The Hunt for Eric Rudolph
Aired June 15, 2002 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The bombings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a bomb in Centennial Park.
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ANNOUNCER: The fugitive.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have issued a warrant for Mr. Eric Robert Rudolph.
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ANNOUNCER: The manhunt. The mountains.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have half a-million acres of pure wilderness.
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ANNOUNCER: The mystery.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do I think he is? I think he died.
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AARON BROWN, HOST: Welcome to CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown.
In the summer of 1996, it was late on a Friday night, during the Olympic Games. Someone set off a bomb in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. The FBI for a while has believed that that someone was a young man named Eric Rudolph, and it was the first of several bombings authorities believe Mr. Rudolph is responsible for. If they are right, Eric Rudolph is in every sense of the word a terrorist and a killer.
He is also a fugitive. Despite a massive manhunt that has now spanned more than five years, Eric Rudolph has avoided capture.
Every kid knows that in a game of hide-and-seek it is easier to be the one who hides. In this game, a deadly serious one, Eric Rudolph has played the game perfectly, and perfectly is the only way the one who hides wins. But in this game of hide-and-seek, the game never ends. It goes on forever. Eric Rudolph may have won so far, and our program is about who he is and how he's managed to stay at least one step ahead of the law.
ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the tens of thousands they come from all over the world to party and celebrate Atlanta's 1996 Summer Olympics. On this Saturday night the music is free. As the crowd packs the gentle hill side of grass and trees of Centennial Park.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party of the century, baby!
A. HARRIS: Robert and Nancy are here from California. Their videotape camera rolling to capture history and the Olympic spirit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks were walking up to people they didn't know and having conversation with them, and just moving on again and having a good time meeting different cultures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just a great place to be.
A. HARRIS: Fallon Stubbs (ph) drives in from Georgia with her mother, Alice Hawthorne. A last-minute birthday present for Fallon, just turned 14. Her mother has scored tickets for the Dream Team the next day. That night, they head for the park.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody was happy and laughing and moving and dancing.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Why were you walking over here that night?
TOM DAVIS: I was just finishing up my tour of duty for the day.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Tom Davis has no choice. A veteran agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, he is on duty. Part of the security team.
DAVIS: I would say it changed quite a bit since that time. The park was a good place to work. We didn't have a whole lot of problems out there.
A. HARRIS: Just minutes before 1:00 a.m. On stage that night the band Jack Mack and the Heart Attack takes a break. Davis makes his final round for the night, walks by the NBC sound structure. A private security guard named Richard Jewell stops him and asks for help.
DAVIS: He told me he was having problem with some drunks throwing beer cans into the tower, and asked me if I'd mind coming over and helping him straighten the situation out.
A. HARRIS: As they walked around the front of tower, the young men clear out. But as they leave, Richard Jewell notices something -- a back pack under a bench in front of the tower.
DAVIS: I told Richard to treat it as a suspicious package. We tried to do just that.
A. HARRIS: But they can't find the owner, so Davis radios for a bomb assessment team. Two minutes later, two men arrive.
DAVIS: I asked them, was there anything to it? They told me, they weren't sure, that they saw what appeared to be some pipe and some wires.
A. HARRIS: At 12:58 a.m., this 911 call to the Atlanta Police Department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes.
A. HARRIS: But the 911 operator can't find Centennial Park in her computer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got a call: talking about there's a bomb set to go off in 30 minutes in Centennial Park.
A. HARRIS: The warning never reaches the park.
DAVIS: This time I'm still really thinking there is really nothing to this bag, because during the two, three weeks during this time, we dealt with a number of backpacks and suspicious packages. And of course, every time, they turned out to be nothing.
A. HARRIS: By now it's about 1:15 a.m.. Davis begins to move people, some of them drunk, away from the backpack. That's the backpack and the bench from a picture taken by KNBC-TV and enhanced by the FBI.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Were you able to move those people?
DAVIS: Yes, all of them off the hill; there was probably 75 or 100 people.
A. HARRIS: On their way out of the park, Fallon Stubbs and her mother stopped by this statue to take a couple pictures.
A. HARRIS (on camera): You and your mom. Do you remember what you were talking about?
STONE: Who was going to stand in front of the statue.
A. HARRIS: They pose about 100 feet from the hillside. Alice Hawthorne is smiling.
QUESTION: Did you notice anything suspicious at all? STONE: Nothing I can call out.
A. HARRIS: Fallon snaps the photo.
Robert and Nancy are to the left, on the other side of the crowd. The time: 1:20 a.m.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't remember the sound and the light so much as I remember the asphalt shaking.
STUBBS: I remember an explosion probably going off around the tower. I remember seeing my mother turn, do a complete 360. That is probably going to be the most lasting memory out of all of that. I remember me falling.
It was all kind of mostly like a movie. It was like, this can't be happening. I mean, what was that? And then, you know, you get up, and you see people scared and running. I saw my mother on the ground.
A. HARRIS (on camera): And what did you do?
STUBBS: I got up and I ran, just like the statue I was running, trying to find her help, try to find her anybody.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Fallon is wounded, her arm and leg cut by a shrapnel, one finger nearly severed.
STUBBS: People told me, lay down, get down, get down, and I was like, wait, my mother -- and all I could remember was looking over, and I saw her, and I saw like 20 people around her, a lot of people I guess trying to resuscitate her, and they put me in ambulance about 15 -- 10, 15 minutes later, and I was like my mother, my mom, my mom, wait, wait. And somebody...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back right now. Let's go.
DAVIS: I really don't remember a whole lot about it, except this force that pushed me, that pushed me down.
A. HARRIS: Tom Davis stands even closer to the pack, just feet away when the bomb goes off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, let's go, let's go, folks.
A. HARRIS: The KNBC cameraman is nearby and catches what happens next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just knew we had people down everywhere in this area, they were screaming and severely injured.
A. HARRIS: Hours later, when he is off duty and getting undressed, Davis realizes he too had been hit by the shrapnel, in the rear end.
DAVIS: It was my left rear pocket.
A. HARRIS: His GBI credentials in his back pocket blocked the impact.
DAVIS: It was pieces of fragments.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Why are you still alive?
DAVIS: Lord was looking after us, is all I can say.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Robert and Nancy Gee realized they caught the explosion on videotape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert, did you know right away that this was an explosion of some sort?
ROBERT GEE, BOMBING SURVIVOR: For about a second, I assumed it was part of the pyrotechnics effects of the band.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A. HARRIS: They tried to give their footage to police, without success. Then, took it across the street to CNN.
Fallon Stubbs winds up in a local emergency room. After an operation, she wakes up, her hospital bed surrounded by family, everyone except her mother.
STUBBS: And everybody was looking at me like, you know, you are the last one to know, so you know, you could tell that something wasn't right.
A. HARRIS: Then, she learns. Her mother is dead.
More than 100 others, including Fallon, are wounded. But nobody can tell her who did it. Who is the bomber?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move! Get back to this area, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move back that way now! Let's go!
A. HARRIS: Charles Stone, a 20-year veteran of the GBI is just coming off duty when he gets the word, a bomb in Centennial Park.
CHARLES STONE, GBI: We just walked into the cafeteria when one of my team members called me and said that there had been an explosion at the park.
A. HARRIS: It's ruled a terrorist incident. The FBI takes the lead, with the ATF and GBI on the task force. Stone's team starts interviewing witnesses. Within 48 hours, the FBI suspects Richard Jewell, the security guard who first noticed the backpack. Word leaks out to the media.
RICHARD JEWELL, FORMER SECURITY GUARD: For 88 days, I lived a nightmare.
A. HARRIS: But there is no quick solution to the case. Jewell is officially ruled out as a target of the investigation.
Even as the FBI shadows Jewell, the bomb task force is chasing other leads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you for calling in.
A. HARRIS: From hundreds of callers with tips about other possible suspects. Then, the agency offers $500,000 reward and finally goes public with the tape of the 911 call. Every lead is followed up, not one pans out.
STONE: We get to look at who made the call-in, find out that it was an ex-wife, a girlfriend trying to create problems for her spouse or boyfriend. Some of them were just people who were mentally disturbed.
A. HARRIS: Peace by piece, investigators tried to rebuild the bomb. Then trace the parts -- nails, gunpowder, batteries, the clock.
STONE: It was the largest pipe bomb in U.S. history, weighed in excess of 40 pounds. It used a steel plate as a directional device, it was contained in a military pack.
The bomb was placed approximately here, under this bench.
A. HARRIS: Investigators soon learned the rowdy young men first noticed by Richard Jewell were planning to steal the backpack, take it into a crowded nightclub, but it was too heavy.
(on camera): What would have happened if they had taken that bomb into that club?
STONE: We would have had hundreds of fatalities. It would have been a disaster of just an unknown magnitude.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of law enforcement activity in there, obviously, as they are still sweeping the area, trying to pick up any bits of shrapnel they can.
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A. HARRIS: Those would-be thieves actually saved countless lives by accidentally tipping over the pack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would have been more or less in that position.
A. HARRIS: So the blast of the shrapnel goes upward, away from the crowd. By analyzing the bomb, investigators began to develop the profile of the bomb.
STONE: It was put together in a meticulous fashion, and we believed we had somebody who wanted to kill a lot of people. Nobody took credit, which indicates that it might have been an individual, as opposed to an organized group, probably somebody who had military experience, somebody who was proficient with bombs.
We would like to ask the public's help in getting these people identified.
A. HARRIS: A full year goes by. The task force builds a timeline of that night, using thousands of photos and videos taken in the park from the media and tourists.
STONE: A witness who saw this individual sitting on the bench where the bomb was located.
A. HARRIS: Charles Stone and fellow investigators now think this blurry photo shows the bomber, but they still can't identify him.
(on camera): There is something else investigators still don't know, the bomber's target. Is it the crowd in the park or is it the police who were supposed to be on the scene after the 911 call?
(voice-over): January 1998. Police rush to investigate another bombing, this time at a clinic that performs abortions in an Atlanta suburb. Then, while they're investigating, a second bomb goes off. A secondary device, a tactic made popular years earlier by the Irish Republican Army. There are a few injuries. A parked car catches most of the shrapnel. Stone and other law enforcement officials now believe the real target is them.
A month later, two more bombs, this time at an Atlanta nightclub catering to lesbians, "The Other Side" lounge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I heard a big boom and I saw blue flashes come through the window.
A. HARRIS: Again, only minor injuries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we are publicly releasing excerpts from a letter claiming responsibility for the bombings at the Sandy Springs Professional Building in January and the other side lounge in February.
A. HARRIS: The so-called "Army of God" is taking credit, as it declares death to the New World Order. Stone is convinced that while the "Army of God" is a smokescreen, the letters are real. A message from the bomber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may confirm the following FBI of Sandy Springs devices: jolted dynamite, power source, the midtown devices are similar, except no ammo cans. All this was proved to be correct through forensic examination.
QUESTION: Only the bomber could have known this? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the bombs was concealed in this type of green polyester backpack.
A. HARRIS: The task force compares the bomb from all three attacks. Now, they're almost certain they are the work of one man. Why?
The bombs from Centennial Park and Sandy Springs use the same type of metal plate.
The bombs from Sandy Springs and the Other Side lounge used the same timers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wind-up alarm clocks.
A. HARRIS: Other elements match too.
A profiler is brought onboard. He reads the letters, studies the scene, confirms their nightmare.
STONE: The target wasn't abortionists or gay and lesbian; it was the police responding to these (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
A. HARRIS: Another warning from a profiler:
STONE: The person is going to bomb again. He hasn't killed police officers yet.
A. HARRIS: Coming up, the bomber strikes again. Will investigators finally get the break they have been looking for?
STONE: The more bombs you have, the greater chance the bomber will make a mistake.
A. HARRIS: January 29, 1998. Early morning at the New Woman All Women Health in Birmingham, Alabama. The clinic performs abortions. Nurse Emily Lyons arrives to open up.
It's 7:33 a.m. Lyons is just about to open the door, when Robert Sanderson, an off duty Birmingham police officer, working security at the clinic, spots something odd outside. A flower pot near the clinic entrance.
LYONS: He stood over here and had his nightstick out, and that's when the bomb exploded.
A. HARRIS: It explodes with such force it shakes buildings nearby. Nails and shrapnel tear through Sanderson and Lyons. Officer Sanderson is literally ripped apart by the blast. He dies soon after police arrive on the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is Emily lying on the sidewalk and somebody walking along.
A. HARRIS: Jeffrey Lyons is getting out of the shower when the phone rings. There has been a bombing, he's told, but no one can tell him if his wife is safe.
JEFFREY LYONS: By the time I was dressed, I knew she was either hurt or dead, because she hasn't called.
A. HARRIS: Paged, Lyons heads to the hospital. Emily is alive, but in bad shape. She's lost one eye. Her body is riddled with metal fragments.
J. LYONS: Each little dot that you see here is a nail hole.
E. LYONS: This could have happened to anybody. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time that day.
A. HARRIS: If it's the same bomber that hit Atlanta, he's now killed a cop. Sanderson leaves behind a wife and two teenage sons.
Investigators worked the scene. Interview witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a big boom.
A. HARRIS: They also reconstruct the bomb and find enough similarities to convince them it's the same bomber. Once again, letters take credit: words and phrases are similar, as is the handwriting. And the writer uses the same secret code used in the Atlanta letters.
Alton Sizemore (ph) runs the FBI in Birmingham.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He thought it out he planned it. He knew exactly what he was doing and he stood there and murdered someone.
A. HARRIS: This time, the killer detonates the bomb by remote control, rather than using timers like in Atlanta, investigators say. That means the bomber is nearby, watching as the off-duty cop gets closer and closer. Then the bomber decides it's time to blow him away.
For Emily Lyons, it's horrific, but she says it could have been far worse.
E. LYONS: If he had waited until everybody was in, or getting ready to come in, maybe ten, 15 more minutes he would have gotten eight patients, probably five staff members, the police officer and any other significant other or friend that came with the people to the clinic.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Investigators believe the bomber hides behind this tree and after he sets off the explosion, he calmly walks away. It's a year and a half after the first bomb, but this time investigators finally get a break.
(voice-over): CNN has learned a medical student sees a man walking away from the scene while everyone is rushing towards it. Curious, the student jumps in his car and tries to follow the man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The individual did follow this person, alerted law enforcement from telephone.
The witness calls police from this McDonald's.
Another man, a lawyer, overhears the conversation, offers to help, remarkably, at that moment, the mystery man walks down the street. Both men see him get into a gray Nissan truck and they follow him, get close enough to see his tag number and his face and lose him in traffic. The police call the witnesses heroes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were willing to put their own lives at potential risk and jeopardy in order to follow this individual.
A. HARRIS: Police put out a national alert and begin to trace the owner of the truck, but it takes time: his license and registration are full of misleading information. By the next morning they have a name but no current address. Officials go public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have issued a warrant for a Mr. Eric Robert Rudolph. White male, age 31. Last known address was in Marlboro, North Carolina.
A. HARRIS: When CNN PRESENTS returns, will law enforcement catch Eric Rudolph now that they know his name?
STONE: Missed him by that much: a matter of hours, if not minutes.
A. HARRIS: It's the day after the Birmingham bombing, and Eric Rudolph is back home, chilling out at his trailer in Murphy, North Carolina. He rents a video, "Kull the Conqueror," eats at Burger King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Federal agents continued searching for 31- year-old Eric Robert Rudolph.
(END VIDEO CLIP) A. HARRIS: Then, he learns he's wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Federal agents say they want to question 31-year-old Eric Rudolph.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A. HARRIS: He stocks up, buys more than 70 pounds of raisins, tuna, oatmeal, nuts.
Meanwhile, local Sheriff Jack Thompson tracks down the address of Rudolph's trailer, calls the FBI. They say wait, they are on the way.
JACK THOMPSON, SHERIFF: They said they would be out here as quickly as they could get here, and about three hours later we went to the trailer.
A. HARRIS: By the time they go in, Rudolph is gone.
(on camera): What leads to you to believe you were that close, that you almost got him?
STONE: The air condition of the trailer that was left, doors open.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): A few days later, hunters find his truck near the North Carolina-Georgia state line. Now, it's a manhunt.
To many in tiny mountain towns nearby, it feels like an invasion.
(on camera): To find him, investigators realize they have to do more than just search the woods. They have got to learn everything about Eric Rudolph -- his habits, get inside his head.
STONE: We never had any sightings of him.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Charles Stone talks to Rudolph's family, friends, helps flesh out a profile. He hears Eric had been talking for years about vanishing.
STONE: He had already made statements that one day, he was going to have to disappear.
DEBORAH RUDOLPH, ERIC'S SISTER-IN-LAW: At Thanksgiving, we went to meet his family.
A. HARRIS: A key source for Stone and other investigators, Deborah Rudolph. Once married to Eric's brother Joel, now divorced, she met Eric and the family in the mid-1980s. A Thanksgiving at their home in Tupton (ph), North Carolina, that she will never forget. She learns Eric has a gay brother, and a mother who once wanted be a nun, that the Rudolphs live a survivalist lifestyle in the mountains.
D. RUDOLPH: They would talk about if anything ever happened, it would haven, you know, a safe haven, a place for, you know, for them to come if anything should happen.
A. HARRIS (on camera): World War III.
D. RUDOLPH: World war III, you know, a revolution, invasion of the country, marshal law.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): She hears family lore, that Patricia Rudolph moves them to North Carolina from Florida after her husband Robert dies for cancer, that doctors refuse when she wants Robert treated with an experimental drug called Laetrile. Why? Because the government says Laetrile doesn't work.
D. RUDOLPH: Robert was lying there, he was dying, Pat wanted to administer Laetrile, they wouldn't allow it.
A. HARRIS: Eric is 14. Charles Stone believes Eric blames the government for killing his father.
(on camera): Why do you think he has done what he is accused of?
STONE: Out of a perverse sense of getting back at the government for hurting his family.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Patricia Rudolph soon embarks on a spiritual quest, sons Eric and Jamie in tow. It leads them to a compound in the Ozarks, called the Church of Israel. Its leader, Dan Gamon (ph), preaches white separatism.
D. RUDOLPH: She went up there to help out in the church and to study with Dan, and she would send us these little tapes of his sermons, you might say, about his belief and their belief that the Bible is a history of the white race.
A. HARRIS: Back in North Carolina, Eric discovers the vast Nantahala National Forest just outside his back door. He learns to hunt, fish, plays army in the woods. He studies herbal cures, explores caves and other hiding places, even heads for the woods on Christmas day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eric is a loner. On several occasions, he -- his family did not know where he was. He would mislead his family on where he was living. He would show up unannounced at family events.
A. HARRIS: But Eric uses the woods as more than a hiding place. By the mid-1980s, he growing hybrid marijuana -- first near the house, then deeper in the woods.
D. RUDOLPH: He became a pot farmer. I remember one trip where he took us and showed up where he put barbed wire around these plants to keep the rabbits from eating them. He would carry jugs of water on his back two miles into the woods to water these plants.
A. HARRIS: Eric takes pride in his crops, says Deborah, sells it for top dollar. He even goes to Amsterdam to buy special seeds and smuggles them back through Canada. CNN has learned that agents searching a storage unit he rents in Andrews later find seeds and grow lights. They also believe Rudolph was breeding ever more potent strains in this secret room at home.
STONE: He was involved in growing marijuana.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Selling it too?
STONE: Yes, of course.
A. HARRIS: That's how he made a living?
STONE: That's how me made a living.
D. RUDOLPH: He probably made 40, 50, $60,000 a year. Cash money, no paper trail.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Deborah says Eric doesn't trust banks, has no bank account, no credit cards, pays rent in cash or by money order. He talks about his fear that a paper trail would let the government track his every move, spy on him, take away his rights. Just watching TV gets him riled up.
(on camera): What did he call the television?
D. RUDOLPH: The electric Jew.
A. HARRIS: The electric Jew? What did he mean by that?
D. RUDOLPH: You know, he felt like they controlled everything.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Beyond anti-Semitism, Eric spouts racial separatism, calls abortion a plot to undermine the white race.
D. RUDOLPH: He felt like if woman continued to abort their white babies, that eventually the white race would become a minority instead of a majority.
A. HARRIS: Deborah Rudolph says some rhetoric in letters taking credit for the bombings sounds just like Eric.
D. RUDOLPH: This paragraph where he's talking about the attack on the sodomite bar, talks about pushing their agendas, the new world order -- you know, it's very familiar.
A. HARRIS: But Deborah says Eric has a flip side. He laughs a lot, mostly at hippy doper humor like Cheech and Chong.
D. RUDOLPH: We would just sit around, smoke pot, watch movies, call out for pizza -- he loved pizza.
A. HARRIS: Then, in 1987, a seemingly abrupt about-face. Eric joins the Army, the 101st Airborne. Says he wants to be an elite Army Ranger.
D. RUDOLPH: That blew everybody's mind. A. HARRIS (on camera): Why would someone who hated the government join the Army?
STONE: To acquire the skills he acquired in the military, be it firearms, survival skills and explosives training.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): When Rudolph fails to make Ranger, he is done. Gets out early after two years with a general discharge.
D. RUDOLPH: What he did is he made it known that he smoked pot, and that's what he used to get out of service.
A. HARRIS: By the mid-'90s, Eric is back living at the Tupton (ph) house with two of his brothers. Mrs. Rudolph has moved out. Eric builds a trout pond, Deborah says, declaring his independence from the outside world.
D. RUDOLPH: They had vegetables, they had canned goods if they wanted to stock up on their canned goods, and they ate trout, trout and more trout.
A. HARRIS: In late 1995, the house goes up for sale. Frank makes an offer, spends the next three days living in the house with Eric. They talk extensively.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't too fond of black people. He wasn't too fond of Atlanta.
A. HARRIS: Sour says Eric hated urban life.
He said he used to go out at times and stay in the woods two, three weeks at a time; he loved it in the woods.
QUESTION: By himself?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By himself.
A. HARRIS: They talk politics, but Eric becomes most animated talking history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He mentioned that the Holocaust never happened.
QUESTION: That it was a hoax?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hoax.
A. HARRIS: Eric takes the Sours on a tour videotaped by their son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is Eric walking away from the back wall.
A. HARRIS: In this exclusive tape obtained by CNN, Rudolph shows off that secret room he's dug out in the basement.
He calls it a root cellar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he says, you will be surprised when you see this crawl space.
A. HARRIS: On the tape, you can hear Eric explain the sump pump and the secret room. That's the bobcat Eric killed and skinned.
And his truck, the one allegedly spotted leaving Birmingham the morning of the clinic bombing.
It's now just a few months before the Olympics.
With his home gone, Deborah Rudolph sees Eric as rootless. Cutoff from a place where he came of age. Where his father's ashes are buried. She wonders if Eric did what he's accused of, is that what triggered it?
D. RUDOLPH: It was maybe the loss of a safe haven, a place that he felt safe. He knew those woods. He knew everything around him; that was his realm.
A. HARRIS: Six months after vanishing in the forest, accused killer Eric Rudolph comes out of hiding. Earring gone. Wearing Army fatigues. From atop a ridge, he stakes out this man, George Nordman, an old friend who runs a health food store in Andrews, North Carolina.
STONE: He's watching for a period of time, probably several days to several weeks.
A. HARRIS: Then one evening in July 1998, he shows up at Nordman's house.
At Nordman's, Rudolph loads 200 pounds of food, health food supplements, and other itema on a truck and takes off.
A couple days later, Nordman tips off the law, tells agents Rudolph forces him to cooperate and passes a lie detector test. The truck turns up a few miles away.
STONE: The truck looked like it had been driven off the road, and given it a shove, taken out of gear, given a shove and rolled up against a tree. The bomb task force sends agents into the nearby Nantahala National Forest.
Helicopters with infra-red radar. Listening posts and cameras are set up in the woods. The FBI jacks up the reward to one million dollars. Still, no Eric Rudolph.
QUESTION: How could one man elude all the law enforcement? STONE: You see the terrain around us? A mountain terrain straight up and down some areas. You have a double (UNINTELLIGIBLE) force, and a half million acres of pure wilderness and the Appalachian Trail.
A. HARRIS: Remember that this is Eric Rudolph country, says Charles Stone. That Eric grew marijuana in these woods for years and he is welltrained in survival skills after his tour in the Army.
And it's working. Three years after the Nordman incident, there are no other confirmed sightings of Eric, here in the woods or anywhere else.
The FBI's Todd Ledger now runs the task force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no indication in any of the leads we covered as a task force that he anywhere else but in Western North Carolina.
A. HARRIS: But after a $20 million manhunt, and no man to show for it, most of the agents are gone.
(on camera): Sources say the task force has a new aim: to try to turn Eric's old friends into informants and hope that, despite his paranoia, he will trust one of them enough to make contact.
(voice-over): So the task force is in passive-aggressive mode, waiting for new leads, dangling the million dollar carrot, trying to build contacts.
That's what we found agents doing one night outside the house of an old Rudolph friend near Andrews.
The FBI is also working with hunters and paying former federal employees to keep their eyes and ears to the woods. It's called the Scalp Program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've used experts in tracking.
A. HARRIS: But just as the huge FBI presence once rubbed some locals wrong, the new tactic has angered others. Steve Cochran and his brother are long-time friends of Rudolph.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's taken over this community, and he's still in charge. What they have done is they have convinced people that lived not often in this community but other communities, it's all right to spy on your neighbor.
A. HARRIS: Just like everybody else here, Steve Cochran has a theory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do I think he is? I think he died. I think Eric died and I think he died alone.
A. HARRIS: But Charles Stone sights the poisoning of at least one dog and a string of burglaries over the last three years as evidence Rudolph is still here.
And there's the case of the decapitated fish found here in a trout farm, sliced clean with a knife. Figure it's Rudolph, the FBI sets up sophisticated heat-seeking video cameras.
Tom runs this local trout farm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my knowledge, the only activity their cameras ever actually recorded on the farm were family of otters and several large black bears.
A. HARRIS: Stone reminds us that Eric once lived off trout, he believes this is more proof that Rudolph is still here, very close by. His instinct is shared by Daryn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, a five-mile radius of his house. That goes back another 100 yards. Anybody could be up in there, up on that level up there.
A. HARRIS: Part Cherokee, part Indiana Jones, he's a selftaught caver, who's been hunting for Eric since 1998. He shows us how he helps the FBI search for caves and mines.
QUESTION: You can tell if he's been here or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could tell with the tracks and all, but there was no tracks. Somebody hadn't been in here in 60 years or more. So, this is many more mines. This is just one out of about 400.
A. HARRIS: Many mines and caves don't show up on maps.
QUESTION: Is he alive?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is alive.
A. HARRIS: Others are best left to bats or animals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see how comfortable we are; it's a little chilly outside. We are comfortable.
A. HARRIS: Add access to pure spring water, and you have a place to settle in for the long hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they do find Eric's lair, there will be comfortable bumps and flooring put in, they have located caves that fugitives have hidden out that have wall to wall carpet in them.
A. HARRIS: To learn Eric's ways, Daryn Free goes into the woods with one of Eric's high school friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His buddies say he would take fuel (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pile entrance and watch you walk by.
A. HARRIS: Free says there is no way to search all the caves and mines, and he is convinced Eric is still here, believe he recently found an old campfire Rudolph built..
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason I thought it was Eric's, it was small, just to heat up maybe a can or keep warm, just a little bit of light.
A. HARRIS: Everyone has a theory about Eric. Deborah Rudolph believes her former brother-in-law has taken his marijuana money, bought a false passport and gone overseas.
D. RUDOLPH: If he went anywhere, he would go to Europe. You know, he made several trips there. He would go to Austria, Holland maybe, living in a big city, mingling with the people.
A. HARRIS: ATF Agent Jim Cavanaugh, part of the Birmingham investigation, has yet another notion.
JIM CAVANAUGH, ATF: I would say he's within 300 miles of Murphy, North Carolina, that he lives in a mobile home. He pays cash for rent, and utilities including. He works as a painter, a carpenter, hangs dry wall and lays carpet.
A. HARRIS: Birmingham victim Emily Lyons believe the antiabortion underground is helping Rudolph, like it has other accused killers.
LYONS: Somebody is taking care of him. Wish they would turn him in, though for $1 million.
A. HARRIS (on camera): Do you think he has help now?
D. RUDOLPH: No.
A. HARRIS: Why not?
D. RUDOLPH: I don't think he trusts anybody that much to help him.
A. HARRIS (voice-over): Coming up, what will happen if Eric Rudolph is ever caught.
LYONS: Better hold me back.
LYONS: What you see here is a fairly good burned arm.
A. HARRIS: Victim Emily Lyons, three years after the Birmingham clinic bombing.
LYONS: These are all pieces of metal. And I know there's a piece of metal here, a big chunk of metal went in here.
A. HARRIS: Watch what happens when she holds a magnet next to her scarred leg. Those are nails from the bomb underneath her skin.
LYONS: You can feel it on the inside, kind of a prickly. And this one up here in is the one that's in the nerve that I guess we'll just have to keep there.
A. HARRIS: Lyons lost one eye and much of her vision in the other, but she says she can see well enough to see the accused serial bomber if she ever faces him from the witness stand.
LYONS: Better hold me back. I would like to ask the why questions that nobody has the answer to right now, except for him. Why that day, why that place, and what was the purpose?
A. HARRIS: If Eric Rudolph ever comes to trial, prosecutors have extensive forensic evidence, even witnesses in the Birmingham case. Then, there's Atlanta's 911 phone call from Centennial Park. The FBI has played it to many close to Eric.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "911 TAPE")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
D. RUDOLPH: It sounds like Eric, but I couldn't swear to it.
A. HARRIS (on camera): But for any trial to happen, neither here in Atlanta or in Birmingham, Eric Rudolph has to be caught first. Despite tens of millions of dollars spent hunting him, he is still out there, dead or alive.
(voice-over): Charlie Stone and several others have already retired, but Todd Lecher says the bomb task force won't give up.
LECHER: We need to send the message that we are not going away, that we are going to find Eric Rudolph.
A. HARRIS: Deborah Rudolph says Eric will never be taken alive, never let his mind or motives be studied. One of his brothers even cut off his hand in what some agents believe was an act of solidarity with Eric. Deborah believes Eric would likely take a cue from a German leader he admired, Adolph Hitler.
D. RUDOLPH: Hitler committed suicide. I think Eric would be more apt to react that way than let himself be taken alive.
A. HARRIS: In Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park, there are few signs a bomb ever went off. It's now been landscaped. Waterfalls cascade over the spot where the bomb exploded. But look closely at the statue, as Tom Davis does on a recent visit, you can see the scars.
DAVIS: You can still see the indenture of a nail right there, and that's a hard surface. That explosion had to be tremendous.
A. HARRIS (on camera): It says, "we will remember not hatred, not bitterness."
(voice-over): Near the park memorial for the victims of that July night in 1996, Fallon Stubbs retraces her steps, where she was wounded, where her mother died.
STUBBS: It was pure mayhem.
A. HARRIS: She thinks about what Eric Rudolph is accused of, what life has been like the last five years without her mother.
(on camera): Do you ever dream about it?
STUBBS: I dream about the incident. And then I dream about what she would be like here with me, watching me grow up and watching me in high school, and I mean, she is not here physically, she can't give me a hug afterward, but I hope that, you know, she's watching.
BROWN: A former New York City police commissioner once reminded us that in the long run and in the real world, the seeker, the police, always have the advantage. "The police," he said, "can make a million mistakes, and it only slows things down. The one hiding," Mr. Rudolph in this case, "only gets one mistake, one misstep, and he's caught."
So far, Rudolph, by his wits and possibly with the help of friends, has avoided that one mistake. But eventually, history teaches us, his luck will run out. He will make his one mistake, and he will be caught.
That's it for this edition of CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next week.
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