Local News

The 'Myth' of Eric Rudolph Still Looms Over Western N.C.

Posted January 28, 1999

— As the sun rose in the Western North Carolina mountains Friday, searchers were already on the trail of Eric Rudolph.

A year after the fatal Alabama abortion clinic bombing, even trained blood hounds have not been able to sniff out the trail leading to the elusive suspect.

Rudolph is thought to have been hiding somewhere in the 500,000 acres of the Nantahala National Forest.

Ray Amos, former Cherokee deputy sheriff, has faith the task force will find their man.

"Some day I think they will catch him," he said. "He'll mess up, he messed up before. It's my opinion that someone is hiding him."

"I think it is becoming folk lore," says Don Strickland, who owns Strickland's Barbecue in Murphy.

He says the gossip about Rudolph is as hot as the food he serves, and much of it centers around the disruption the manhunt has caused in the community.

"People say, 'Just leave us alone' and stuff like that," he said. "They don't want them to bother this area, and its uniqueness. We're just hometown people."

The hometown people have a lot of opinions about the search.

"It's useless. I don't think he's here," resident David Bozoti said. "Once the woods die down, he will be more exposed, but I think he has left."

"I'd rather them find him, but I would like to find him and get the million dollars," says resident Lum Ledford. "Sure, I've been looking, haven't you?"

Friday, a memorial service was held for Robert Sanderson, a victim of the bombing, at the police memorial in Birmingham. Nurse Emily Lyons was seriously injured in the blast. She survived, but carries physical and emotional scars.

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