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In accordance with my Saturday morning habit, I went downtown about 9:00 to get a donut and chat with friends. Most of the regulars were there; religion, politics, gossip - everything was on the table. After I’d had my fill, of donuts as well as drivel, I headed down Oklahoma to walk off the calories. At Aunt Gertrude’s, a man in a suit stopped me and inquired if I knew Darren Russell. A stranger asking about D.J. (never Darren) put me on guard. Even though D.J. was a very close friend and I knew exactly where he was, I answered, “No.”
Sunday after church, I called D.J. to chat. In the course of our conversation, I mentioned the man in the suit inquiring about him. In the moment of silence, I could hear the gears in his brain grinding. “So, do you know who this guy might be?” I asked. He didn’t answer quickly, but finally replied, “I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the father of one of the many girls I left at the altar.” I knew that reply was not just a humorous retort but a way to avoid a straight answer. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel a need to pry.
The next day I was bothered by D.J.’s failure to give a straight answer when I could see clearly that he knew something about the man in the suit. I doubted he would give a better answer over the phone than he had the day before. So, I got in my car and drove to his house early, before his usual 11:00 am rising time. Surprisingly, I couldn’t roust him. A neighbor told me he had left early. I went home and continued with my daily chores. Occasional calls to his cell phone throughout the day failed to reach him.
Tuesday morning, Jim called to see if I had heard from D.J. The two of them were supposed to go to the movies today; D.J. would not forget that. Neither Jim nor I had heard from D.J. since I talked to him last Sunday. Since D.J. didn’t drive, he normally wouldn’t go far without one us knowing. I told Jim about the man in the suit; he didn’t have a clue who he might be. We both agreed to make a few calls to try to locate D.J. It went unsaid that a call to the police might be next.
Wednesday morning I called Jim. Phone calls to friends failed to reveal the whereabouts of D.J. We agreed to meet for lunch at Vallarta’s and to decide what to do from there. About 10:00 the doorbell rang. When I answered the door, a man identified himself as Special Agent Bob Nagel of the FBI. He asked a variety of questions about my relationship with Darren Russell and what I knew about him. I gave short answers, and he left. I didn’t tell him D.J. was missing. When I met Jim, we made a list of places to search that afternoon.
Jim came over about 9:00 am. Yesterday afternoon we had split up and searched D.J.’s regular haunts. We found nothing, and no one had seen him. We wrote out some alternatives: an unexpected trip somewhere, lying injured somewhere along the road, foul play. None of these involved a stranger or the FBI. We developed a plan to find out about the stranger and why the FBI was looking for him. These mysteries had to be answered first. Jim was assigned to call the FBI and arrange a meeting with Special Agent Nagel. I would search around town for the stranger.
Jim and I met at Daylight Donuts at 9:00. My search of the city yesterday hadn’t turned up the man in the suit. Jim was able to reach Special Agent Nagel. His office was in Oklahoma City; he had agreed to meet with us tomorrow at 10:00. We decided to resume our search for the man in the suit. While searching, we called D.J.’s friends; no word of him. About 11:30, my cell phone rang. It was D.J. He couldn’t talk, but agreed to meet Jim and me tomorrow at 2:00 pm. I expressed our concern. He answered softly, “Tomorrow.”
Saturday morning, we met with Agent Nagel at his office. He wouldn’t tell us why he was looking for D.J. At 2:00, we met D.J. at my house. We had many questions. D.J. told us that his father had been involved in a serious crime, and the Government had hid his family to conceal the facts of the case. Although his father had died about 20 years ago, he was still watched closely by the Government. He had gone into hiding from the man in the suit. He had called the FBI; he was hiding from them to avoid relocation.
I went to church early Sunday morning. I had agreed to meet Jim about 1:00. We both had promised not to reveal D.J.’s secret or whereabouts. D.J. was concerned that someone in the FBI had leaked his location to those that might be incriminated by his father’s information, which he had. He couldn’t trust the FBI to keep him safe. Jim and I would continue our search for the man in the suit. We all felt that he was still looking for D.J. Jim and I drove and walked the streets all afternoon; there were few people out and about.
Jim and I got together Monday morning. We headed south on Division to check the shopping district. We first stopped at the Conoco convenience store to get ourselves a drink and donuts. Once inside the store, I immediately spotted the man in the suit seated at a booth in the Subway section. I nudged Jim and nodded at the man. The man looked up at us without much notice. We bought our goods and returned to our car. We didn’t have to wait long. We followed in our car until he stopped at the Territorial Inn not far from D.J.’s.
The next day we picked up D.J. about 7:00, despite his protests. We drove to the Territorial Inn and waited in a secluded spot. After freezing for two hours, the man in the suit came out and got in his car. D.J. didn’t recognize him. We got a digital photo, but didn’t follow. We drove back to my place for breakfast. D.J. told us he wanted to go public with what he knew. The FBI would take away his protection, but he didn’t trust them any longer. Jim and I agreed to help with a media plan, probably TV news.
About 9:00 on Wednesday morning, the man in the suit knocked on my door. He told me he understood I knew Darren Russell, and he needed to talk with him. He was very assertive, and I thought I could see a bulge under his coat. I told him I knew Darren but hadn’t seen him. When the three of us met at 11:00, Jim said he’d also had a visit and felt very intimidated. The man had offered no credentials or name. He must have gotten our names from Agent Nagel. We spent the afternoon working on a media plan.
We had decided that TV news would be the best outlet for D.J.’s “coming out.” It would take some doing to make arrangements. I’d make contact with 60 Minutes at CBS; Jim would contact Fox News. We would go with whichever one gave the best response. We knew Fox would be faster, but 60 Minutes would give more air time. We also reviewed some personal security measures and agreed to limit contact with D.J. now that the man knew Jim and me. Jim will load his pistol at home, and I will load my 22 semi-automatic rifle - who knows.
The next morning I left home early. A block away I noticed a car in my mirror. On alert, I turned right at the next street; it turned, too. I made three more rights, taking me back home. The car behind followed. I pulled over. As he approached, I honked, and the man pulled up beside me. “Why are you following me?” “I’ll go where I please. I know you’re hiding Russell. Better watch yourself that you don’t have a serious accident.” I responded, “If that’s a threat, I’ll be happy to call the police.” With that, he drove off.
Saturday morning Jim called to say that his house had been searched while he was out Friday evening. Nothing was missing, but papers were thrown all about. We drove over to D.J.’s to check on his stuff. Sure enough, his house was torn apart. It looked like most of his paper goods and DVD’s were missing. Fortunately, D.J. had taken both his desktop and laptop computers. Jim was really scared that I been threatened. We discussed calling the police, but we couldn’t tell them about D.J. We’d have to watch ourselves. We really needed to know more about D.J.’s secret.
After church, Jim and I got together. We drove around back streets to be sure we weren’t followed. We met D.J. at the Laundromat. I explained to D.J. why we had to know details. He told us, “My father, John Russell, worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. At the direction of his boss, Roy Jones, he gave visas to three Indonesians on the Terrorism Watch List. When Landis was caught, my father was implicated. He worked with the FBI and uncovered information on the terrorist ring in Indonesia and the U.S. Afterwards, my family was relocated to avoid reprisals.”
The man was not Indonesian. Why did Agent Nagel or someone in his office tell the man about Jim and me? Jim and I decided to confront Agent Nagel. We arrived at his office unannounced about 3:00. After formalities, Jim said, “Agent Nagel, after visiting you, a man searching for Daren Russell has come to our houses and threatened us. How did he know we had talked to you? Who else did you tell about our conversation?” Agent Nagel’s face grew red, “You need to mind your own business. Tell me where Mr. Russell is or face serious obstruction charges.”
The next morning, the three of us met on a secluded street about 11:00. After an hour of talking in circles, we drove 20 miles to Edmond for lunch. D.J, hadn’t been out much lately. As we drove into Mac’s, we spotted the man in the car behind us. We circled the restaurant to exit. As we drove past him, he pointed a gun and fired two shots. Both went through the rear windows. “The Police Station is only three blocks north. Go there,” shouted D.J. In less than a minute, we drove up beside an occupied police car. Safety!
The next day I phoned Agent Nagel and told him that Jim and I had shots fired at us and we had filed a report with the Edmond Police. Why would anyone want D.J. 20 years after his father died? Did it take that long to find his only living relative? Why would the FBI be involved? Perhaps his father’s crime and FBI involvement had nothing to do with the current situation. Perhaps it was something else in D.J.’s life. The only way D.J. could get into “trouble” was on his computers. I decided they needed a thorough going over.
I met D.J. on Thursday morning at his “hideout.” I explained what I thought. He couldn’t think of anything; so we began to pour through his computer files systematically. After several hours, we got around to reading his short story files. One he wrote was about a victim of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It was based on real people but was mostly fictional. Interestingly, the story contained actual names of victims and the words “bombing,” “FBI,” “Oklahoma City,” “Murrah Building, “terrorism,” and “conspiracy.” Perhaps the FBI or some other persons had scanned his files remotely. Perhaps they feared D.J.
On Thursday, D.J. had called Jim, and he had come over. We had studied the story for a couple of hours. It was notable that in D.J.’s story, an FBI supervisor was the mastermind and had actually selected the target, date, and time - McVeigh and Nichols were just the executioners, seeking revenge for the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents, But the FBI supervisor was looking for a basis to establish and run a unit to fight American militia groups. On Friday, we met and decided to investigate whether that actually happened and, if so, who was put in charge.
Early Saturday, I headed for Dallas. I had an appointment with Vicki Jones, the FBI’s Personnel Officer in the Dallas Regional Office. After we both postured for a few minutes, I inquired about the FBI’s reaction to the bombing. She confirmed that an anti-terrorist task force was formed in ’95. Its mission was to ferret out violent militia organizations. The head of the task force was Glenn Landis, now Regional Superintendent. He was stationed in OKC at the time of the bombing. I decided to stay over until Monday to try to meet him, even though Monday was Christmas Eve.
On Sunday morning I called Jim and told him what I found. He and D.J. would lay low. Since I didn’t bring clothes for church, I stayed in my room. I went online and searched for the name “Glenn Landis.” I found about eight news releases from the FBI Public Relations Office. They told about the task force and its activities. There were two about Landis’ appointment as Regional Manager. I didn’t see a picture. I sat down for an hour to plan tomorrow’s “interview.” I knew that Special Agent Nagel worked for him; maybe he was an unwitting informant.
Monday morning I went into the FBI Office. After asking for the Regional Manager’s Office, I was directed to the eighth floor. The lady at the desk told me that Mr. Landis was out - he was taking the day off. As I started to leave, I noticed two 8x10 photos on the wall. One was the man in the suit. Under his photo, it read “Glenn Landis, Manager, Dallas Regional Office.” I was shocked. I hurried out of the building and called Jim. Landis might be in Guthrie, and he was dangerous. After some quick shopping, I headed north.
I got up early Christmas morning to wrap presents. About 10:00 I headed to Stillwater to spend Christmas Day with my sister and her family. We all had a good time together. About 4:00 I headed home. I called D.J. and Jim on cell phone - Landis would probably have our phones tapped. We recapped the situation: Landis may have been involved in the OKC bombing, he thought D.J. knew something, he probably had agents looking for D.J. and surveilling Jim and me, we had filed a report with the Edmond Police, and we could still go to the media.
After numerous phone calls, D.J., Jim, and I met at noon at a small restaurant in downtown Edmond. After considerable wrangling amongst ourselves, we called Sergeant Sutter, our contact at the Edmond Police Department, and told him that we had identified our shooter. He wanted us to come in and file a report. We told him we feared that the FBI was surveilling us and we feared a conspiracy. During our lengthy conversation it became apparent that Sergeant Sutter was not going to move fast and that Glenn Landis would probably be alerted. We told him we’d come in soon.
On Thursday we woke up in Kingfisher at a secluded motel. Mid-day we called Sergeant Sutter and told him we’d be in at 1:00. When we arrived at his office, Glenn Landis was there, too. We all sat down together, and I laid out our suspicions - no real evidence. We accused Landis of shooting at us. He denied the shooting, of course, and labeled our theory “ridiculous and libelous.” He stumbled over questions about why he had been in Guthrie and why he was searching for D.J. We left with everyone shouting threats - we intended to carry out ours.
Early the next morning, we called FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. We spoke with Special Agent Dennis Hunger, who did not put us off. He asked us to call back in an hour when, Dave Borgersen, Chief of the Domestic Terrorism Section, would be out of his morning briefings. When we called back, we related our story again to Dave Borgersen. He was intrigued, but he did not indicate any definite action. He told us they would have to investigate, but many agents were off for the holidays. He understood our fear and the urgency. His assurances were not assuring.
Friday night we stayed in our usual motel in Kingfisher; we were careful to pay cash and keep out of sight. Saturday morning, we headed out for breakfast. As we came out the door, Glenn Landis approached us and forced us into his SUV at gunpoint. At his direction, I drove to a dilapidated shack northeast of town. He led us inside and tied us, sitting, to separate posts. Using much profanity, he declared us “dead men.” He told us about his role in planning the Oklahoma City bombing for McVeigh and Nichols. After venting, he left us there, freezing.
We suffered through the night. Just after dawn, Landis returned with a shotgun. He untied D.J. from the post. As he led him to the back of the shack, a dozen plain and uniformed policemen burst in from all sides. “Drop your weapon!” “Get on the ground!” Three uniformed officers jumped on Landis while others untied us. After things calmed down, we learned that Agent Nagel had warned Chief Borgersen about Landis’ unusual activities. Agent Hunger in Dallas had bugged D.J.’s coat so they could follow us. They had overheard everything and were waiting in hiding for Landis to return.
The three of us were debriefed and interviewed for four hours on Sunday. We were very appreciative of the work of Agent Nagel, despite his shortness, and Agent Hunger, and Chief Borgersen and the Edmond Police. They had all cooperated effectively behind the scenes. D.J., Jim, and I spent Sunday evening at my house watching bowl games. I’m relieved to be free of the ever-present apprehension, and I look forward to a pleasant, boring evening in front of the TV.
Inspired by imaginary events, the story above is purely fictional. The names are real to defame the guilty. The Author.
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