Would You Confuse a "Headless Body" With "the Bottom Half of a Man"?

December 1st, 2005 3:36 PM

If the question posed by the title of this post seems a little macabre, it nevertheless must be asked, thanks to either the FBI or Joel Hinrichs, Sr., father of the University of Oklahoma student who blew himself up just outside the school's football stadium during the OU-Kansas State game Oct. 1.

Here's why:

Hinrichs Sr. told The Sunday Oklahoman that, when he was informed by investigators Oct. 15 of an alleged suicide note left by his son, the FBI also showed him "photos of his son's headless body." (I can't provide a link to the Oct. 16 article because it is only available via a paid search of the paper's digital archives.) Hinrichs Sr. said he plans to cremate his sons remains when they are finally turned over to him by federal authorities.

But in the FBI's search warrant documents unsealed last week by a federal judge, we find a completely different description of the condition of Hinrichs' body following the explosion that killed him while sitting on a bench during the second quarter of the game.

In those documents, FBI investigator Jennifer Baker described what she was told by eyewitness Donald Wayne Laughlin who walked past Hinrichs a few seconds before the bomb attached to his body detonated.

An instant after the bomb detonated, Laughlin looked back at the bench where he had just walked past Hinrichs. According to Baker, "Laughlin saw what appeared to be the bottom half of the man that had been sitting on the bench."

There simply is no confusing a photo of a "headless body" with a witness's description of seeing "the bottom half of the man" an instant after the detonation.

By the way, Michelle Malkin performed a signal public service in going through the laborious process to obtain the search warrant in the OU Suicide Bomber case and the supporting documentation. She has spent a great deal of time to going through the documents.  Generation Why's Jason Smith is also going through the documents.

After going through the materials, Malkin concludes there isn't much of interest there, though she describes a number of potentially key elements that aren't included in the documents made public in connection with the search warrant:

"None of the hundreds of e-mails in Hinrichs' Yahoo.com account accessed by the FBI/JTTF are included in the release. Nor are the names or URLs of any of the websites he visited from his home computer or any of the nine campus computers searched by the FBI/JTTF.
"The last line of Hinrichs' suicide message is reported, but not the rest of the text document.
"So, was he simply a troubled soul, a freelance Islamist bent on mass murder at the OU football stadium, or something else? The unsealed papers neither prove nor disprove any of these theories."

Even so, Malkin says the case isn't closed.

Meanwhile, CBS News blogger Vaugh Ververs is taunting bloggers with a post headlined: "Hey, bloggers, it' s okay to correct the record." Earlier this week, I emailed Ververs asking him how he would explain the obvious discontinuity in descriptions of Hinrichs' remains. I've yet to hear from him.

I also look forward to hearing the FBI's explanation for how a headless body could be confused with the bottom half of a man.

Cross-posted at Tapscott's Copy Desk.