On this date in crime history – April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph plead guilty to a series of bombings, including the fatal bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, in order to avoid the death penalty. He later cited his anti-abortion and anti-homosexual views as motivation for the bombings. On July 27, 1996, a large pipe bomb exploded in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, killing one woman and injuring over 100 people. A security guard named Richard Jewell was initially considered the prime suspect in the case. Then, on January 16, 1997, two bombs went off at an Atlanta-area abortion clinic injuring seven people. In February of that same year, a bomb detonated at a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, injuring four people. On January 29, 1998, a bomb exploded at a Birmingham, Alabama, women’s health clinic, killing a security guard and critically injuring a nurse. Rudolph became a suspect in the Birmingham bombing after witnesses reported spotting his pickup truck near the clinic before the bomb went off. In February 1998, Rudolph was officially named a suspect in the Birmingham bombing. In May of that same year, he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and a $1 million reward was offered for his capture. Even with this intense media attention, Rudolph continued to elude authorities, who believed he was hiding in the Appalachian wilderness and possibly getting assistance from supporters in the region. Then, on May 31, 2003, after over five years on the run, Rudolph was arrested digging through a grocery store trash bin in Murphy, North Carolina. On April 8, 2005, just weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin, the Department of Justice announced that Rudolph would plead guilty to the charges against him in all four bombings. He was later sentenced to four life terms without parole.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the authors website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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