Clinic Bombing Suspect Sighted, Authorities Say
The manhunt intensified again Tuesday for abortion clinic bombing suspect Eric Rudolph after authorities said that he stole a truck and a six-month supply of food.
Rudolph, on the run nearly six months after the Alabama bombing, was seen Thursday by the man he robbed, officials said. He disappeared after ditching the truck at a campground that leads into the 5,000-foot mountains and areas honeycombed with caves, according to authorities.
The area where Rudolph disappeared is at the southern tip of the Appalachians.
“Anyone who’s not a mountain man, it would be very slow going through those hills,” Cherokee County Sheriff Jack Thompson said. “It’s rough country, full of rattlesnakes and copperheads.”
Members of the Southeast Bombing Task Force converged on this area near the tip of western North Carolina with bloodhounds and extra manpower.
Rudolph, a 31-year-old outdoorsman and carpenter, is charged in the Jan. 29 bombing of the New Woman All Women clinic that killed an off-duty police officer and seriously wounded a nurse in Birmingham, Ala. Rudolph is also wanted for questioning in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Park bombing.
Federal agents also want to question him about similar bombings in Atlanta at another abortion clinic in January 1997 and at a gay nightclub in February 1997.
“This is a pretty significant step forward because we know for sure that he’s in this area,” said Woody Enderson, inspector on the bomb task force.
The theft of the food and the 1977 blue Datsun pickup was reported Saturday. Enderson did not explain why authorities weren’t notified sooner.
The truck was found Monday at the Bob Allison Campground.
Enderson wouldn’t directly comment on an NBC News report that fingerprints in the truck matched Rudolph’s.
Authorities also released a new composite drawing based on the description provided by the man who was robbed. It shows a thinner Rudolph with a beard and longer hair, which officials said he wears pulled back in a ponytail. Rudolph is believed to be wearing camouflage fatigues, a camouflage jacket and gloves.