PrimeTime: Inside McVeigh's Mind

ByABC News

March 29, 2001 -- Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, "has no major mental illness," says Dr. John Smith, the psychiatrist who evaluated McVeigh for the defense during his trial for the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people.

"After I examined Tim, I knew that he was not deranged," says Smith for the first time. McVeigh has, however, suffered from depression, obsessive-compulsive traits, and at least one severe panic attack, according to Smith, who spoke to PrimeTime Thursday with the permission of his former patient.

"He really feels nothing," says Smith. "He feels, in my opinion, fully justified in his action."

McVeigh agreed to let the doctor talk, Smith says, because McVeigh wants "to promote a dialogue in this country on the role of the federal government in our lives." And, he says, "I think he wants people to know that this is not the behavior of some crazy guy."

Why He Did It

McVeigh was "fueled and motivated" to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, says Smith, because of "the rage that he experienced from the bottom of his heart when he heard that Waco, the Davidians, had gone up in flames. He told me that a rage enveloped him like he had never felt before."

Smith, who has not seen McVeigh in four years, adds: "It was hatred that motivated this killing. And revenge. The bottom line of this is: If there had been no Waco, there would have been no Oklahoma City."

The most chilling moment of his time with McVeigh, says Smith, was "the almost glee with which he told me the details of the bombing, the preparation for the bombing, the expectation that at least 400 people would be killed."

A Younger McVeighAs a young boy, McVeigh's parents, prior to their separation, fought often and fiercely, says Smith, and McVeigh was bullied at school.

"I think the bullying and the painfulness of the home led him to be hypersensitive and he developed this shell to protect that." He explains, "Tim's defense against some of this probably was his excessive interest in guns."

Eventually he retreated into a world of comic books and superheroes, finding comfort in fantasy.

"He entertained himself throughout his childhood by creating fantasy monsters of various kinds," says Smith. "He was the warrior hero who always fought these monsters." Ultimately, Smith says, McVeigh "had the skill and finally the motivation to turn that fantasy into reality — which he did."

Smith believes that McVeigh has no fear of his execution on May 16. "Tim's not afraid of that event, not now … Tim is a warrior who's ready … to die for his cause."

— Written for by Rebecca Raphael.

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