Killing McVeighThe Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure

Killing McVeighThe Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure

Jody Lyneé Madeira

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814796108

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a two-ton truck bomb that felled the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. On June 11, 2001, an unprecedented 242 witnesses watched him die by lethal injection. In the aftermath of the bombings, American public commentary almost immediately turned to “closure” rhetoric. Reporters and audiences alike speculated about whether the victim's family members and survivors could get closure from memorial services, funerals, legislation, monuments, trials, and executions. But what does “closure” really mean for those who survive—or lose loved ones in—traumatic acts? In the wake of such terrifying events, is closure a realistic or appropriate expectation? This book uses the Oklahoma City bombing as a case study to explore how family members and other survivors come to terms with mass murder. The book demonstrates the importance of understanding what closure really is before naively asserting it can or has been reached.