RIP: Richard Jewell

ESPN: Ex-security guard erroneously linked to ’96 Olympic bombing dies

ATLANTA — Former security guard Richard Jewell, who was erroneously linked to the 1996 Olympic bombing, died Wednesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

Jewell, 44, was found dead in his west Georgia home, GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.

He died of natural causes, said Meriwether County Coroner Johnny Worley.

“There’s no suspicion whatsoever of any type of foul play. He had been at home sick since the end of February with kidney problems,” Worley said.

The GBI planned to do an autopsy Thursday, Bankhead said.

Thinking about this, Jewell was more than “erroneously linked” to the bombing – he was all but accused of it. He successfully sued a number of news outlets and cleared his name. I think Jewell will be remembered as the poster boy for victims of pack-mentality-feeding-frenzy-media-excess.

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10 comments

  1. David says:

    A good guy who was railroaded and did not deserve the horrible treatment he had to endure. I’m sorry to see him die at such a young age.

  2. gatormathis says:

    Doc,

    Somehow they surmised that Eric Rudolph was the Olympic Bomber.

    Richard Jewell went from hero to “sub-human” in a matter of days. Media resembled a football “pile-on” in the coming weeks as he was nearly hounded and insulted to death. It would be nice if medical science could determine how much “time” Jewell lost from his “life” expectancy due to the extreme circumstances he was put under.

    A meek man who lived quietly until this matter, there is no telling how bad he fretted and worried, especially knowing he did nothing to be accused of so much.

    He fit the “profile” of such a culprit so completely, it was a while before he was ever dropped as being a “person-of-interest”. That said, who knows if he ever was completely exonerated in the minds of authorities, media, and the questioning masses of America.

    Reminds me of a “profiling” book I read one time. Titled, “The Mind Hunter”, it is written by John Douglas of the Jon Benet Ramsey case fame, who helped develop the FBI profiling system.

    It goes about telling how the profile system was developed, and how years of research helped to offer insight into serial killers thinking.

    Read the book if you haven’t, it gives you an idea how low your fellow man/woman can go if they so desire. Never again will you totally underestimate your surroundings when your saftey is involved.

    In one part of the book, a man is picked up for questioning, solely from evidence found at the location of a previous crime scene. He emphatically denies any involvement with the crime, over and over again, until the evidence is finally thrown down on the table in front of him.

    As the poor guy explains how the evidence wound up where it was, why it had his DNA markers on it, and why there was no way he had committed the crime, Douglas began to realize he was totally telling the truth.

    Douglas, both the writer and interrogator, goes on to write, that he had never thought about humiliating someone so bad ever, much less putting them in the terrible spot of being so accused, yet so innocent.

    The tale of irony in that chapter would almost be funny, if you didn’t feel so dang sorry for the guy. This is the poor guy I used to associate Jewell with, after they figured out that he didn’t do it.

    Richard Jewell, if “being worried to death” isn’t on his death certificate, it ought to be.

    May he finally have peace.

  3. NonPartisanGA says:

    What was lost in all of this is how many lives he saved by getting folks to clear the vicinity of the bomb. I hope his headstone memorializes him as the hero that he was.

  4. SpaceyG says:

    Very sad news. He didn’t deserve what he got from Cox Plantation #1. It might be fitting to revisit the saga of Kathy Scruggs today, the AJC reporter who dogged Richard Jewell initially, and then was hounded, according to some, by her editors, one with whom she was, uh, “keeping company” at the time, or so I’ve long heard, to keep at the Jewell-as-suspect angle. Scruggs was, alledgedly, keeping company at the same time with an APD cop who kept feeding her (erroneous) information. Eventually, the whole story collapsed on Kathy and pretty much killed her. She proceeded her object of determination into death by six years. There’s blood all over this whole sorry story every which way you turn, and some with the most on their hands are still alive and well and thriving.

    Peachtree Screed once wrote about the whole tragic saga in this way:

    “Jewell’s lawyer, Lin Wood, tore into Scruggs and other AJC employees during depositions. Scruggs became depressed. The newspaper shoved her aside. She had serious medical problems. She was arrested twice on intoxication charges.

    “On Sept. 2, 2001, just three weeks shy of her 43rd birthday, Scruggs was found dead in her Cherokee County home, wearing an Atlanta Motor Speedway T-shirt and panties. The cause of death was acute morphine toxicity, according to the GBI medical examiner.

    “I’ll always wonder what would have happened to Scruggs if Kintzel, then-Editor Ron Martin and then-Managing Editor John Walter had had the decency to admit their newspaper’s obvious mistakes and apologize to Jewell. But they were powerful men with reputations to protect.”

    Full column here if you care to wade through the horrendous muck of it all:
    http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A19055

  5. jm says:

    That said, who knows if he ever was completely exonerated in the minds of authorities, media, and the questioning masses of America.

    He was, the day that Rudolph confessed. But it was too late. Jewell was a hero turned into a goat, a guy torn apart by the very club he wanted to join, the law enforcement community. He saved lives that day and deserves a memorial.

  6. DMZDave says:

    Richard Jewell was a hero who had lived his whole life for that day only to have his name and his honor taken away from him by the AJC and jealous, inompetent law enforcement officials. Even in death he is hounded by the despicable Harry Weber at AP who focuses on his “one time suspect” status rather than the larger story of a hero who was never given the recognition he deserved.

    Richard Jewell saved lives and the reason the FBI was so angry is they couldn’t believe this security guard saved the day while all their high priced professionals were clueless. That day should have put the country on notice about the FBI’s problems that we would learn about after 9-11.

    No one ever held the FBI accountable for spending millions on security but never having had a simple conversation with a 911 operator sabout what you should do in the event of a bomb threat. They had never rehearsed and apparently had never been trained. For their part, the 911 operators were unbelievably stupid that day as well and for anyone who listened to the tapes they were also incredibly callous . They, and not Richard Jewell deserved to be ridiculed and treated with disdain.

    But as for Richard Jewell, I had always hoped that some day he would receivfe his due. Good on Sonny for recognizing him last year. For their part, the AJC owes him a sincere apology and the city owes him a parade. This is a sad ending to a sad story.

  7. What happened to him was a travesty.

    I met him at Dunwoody Baptist Church back in 1997 or 1998. He was there with a friend of mine. He seemed like a nice guy.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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