Bomb Fugitive 'Sighted' Close to Home

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If a reported sighting of accused Alabama abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph is verified, it'll mean he's probably been hiding out under the noses of the feds for the past five months. The FBI announced Tuesday that a resident of Macon County, North Carolina, told investigators that a man fitting Rudolph's description stole his truck after knocking on the door and asking for food. The truck was later found abandoned. "This was just one county over from where Rudolph lived," says TIME Atlanta bureau chief Sylvester Monroe. "If it turns out to be him, it means he's been right there all the time."

After an intensive dragnet through the Smoky Mountains failed to turn up the suspect, law enforcement sources began speculating that he may have left the area with the help of political sympathizers. The reported sighting may indeed reflect a measure of local support for the fugitive: "If this pans out, it means Rudolph believed he could approach this person and ask for food," says Monroe. "This witness supposedly knew him and recognized him." Indeed, what apparently drove him to the cops was the theft of his truck, not the sighting of one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted.