Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Case of Mistaken Identity Traps Many John Doe 2 Look-Alikes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Case of Mistaken Identity Traps Many John Doe 2 Look-Alikes

Article excerpt

For a while this week, Nick Morgan, an Australian tourist in Canada, became John Doe 2, the man sought in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Morgan, 27, and his girlfriend were dragged out of their car at gunpoint, handcuffed and forced to the pavement by police officers in Ontario, Canada, after another motorist mistook him for John Doe 2, the couple's family said Wednesday. They were released about four hours later.

When the girlfriend, Louise Kamp, called home, "She was in a state," said her mother, Pat. "She said, `Nick was just arrested for the crime of the century.' "

Morgan - and several other men with the misfortune of looking like the sketch of John Doe 2 - are part of a growing fraternity of John No's.

The group now includes Gary Alan Land, at best a chubbier, mustachioed version of the man in the FBI's sketch. Land and fellow drifter Robert Jacks were arrested Tuesday in Missouri by heavily armed agents at the Kel-Lake Motel in Carthage. They were released 18 hours later in Springfield, Mo.

The FBI argues that such incidents, while perhaps unfortunate, are an unavoidable byproduct of the feverish manhunt for the possible partner of Timothy McVeigh - John Doe 1 and the only person charged in the bombing so far.

The government hot line for bombing leads has received nearly 14,000 calls, the FBI says. The Justice Department is offering a $2 million reward in the case. So far, federal agents have detained and questioned at least a dozen potential John Doe 2s.

"You're always going to have look-alikes," said FBI spokesman Dan Vogel. "But in a case like this, we'd be criticized if we didn't check them out."

Civil libertarians say the mistaken IDs illustrate the dangers of relying on tips by alleged witnesses. Authorities have been too quick to stage raids based on shaky leads, trashing cheap motel rooms and innocent people's reputations, said Randall Coyne, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma and vice president of the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. …

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