what happened richard jewell
Source: Netflix

Richard Jewell Never Lived to See His Name Cleared

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Dec. 15 2020, Updated 9:01 p.m. ET

If you're a true crime fan, you've probably already added Netflix's new Manhunt: Deadly Games to your watchlist. The anthology follows the infamous bombing of the 1996 Olympic Park in Atlanta and tells the story of the man who was wrongly assumed to be a suspect behind the attack.

Richard Jewell, a former security guard, was initially suspected to be behind the bombing, and spent what he calls "88 days of hell" fending off those who wanted to see him punished for the crime.

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Eventually, it was discovered that the bombing was actually done by Eric Rudolph, but the negative publicity surrounding the case severely impacted Richard's career in law enforcement.

What happened to Richard after the attack and subsequent questioning, and where is he now?

richard jewell
Source: Netflix
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Richard Jewell discovered the pipe bomb while working as a security guard.

It was late at night on July 27, 1996 when Richard spotted a suspicious-looking backpack underneath a bench in the Centennial Olympic Park. Working as a nighttime security guard at the time, Richard reported the package to the authorities, and a bomb squad was dispatched to handle the package.

Before the pipe bomb inside the backpack was diffused, it went off, killing one woman and injuring more than 100 others who were gathered in the park that night for a concert.

While Richard was initially heralded a hero, he was soon villainized as his name was leaked to the local newspaper as a primary suspect in the case. During that time, Richard claims the FBI watched him closely, following his every move and the media made him out to be the prime suspect before a U.S. attorney in Atlanta publicly denounced him as a suspect. 

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"I am not the bomber. I am a man who lived every waking minute for 88 days afraid I would be arrested for a horrible crime I did not commit. For 88 days I lived a nightmare," Richard said of the time period, according to The Independent. 

But even after the FBI publicly stated he was no longer a suspect and many members apologized to him, Richard said that reclaiming his name was the hardest part, saying "the government cannot give me back my good name."

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"In its rush to show the world it had found its man, the FBI trampled on my rights as citizen. The media cared nothing for my feelings as a human being. In their mad rush to fill their personal agendas, the FBI and the media almost destroyed me and my mother," he said, according to the outlet. "All I did was my job, to spot unattended packages and report them." 

Where is Richard Jewell now?

Following his public exoneration, Richard pursued a series of libel cases again the FBI, CNN, New York Post, and other media outlets who had written about him being a potential suspect. Most of the media outlets sought a settlement with Richard instead of taking the case to court, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution continued the case until 2011, when it was ruled that the newspaper had published what was most accurate at the time and therefore would not be considered defamation.

But Richard did not live to see that last case play out. In early 2007, he was diagnosed with diabetes and passed away later that year due to heart disease with complications from diabetes. He was only 44 at the time.

Since, there have been a multitude of media portrayals of the situation, each making it abundantly clear that Richard was not involved in the bombing.

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