Richard Jewell is back in the headlines he never sought in a big way with Clint Eastwood‘s new movie on Jewell’s life and the false accusations that he was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bomber. The film is called Richard Jewell.
Jewell’s story has long been considered a parable of media excess. However, how did Richard Jewell die? What was his cause of death? The cause of death was severe heart disease. Sadly, Richard did not live long after the controversies surrounding him. In death, he received the headline he should have gotten in the first place: The New York Times headline on his obituary called him “Hero of Atlanta Attack.”
Richard Jewell died in 2007. He was only 44 years old. Jewell fell under suspicion after he found a backpack that he thought had explosives in it. He was working as a security guard and ushered people out of the area. Three pipe bombs then exploded, and Jewell’s actions probably saved many lives. Suspicion later fell on him, but he was exonerated completely in the attack. Jewell sued news organizations and most settled. An anti-government extremist named Eric Rudolph was the actual bomber.
“I am not the Olympic Park bomber,” Jewell told reporters after being cleared in the case, according to CNN. “I am a man who has lived 88 days afraid of being arrested for a crime I did not commit.”
The movie’s release date is December 13, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
Jewell’s Wife Discovered Him on the Floor of Their Bedroom
The coroner said that Jewell died of natural causes and that he “had battled serious medical problems” since being diagnosed with diabetes that February. Vox reports that Jewell died “from complications related to diabetes.”
He died at his Woodbury, Georgia home, and left behind a wife, Dana, who discovered his body on the floor of their bedroom. He worked as a police officer and sheriff’s deputy after he was exonerated.
The coroner told The Times that Jewell suffered from kidney failure. He also needed to have toes amputated, and the coroner said he had “started going downhill ever since.”
“There’s no suspicion whatsoever of any type of foul play. He had been at home sick since the end of February with kidney problems,” said Meriwether County Coroner Johnny Worley to The Associated Press.
According to ESPN, an autopsy revealed that Jewell “essentially had a heart attack.” He also had kidney problems. There was no evidence that alcohol or drugs played any role in his death.
“I’m not rich by any means monetarily,” he said, according to ESPN. “I’m rich because of my family.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which broke the story that Jewell was being investigated by the FBI, defended itself. Bert Roughton, former senior managing editor for AJC, wrote in the newspaper, “I believe we did the right thing by accurately reporting that the FBI had shifted its suspicions on Jewell at a time when the entire world was waiting on the FBI to solve the crime.” An appellate court later agreed with the newspaper on that count.
The headline on the original story was, “FBI suspects ‘hero’ guard may have planted bomb.” The reporter who broke that story, Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde on film, also died young. She was only 42 when she passed away from an overdose in 2001. You can read more about Kathy Scruggs’ cause of death here.
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