Fortier's mother urges bombing victims to forgive in letter to newspaper

Monday, February 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The mother of a principal in the Oklahoma City bombing case would like for victims of the crime to forgive Timothy McVeigh.

Irene Fortier, the mother of Michael Fortier, wrote her request in a letter to The Daily Oklahoman. Irene Fortier said she found it repulsive that victims were sent "invitations" to watch McVeigh's execution.

"I have asked myself .... 'What kind of human being could possibly find satisfaction out of watching someone die under any circumstance?' For closure? Do the people who have not forgiven Tim by now think that by watching him die, their lives will be hunky-dory again?" she wrote from Kingman, Ariz.

Monday is the deadline for victims to inform the U.S. attorney's office in Oklahoma City about whether they want to witness the execution. Several already have.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joe Heaton asked victims in a Jan. 17 letter to return a one-page confirmation form "if you wish to attend and witness the execution."

McVeigh, 32, is scheduled to be executed May 16 by lethal injection for the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

The 1995 explosion left 168 dead.

His execution will be at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., and may be televised for victims.

His friend, Michael Fortier, is serving a 12-year prison term for failing to go to authorities after McVeigh told him of the bombing plans. The two met in the U.S. Army.

Michael Fortier testified against McVeigh during a 1997 trial in Denver. He has apologized to victims.

"I was terribly wrong. I deeply regret not taking the information I had to the police. ... I sometimes daydream that I did do this and became a hero, but reality is that I am not," he said in 1998.

Michael Fortier, 32, is in custody at an undisclosed federal site.

Irene Fortier knows McVeigh, who frequently visited her son in Kingman. She has written him in prison.

"There is only one way that one can find peace of mind and that is by forgiving," her letter read. "I know what you are all thinking: 'Who does this woman think she is? She has no idea what we have been through.' Believe me, dear people, I know that what Tim did was a horrific thing and my heart has ached for all of you for a long, long time, but I have also been praying for Tim for a long, long time."

Irene Fortier quoted the Bible as saying "you will not be forgiven until you forgive."

"I know a few of you ... who would just love to pull the switch on Tim, but for the most part, although the pain is still there, most of you have gone on with your lives.

"... For me, the most satisfying thing I could get out of all this would be a handwritten note from Tim saying, 'Mrs. Fortier, I have made my peace with God."'

Mrs. Fortier told The Daily Oklahoman on Friday that she still is waiting for such a note.

"I go to church, and I pray for that. I really would like to see it happen. I really would."