May 31, 2003

IN A DEVELOPMENT THAT MUST MAKE FUGITIVES EVERYWHERE NERVOUS, Eric Rudolph has been caught:

MURPHY, N.C., May 31 — Eric Rudolph, the longtime fugitive charged in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing and in attacks at an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub, was arrested early Saturday in the mountains of North Carolina, the Justice Department said. The FBI confirmed Rudolph’s identity through a fingerprint match, authorities said. . . .

Early Saturday, Murphy Police Officer Jeff Postell spotted a man behind the Save-A-Lot grocery who was rooting through trash and looked suspicious, officer James Pack said.

Postell was alone when he approached the man, and the man tried to run, but he stopped when Postell pointed his gun at him, Pack said. He said officers didn’t realize until they brought the man to the police station that it was Rudolph.

Obviously giving Rudolph credit for being smarter than he was, I figured that he had left Western North Carolina long ago, and had sympathizers planting the occasional false clues in the region. Well, I was wrong: apparently, he really was hiding out in the mountains just as advertised.

Some people might be surprised that he managed to hide out for so long without being found — but if you’ve ever spent any time in that area, which is astonishingly wild and empty, you wouldn’t be surprised at all.

I hope they throw the book at him.