Unsolved Mysteries and Scary Stuff: Bizarre Cases of the Missing and Murdered Vol. 6

I’m back for another round of Oklahoma City Bombing conspiracy chatter, I promise to remove my tinfoil hat and return to less sensationalized cases for future editions of this series.  In case you missed last week’s article, you can read it here: Mysterious OKC Bombing Deaths

Kenneth Trentadue
Two months after the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing in 1995 44-year old Ken Trentadue was arrested while entering the United States from Mexico. The police ran his driver’s license and discovered he was wanted for violating his parole. Two months later he was transferred to the Department of Justice’s Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City. He was given a chance to speak to his brother and sounded chipper considering the plight he found himself in. Within 72 hours of that contact Trentadue was dead. Prison officials claimed he was found hanging from a noose made of his bedsheets. The death was quickly ruled a suicide and the federal government moved to seek permission to cremate the body – an almost unheard of request to make. Ken’s family felt the suicide claims were suspicious and they were further bothered when the government performed an autopsy without first informing Trentadue’s kin.

When the family finally got to see the body they found it to be covered in cuts, bruises and wounds. His head bore the marks from three hard blows and his throat was slashed. Trentadue’s family began to believe he had been tortured prior to his death – prison officials claimed the wounds were self inflicted. A crude suicide note was scrawled on the wall but the officials wiped it off  and painted over it before it could be seen by others. Kevin Rowland, who served as the chief investigator for the Oklahoma state medical examiner Dr. Fred Jordon, filed a complaint with the FBI over how the investigation of Trentadue’s death was handled. It was revealed that the coroner wasn’t allowed in the cell where Trentadue’s body was found until after prison officials washed it out. Trentadue’s clothes had gone missing as well. The medical examiner also concluded that the injuries on Trentadue were not consistent with a death by hanging and “murder” and “foul play” was officially suspected. The Bureau of Prisons formed a Board of Inquiry on the case.

The officials stated that the head blows came from Trentadue failing at several attempts to hang himself, resulting in his falling and striking his head in his cell. The cuts on his neck were attributed to Ken attempting to use a toothpaste tube to try and commit suicide and when that didn’t work he went back to the idea of hanging himself. The cell was cleaned due to the authorities claiming that they thought Trentadue had AIDS and needed it sterile.

Jesse Trentadue, brother of the deceased, began to gather information on the case. An unexpected twist came next as David Hammer( a convicted murderer who befriended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on death row) offered an intriguing angle to the story. It was McVeigh’s belief that Trentadue bore a strong resemblance to Richard Guthrie, an accomplice of his, and that the authorities misidentified Trentadue with Guthrie and ended up torturing him to death looking for information that he knew nothing about.

Guthrie and Trentadue were roughly the same height, weight and body size, with thick mustaches and dragon tattoos adorning their left arms. Guthrie was suspected to be the never caught “John Doe #2” who was seen aiding McVeigh on the day of the terror attack. Guthrie ended up being found hung in his prison cell less than a year after Trentadue’s untimely passing. He had been scheduled to give a televised interview the following day. His death was also ruled a suicide.

Alden Gillis Baker, an inmate in the same prison as Trentadue, came forward in 1999 and testified that he had witnessed the murder of Kenneth taking place. He told his lawyer he feared for his life. Baker was found dead a few months later hanging in his cell. The death was ruled a suicide.

The FBI officially looked into the death of Trentadue. This involved the agent in charge of the case going to the prison, talking to some guards and officials – no inmates – and then leaving without even looking at the cell where Kenneth had died in. The Department of Justice continued to hear complaints from the state medical examiner over the handling of the case which led to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division being given jurisdiction over the case. A federal grand jury was convened in the summer of 1996 and heard evidence for a full year before dismissing the case without citing any criminal misconduct.

Meanwhile the FBI continued to try and pressure Oklahoma State Medical Examiner Dr. Fred Jordon to rule the Trentadue case a suicide. Jordon had the DOJ contacted though an Oklahoma assistant attorney to inform them that the FBI and Bureau of Prisons had “prevented the medical examiner from conducting a thorough and complete investigation into the death, destroyed evidence, and otherwise harassed and harangued Dr. Jordan and his staff.” In 1998 he finally relented and changed his official cause of death to “suicide”. Jordon said that a handwriting expert had convinced him that Trentadue’s suicide note was legitimate. It should be noted the handwriting expert was never able to actually view the note before it was destroyed in the quick clean up effort in the wake of Trentadue’s death.

Over a year later the U.S. Inspector General released their report on the case. They stated that no evidence could support the theory that Trentadue was murdered or that a cover-up had occured. The FBI and Bureau of Prisons were reprimanded for their poor handling of the investigation and four employees of the federal government committed perjury while testifying in connection to the case.

The Trentadue family filed a suit against the federal government for the wrongful death of their kin and a jury awarded them 1.1 million dollars for their emotional distress caused by the fed’s handling of the case. The government appealed and the money was revoked. Appeals were made back and forth and ultimately the family was awarded $250,000, which they now use as a reward if anyone can give them information leading to a murder conviction in the death of Ken Trentadue.

House Cleaning…
While looking into what Terrance Yeakey and others may have seen that warranted their murder I found the following random information I couldn’t fit into the article but is eye opening nonetheless:

  • FBI agents ordered rescue workers out of the Murrah building in the midst of their efforts to save the injured. The FBI wanted the scene to themselves to take down the security cameras and retrieve the tapes.
  • A video expert named Norman Pearl was asked to examine the tapes. He later told Jesse Trentadue that the tapes have been since destroyed.
  • Photos emerged of a Ryder truck (like what was used to bomb the Murrah building) in a camp run by the Oklahoma National Guard. The press and the National guard both tried to downplay the significance but their claims that the photos were from the prior autumn was easily dismissed by the greenery that was obvious around it.
  • Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols both stated that they were part of an inside job with connections to the FBI and others.
  • The FBI had to hound the owner of Ryder truck rental building into saying that McVeigh matched the description of the man who rented the truck. It took them 44 days. He was never called to testify at McVeigh’s trial.
  • The original “John Doe #1” was described as a pock marked stocky individual. McVeigh was 6’3, had a smooth complexion and was a skinny 160 pounds.
  • A video taken at a McDonald’s less than a half an hour before the explosion shows McVeigh wearing different clothes than that of the John Doe seen leaving the Ryder truck.
  • A beta version of the Patriot Act was struggling to gain support as a potential law in the U.S.  After the attack it breezed through.
  • FEMA memos and retired Air Force General Benton Partin both stated that as many as four additional bombs were found to have detonated at the Murrah building.



Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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