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Search for Rudolph Slows Despite Technology

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ANDREWS — Interviews with the man who allegedly helped the suspect in an Atlanta bombing, combined with the knowledge of what Eric Rudolph is capable of, have federal agents worried. There is concern that Rudolph could set some sort of device at the command center for the agents conducting a search for him.

The massive search effort has so far turned up nothing. Rudolph was spotted in Nantahala Lake last week, but he then disappeared back into the woods, in a place he grew up in and knows well.

As the sun set Wednesday on the search effort along the Cherokee-Macon County line, the focus shifted from the darkened woods to the air. North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopters armed with infrared imaging do their best work at night. They think they can pick up the trail of the elusive Rudolph. The pilot says despite the technology, it will be tough.

Thursday, searchers began to move on land again, traveling together in groups and moving slowly and cautiously in the woods.

Also as the search presses on, information flow is slowing from federal agents, but the scene of the search center is changing as word spread of a threat Rudolph allegedly made to strike first at those trying to find him. Bomb-sniffing dogs are now walking the streets of the tiny town of Andrews.

"Shea's an explosives detecting canine," said ATF Special Agent Terry Bohan. "She's able to find explosives on down to a trace amount explosive [material], firearms and shell casings."

Bohan said he and Shea came in with the rest of the ATF force as a resource.

There is apparently a conflict over how big the focus area of the search is. The feds say they are working on a 30 square mile area. The Macon County Sheriff says otherwise.

"It is probably a diamond or 10 miles," Sheriff Homer Holbrooks estimates.

Whoever is right about the size of the search area, Wednesday's effort yielded no clues.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Kerrie Hudzinski, Web Editor

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