Real Name: Eric Robert Rudolph
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder, Terrorism
Missing Since: July 1998
Details: On July 27, 1996, at Centennial Park, Fallon Stubbs and her forty-four-year-old mother Alice Hawthorne were visiting Albany, Georgia, celebrating Fallon's fourteenth birthday. Just before 1:20AM, the two stopped to take a photograph when a bomb shattered the Olympic Games, killing Alice and injuring hundreds of others. A security guard named Richard Jewell soon became the prime suspect, but was soon cleared in the case. A task force of several state and federal investigators was created.
Within the next seven months, two more bombings would occur in Atlanta: one at an abortion clinic on January 16, 1997, and another at a lesbian bar on February 21, 1997, injuring dozens. Investigators discovered that the bomber was planting a second device apparently designed to injure police officers and rescue personnel that responded to the first bomb. FBI and ATF technicians recreated the bombings and found that all the three were linked through forensic evidence.
After the third bombing, letters were left by the "Army of God", an unknown terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the three bombings. The letter writer mentioned certain details about the bombs that had not been released to the public. The writer targeted homosexuals, abortionists, and members of the federal government. An FBI profiler analyzed the letters and believed that the bomber's true target was law enforcement.
On January 29, 1998, abortion clinic nurse Emily Lyons arrived early for work. She and off-duty police officer and security guard Robert Sanderson were walking to the entrance of the clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, when Emily noticed an overturned flower pot that looked out of place. When Robert tried to move the pot, it exploded. Shrapnel killed him and seriously injured Emily, who had several screws and nails in 90% of her body.
Investigators realized that the bomber had finally achieved his goal: murdering a law enforcement officer; but this time, forensics revealed that the bomb was detonated by a remote control, meaning that the bomber was nearby. A witness came forward claiming that he noticed a mysterious man leave the scene of the explosion, take off a wig, and drive away in a pick-up truck. The witness wrote down the man's license plate which was traced to thirty-one-year-old Eric Rudolph. An arrest warrant was placed for him in February of 1998.
Rudolph resided in western North Carolina. A swat team raided Rudolph's trailer. The air conditioner was still running and there was food on the table; they had missed him by just a few minutes. When he was a teenager, he told friends that if he ever got in trouble with the law, he would disappear into the mountains. Several hundred law enforcement officers searched through Nantahala National Forest after Rudolph's truck was found abandoned nearby. However, no other trace of him was found.
Investigators learned that Rudolph had been raised in a family of white supremacists and separatists. He had also served in the US Army and was an experienced outdoors-man and survivalist. His former sister-in-law recalled that he was a hateful person. He always talked about negative things, like hatred against authority, gun laws, and the government.
The last sighting of Eric Rudolph was in July of 1998 by a close friend, George Nordmann, who owned a grocery store and lived in a remote mountain cabin. Rudolph approached George about food, but he decided to not help Rudolph. Just two nights later, the Nordmanns were raided; several pounds of food and a truck were stolen, most likely by Rudolph. He remains on the FBI's Most Wanted List. He has been charged with the three bombings in Atlanta and bombing in Birmingham, along with the murders of Alice Hawthorne and Robert Sanderson.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the June 12, 2002 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The connection between the then-unsolved Atlanta bombings and a series of bombings in Spokane was featured on the May 16, 1997 episode.
Results: Captured. In May of 2003, the police picked up a homeless man going through the trash in North Carolina and brought him to the police station. They noticed that he seemed to be identical to the Rudolph wanted poster. They soon confirmed his identity while in custody. Rudolph had been living off scraps and leftovers from the trash.
Rudolph was charged with two counts of murder, and several counts of terrorism. Along with his truck being seen fleeing the last bombing, investigators had other evidence that connected him to the series of bombings. At least fifteen friends and acquaintances of Rudolph identified his voice as being the caller who contacted 911 thirty minutes before the Centennial Park Bombing. His handwriting and punctuation was similar to that found in the four letters left by "Army of God." Identical brown cotton fibers were found on the Centennial Bomb debris, the Army of God Letters, and Rudolph's truck. Five shell casings found in his storage locker contained power chemically consistent with debris from the Centennial Park bomb. Nails found in this locker were similar to ones used in the later bombings.
A sibling of Rudolph's also claimed that, prior to the Centennial Park Bombing, he had mentioned that the Olympics would be the "prime target" for a terrorist attack. A specific technique used to carry the backpack that held the Centennial Bomb was taught and commonly used at an Army school that Rudolph attended. Finally, a Tennessee gun dealer identified Rudolph as the man who bought 50 pounds of smokeless powder several years before the bombings. Investigators said that powder was connected to the Olympic bomb.
Faced with the evidence against him, Rudolph entered a plea bargain in August of 2005. He was sentenced to four life terms in prison in exchange for telling authorities where he hid several explosives in the North Carolina wilderness.
- Eric Rudolph on Unsolved.com
- Eric Rudolph on Wikipedia
- Eric Rudolph on FBI Website
- Woman Who 'Lost Her Life While Celebrating the Human Spirit'
- Bomb Kills Guard at an Alabama Abortion Clinic
- 'Army of God' letters claim responsibility for clinic bombing
- Search for Bombing Suspect Resumes
- Olympic Bomb Suspect Rudolph Caught
- Suspect in '96 Olympic Bombing And 3 Other Attacks Is Caught
- Some Evidence Against Eric Rudolph
- Rudolph evidence revealed
- Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty
- The Summer Olympic Bombing in Atlanta: 20th Anniversary
- Eric Robert Rudolph - Fast Facts
- Alice Hawthorne at Find a Grave