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Witness in Alabama clinic blast still missing

Clinic
Police believe the bomb was on a walkway 15 feet from the clinic

FBI: No 'significant' developments in case

February 1, 1998
Web posted at: 10:58 p.m. EDT (2258 GMT)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (CNN) -- A man wanted as a material witness in Thursday's fatal bombing of a Birmingham clinic where abortions are performed has still not been located, despite an intensive search that continued for a third day Sunday.

Eric Robert Rudolph, a 31-year-old white male whose last known address was in Marble, North Carolina, is the registered owner of a gray Nissan pickup truck seen near the clinic around the time of the blast.

Authorities have repeatedly stressed that Rudolph is only a witness -- not a suspect -- in the bombing, which killed a Birmingham police officer moonlighting at the clinic as a security guard and severely wounded a nurse.

FBI spokesman Richard Schott said Sunday that there were no "significant developments" to report in the case, though investigators were pursuing a number of leads.

Those leads include information on Rudolph's possible whereabouts "and others completely unrelated to him," Schott said.

Funeral for slain officer Monday

Sanderson
Funeral services for Sanderson are set for Monday

On Sunday, friends and family of the slain officer, Robert Sanderson, gathered at a funeral home for a visitation. His funeral is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Sanderson's brother-in-law, Travis McCluskey, says the family feels the bombing was a "senseless tragedy."

"Nothing was accomplished, and the life of one very good man is lost," he said.

Though five people have been shot and killed outside clinics where abortions are performed, Sanderson is the first to die in a clinic bombing.

"We just want to make a fervent plea that he be the last," McCluskey said. "Please, please let this not happen again."

The injured nurse, Emily Lyons, 41, remained in critical condition Sunday at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital. She lost her left eye in the blast, her right eye was badly damaged and she was reported Saturday to be on a respirator.

Bomb placed on walkway

Federal investigators now say the homemade, nail-laden bomb that exploded Thursday morning had been placed on a walkway about 15 feet from the front door of the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic, located near the UAB campus.

Investigators won't say how they think the bomb might have been detonated. But they have said the blast was designed to kill or maim people, not to merely damage property.

According to federal authorities, Rudolph is being sought because someone saw a gray pickup truck near the bombing site and wrote down the license plate number. Through the number, they were able to identify the truck as belonging to Rudolph.

A man with a wig is believed to have gotten into the truck after the bombing, according to federal authorities, but they have said they don't know if Rudolph was that man.

The search for Rudolph is being concentrated in two counties in extreme western North Carolina -- Macon County, where he worked and went to school, and Cherokee County, which was his last known address.

An nationwide alert has also been issued for the gray truck, which bears North Carolina license plate KND-1117.

Streets to reopen

investigation

After a painstaking search of the crime scene, authorities prepared Sunday night to reopen streets surrounding the clinic, which had been closed since the blast so investigators could scour them for clues.

However, the immediate area around the clinic will remain cordoned off for the next day or two, as investigators continue to collect evidence.

Bomb fragments and other scraps of evidence were being analyzed at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms forensic laboratory in Atlanta.

In the wake of the Birmingham bombing, clinics that provide abortions throughout the Southeast have heightened security. Law enforcement officials continue to guard another clinic about a block from the blast site.

Correspondent Brian Cabell contributed to this report.

 
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