By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Cash, 44, is a roving, full-time reporter for the daily McCurtain Gazette of Idabel, Oklahoma, in the state's southeast corner. The tiny Gazette, with a Sunday circulation of 8,400 and a news staff of seven, has published dozens of controversial stories by Cash on the Oklahoma City bombing, some of which have scooped the national media.
Cash says he was staying at the Wilburns' house, as he always does when he's in Oklahoma City, on February 28, when the McVeigh confession story first appeared on TV.
"Glenn [Wilburn] and I were sitting in the kitchen, and I looked up--I heard something about McVeigh on the TV, and they were rolling a picture of the [DMN's] Web site," Cash recalls. "I'm thinking, 'What in the fuck is that?' And then there's Stephen Jones on there saying it's a hoax. 'Goddamn sure is a hoax,' I said."
How did Cash know? He claims he saw the so-called "confidential defense reports" a year ago, and knows who concocted them and why.
His explanation involves a private investigator from Conroe, Texas named Richard Reyna. It was Reyna--who has worked for Jones' team---who wrote the phony confession in order to fake out a potential witness and encourage him to talk, Cash says. (Reyna did not return phone calls from the Dallas Observer and makes it his practice never to speak to the media, Cash says.) Stephen Jones, in fact, has supported Cash's version of events, and stated last week that both Reyna and Cash "were familiar with the document."
Cash and Reyna had become buddies while seeking out leads on the bombing, and often traveled together to various centers of neo-Nazi activity--including Elohim City, the white supremacist community in eastern Oklahoma that McVeigh reportedly visited before the bombing. Once the two reached their destination, they'd split up, with Reyna doing his work for the defense team, and Cash pursuing his investigative stories for the McCurtain Gazette. Clearly, this is an unorthodox arrangement for any journalist and has led to accusations that Cash is too cozy with Jones' team.
Cash says Reyna showed him the fake confession while they were driving together one day. "We were on the highway [in Oklahoma], going to visit a group that we visited pretty regularly for a long period of time," Cash recalls. "It was a group of terrorists--neo-Nazis. I was doing research on these people."
Cash says he scanned the document, which he recalls as being several pages long and typewritten, and ribbed Reyna for a few of the clumsy flourishes he'd written in.
"I just skimmed down through the highlights, the different funny things in it," Cash says. "I told Richard his creative juices weren't flowing--because obviously an investigator wouldn't write a report like that. 'He looked into my eyes...' It's a Mickey Spillane kind of thing. I read Mickey Spillane in high school, and it reminded me of that."
Cash specifically recalls reading the "body count" statement that was quoted in Slover's story.
"It has to be exactly what I saw because of the quotes that [Slover] has," Cash says. "The obvious one I remember is the 'body count.' There was another one in there that [the Morning News] didn't print that should have tipped them off that something was screwy."
When asked why Reyna was sharing the document with Cash--a reporter--Cash says, "It was just a fun thing. We were telling war stories, and he said, 'look at this.' And he told me what the game plan was, and that's what it was about."
The game plan, Cash says, was to use the document to lure a witness--Cash won't say who--into talking. "It was to get them to understand that there was an opportunity for them to visit openly and freely--that the client [McVeigh] was gonna do this Patrick Henry thing, the 'silent brotherhood' act," Cash says, referring to McVeigh's willingness, as revealed in the document, to take the fall for the bombing. "It was meant to show them that they were in the clear, and that they could discuss some other matters, and they could show their respect [to McVeigh] and return some favors."
Common sense--as well as the hokey writing--should have let anyone know that Slover couldn't have snagged a legitimate defense document, Cash says.
"If there was a confession document, it's gonna be in Stephen Jones' safe," he says. "It would probably never be reduced to writing, anyway. It wouldn't be scanned into the computer system period. It wouldn't be available. You would have to take a welding torch to the safe."
While the Morning News has made much of Jones' seeming attempts to change his explanation for the documents, Cash insists the defense attorney's story never changed. "I felt real sorry for [Jones]," Cash says. "He knows there's something wrong, because he knows there's no legitimate confession document, period. So he knows it's a hoax, but he doesn't know what it is--it's the Hitler Diaries."
Later on, Cash says, as Jones figured out what Slover had obtained, his statements to the press became more specific, and he identified the document as a phony confession designed to provoke a certain witness--whom The New York Times has reported is Aryan Nations leader Louis Beam.