New Book Explores Oklahoma City Bombing Victims, the Death Penalty, and the Myth of Closure

On the eleventh anniversary of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s execution, Andrew Cohen writes in The Atlantic about a new book, Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure. In it, author Jody Lynee Madeira, an associate professor at Indiana University School of Law, examines the experiences of the survivors and victims’ families during McVeigh’s trial and execution and their struggle to find and define closure in the years since.

Madeira concludes from her interviews that closure is often a process rather than a distinctive moment or event and that each person experiences it differently, while some never do at all. It can also come in unique forms like conversations between perpetrators’ family members and victims’ families. In the book, she retells the story of Bud Welch, the father of bombing victim Julie Welch, and the relationship he formed with Timothy McVeigh’s father, Bill.

(Photo: Shari Sawyer, right, wipes a tear as she leans on the shoulder of her husband, Jay, after witnessing the execution of Timothy McVeigh via AP in The Atlantic)

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