Richard Jewell has died at age 44, apparently of natural causes. He was diagnosed with diabetes in February and has been in poor health since.
Jewell, you may recall, was the security guard who discovered a suspicious knapsack at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He helped clear the area before the knapsack, which turned out to be a bomb, exploded.
For a few days Jewell was a hero, until the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the FBI considered him a prime suspect. The theory was that Jewell, eager to be a hero, set the bomb himself and then “discovered” it. The FBI later cleared Jewell, and years later the crime was pinned on serial bomber Eric Rudolph.
Astonishingly, Jewell’s lawsuit against the AJC is still ongoing.
As an aside, The Rocky Mountain News ran an interesting article recently on the police term “person of interest,” saying that the Jewell case led to the widespread use of that term in place of “suspect.”