Eric Robert Rudolph, suspected bomber of two abortion clinics, a gay nightclub, and Centennial Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, was captured without incident early Saturday morning in Murphy, NC. The arresting officer found Rudolph rooting through a garbage dumpster near a grocery store close to where authorities began searching for him in July of 1998.
Rudolph, a Christian Identity adherent with connections to the violent anti-abortion group the Army of God, had eluded authorities for close to five years and is now believed to have stayed within 20 to 30 miles of the mountainous area that he disappeared into, according to the Associated Press. The last time the search for Rudolph appeared in the news was in March of 2002 when two letters claiming to be from the Army of God were found in Andrews, NC. Both letters had “ERIC ROBERT RUDOLPH, MAY GOD BE WITH YOU!” written at the top and went on to threaten violence against abortion providers and clinics. The Army of God, the most violent wing of the anti-abortion extremist movement, has taken credit for several clinic arsons and bombings since the 1980s. They are known for their support of domestic terrorists in the anti-abortion movement and most recently showed public support for James Kopp, confessed killer of abortion provider Dr. Barnet Slepian of Amherst, NY.
The four bombings that Rudolph is charged with left two people dead and over one hundred injured. He was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in May of 1998. He is the third anti-abortion extremist in the last five years to be placed on an FBI list and the third to be captured.
Now that Rudolph is in custody and faces six charges of using an explosive against a facility in interstate commerce, authorities have begun investigating whether or not Rudolph had any assistance from local residents while he was on the run, according to USA Today. Rudolph’s mother, Patricia Rudolph, told USA Today, “he must’ve had help…he loved the woods, but I don’t think he could’ve done it on his own.” The Associated Press reports that an unnamed law-enforcement source said that investigators are “making progress” in determining how Rudolph survived the elements over the last five years. Helping a fugitive evade authorities is a felony.
The Associated Press reported that Rudolph appeared at a hearing in Asheville, NC this afternoon where it was determined that he will face trial first in Birmingham, AL where an off duty officer was killed when a double bombing took place there in 1998. Rudolph will then face trial in Atlanta, the site of the Olympics bombing and other related bombings.