Terre Haute Rakes in Cash

'Moronic marketing venture' or 'capitalism at its best'? Either way, people are making a killing off the McVeigh execution.

BY: Ron French
The Detroit News


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That doesn't include money associated with coverage of the execution, such as equipment rental and parking, or the money spent by the hundreds of reporters who have descended on Terre Haute in recent months.

"It's just not right to talk about the numbers going to be generated by an event of this type," said Rod Henry at the Chamber of Commerce.

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  • "This is a solemn event. At the same time, I can tell you that companies that service visitors are going to make money."

    EBay, the biggest Internet auction site, offered numerous McVeigh items last month, including a wall clock and a refrigerator magnet bearing McVeigh's police mug shot; a T-shirt picturing a large syringe with the words "Hoosier Hospitality" and "Final Justice"; copies of letters he's written; and a button with a rifle cross-hairs superimposed over his photo.

    After criticism, eBay suspended sales of all merchandise connected to McVeigh and other killers on May 17--a day after his first scheduled execution.

    Walker is exporting T-shirts from her Body Art Emporium tattoo parlor. "I've been shipping to California, Florida, New Jersey, a lot to Texas. I don't know what's going on in Texas.

    "I consider them a keep-sake," Walker said, as she handed a profane version of the pro-execution shirt to an NBC cameraman from New York for $20. "Twenty, 30, 50 years from now, you can give this to your grandkids and they'll know you were here."

    At Books-a-Million, "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing" is a best-seller. Two copies are on a shelf between the biography of the World Wrestling Federation's Chyna and Marie Osmond's thoughts on postpartum depression. Until recently, there were 30 people on a waiting list for the McVeigh book, in which McVeigh admits planting the bomb and calls the 19 children who died "collateral damage."

    "I don't think we should even sell it," said bookstore co-manager Deb Thorpe. "He's the scum of the earth."

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