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Vindicated Olympic Park bombing suspect Richard Jewell dies

  • Story Highlights
  • Richard Jewell, 44, has died, his attorney tells CNN
  • Jewell wrongly suspected of setting off a deadly bomb during 1996 Olympics
  • Jewell was cleared after 12 weeks of scrutiny
  • In April, 2005, Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing
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(CNN) -- Richard Jewell, the security guard wrongly suspected and later cleared of setting off a deadly bomb at Atlanta, Georgia's Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympics, died Wednesday morning, his attorney, Lin Wood, told CNN.

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Richard Jewell, who was wrongly suspected of setting off a bomb during the 1996 Olympics, has died.

Jewell, 44, died of natural causes at his home in Woodbury, Georgia, according to Meriwether County Coroner Johnny Worley.

Jewell had been suffering from diabetes and kidney failure since February, Worley said.

Worley is working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on the autopsy, which should be completed Thursday afternoon. No foul play is suspected, he said. Video Watch friends remember Jewell as dedicated »

After 12 weeks of scrutiny following the bombing, Jewell was cleared by the FBI and U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander in an unprecedented government acknowledgment of wrongful accusation.

"I am not the Olympic Park bomber," Jewell told reporters after being cleared. "I am a man who has lived 88 days afraid of being arrested for a crime I did not commit."

The FBI, Jewell said, trampled on his rights "in its rush to show the world it could get its man," while the news media "cared nothing about my feelings as a human being" in its rush to get a story on the bombing.

Jewell was working as a private security guard in Centennial Olympic Park about 1 a.m. on July 27 when he noticed a suspicious unidentified package and began moving people away from it. The package turned out to contain a bomb, which eventually killed one person and wounded more than 100.

Initially hailed a hero for moving people away, he was later cast in a different light when the FBI began investigating whether he had set off the bomb to give himself an opportunity to be a hero.

For weeks, reporters and camera crews camped outside Jewell's Atlanta apartment, capturing every move that he -- and the FBI -- made.

He later sued the FBI and several media organizations. CNN and NBC were among the organizations that settled with him.

In April, 2005, Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing. Rudolph was captured in Murphy, North Carolina, in May 2003 after one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history.

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Rudolph also pleaded guilty to the 1998 bombing of a family planning clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed a police officer and two 1997 bombings at an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub in Georgia.

He is serving four consecutive life sentences plus 120 years for the convictions. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Marylynn Ryan contributed to this story.

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