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Eric Rudolph

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Title: Eric Rudolph  
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Subject: ADX Florence, Church of Israel, Current events/2005 April 8, Violence against LGBT people, Sally Yates
Collection: 1966 Births, 1996 Summer Olympics, 20Th-Century American Criminals, American Memoirists, American People Convicted of Murder, American People Imprisoned on Charges of Terrorism, American Prisoners Sentenced to Life Imprisonment, American Pro-Life Activists, American Roman Catholics, Anti-Abortion Violence in the United States, Christian Terrorism, Inmates of Adx Florence, Living People, People Convicted of Murder by the United States Federal Government, People Convicted on Terrorism Charges, People from Brevard County, Florida, People from Macon County, North Carolina, Perpetrators of Religiously Motivated Violence in the United States, Persecution by Christians, Prisoners Sentenced to Life Imprisonment by the United States Federal Government, United States Army Soldiers, Violence Against Lgbt People, Western Carolina University Alumni
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Eric Rudolph

Eric Rudolph
Eric Robert Rudolph
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
(1966-09-19) September 19, 1966
Merritt Island, Florida, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Carpenter, Roofer and handyman
Parents Robert Rudolph
Patricia Murphy
Siblings Daniel Rudolph
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
Number 454

Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is the 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.[1]

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.


  • Early life 1
  • Bombings 2
  • Fugitive 3
  • Arrest and guilty plea 4
  • Motivations 5
  • Writings from prison 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9

Early life

Rudolph was born in Merritt Island, Florida.[2] After his father, Robert, died in 1981, he moved with his mother and siblings to Nantahala, Macon County, in western North Carolina.[3] 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.[4]

After Rudolph received his GED, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, undergoing basic training at discharged in January 1989, while serving with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, due to marijuana use.[5] 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.[6]

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;[7] 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.[8] 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."[9]

Rudolph's family supported him and believed he was innocent of all charges,[10] but found themselves under intense questioning and surveillance.[11] 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."[12] The hand was successfully reattached.[13] 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.[14][15]

Arrest and guilty plea

Florence ADMAX USP, where Rudolph is incarcerated

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.[16]

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.[16][17] 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.[18] He made his pleas in person in Birmingham and Atlanta courts on April 13.[19]

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."[20]

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.[21] 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.[22][23]


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".[6]

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."[24] Christian Identity is a white nationalist sect that holds that those who are not white Christians can not be saved.[25] 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.[26]

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 [27][28] In other written statements, Rudolph has cited biblical passages and offered religious motives for his militant opposition to abortion.[6]

Some books and media outlets have portrayed Rudolph as a "Christian Identity extremist"; [31] 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,"[32] 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."[33]

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.[34] 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.[35]

As reported in an April 8, 2013, Alabama blog article,[36] in February 2013, with help by his brother, 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.[37]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b c Full text of Eric Rudolph's written statement Army of God website
  7. ^ Eric Robert Rudolph To Plead Guilty To Serial Bombing Attacks In Atlanta And Birmingham; Will Receive Life Sentences April 8, 2005
  8. ^
  9. ^ Anti-Defamation League, "Extremist Chatter Praises Eric Rudolph as 'Hero.'", June 3, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  10. ^ Henry Schuster, CNN, "Why did Rudolph do it?", April 15, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  11. ^ Jeff Stein,, "A twisted tale of two brothers", January 29, 1999. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  12. ^ CNN, "Bombing suspect's brother cuts hand off with saw", March 9, 1998. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Lick the Floor January 27, 2004
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Associated Press, "Eric Rudolph Gets Life Without Parole", July 18, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  22. ^ Rappold, R. Scott. "Olympic bomber Rudolph calls Supermax home." Colorado Springs Gazette. September 14, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  23. ^ "Eric Robert Rudolph." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 5, 2010.
  24. ^ Cooperman, Alan. "Is Terrorism Tied To Christian Sect?" The Washington Post. June 2, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Morrison, Blake. "Special report: Eric Rudolph writes home." USA Today. July 6, 2005. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Most Wanted Extremist, Eric Rudolph, Caught June 3, 2003
  31. ^ Arrest of Accused Olympic Park Bomber Sparks Debate on 'Christian Terrorism', Jun 5, 2003, VOANews
  32. ^ The Science of Good and Evil
  33. ^ "Special report: Eric Rudolph writes home" July 5, 2005
  34. ^ Army of God's homepage for Rudolph December 18, 2007
  35. ^ Extremist Taunts His Victims From Prison May 14, 2007
  36. ^
  37. ^ Eric's book on the Army of God website December 2013


  • 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
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