Elohim City

By Christopher Zoukis

Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in eastern Oklahoma, Elohim City was founded in 1973 by Robert Millar.  Millar, a former Mennonite preacher from Canada, had converted to Christian Identity.  After his conversion, Millar established Elohim City as an Identity compound, where he and his followers could live in keeping with their beliefs.   Denis Mahon / Image courtesy www.historycommons.org

Essentially, Elohim City was an armed, religious community made up of members of the radical right.  At various times, Elohim City housed members of the Aryan Republican Army; the Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord; the National Alliance; the KKK; the Aryan Nation; and other neo-Nazi groups.  In other words, Elohim City was a bastion for those involved in the militant white power movement.

The Aryan Republican Army (ARA) – about which much more later – was a small gang of estranged, violent, white supremacists, who had read The Turner Diaries, The Silent Brotherhood and Vigilantes for Christendom.  Not only did they read them and believe them, but they adopted the books’ teachings as their motivating ideology.  The ARA modeled their mode of dress, their actions and their organization after Robert Mathews and The Order. 

Supposedly, the ARA was at Elohim City preparing to rob an armored truck in Fayetteville.  The robbery never took place.  In hindsight, it appears the robbery was camouflage for the ARA’s meeting with McVeigh.  After the meeting, McVeigh wrote a number of bizarre letters.  In one of the letters, he informed his sister that he now had “a network of friends who share [his] beliefs.”  He also told his sister of his recurring suicidal thoughts.  McVeigh then wrote an anonymous letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), railing against the bloody 1993 raid on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians.  On a separate note sent with the letter to the BATF, McVeigh wrote, “You motherf****** are going to hang.”

About a month after the first letter to his sister, McVeigh sent her a second letter, which specifically spoke of the Phineas Priesthood and the “need for action.”  All these letters were written over the course of a four-week period, from October 1993 to November 1993.  During this period, McVeigh was bouncing back and forth between the Michigan farm of Terry Nichols and the home of Michael Fortier in Kingman, Arizona.  Fortier was an old Army buddy of McVeigh’s.  And it was at Fortier’s home that McVeigh started using crystal meth and became friends with Jack Oliphant. 

Oliphant was member of the Arizona Patriots and a self-appointed preacher in the church of Christian Identity.  He used his 320-acre ranch to train neo-Nazi terrorists.

At the beginning of 1994, Terry Nichols and his wife – Marife Nichols, who was a Filipina mail-order bride – moved to Las Vegas.  From his condo in Las Vegas, Nichols attended gun shows and military surplus auctions in Kansas.  Meanwhile, McVeigh was also attending gun shows.  Going by the name of Tim Tuttle, he sold rifles and copies of The Turner Diaries.

After a few months in Las Vegas, at the beginning of March 1994, Nichols moved to Marion, Kansas.  When not on the road traveling from gun show to gun show, McVeigh hung out at the Nichols place in Kansas.  Not surprisingly, the ARA’s safe house was only 130 miles south and east of the Nichols home in Marion.  In fact, the four corners area of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas was a hotbed of angry white power groups.

On September 12, 1994, McVeigh stayed at the El Siesta motel in Vian, Oklahoma, which was only twenty minutes from Elohim City.  And it was at this time that McVeigh was seen on the gun range at Elohim City.  While blasting away with semi-automatic and automatic weapons, McVeigh talked with Denis Mahon.  Mahon was an ardent white supremacist and high-ranking member of WAR (White Aryan Resistance), a national hate group run by Tom Metzger. 

Mahon knew how to build bombs.  Three years before, he had built a 500-pound bomb.  Made of ammonium nitrate, the bomb totally obliterated a truck. 

Right after McVeigh left Elohim City, he and Nichols sat down and outlined the precise details of the bomb to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City.  They knew what kind of bomb they wanted to build and started to gather the necessary ingredients.  First they bought 5400 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer from the Mid-Kansas Co-op in McPherson, Kansas.  They moved the fertilizer into storage lockers they had rented in nearby Herington, Kansas. 

In Ennis, Texas, McVeigh and Nichols purchased 162 gallons of nitromethane, along with a siphon pump.  They, too, were placed in the storage lockers in Herington.

Next, the two conspirators stole 299 sticks of dynamite, 580 Primadet blasting caps, and 400 pounds of Tovex sausages from a mining company in Marion, Kansas.  These items were not placed in the Herington storage lockers.  Instead, McVeigh and Nichols took them to Kingman, Arizona, where they rented more storage space to hold the stolen explosives. 

McVeigh needed the explosives in Kingman so he and his expert bomb-building consultants could have access to them.  For McVeigh intended to build and test some practice bombs. 

Money was a necessary ingredient, too.  McVeigh decided to run a fundraiser.  In 1993, in Fort Lauderdale, he had met a wealthy gun collector named Roger Moore.  Moore had a house in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he kept many valuable items, including firearms, camera equipment, silver bars, gold bullion, jade, precious stones, large amounts of cash and other collectibles.  McVeigh had visited Moore’s house a number of times.  So he knew where the loot was kept. 

McVeigh told ARA members Michael Brescia and Richard Guthrie about Moore and his possessions.  Guthrie and Brescia liked what they heard.  On November 5, 1994, Guthrie and Brescia showed up at Moore’s house in Hot Springs.  Both men wore heavy diguises and carried loaded guns.  Using duct tape, they bound Moore.  Then they blindfolded him.  Then they took everything they could lay their hands on, loading it into a van.  They drove to Council Grove, Kansas, where they rented storage space.  They put the firearms from the robbery inside the storage space.  The rest of the loot was turned over to Terry Nichols.