MURPHY, N.C., May 31 — Crystal Davis doesn't quite side with Eric Rudolph, but she sympathizes with him.
"He's a Christian and I'm a Christian and he dedicated his life to fighting abortion," said Mrs. Davis, 25, mother of four. "Those are our values. And I don't see what he did as a terrorist act."
Her feelings were echoed, person after person, in this sawmill and cow-pasture hamlet today, where the Appalachian foothills rise above town in every direction. Mr. Rudolph, who is accused of the 1996 Olympic bombing and attacks on abortion clinics, was arrested in Murphy this morning after a five-year manhunt. Federal authorities said that for years he had been living off the land around here, a conservative, woodsy corner of the rural South.
Some people in Murphy expressed a certain amount of respect for the wily survivalist. Others vented a disdain for the federal agents who promised a quick capture.
"We thought it was kind of funny when the feds rolled in here all arrogant," said William Hoyt, an unemployed crafter of birdhouses. "They kept saying they didn't need our help. It put a lot of people off. Nobody around here condones murder, but I think a lot of people weren't sure which side to be on."
As the search intensified over the years, locals cashed in by printing up T-shirts that said "Run, Rudolph, Run," and "Eric Rudolph — Hide and Seek Champion of the World." Many people here had an uneasy relationship with F.B.I. agents, who often said they suspected the local population was providing the fugitive with food and shelter.
"If he came to my door, I'd give him food," Mrs. Davis said. "That's just how we are with strangers."
Here is what Rudolph is accused of doing. This, apparently is some peoples' idea of good Christian works.
And, the Freepers chime in:
Amen brother. Anyone who works for an abortion clinic is morally guilty of murder. The Supreme Court has quietly been eroding the rule of law, especially that of the Constitution, for over 100 years. Eric Rudolf took the law into his own hands. Let's not forget that he was merely following the example of the federal courts.