Search shifts for suspect in clinic bombing
February 16, 1998
Web posted at: 10:11 p.m. EST (0311 GMT)
NANTAHALA, North Carolina (CNN) -- The search for fugitive bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph shifted to caves and favored haunts from his teen-age years, sources said Monday, after tracking dogs were unable to pick up his scent closer to his home.
An ex-girlfriend was flown in by investigators to locate a place where, she says, Rudolph spent a lot of time in this remote mountain community near Murphy, North Carolina, one source told CNN. The search had been concentrated in the Murphy area for two weeks.
Federal officials in Birmingham, Alabama, warned that anyone helping Rudolph could face the same penalty upon conviction: up to life in prison or death.
Rudolph is wanted in connection with the January 29 bombing of a women's clinic in Birmingham. The bombing killed an
off-duty policeman and maimed a nurse.
"Aiding and abetting someone in regards to this specific crime, those persons can receive the same punishment in a court of law that the principle defendant receives," said spokesman Brian Lett of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
In the search around Murphy, involving tracking dogs from four states, "nothing substantial has turned up," a source close to the investigation said. The dogs all have been sent home for rest.
The January 29 bombing killed an off-duty police officer and severely wounded a nurse
Sources said agents who raided Rudolph's trailer home in nearby Marble, North Carolina, two days after the bombing found several guns and 16 $100 bills. They said an assault rifle he owned is missing.
The agents also found receipts from two supermarkets in Murphy where Rudolph purchased $180 worth of canned goods such as tuna fish and baked beans and batteries.
"We are trying to do a lot of filling in the gaps," Lett said. "We have a big puzzle here."
Investigators said they decided to declare Rudolph a suspect and file criminal charges against him on Saturday based on physical evidence and witness accounts from the bomb scene. They previously searched for him as a "material witness."
Rudolph's gray 1989 Nissan pickup truck appears to be the key item of evidence. It was seen by witnesses near the clinic before the bombing and outside a McDonald's restaurant about a mile away afterward.
Hunters found the vehicle abandoned in a wooded area around Murphy February 7.
Inside were receipts from the two supermarkets as well as a Burger King from the night after the bombing.
A $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Rudolph's arrest and conviction on a federal charge of blowing up the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic and causing the death of the off-duty officer working there as a security guard.