Eric Robert Rudolph
|FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives|
|Alias||Bob Randolph, Robert Randolph, Bobby Rudolph, Olympic Park Bomber, Eric Rudolph, Eric R. Rudolph, Jerry Wilson|
|Born||Eric Robert Rudolph
September 19, 1966
Merritt Island, Florida, U.S.
|Occupation||Carpenter, Roofer and handyman|
|Convictions||Maliciously damaged, by means of explosive device, buildings and property affecting interstate commerce which resulted in death and injury.|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment without parole|
|Added||May 5, 1998|
|Caught||May 31, 2003|
Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American terrorist responsible for a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay-motivated bombings across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998, which killed two people and injured over 120 others.
As a teenager Rudolph was taken by his mother to a Church of Israel compound in 1984. He has confirmed religious motivation, but denied racial motivation for his crimes.
He spent five years on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list until he was caught in 2003. In 2005, as part of a plea bargain, Rudolph pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state homicide charges and accepted four consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and a potential death sentence. He remains incarcerated at the ADX Florence Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
Rudolph was born in Merritt Island, Florida. After his father, Robert, died in 1981, he moved with his mother and siblings to Nantahala, Macon County, in western North Carolina. He attended ninth grade at the Nantahala School but dropped out after that year and worked as a carpenter with his older brother Daniel. When Rudolph was 18, he spent time with his mother at a Christian Identity compound in Missouri known as the Church of Israel.
After Rudolph received his GED, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, undergoing basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was discharged in January 1989, while serving with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, due to marijuana use. In 1988, the year before his discharge, Rudolph had attended the Air Assault School at Fort Campbell. He attained the rank of specialist/E-4.
At age 29, Rudolph was the perpetrator of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, which occurred on July 27, 1996, during the 1996 Summer Olympics. He called the police, warning about the bomb before it detonated. The blast killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others. Melih Uzunyol, a Turkish cameraman, who ran to the scene following the blast, died of a heart attack. Rudolph's motive for the bombings, according to his April 13, 2005 statement, was political:
In the summer of 1996, the world converged upon Atlanta for the Olympic Games. Under the protection and auspices of the regime in Washington millions of people came to celebrate the ideals of global socialism. Multinational corporations spent billions of dollars, and Washington organized an army of security to protect these best of all games. Even though the conception and the purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism as perfectly expressed in the song "Imagine" by John Lennon, which was the theme of the 1996 Games—even though the purpose of the Olympics is to promote these ideals, the purpose of the attack on July 27 was to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand. The plan was to force the cancellation of the games, or at least create a state of insecurity to empty the streets around the venues and thereby eat into the vast amounts of money invested.
Rudolph's statement authoritatively cleared Richard Jewell, a Centennial Olympic Park security guard, of any involvement in the bombing. Jewell fell under suspicion of participating in the bombing a few days after the incident, after having been initially hailed as a hero for being the first one to spot Rudolph's explosive device and helping to clear the area. When he came under FBI suspicion for involvement in the crime, Jewell became the prime suspect and an international news story.
Rudolph has also confessed to three other bombings: an abortion clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs on January 16, 1997; the Otherside Lounge of Atlanta a lesbian bar on February 21, 1997, injuring five; and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama on January 29, 1998, killing Birmingham police officer and part-time clinic security guard Robert Sanderson, and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. Rudolph's nail bombs were made of dynamite surrounded by nails which acted as shrapnel.
Rudolph was first identified as a suspect in the Alabama bombing by the Department of Justice on February 14, 1998, following tips from two witnesses, Jeffrey Tickal and Jermaine Hughes. Tickal and Hughes observed Rudolph departing the scene and noted his appearance and truck license plate. He was named as a suspect in the four Atlanta incidents on October 14, 1998.
On May 5, 1998, he became the 454th fugitive listed by the FBI on the Ten Most Wanted list. The FBI considered him to be armed and extremely dangerous, and offered a $1 million reward for information leading directly to his arrest. He spent more than five years in the Appalachian wilderness as a fugitive, during which federal and amateur search teams scoured the area without success.
The Anti-Defamation League noted that "extremist chatter on the Internet has praised Rudolph as 'a hero' and some followers of hate groups are calling for further acts of violence to be modeled after the bombings he is accused of committing."
Rudolph's family supported him and believed he was innocent of all charges, but found themselves under intense questioning and surveillance. On March 7, 1998, Rudolph's older brother, Daniel, videotaped himself cutting off his left hand with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media." The hand was successfully reattached. According to Rudolph's own writings, he survived during his years as a fugitive by camping in the woods, gathering acorns and salamanders, pilfering vegetables from gardens, stealing grain from a grain silo, and raiding dumpsters in a nearby town.
Arrest and guilty plea
Rudolph was arrested in Murphy, North Carolina, on May 31, 2003, by rookie police officer Jeffrey Scott Postell of the Murphy Police Department behind a Save-A-Lot store at about 4 a.m.; Postell, on routine patrol, had originally suspected a burglary in progress.
Rudolph was unarmed and did not resist arrest. When arrested, he was clean-shaven with a trimmed mustache and wore a camouflage jacket, work clothes, and new sneakers. Federal authorities charged him on October 14, 2003. Rudolph was initially defended by attorney Richard S. Jaffe. After Jaffe withdrew, he was represented by Judy Clarke.
On April 8, 2005, the Department of Justice announced that Rudolph had agreed to a plea bargain under which he would plead guilty to all charges he was accused of in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. The deal was confirmed after the FBI found 250 pounds (110 kg) of dynamite he hid in the forests of North Carolina. His revealing the hiding places of the dynamite was a condition of his plea agreement. He made his pleas in person in Birmingham and Atlanta courts on April 13.
He also released a statement in which he explained his actions and rationalized them as serving the cause of anti-abortion and anti-gay activism. In his statement, he claimed that he had "deprived the government of its goal of sentencing me to death," and that "the fact that I have entered an agreement with the government is purely a tactical choice on my part and in no way legitimates the moral authority of the government to judge this matter or impute my guilt."
The terms of the plea agreement were that Rudolph would be sentenced to four consecutive life terms. He was officially sentenced July 18, 2005, to two consecutive life terms without parole for the 1998 murder of a police officer. He was sentenced for his various bombings in Atlanta on August 22, 2005, receiving two consecutive life terms. That same day, Rudolph was sent to the ADX Florence Supermax federal prison. Rudolph's inmate number is 18282-058. Like other Supermax inmates, he spends 22½ hours per day alone in his 80 square foot (7.4 m2) concrete cell.
Rudolph has made it clear in his written statement and elsewhere that the purpose of the bombings was to fight against abortion and the "homosexual agenda". He considered abortion to be murder, the product of a "rotten feast of materialism and self-indulgence"; accordingly, he believed that its perpetrators deserved death, and that the United States government had lost its legitimacy by sanctioning it. He also considered it essential to resist by force "the concerted effort to legitimize the practice of homosexuality" in order to protect "the integrity of American society" and "the very existence of our culture", whose foundation is the "family hearth".
After Rudolph's arrest for the bombings, The Washington Post reported that the FBI considered Rudolph to have "had a long association with the Christian Identity movement, which asserts that Northern European whites are the direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people." Christian Identity is a white nationalist sect that holds that those who are not white Christians can not be saved. In the same article, the Post reported that some FBI investigators believed Rudolph may have written letters that claimed responsibility for the nightclub and abortion clinic bombings on behalf of the Army of God, a group that sanctions the use of force to combat abortions and is associated with Christian Identity.
In a statement released after he entered a guilty plea, Rudolph denied being a supporter of the Christian Identity movement, claiming that his involvement amounted to a brief association with the daughter of a Christian Identity adherent, later identified as Pastor Daniel Gayman. When asked about his religion he said, "I was born a Catholic, and with forgiveness I hope to die one." In other written statements, Rudolph has cited biblical passages and offered religious motives for his militant opposition to abortion.
Some books and media outlets have portrayed Rudolph as a "Christian Identity extremist"; Harper's Magazine referred to him as a "Christian terrorist." The NPR radio program On Point referred to him as a "Christian Identity extremist." The Voice of America reported that Rudolph could be seen as part of an "attempt to try to use a Christian faith to try to forge a kind of racial and social purity." Writing in 2004, authors Michael Shermer and Dennis McFarland saw Rudolph's story as an example of "religious extremism in America," warning that the phenomenon he represented was "particularly potent when gathered together under the umbrella of militia groups," whom they believe to have protected Rudolph while he was a fugitive.
In a letter to his mother from prison, Rudolph has written, "Many good people continue to send me money and books. Most of them have, of course, an agenda; mostly born-again Christians looking to save my soul. I suppose the assumption is made that because I'm in here I must be a 'sinner' in need of salvation, and they would be glad to sell me a ticket to heaven, hawking this salvation like peanuts at a ballgame. I do appreciate their charity, but I could really do without the condescension. They have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible."
Writings from prison
Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations give wardens the power to restrict or reject correspondence by an inmate for "the protection of the public, or if it might facilitate criminal activity," including material "which may lead to the use of physical violence." Nevertheless, essays written by Rudolph – who is incarcerated in the most secure part of ADX Florence in Colorado – that condone violence and militant action are being published on the Internet by an Army of God anti-abortion activist. While victims maintain that Rudolph's messages are harassment and could incite violence, according to Alice Martin, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama when Rudolph was prosecuted for the Alabama bombing, the prison can do little to restrict their publication. "An inmate does not lose his freedom of speech," she said.
As reported in an April 8, 2013, Alabama blog article, in February 2013, with help by his brother, Lulu.com published Rudolph's book Between the Lines of Drift: The Memoirs of a Militant, and in April 2013, the U.S. Attorney General seized $200 to help pay off the $1 million that Rudolph owes in restitution to the state of Alabama. The book has since been republished and is now available as a PDF free of charge from the Army of God website.
- "Eric Rudolph charged in Centennial Olympic Park bombing". Usdoj.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- Noe, Denise. "Eric Rudolph: Serial Bomber". TruTV. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "Tim and Sarah Gayman Discuss Growing Up in the Anti-Semitic Christian Identity Movement", Intelligence Report (Summer 2001 ed.) (Southern Poverty Law Center) (102), 2001, retrieved 16 August 2012
- "Rudolph's mother: Son not a 'monster'". CNN. April 4, 2005. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
- Jeffrey Gettleman with David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times, "Suspect in '96 Olympic Bombing And 3 Other Attacks Is Caught", June 1, 2003. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
- Full text of Eric Rudolph's written statement Army of God website
- Eric Robert Rudolph To Plead Guilty To Serial Bombing Attacks In Atlanta And Birmingham; Will Receive Life Sentences April 8, 2005
- Ellen Barry; Jenny Jarvie (15 April 2005). "They Didn't Catch Rudolph, but They Stopped Him Cold". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Anti-Defamation League, "Extremist Chatter Praises Eric Rudolph as 'Hero.'", June 3, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Henry Schuster, CNN, "Why did Rudolph do it?", April 15, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Jeff Stein, Salon.com, "A twisted tale of two brothers", January 29, 1999. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- CNN, "Bombing suspect's brother cuts hand off with saw", March 9, 1998. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- "Bomb Suspect's Brother Mutilates Himself". The New York Times. March 11, 1998.
- Lick the Floor January 27, 2004
- "Lil". Armyofgod.com. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- "Atlanta Olympic bombing suspect arrested". CNN. May 31, 2003. Archived from the original on June 21, 2003.
- Torpy, Bill, and Plummer, Don (June 1, 2003). "Finally caught: 5 year hunt for Eric Rudolph ends". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on June 5, 2003. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- Eggen, Dan (April 9, 2005). "Rudolph To Plead Guilty to Bombings". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- Lohr, Kathy (April 13, 2005). "Rudolph Pleads Guilty, Admits Little Remorse". NPR. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- "Excerpts from Eric Rudolph's statement". USA Today. April 13, 2005.
- Associated Press, "Eric Rudolph Gets Life Without Parole", July 18, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Rappold, R. Scott. "Olympic bomber Rudolph calls Supermax home." Colorado Springs Gazette. September 14, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- "Eric Robert Rudolph." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 5, 2010.
- Cooperman, Alan. "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?" The Washington Post. June 2, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- Quarles, Chester L. (2004). Christian Identity: The Aryan American Bloodline Religion. McFarland & Company. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7864-1892-3.
- "The Second Defensive Action Statement". Retrieved 2007-05-14.
- Kristen Wyatt (2005). "Eric Rudolph, proud killer". The Decatur Daily. Associated Press. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
- Morrison, Blake. "Special report: Eric Rudolph writes home." USA Today. July 6, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- "Terrorism". Harpers Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- Most Wanted Extremist, Eric Rudolph, Caught June 3, 2003
- Arrest of Accused Olympic Park Bomber Sparks Debate on 'Christian Terrorism', Jun 5, 2003, VOANews
- The Science of Good and Evil
- "Special report: Eric Rudolph writes home" July 5, 2005
- Army of God's homepage for Rudolph December 18, 2007
- Extremist Taunts His Victims From Prison May 14, 2007
- "Birmingham abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph fights to get profits from his book".
- Eric's book on the Army of God website December 2013
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Maryanne Vollers, Lone Wolf: Eric Rudolph: Murder, Myth and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw, (Harper, 2006), ISBN 9780060598624
- Henry Schuster with Charles Stone, Hunting Eric Rudolph (Berkley Books, 2005), ISBN 0-425-19936-3
- Eric Rudolph's home page (at Army of God website)
- Rudolph's writing about his time as a fugitive (at Army of God website)
- Text of Rudolph's statement
- Rudolph agrees to plead guilty – April 8, 2005
- FBI ten most wanted listing
- Eric Rudolph Charged In Centennial Olympic Park Bombing – 1998 DOJ press release
- Olympic bomb suspect Rudolph arrested behind N.C. grocery store – May 31, 2003
- Timeline in Eric Rudolph Case – May 31, 2003
- Southern Poverty Law Center interview with his sister-in-law – discusses his life and personal views.
- Collection of Christian websites offered in an effort to probe Rudolph's social context and range of motivations.
- Extremist Chatter Praises Eric Rudolph as 'Hero'
- Emily Lyons