Did John Doe #2 exist? New book claims to solve decades-old mystery
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
One of the enduring mysteries of the Oklahoma City Bombing are the numerous witness statements and sworn testimonies that said in the hours and days leading up to the attack another man, who was not Terry Nichols, was seen with Timothy McVeigh.
In the early days of the investigation investigators released a sketch of the person seen with McVeigh, he was dubbed “John Doe #2.” There was a nation-wide hunt for the man the witnesses said helped in the attack, before the government finally announced that John Doe #2 did not actually exist.
But what if he did exist?
A new book and a new witness claims to answer that lingering question. She says she has been living in fear for the past 23 years and is now sharing her story publicly for the first time.
Judith Warner says when the infamous John Doe #2 sketch was shown on TV she saw it and knew who it was.
“Instantly,” Warner told FOX 25, “No hesitation.”
In the sketch she saw the man she had recently freed herself from, her ex-husband Juan Carlos Parraga.
Warner put her life into words, writing how Parraga had kidnapped and raped her and ultimately forced her to marry him. In her book, which is more of a diary of her life, she describes episodes of violence that only got worse until she knew she had to escape.
“I knew something was happening but I couldn't have a handle on it,” Warner said. “We didn't have cell phones where you could take a quick picture and start building evidence.”
Some would say Warner’s claims are nothing more than a new wrinkle or chapter to the multitude of conspiracy theories that grew in the wake of the bombing. They may question why it took her more than two decades to come forward.
Warner says she is coming forward now to let the world know what Parraga was involved in during their time together. She says she kept the story out of the public because she was living in fear. She has spent time in protective custody, had her name changed and other efforts to hide from the violence she says she experienced.
The decision to go public came after Warner learned Parraga died a few years ago. She knew she was finally safe.
“There are thousands of people out there who knew him,” Warner said of Parraga. “Thousands of people that he hurt and they are going to remember and they are going to come forward once they know that he's dead.”
But what proof is there that Parraga is connected to Oklahoma City besides a striking resemblance to the two-decade old sketches?
In her book, Warner lays out a circumstantial case. She presents names, dates and addresses along with documents that she says ties Parraga to a path of violence that connects to McVeigh and the deaths of 168 people inside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Warner has copies of police reports where Parraga identified himself as a “revolutionary.”
Her records of Parraga's life track with public records and even put him in Kingman, Arizona around the same time as Timothy McVeigh. The official record indicates McVeigh lived in Kingman with a former Army friend, Michael Fortier, who was later testified in exchange for a reduced charge for his role in aiding in the plot.
Warner writes how her husband developed his hatred for the country where he was living.
“He was not somebody who liked America, he was somebody who wanted to fight.”
The book warner lays out another connection, Andreas Strassmeir, known as Andy the German, a man McVeigh tried to contact just before the bombing who admitted he had met McVeigh but denied involvement in the plot.
Warner says Strassmeir visited her family as a child, at the invitation of her husband. After the bombing she heard the name mentioned in connection to the case and the past came back to her.
“[A picture] was in my son's baby book, and his name was written right underneath it, Andreas Strassmeir,” Warner said. “He had come to America to learn English because he only spoke a little Spanish and German.”
One of the most well-known John Doe #2 sightings, which was highlighted during the trial of Terry Nichols, was a clerk who said he sold McVeigh two cans of soda and a pack of cigarettes just before the bomb exploded.
McVeigh didn't smoke, but Warner says the cigarettes mentioned in the reports were the same kind Parraga smoked.
Warner also writes that she remembers watching her husband be arrested shortly after the bombing by federal authorities, but never knew exactly why he was taken into custody.
“A few days after that arrest [President Bill] Clinton made the announcement that there was no John Doe #2.”
By this point, Warner said she had already turned in her ex-husband to federal authorities. After the President’s announcement she went into hiding. A year later, on the anniversary of her bombing, Warner said her house was set on fire.
Prosecutors argued there was no John Doe #2 and investigators testified they interviewed and cleared hundreds of potential look-alikes. Still, the existence of other potential accomplices has remained a focus even after trials of the known conspirators ended.
More than two decades later, these questions remain. Warner wholeheartedly believes her story will provide some of the answers and she hopes it will open the doors for more people to come forward to fill in even more connections leading up to that fateful day.