Richard Jewell never sought the headlines. He was just a security guard trying to do his job when he was plunged into a media firestorm over false allegations that he might be the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bomber. He wasn’t. That infamy belongs to Eric Rudolph, who was later captured after a manhunt.
First, Jewell’s story was told by Clint Eastwood in a movie on the faulty FBI investigation into Jewell. Now it’s being told again on Netflix, in the show Manhunt: Deadly Games. The series first ran on CBS. However, it’s getting a lot of new viewers due to the Netflix streaming, and that has people wondering what happened to Jewell and where he is now.
Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending in real life. Jewell is no longer alive. He died young and fairly tragically, although his death was from natural causes. When he died, he was lauded as a hero. The New York Times headline on his obituary called him “Hero of Atlanta Attack.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Jewell Died in 2007, Only Age 44
Richard Jewell was only 44 years old when he died in 2007.
As many people know, it was Jewell’s role as a security guard that led the FBI to suspect he could be the bomber. He had truly played the role of the hero, getting people out of harm’s way before Rudolph’s pipe bombs exploded. He likely saved many lives. He later settled with some news organizations in a libel suit because of the media frenzy that erupted over the possibility he could be the 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.”
What was Jewell’s cause of death?
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.”
The Coroner Said There Was No Foul Play Involved in Jewell’s Death
Jewell did not die under suspicious circumstances.
“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.
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