By Kent Larsen
LDS Bombing Victim's Family Remembers, Awaits Execution
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Six years after a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building, taking with it the lives of 168 people, the
family of LDS Church member Paul Broxterman remembers their son, brother,
husband and father and waits for the expected execution of terrorist Timothy
McVeigh. Broxterman has been one of the most visible victims, thanks to his
murder's inclusion as one of the counts in the case against McVeigh and his
mother's widely-publicized comments on and during the trial. While the
execution won't alleviate the family's loss, it will give them closure and a
sense of justice.
Broxterman was a Kansas native, born in a non-Mormon Air Force family in
Topeka. The family moved to several other states before settling in Las
Vegas, where Paul attended his last two years of high school. He excelled at
soccer, graduated in 1971 and soon headed for Vietnam, where he served in
the US Navy as a radioman on the USS Enterprise.
Discharged after the war, Broxterman got degrees in criminal justice and law
enforcement, the latter from Weber State University in Ogden. His mother,
Peggy Broxterman (who is apparently not Mormon), says he was mischievous and
unsettled -- until he joined the LDS Church and married his wife, Cammie.
Then he blossomed, "Paul loved his family, his country and God," said his
He went to work as an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service, then
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture, which he
left early in 1995 to accept a job as an investigator with the Department of
Housing and Urban Development. He started work in the Murrah Building just
three weeks before the bombing, getting an office at the front of the
building because his boss offered him an office with a window.
What happened that morning before the blast isn't clear. Broxterman's office
was on the fourth floor, separate from the rest of the HUD offices on the
building, located on the 7th and 8th floors. HUD office manager Susan Hunt
testified in McVeigh's trial that Broxterman had gone up to the man HUD
offices to get supplies he needed for a trial at which he was to testify.
Back in his office, Broxterman might have been able, if he were looking, to
see the rental truck back up to the building, McVeigh flee and, the truck
explode at him. The 9:02 am explosion destroyed the front of the building,
killing 168 people including Broxterman.
It was 13 days before his body was found. His parents and some siblings came
to Oklahoma City and waited at the crisis center, hoping beyond hope that he
was alive. His mother insisted he was, thinking he had just gone out for a
soda. The family called Paul's beeper regularly, hoping that the unit's buzz
would help searchers find him. Eventually, on his birthday, they made him a
cake, sprinkling nuts on the top because they knew he hated nuts and hoped
that would bring him out of the rubble. It worked, his body was discovered
The body was shipped to Topeka, Kansas, where Paul was buried along side his
grandmother. Peggy Broxterman found that talking to the media about the
bombing gave her some solace, because she took on the mission to remind the
world of the magnitude of the tragedy, "You have to have lost a child to
understand," she says. She also testified in McVeigh's trial, causing an
uproar when she praised the judge for his compassion, a move that the
defense attorneys called prejudicial.
But Broxterman's wife and children have been much less visible in the media.
His daughter, Sarah, now 21, did come to the bombing site last year when the
memorial to the bombing was dedicated. She said that the moment was very
personal, "To me, it's like my funeral for him, my time to say goodbye."
After lingering over her father's chair, one of the 168 inscribed chairs in
the memorial, she placed flowers on the fence that long served as an
impromptu memorial at the site, and said she felt settled, "Hopefully I can
put this behind and find peace."
Long Journey for Justice
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