North Carolina residents sympathetic to Rudolph
MURPHY, N.C. -- Kenny Jane Wade understands the anti-government sentiment that might have led some people here to help feed and shelter serial bomber Eric Rudolph during his years on the lam.
Wade, who owns a cabin near where some of Rudolph's stash of explosives was found this week, said the mistrust has been part of mountain culture since the days of the so-called revenuers -- federal agents who arrested people for making moonshine during Prohibition.
"My grandfather owned a store," said Wade, a 58-year-old retiree. "He knew people that ran moonshine and he wouldn't turn them in because he knew their families would starve."
Although no one has admitted assisting Rudolph during his five years on the run in the Appalachian wilderness, investigators suspect he had help. Some here are wondering if there will be additional prosecutions now that Rudolph is talking to authorities as part of a plea deal to spare his life.
Rudolph became an almost mythic figure during his years evading police, and many in the region mocked the government's inability to root him out. Two country-western songs were written about Rudolph and a top-selling T-shirt bore the words: "Run Rudolph Run."
When he was captured scavenging for food behind a Save-A-Lot food store here, authorities said he was healthier and better groomed than they would have expected from a man surviving in the woods.
Skip Long, who lives in a cabin not far from Wade's, described the residents of Murphy as good law-abiding Christians. He said if Rudolph had knocked on his door, he would have let the law know.
"People don't put up with foolishness here," Long said as he pulled out the .22-caliber derringer he carries in the pocket of his overalls.
Charles Stone, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who helped oversee the bombing probe, said he doesn't expect Rudolph to give up the names of anyone who is still alive.
"Obviously, the deal is he tells you everything he knows," Stone said. "But the investigators have to know what type of questions to ask him. Mr. Rudolph is intelligent enough. I don't think he's going to give up information the government doesn't already know or has reason to suspect.
"My observation is I don't believe Mr. Rudolph would turn snitch. I might stand corrected tomorrow." After all, Stone said, "I didn't think he'd plead guilty."
Rudolph is scheduled to enter his plea Wednesday to carrying out the deadly bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and setting off three other blasts in which two people were killed and more than 120 injured. The plea deal calls for four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Although he is believed to be a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic, some investigators, including Stone, said opposition to the government was a more likely motivator for those who may have helped.
Investigators also have said it's possible Rudolph, an outdoorsman and former soldier, could have survived alone. But Long doesn't buy it.
"I don't think you could make your way up here without driving. You'd have to drive or have someone drive you. There's no taxis, no MARTA," Long said, referring to the Atlanta rail system. "If there were accomplices, they should be prosecuted."
People around town said they've heard others say they don't think Rudolph did anything wrong. Wade said she never sympathized with Rudolph, but added, "I understand why a lot of people would help him or sympathize with him."
So does Mary Jo Dockery, a 65-year-old retiree.
"If he would have come here, I'd have fed him," she said. "What would you do if Jesus came to your door, would you feed him? What he has done, God will forgive you for this."
Glenn Crowe, who lives in a home overlooking the rugged mountain road near where agents detonated some of Rudolph's explosives Thursday, said he has no sympathy for someone who takes innocent lives, nor anyone who would aid that person in avoiding capture.
"Assuming he's guilty, anyone assisting a fugitive is certainly breaking the law," said Crowe, 61.
Rudolph provided authorities with the location of more than 250 pounds of dynamite he stashed in the woods as part of his plea deal, but authorities have not disclosed what else Rudolph has told them -- including whether he'll name names.
"As of yet, from talking with various people, he has not answered those questions," said Mark Thigpen, the police chief in Murphy. "Obviously, I have those same questions, and I'm hopeful he will answer those."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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