Richard Allensworth Jewell was an American security guard and law enforcement officer who is considered the hero of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Date of birth
He was born on December 17, 1962.
Date of death
He died on 29 August 2007. Jewell had been diagnosed with diabetes in February 2007 and suffered kidney failure and other medical problems related to his diagnosis in the following months. His wife, Dana, found him dead on the floor of their bedroom when she came home from work on August 29, 2007; he was 44. An autopsy found the cause of death to be severe heart disease with diabetes and related complications as a contributing factor.
Jewell was born Richard White in Danville, Virginia, the son of Bobi, an insurance claims coordinator, and Robert Earl White, who worked for Chevrolet. Richard's birth-parents divorced when he was four. When his mother later married John Jewell, an insurance executive, his stepfather adopted him.
Jewell married Dana Jewell in 1998; they remained married until his death. The couple moved to a farm they bought together, south of Atlanta.
Jewell worked in various law enforcement jobs, including as a police officer in Pendergrass, Georgia. He worked as a deputy sheriff in Meriwether County, Georgia, until his death. He also gave speeches at colleges.
On July 30, 1997, Jewell testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in which he called for an independent investigation into methods used by FBI agents during their investigation of him.
He appeared in Michael Moore's 1997 film, The Big One. He had a cameo in the September 27, 1997, episode of Saturday Night Live, in which he jokingly fended off suggestions that he was responsible for the deaths of Mother Teresa and Diana, Princess of Wales.
In 2001, Jewell was honored as the Grand Marshal of Carmel, Indiana's Independence Day Parade. Jewell was chosen in keeping with the parade's theme of "Unsung Heroes". On each anniversary of the bombing until his illness and eventual death, he would privately place a rose at the Centennial Olympic Park scene where spectator Alice Hawthorne died.
The Centennial Olympic Park Bombing and Accusations
On July 27, 1996, Richard Jewell was a security guard at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, with aspirations of becoming a police officer. At around 1 a.m. in crowded Centennial Olympic Park, Jewell noticed an unattended green knapsack, alerted police and helped move people away from the site.
The knapsack contained a crude pipe bomb, which exploded and killed one person, injuring 111 others. In the first few days after the bombing, Richard Jewell was lauded as a hero, but only three days later the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" published a story headlined "FBI Suspects Hero Guard May Have Planted Bomb." The story stated that police were investigating the possibility that Jewell had planted the bomb. FBI agents aggressively questioned Jewell and searched his apartment.
A large crowd of journalists and cameras hovered nearby as his property was hauled away as evidence. Two bombing victims even sued Jewell, despite the fact Jewell passed a polygraph and was never charged with any crime. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno refused to clear Jewell or apologize to him. It was not until October 1996 that the FBI cleared Jewell as a suspect, and the lawsuits against Jewell were dismissed.
The former hero lived for months under a very dark cloud. Tearful and painfully shy, Jewell criticized the FBI and the news media for how his case was handled. In August 1997 Attorney General Reno publicly apologized to Jewell and deplored the leak to the media that made his name known as a suspect.
Jewell eventually got a job with a police force in tiny Luthersville, Georgia. He also filed several lawsuits against The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and several news stations for libel. He settled most of these cases. The FBI later charged a man named Eric Robert Rudolph with the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
|Born||17th December, 1962|
|Died||29th August, 2007|
|Home City||Virginia, U.S.|