Here’s what happened.
On May 31, 2003, Officer Jeffrey Scott Postell from the Murphy, North Carolina Police Department arrested Eric Robert Rudolph. Rudolph had been the prime suspect in a series of bombings in Georgia and Alabama. The most horrific of them generated his infamous nickname: The Olympic Park Bomber.
Here’s why it matters.
Here is how The New Georgia Encyclopedia describes Atlanta’s Olympic tragedy: “The pleasant mood of the Olympics changed suddenly in the early morning of July 27, when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park during a concert, causing two deaths and more than 100 injuries.” The Olympiad continued, but the park was shut down for three days.
Richard Jewell, a security guard who discovered the suspicious package containing the bomb planted by Rudolph, was later implicated in the crime. Jewell was officially exonerated three months later, but spent the rest of his life pursuing lawsuits to rebuild his reputation.
Eric Rudolph spent seven years as a fugitive, and five of them on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. In 2005, Rudolph pled guilty to numerous federal and state charges. He accepted four consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding trial and the death penalty.
Here’s an interesting fact!
Forensic technology has advanced so much since the Olympic Park Bombing that law enforcement officials were able to identify the two principal suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing within days of the crime. One was killed during their attempt to avoid capture; the other remains in custody.