Federal agents cruised around rural mountain roads in western North Carolina on Sunday in their continuing search for the suspect in the nation’s first fatal bombing of an abortion clinic.
A federal arrest warrant was issued Saturday for Eric Robert Rudolph, whose truck was spotted outside the New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham, Ala., on the morning of the bombing.
He had previously been wanted only as a witness to the Jan. 29 bombing, which killed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard and critically injured a nurse.
Investigators say they believe Rudolph, a 31-year-old former soldier who last lived in Murphy, was still in the area - either using his skill as an outdoorsman to survive in the wilderness or hiding with the help of friends.
But locals said Rudolph probably had cleared out before the dragnet closed in.
“To my estimation, I don’t think he’s still around,” said Bob Ryan. “I think somebody helped him get out of here, and he’s long gone by now.”
Rudolph’s truck was discovered abandoned south of Murphy, his hometown and the center of the search. Federal authorities have offered a $100,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to Rudolph’s arrest and conviction.
On Sunday, agents formed at least two caravans of vehicles and drove around the far reaches of Cherokee County, near where Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina meet.
They never got out of their vehicles, and federal authorities did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking comment on the progress of the manhunt.
Rudolph hasn’t been spotted since Jan. 30, the day after the bombing, when he rented a video and bought some fast-food in Murphy.