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Door-to-door search for clinic bombing witness

Western NC / search
Federal agents search a property in an area of the state residents say a person could hide for years   
February 9, 1998
Web posted at: 1:14 p.m. EST (1814 GMT)

In this story:

MURPHY, North Carolina (CNN) -- Federal agents were conducting a house-to-house search in western North Carolina on Monday for a man sought as a witness in last month's deadly bombing of a women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

A pickup truck belonging to Eric Robert Rudolph, 31, was located on Sunday, not far from Rudolph's last known address.

Agents said a federal magistrate in Asheville, North Carolina, would be asked on Monday for a warrant allowing investigators to seize and search the vehicle, which was found by hunters in a wooded area outside of Murphy.

A muddy dirt road was the only access into the area.

Rudolph is not considered a suspect, agents have said, while adding that they "urgently" need to talk to him about the January 29 blast at the New Woman All Women Clinic, which provides abortions and family planning services. The clinic reopened one week after the blast.

The bomb killed Robert Sanderson, 35, a police officer working as a security guard, and injured nurse Emily Lyons, 41. She remains hospitalized in serious condition.

Agents heavily armed

Rudolph
Eric Robert Rudolph   

About 100 agents armed with automatic weapons and wearing camouflage and bulletproof vests were involved in Monday's search around the site where Rudolph's truck was found. They were being aided by U.S. Forest Service personnel and canine units.

The 1989 gray Nissan pickup truck was spotted about five miles from Rudolph's last known residence, a mobile home in the community of Marble.

Witnesses reported seeing the gray truck near the Birmingham clinic around the time the bomb exploded in front of the clinic.

Investigators were able to tie the truck to Rudolph because a witness took down the license plate number. A truck with that tag number was registered in Rudolph's name.

ATF hotline graphic

Investigators said Rudolph is likely still in the area where his truck was found. There is evidence he left his rented trailer in haste, because the lights were on and the doors unlocked.

A group calling itself the Army of God has claimed responsibility for the bombing in letters mailed to news organizations.

 
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