Profile: Eric Rudolph

Rudolph eluded law enforcement agencies for five years

BBC News/April 14, 2005

Bomber Eric Rudolph was motivated by a hatred of abortion and a desire to "confound, anger and embarrass" the US government for allowing it, he says.

The Olympics bomber issued an 11-page typewritten statement as he pleaded guilty to four bombings in the US.

Under an April 2005 deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty, leaving Rudolph to face four life sentences without parole.

Before his arrest in May 2003, he was one of America's most wanted fugitives.

A suspected white supremacist, he gained notoriety for evading capture in one of America's biggest-ever manhunts.

It is thought he used his survivalist skills to live for five years in the mountains of North Carolina, not far from his home in the town of Murphy.

He was finally arrested after being spotted digging through rubbish bins by a local police officer in Murphy.

'Abominable abortion'

Two years after his arrest, he appeared before judges to plead guilty to a total of four bombings that killed two people and left more than 120 people injured.

He said the Olympics bombing was intended to humiliate Washington "for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand".

The Olympics attack was part of a larger plan that never came off

He said he had originally hoped to disrupt the Atlanta Games by bombing the city's power grid, but had not organised well enough to manage it.

Because he had not got hold of enough explosive, he "had to dismiss the unrealistic notion of knocking down the power grid and consequently pulling the plug on the Olympics for their duration."

He later bombed two abortion clinics - killing one person and partly blinding another - and a gay nightclub.

In his court appearance, he did not appear to express any remorse, though his statement said he had hoped to achieve his objectives "without harming innocent civilians."

The statement reportedly included frequent quotes from the Bible and condemnations of homosexuality.

Tracing Rudolph

Rudolph became a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing only after an attack on an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, two years later.

That blast killed off-duty police officer Robert Sanderson, who was working as a security guard at the clinic, and seriously injured nurse Emily Lyons, who had been on her way to work at the time.

Nurse Emily Lyons lost an eye in the Birmingham clinic bombing

A man matching Rudolph's description was spotted leaving the scene, and getting into a car whose number plate was subsequently traced to him.

A warrant was issued for his arrest but by this time, in March 1988, he had disappeared from his mobile home in Murphy.

FBI helicopters, camouflaged agents equipped with night-vision goggles and sharpshooters scoured the thickly-wooded mountains of the Nantahala National Forest but found no trace of him.

Rudolph appeared once - in the summer of 1998 - to ask a shopkeeper he knew to give him six months of food supplies.

Folk hero

Born in Florida in 1966, Rudolph moved to North Carolina with his four brothers and sister when he was 11 years old.

It is thought Rudolph picked up his survivalist skills during 18 months spent with the 101st Airborne Division.

But white supremacists in the North Carolina area are strongly suspected of helping him.

As time went by, police downsized their search team and the elusive Eric Rudolph became a folk hero to some.

One restaurant had a sign saying: "Rudolph ate here."

While still a fugitive, he was charged in absentia with the bombing of Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympic Games.

A nail bomb in a rucksack had been placed among the crowds a week into the Games, on 27 July. It killed one woman and injured more than 100.

Similar attacks carried out on an abortion clinic in Atlanta in 1997, a gay nightclub a month later, and finally the Birmingham blast led police to Rudolph.

He was arrested on 31 May 2003. Reports at the time said he appeared relieved rather than startled at being discovered.

Although he initially gave his name as Jerry Wilson, he soon admitted to being Rudolph.

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