Richard Jewell, the security guard hero-turned-suspect in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing case, is dead. He was 44:

Richard Jewell, the Centennial Olympic Park security guard once suspected — but later cleared — in the bombing of the park during the 1996 Summer Games, was found dead Wednesday in his home in Meriwether County.

… Jewell was initially lauded as a hero after a bomb went off at the July 27, 1996, Olympic celebration. He called attention to the suspicious knapsack that held a bomb and helped evacuate the area.

But days later he became the FBI’s chief suspect, as The [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] and other media outlets reported.

The FBI later cleared Jewell of any wrongdoing. He was never charged with a crime.

Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing in 2005 and is serving life in prison for it and other attacks.

After he was cleared, Jewell sued the Journal-Constitution and other media outlets for libel, arguing that their reports defamed him. Several news organizations settled, including NBC and CNN.

The Journal-Constitution did not settle. The newspaper has contended that at the time it published its reports, Jewell was a suspect, so the articles were accurate. The newspaper also has asserted that it was not reckless or malicious in its reports regarding Jewell. Much of Jewell’s case was dismissed last year. One claim, based on reports about a 911 call, is pending trial.

I guess that makes the AJC the winner. Congratulations.