Bomb-sniffing dogs alerted federal agents to possible residue from explosives during a search of a storage locker rented by Eric Robert Rudolph, authorities said Tuesday.
The suspected residue will be sent to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lab in Atlanta for analysis, officials said.
Rudolph, wanted as a material witness in the Jan. 29 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic, is the object of an intensive manhunt stretching across Cherokee County, N.C., and into Union County, Ga.
Three properties linked to Rudolph - a mobile home just outside Murphy, N.C., that is his last known residence; a house he had rented previously near Marble, 10 miles north of Murphy; and storage space at a mini-warehouse in the area - were searched.
It was at the warehouse that the dogs repeatedly signaled their ATF handlers that they had picked up the scent of possible explosives in a storage locker, agents said Tuesday.
Raccoon hunters found Rudolph’s truck Saturday in the Martins Creek community about eight miles south of Murphy near the Georgia border. The gray 1989 Nissan pickup was hauled from its hiding place in the woods to Birmingham on Monday for a thorough going-over by investigators, federal officials said.
Rudolph’s truck had been spotted near the Birmingham abortion clinic where a bomb exploded the morning of Jan. 29, killing a police officer working as a security guard and maiming a nurse.
Witnesses reported a suspicious man in a “silly” blond wig walking away from the area, officials said. A wig was found in the mobile home Rudolph had lived in in Murphy, and wig fibers were found in the storage bin he had rented, officials said.
Bloodhounds Columbo and Quincy found no trace of Rudolph on Tuesday, but the special tracking dogs from Richmond, Texas, did snarl traffic on the main road between Murphy and Blairsville, Ga., as they led a caravan of federal agents and media.
A blue pickup carrying the pair of brown hounds stopped frequently along U.S. Highway 19-129 as the handler let them out to sniff the ground. And at every stop, a half-dozen TV crews scrambled to set up to shoot videos of the dogs.
“They are scent-discretion man-trackers,” said Keith Pikett, a deputy with the Fort Bend County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department. “They can follow the right track even if 100 people have walked the same way. Let’s just say they are really good dogs.”