- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2003

ANDREWS, N.C. (AP) — Standing in the door of a trailer in the mountain compound where a “patriot” militia once trained, Jeremy Blake Ford vows he would not have helped serial bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph.

But if the elusive survivalist had walked out of the nearby woods, Mr. Ford isn’t sure he would have turned him in.

“I believe you’ve got to send a message,” Mr. Ford said yesterday from the hillside home of the late militant racist Nord Davis Jr.

Never mind the $1 million bounty on Rudolph’s head, set by investigators who accuse him of killing two persons and injuring more than 100 with bombs at two abortion clinics, a nightclub and Atlanta’s Olympic Centennial Park.

“One death to a thousand deaths and making money off of babies being aborted and gays thinking they have rights — in the Bible, they don’t have any rights,” Mr. Ford said. “They’re the wrongs, and we’re trying to make it right. I believe Eric Rudolph makes a statement.”

Rudolph remained under heavy guard in a county jail yesterday as federal agents in camouflage headed into the woods around Murphy, hoping to figure out how he eluded them for five years.

The fugitive was nabbed Saturday after a rookie policeman caught him rummaging through a garbage bin outside a grocery store. Yesterday, agents focused their investigation on a trail leading from the road near the store into the woods, where investigators were believed to be examining Rudolph’s campsite.

Rudolph, an outdoorsman who did a short stint in the Army, came to investigators’ attention when a truck registered in his name was spotted leaving the scene of an Alabama abortion clinic bombing.

Over the years, the western North Carolina mountains have bred or attracted people with a deep mistrust of government. So when, after more than five years in hiding, Rudolph was arrested Saturday in the little town of Murphy, people immediately speculated that someone had been harboring him.

But folks around here resent the notion that there was an army of sympathizers in these mountains, ready and willing to sustain an accused killer.

“He’s an army of one,” said Murphy Mayor Bill Hughes.

Mr. Hughes said much of the extremism found in this part of North Carolina came from the outside, like Rudolph, whose family moved here from Florida when he was a child.

Andrews was the adopted home of Davis, who led a paramilitary group and espoused a white supremacist religion called Christian Identity. He used his 200-acre mountain compound as a base for militia training and to publish anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual literature. Rudolph is believed to be an Identity follower.

The region’s isolation and remoteness also appealed to the late Ben Klassen, a former Florida legislator who set up his racist Church of the Creator in tiny Otto, N.C., near the Georgia state line.

It is a deeply religious area where anti-abortion sentiment runs deep. But Boomer Rogers said there’s a big difference between opposing abortion and killing someone over it.

“Abortion is murder,” Mr. Rogers, 46, said yesterday as he sat whittling by the banks of Junaluska Creek outside Andrews. “But it’s not up to [Rudolph] to go out here and blow up innocent people.”

Mike Trammell knew Rudolph as a youth, when they rode the bus to high school together. He doubts Rudolph could have survived so well for so long without the help of someone. But that doesn’t mean everyone.

“It’s like anybody up here would harbor him, and everybody up here’s anti-government and we’re all militia, and it’s just not true,” said Mr. Trammell.

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