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North Carolina residents sympathetic to Rudolph

4/10/2005

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."