LA COMPOSER to conduct 'prequiem' before McVeigh execution

Thursday, May 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Los Angeles composer has created a 12-minute musical ``prequiem'' he hopes will escort Timothy McVeigh's soul to heaven when the Oklahoma City bomber is executed next week.

David Woodard said he has been in contact with McVeigh and is trying to coordinate a performance of the piece that would be broadcast on an Iowa radio station just before Wednesday's scheduled execution. He said he wants the performance to ``cause the soul of Timothy McVeigh to go to heaven.''

McVeigh killed 168 people on April 19, 1995, when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He has never expressed remorse for the attack, which killed 19 children.

Woodard, 33, said he does not support McVeigh's anti-government cause, but is ``awed by who (he) is and his circumstances.''

``I cannot think of a precedent in history ... of a man who without any direct psychological support for his ideas is able to withstand the duress of the death penalty or hopeless imprisonment and seem completely satisfied that he did the right thing,'' Woodard said.

The composer said he plans to conduct an ensemble still being assembled during a vigil at a church in Terre Haute, Ind., not far from the prison where McVeigh is to die. He said he hopes a local radio station will broadcast the performance so McVeigh can hear it just before his execution.

A survivor of the blast expressed disappointment at Woodward's efforts.

``I'm sure this person is sincere, but it is terribly insensitive to the reality of pain and grief caused by this delusional, suicidal coward,'' said Paul A. Heath.

Kathy Wilburn, who had two grandchildren killed in the blast, also was critical.

``That's not my understanding of the way you get to heaven,'' she said.

``I've actually prayed for Timothy McVeigh,'' Wilburn added. ``But there's nothing in the Bible that says the way to heaven is by having someone write a song for you. ... I think Timothy McVeigh is going to have to answer to God.''

Woodard said the composition was originally written for Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who has assisted in numerous suicides. It was first titled ``Farewell to a Saint.''

The name has since been changed to ``Ave Atque Vale,'' Latin, Woodard said, for ``Onward Valiant Soldier,'' though other translations put it as ``Hail and Farewell.''

In addition to composing, Woodard supports himself by selling Dreamachines, contraptions that purportedly induce dream states and provide psychic powers to users.

Woodard, who says he was friends with the late Beat author William S. Burroughs, has composed several requiems, or Masses, for the dead.

He said the prequiem, or Mass for the soon-to-be-dead, is his invention.