – Nichols is found guilty in Oklahoma state court on 161 counts of murder. The jury spent five hours deliberating before announcing the verdict.
June 11, 2004 – The jury in Nichols’ state trial says it is deadlocked over a sentence of life in prison or death by lethal injection. The decision now falls to Pittsburg County District Judge Steven Taylor, and by law, his options are limited to life in prison, with or without the chance for parole.
August 9, 2004 – District Judge Steven Taylor sentences Nichols to 161 consecutive life terms, without the possibility of parole.
April 1, 2005 – The FBI finds residual bomb making material in Nichols’ former residence, not detected in previous searches.
May 4, 2005 – In a letter written from his Colorado prison cell, Nichols names Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore as the man who supplied him and McVeigh with bomb components. Moore denies any involvement.
November 2007 – A Utah lawyer, Jesse Trentadue, interviews Nichols in regard to the death of Trentadue’s brother while in federal custody in 1995. Trentadue believes his brother Kenneth died during an FBI interrogation when agents confused him for a suspect connected to the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing.
September 27, 2008 – A judge upholds the approval of a taped interview with Nichols in the death of Trentadue’s brother.
November 6, 2008 – The FBI appeals an order allowing Trentadue to interview Nichols on video tape. The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals later overturns the ruling and bars the taped deposition.
March 16, 2009 – Files a 39-page handwritten lawsuit against the Colorado prison where he is staying for violating his religious and physical dietary needs by not giving him whole foods. In the lawsuit Nichols requests 100% whole-grain foods, fresh raw vegetables and fruit, a wheat bran supplement and digestive bacteria and enzymes.
February 2010 – Goes on a fast, protesting the processed foods he is being served in prison.
August 12, 2010 – US District Judge Christine M. Arguello dismisses Nichols’ lawsuit over prison food.
November 28, 2011 – Jannie Coverdale, grandmother of two victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, reveals she has been corresponding with Nichols for several years and that he apologized and asked for her forgiveness, which he received. In copies of the letters published in The Oklahoman, Nichols admits he knew there was to be a bombing but didn’t know the federal building was the target and that the building would be occupied.
July 13, 2015 – Nichols files a motion asking the court to force the FBI to turn over approximately ten firearms, belonging to him, that were seized after the bombings. Nichols suggests in the motion that the FBI turn the guns over to his ex-wife to help support his children.
April 15, 2016 – Federal judge Richard P. Matsch orders the government to destroy the firearms belonging to Nichols, and that the fair market value of $6,922 be applied to his court ordered restitution of $14.5 million.
March 9, 2017 – Evidence from Nichols’ state trial in Oklahoma is transferred to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater states that “These files … will be maintained for historical purposes, for educational purposes and, maybe, to use to prevent a future act.”