Kenneth Trentadue

Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
Date of Crime:  August 21, 1995

(Federal Case)  Kenneth Michael Trentadue, a prisoner at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center, was murdered by federal authorities.  Trentadue was mistaken for Richard Guthrie, a second suspect in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  There is reason to believe Guthrie knew too much about FBI involvement with individuals directly involved in the bombing.  This bombing, which occurred four months before Trentadue's death, killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others.

Trentadue was arrested in California in June 1995.  He appeared to have been drinking which was a violation of his parole.  He was kept in local jails for several weeks.  Rather than have a simple parole hearing in California, authorities went to the expense of transporting him to Oklahoma City just days before his death.  At the Federal Transfer Center (FTC), Trentadue was first housed with the general inmate population, but then moved to a more isolated protective custody.  Officials asserted Trentadue requested the move, but they could cite no specific threat against him that would cause him to request the move or them to approve it.  Such a move helped to isolate Trentadue from potential witnesses.

Two days after Trentadue's arrival at the FTC, he was found hanging from a bedsheet noose in his cell, suggesting he committed suicide.  However, he also had his scalp split to the skull in three places and his throat slashed from ear to ear.  Numerous bruises were on his his feet, legs, torso, both arms and back.  He had more than two dozen injuries.  Dr. Fred B. Jordan, the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Oklahoma, stated, “I felt Mr. Trentadue had been abused and tortured. I think it's very likely he was murdered.”

Trentadue's death was later investigated in 1999 by the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General (OIG).  OIG issued a report full of witness testimony that was inconsistent with murder.  Without any known motive for authorities to murder Trentadue, the report would have raised reasonable doubt had Trentadue's injuries been less extensive.  It should be noted that the State Medical Examiner had refused to rule Trentadue's death a suicide until extraordinary pressure was put on him.  One must presume that less politically powerful witnesses who were interviewed by the OIG felt even more pressure to conform their statements to the suicide theory.

The OIG relied on a crime scene reconstruction by Tom Bevel, who later helped defend the government from a lawsuit filed by Trentadue's family.  Bevel's crime scene reconstruction is as follows:  After guards last saw Trentadue alive and in bed at 2:38 a.m., Trentadue used a pencil to write an alleged suicide note on the wall of his cell, that contained the words “My minds no longer it's friend.  Love Ya, Familia.”  This note was not signed by him.  Next, he patiently tore a bed sheet into dozens of strips.  He then constructed a ligature from those strips. Once that ligature was manufactured, Trentadue re-made his bed, climbed the wall of his cell and wove the bed sheet rope into a metal vent above his sink.

Trentadue then tried to hang himself and was momentarily successful, but the bed sheet rope broke.  Trentadue fell, hitting his buttocks on the edge of the sink but doing no injury to his buttocks.  The impact of his body on the sink caused Trentadue to ricochet across the cell headfirst into the corner of a metal desk at the end of his bunk, producing a major wound on his forehead.  The force of that impact caused Trentadue to rotate 180 degrees and careen across his cell to smash his head, leaving blood and hair on the wall of his cell and tearing extensive areas of skin off of his back.  Despite striking the desk with such force, the impact did not disturb a cup of coffee or any of the papers on the desk.

While unconscious from his two head wounds, Trentadue rolled over on his stomach and bled profusely, depositing large pools of blood on the floor of his cell.  When Trentadue regained consciousness, he attempted to get up but struck the back of his head on the metal stool attached to the desk, causing a third major wound on the back of his head.  This third blow to his head further dazed Trentadue, who then crawled on all fours, with his clothing smearing the blood on the floor.

Trentadue finally got to his feet and staggered around, leaving blood deposits on the walls and floor of his cell.  He then stumbled to his bed and lay down to regain his senses.  After a while, Trentadue used two plastic toothpaste tubes or a plastic knife to cut his throat, leaving blood on his pillowcase, sheet, and blanket.  When that second suicide attempt failed, Trentadue reconstructed the bed sheet and successfully hanged himself.  He was found by guards hanging in his cell at 3:02 a.m., 24 minutes after they last saw him.

Following Trentadue's death, his brother, a Salt Lake City lawyer, began investigating it.  David Hammer, an Oklahoma inmate, volunteered to help in the investigation.  Hammer was a resourceful individual who enjoyed helping lawyers investigate the U.S. prison system.  Hammer was later transferred to federal custody because he was too much trouble for Oklahoma authorities.  While in federal custody, he killed his cellmate and was transferred to federal death row in Terre Haute, IN.  At this point no one knew any reason why federal authorities might have wanted to kill Trentadue.

While on federal death row, Hammer became friendly with Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing.  Hammer, McVeigh, and another inmate, Jeffrey Paul, were the only whites on the death row.  The trio nicknamed their meetings, “Klan rallies,” although none were racists.  Hammer reported that when he showed a picture of Trentadue to McVeigh, McVeigh told him, “Now I know why Trentadue was killed, because they thought he was Richard Guthrie.”  Hammer and Paul later wrote a book about McVeigh entitled Secrets Worth Dying For.

Guthrie was a second suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing.  Trentadue was the same height and weight as Guthrie, with similar complexion and a similar thick moustache.  They both had the same dragon-motif tattoo on their left arms, a feature that was on the police sketch in circulation of Guthrie, referred to as the “John Doe 2” suspect in the bombing.  The two also share other similarities such as prior convictions for bank robbery.  When the FTC acting warden called Trentadue's family to report Trentadue's “suicide,” she refused to believe his family when they told her that he had a wife and a brother.  For some reason she seemed to believe he was someone else.

Evidence suggests that Trentadue was murdered because, as Guthrie, he knew too much about FBI involvement with informants connected to the bombing.  There is evidence that suggests these informants were either involved in the bombing, had provided the FBI with information on the bombing prior to its occurrence, or had trained others to make bombs.

One can also speculate that the FBI or ATF had planned the bombing, perhaps so they could appear heroic in preventing it at the last moment.  In 1978 the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) planned the bombing of a hotel in Sydney, Australia because they needed alleged opponents to justify their existence and funding as an anti-terrorism organization.  While the ASIO bomb was meant to be found before it exploded, it exploded due to unplanned events and killed three people.  (See Ananda Marga Trio)  There are many aspects to the Murrah bombing that are unnervingly similar.  Whatever is the case, the FBI obviously feels the release of critical information on the real cause of the bombing would prove highly embarrassing to federal law enforcement.  Guthrie himself was captured in 1996 and found hanging in his cell a day before he was to give a television interview about the bombing.

Clear evidence shows that explosive charges had been placed around at least three of the support columns inside the Murrah Building.  These charges exploded and brought down a third of the building seconds prior to the explosion of a large truck bomb outside.  Initial news reports clearly document that two other bombs that were found inside the building following the blast before being removed by bomb disposal squads.  Possibly these were placed with the intention of collapsing the entire building, but failed to detonate.

After the government made the provably false claim that the damage to the building was caused by a single truck bomb, major media sources obediently omitted all reference to the found bombs.  Since the Murrah building was a secure facility, the planting of charges inside the building presumably required the involvement of individuals who had normal access to the building.  The government's position is that the bombing was perpetrated by one individual, Timothy McVeigh, with some outside help by another individual, Terry Nichols.

It is clear that the FBI has refused to come clean with the evidence it has on Guthrie's connection to the bombing, and has avoided investigating this connection.  It has also refused to release much other evidence such as several security videos of locations near the Murrah Building taken at the time of the bombing.  In 1999, Alden Gillis Baker, who was Trentadue's official cellmate at the time of his death, indicated that he was willing to testify that he witnessed Trentadue's murder.  In 2000, he was found hanging by a sheet in his cell.    [11/09]

References:  McCurtain Daily Gazette, Truth in JusticeThe Independent, The New American, Mother JonesBombing Coverup Video, Video 2The New American #2

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Oklahoma Cases