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Suspected Olympic Park Bomber in Custody

Aired May 31, 2003 - 09:58   ET


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Just to recap for our viewers, an FBI source tells CNN that it is indeed Eric Rudolph who is in custody. FBI headquarters at this point have not officially confirmed that the man in custody in North Carolina is Eric Rudolph. He, seen right here on our screen, was one of the FBI's top 10 most wanted fugitives. He's been missing since early 1998, since he was named a suspect in several bombings in Alabama and in Atlanta, most notably the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics back in 1996. It's thought that he saw himself on a news report. He left five $100 bills on a friend's table, took his pickup truck and six month worth of food, and he's been missing ever since.
I'm joined here by my colleagues. This is has been an amazing manhunt that we have seen for years.

KATHLEEN HAYS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These guys have some of the best resources in the world. They knew who they were looking for, basically. Why did it take so long to find this man?

ARENA: FBI agents will tell you repeatedly, and this has come up a lot with terror investigations, and you know, they put out a BOLO, be on the lookout for one individual, they say the hardest thing to find sometimes is one individual, who is acting as a lone wolf. And every indication is that Eric Rudolph was very much a loner. He spent weeks on end out in the wilderness in North Carolina -- out in the wilderness, doing his thing, not very connected socially. So people like that are very difficult to find.

It has always been speculated that he had some sort of assistance, some sort of help. Those are the questions that will be most interesting to get answered, of who has been helping him all this time.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right. If you say he left with six months worth of food, but in fact has been gone for five years ...

ARENA: Exactly.

KOPPEL: He's obviously a very good hunter, or as you said, somebody's helping him.

ARENA: The speculation has always been that he stayed in the United States. Some people would suggest, oh, he's long gone, overseas now. But the agents who worked this case have repeatedly said it was their firm belief that he was still in that area. And they had SWAT teams and -- you know, the bombs -- the dogs and everybody out there looking for him. What we've never uncovered is, A, where he made the explosives he allegedly used.

And let's not forget. He is charged; he has not been convicted. So, this is someone who was never able to face the charges against him. He is charged with killing two individuals, injuring hundreds of others. It's not only the Olympic Park bombing, but there was the bombing of a nightclub, there was also the bombing of an office building, there was the bombing of a health clinic that performed abortion.

So this was -- and, it was the use of secondary explosive devices. So when one devise went off at one location, and law enforcement -- and even the press -- rushed up to find out what happened, another bomb went off very close by in another location. And it was the start of the understanding of how these secondary explosive devices can be used.

HAYS: If this were happening today, the first thing we'd think would be al Qaeda terrorists.

KOPPEL: Yes, and actually, it makes you wonder or it certainly gives you a different appreciation for just how difficult it is doing this kind of police investigative work overseas, and why perhaps, before the Riyadh bombings, earlier this month, the Saudis had put out their pictures, their names, of 19 suspects. And there was a lot of criticism, that you and I were both hearing, from officials who were saying perhaps the Saudis didn't really try to get these guys. And here in the United States, they spent five years looking for one guy.

HAYS: For one person, yes. I mean are there any implications then, for the domestic terror fight -- or internationally?

ARENA: Well, there's a lot that can be learned -- if he cooperates. A, if he cooperates. B, let's always point out, if he is, indeed, the person who is guilty. But if he does talk and if he is the person that did commit these crimes: A, what is the support network that exists in the United States for hiding such an individual? B, how accessible -- how did he make the bombs? Did he have help in making those explosives? What's the expertise that's out there.

Three, you know, where was he holed up? Where was his safe house? I think that it will help at least on the domestic terror front. There are always lessons to be used in an interrogation, as you get more information.

KOPPEL: What was his motive? Do we have any idea why this guy -- clearly, if he was attacking -- Kathleen and I were talking about this earlier, if he allegedly attacked this abortion clinic, there's probably a religious --

ARENA: Well, the nightclub that he allegedly bombed was also frequented -- it was a gay nightclub. So --

HAYS: So he had some kind of -- what about the role of local authorities in tracking somebody like this down?

ARENA: Well, that's very important. Because we heard a lot about how important it is to get --

HAYS: And like the cooperation between local authorities and the feds...

ARENA: Right, to get information out to those people that are on the front line, and it is more often than not going to be a local sheriff. As in this case, or a local police officer, who is giving somebody a speeding ticket that will come upon someone who is wanted.

And so this is a clear illustration of how important it is to keep the guys and the women on the front lines out there in the loop on information. Now, obviously, this was someone whose face has been plastered all over the nation, looking for him for years. There are very few people you will find in the world who don't know who Eric Rudolph is, or has a vague idea of what he looks like.

KOPPEL: You spoke to sources this morning. Any kind of feeling -- I'm sure they're reluctant until they put out that official statement to crow to loudly. What do you think this is going to do to moral?

ARENA: Oh, this will be a very big morale booster. This is someone that they have been looking for, for a long time. It's sort of the thorn in the paw that has been there. The fact they weren't able to get their hands on him, weren't able to bring him to justice.

The few people I spoke to this morning were very pleased. As a matter of fact, one person I called -- woke up this morning, unfortunately. And said, you know, can you help, I hear you may have caught Eric Rudolph. And he said, oh! We -- Oh! That would be the best news I've heard in a long time, Kelli. So there will be great elation, at least at the FBI, if -- you know, once they make this -- and our source who is a very good source, says this is, indeed, him. So that will be -- that's news that will spread quickly.

HAYS: Probably lots of champagne corks pop. How long does it take for them to really figure this out? They've got the man's fingerprints? Is that how they decide, how long it would take?

ARENA: There was a fingerprint match, we're told by one source. Again, I have to caution, just for our viewers to know, that FBI headquarters has not officially confirmed this. We have on very good authority, from a source within the FBI, that there was a fingerprint match.

Now that they have a fingerprint match, then, you know, they can come out and say, yes, for all the world to hear, this is Eric Rudolph. He does face, by the way -- I mean just moving forward, he is faces death penalty-eligible charges. It is very much expected that that will be a decision that will go straight to the top, that Attorney General John Ashcroft will have to make, whether or not he will face the death penalty. Then, of course, there's the issue of jurisdictions. You have different states involved in this. And so where -- where will he be tried? Will he be tried at the state level? Will he be tried at the federal? So, there are legal hurdles to get beyond now. Now -- once you're in custody, now it all starts, a whole other chapter.

HAYS: Also, spinning this forward, I wonder what, if anything, the federal authorities have learned from this? What has the FBI learned? Because I think for someone sitting at home thinking about this, it may say, look how one person can hide for so long. You know?


HAYS: Is this a lesson that al Qaeda operatives could be hiding like this? Will they be equally hard to catch? And when we catch them, we won't have fingerprints to look at --

ARENA: Well, look, we know. We're looking for one man, Osama bin Laden. There is not -- I would venture to say -- OK, so maybe there's one person who has lived under a rock for a year. But I venture to say that every American knows what Osama bin Laden looks like -- that the world knows what Osama bin Laden looks like.

KOPPEL: By the way, he's six foot, five.

ARENA: Hello!

KOPPEL: Right.


ARENA: And we haven't been able to locate Osama bin Laden. It is much harder, according to law enforcement experts, to find one individual, especially if that individual has a support network, rather than finding a group of people. Intelligence is slim. When you are dealing with a person like Eric Rudolph, this is someone who disconnected from social and family ties, this is someone who's operating -- look at the Unabomber, for example this is somebody who --

HAYS: But we know he was operating alone? We know for sure Rudolph was operating alone?

ARENA: Well, this is what we'll find out.

KOPPEL: What are the different theories?

ARENA: But the MO, the MO is that he was a loner. And we know that he, as a child and well into his adulthood, took these trips totally by himself, you know, off in the wilderness, spent weeks on his own. This is someone who, according to descriptions, was not someone who would have been head of the PTA and involved in -- you know. So this is someone who doesn't have a whole lot of ties. And so it's easy to disappear. Like the Unabomber, it was easy for him to disappear. It was only when his brothers said, oh, gosh, I think it was him. KOPPEL: It reminds me so much of the Unabomber.

ARENA: So, you see? So the one person, there is no intelligence on one individual. I they're smart and if they can keep a very low profile.

KOPPEL: But I ...

ARENA: But still, but still, the question is, is there a network? What is the network, if he was helped? And one has to think that he had to be, that he had to be helped.

HAYS: How do the folks in North Carolina feel about him? Was he some sort of -- did he have some kind of epic proportion? You think of someone who has eluded the law for a long time. Or did people just say this guy was really scumbag because he killed and maimed a lot of innocent people.

ARENA: Well, I think that the overall -- yes, he did obviously gain lots of notoriety. There is a segment of the population who -- at least can understand his point of view when it came to abortions, when it came to a gay nightclub.

There are -- I have not heard anyone condone what Eric Rudolph was done, but I will also confess I haven't listened to everything that what everybody has to say about this case. I know Louis Freeh was asked, when he was the head of the FBI, he was asked, well, he's gained some sort of notoriety, hasn't he? And he said, Well, but -- no respect.

And so, that -- so, yes, everybody knows about him. I think it's intriguing and it's interesting. Where was he and how did he survive? And what's his story?

And there was a lot of focus on militias at the time, if you remember, looking into Idaho and Aryan Nation. And what that network was? And there were all these people speculating about underground bunkers. And you know, caves and places where they could hide people and how this was a very secretive, you know?

KOPPEL: Kelli, how did they find him?

ARENA: Well, he was going -- he was behind a building, going through bushes and looked like a homeless person. A sheriff's deputy went over and engaged conversation and looked, and it came out in that conversation he was Eric Robert Rudolph, but apparently ...

KOPPEL: The guy admitted he was...


HAYS: He admitted he was Eric Rudolph?

ARENA: Which is very much against the whole MO, I mean, who knows, of course you'll have a million psychologists and psychiatrists, I'm sure, saying, oh, maybe he just -- he couldn't face it any more, he was tired, deranged, maybe he -- whatever. We'll leave that to them. But yes, he apparently just said yeah, it's me, and was taking into custody without incident.

HAYS: There you have it.

ARENA: And made his way, you know, with the officers. But again, you know, just a local sheriff's deputy, you know, going about his business.

KOPPEL: So, obviously this is a fascinating story.

ARENA: It's amazing.

KOPPEL: This face is a fascinating story we'll all be wanting to watch throughout the day.

Kelli Arena, Kathleen Hays, thanks very much you. Now we're going to throw it back down to Atlanta, CNN Headquarters, for more on this story.


This is a developing story. As we speak. Let's talk a little bit about what we know at this point. Still in custody, still in that sheriff's station in Cherokee County, North Carolina, Eric Robert Rudolph. And there you see it, the red lines across the FBI Most Wanted fugitive list, no longer on that list, now in custody. Those red lines, a lot of people waited a long time to see them.

I'm joined right now by Arthel Neville, as well as Alan Duke, CNN writer, who at the time of these bombings was a reporter on the scene. Also, senior producer for CNN, Henry Schuster who has been investigating this story, really since the beginning, following this very closely, also produced a number of documentaries about it.

Henry, any new information, at this point?

HENRY SCHUSTER, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, what we know at this point, you heard a little bit of it from Kelli, was that last night a man was found wandering by sheriff deputies in Cherokee, North Carolina, in Murphy, North Carolina.

They thought he looked homeless. They brought him in. Somehow in all of that, we had Eric Rudolph saying, I am Eric Rudolph, apparently. And they ran -- it took them a while, look, after five years, they're going to really take their time about this. Everybody wants to be right. There's a million-dollar reward for this guy. He's a person they thought would never be caught.

So they took some time. They did some fingerprint identification. The FBI has shown up, from what we understand. They've double-checked, triple-checked. They want to be right. This is one that they don't want to be wrong about. So now, I think we're getting, three hours now --

COOPER: Right, 1:00.

SCHUSTER: Right, three hours from now we are going to be getting a news conference from North Carolina. I think all the principles will be there, the FBI, the sheriff of Cherokee County, some other officials will there be.

COOPER: Do you think this is -- I mean, the exact circumstances of his apprehension, are not really known at this point, but do you think this is law enforcement -- I mean, is it fair to say he was caught? Was he stumbled upon? Do we know?

SCHUSTER: I'm not sure that we do know right now. I think that we're going to find out at 1 o'clock are some more of the details of what happened. But there's a larger issue, which is -- I think what you're getting at, which is, after five years, was he just tired of running?

You know, was -- I had one ATF agent who was always worried because he said that he thought at some point Eric Rudolph would run into the police again. Whether he would be stopped for driving without a license, because he didn't have a driver's license. And they were always worried, what would happen then. Which is why this wanted poster had the words "considered armed and extremely dangerous" on it. They were worried what would happen when Eric Robert Rudolph had that next encounter with law enforcement.

COOPER: That's an old poster, right?

SCHUSTER: Yes, it has the X marks on it.

COOPER: Because they don't call it the Ten Most Wanted any more.


COOPER: So, you've been holding on to this for a while.

SCHUSTER: We have had this for a long time. In fact, when the FBI was really so anxious to get the word out that the last time we did a documentary about Eric Robert Rudolph I said, I need a wanted poster. And they sent over 200 wanted posters.


SCHUSTER: And they asked us -- they said, look if you send out copies of this to stations around the country, of your program, please send this wanted poster out. We want this everywhere. Every time we run it that is our best source of leads.

COOPER: And it has -- I mean, it is unimaginable what the last five years have been like for this man. Describe the area, describe the circumstances under which he, we presume, had been living.

SCHUSTER: Well, that area, Murphy, North Carolina, Andrews, North Carolina, it's rural, it's in the Nantahala Forest. There are mountains, there are mines, there are caves. I think we've been tossing about the figure, there are half a million acres in the Nantahala Forest. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is right next door. That's more than a million more acres.

That's Eric's backyard. His house, his family home in Topton, North Carolina looked out over those woods. He spent all his time in those woods. But yet, they always thought, or at least most of the investigators always thought Eric would come home. Eric was close to home. You know, despite the fact he had cash at his disposal from what we understand, despite the fact he at one time had a passport, used it to go to Europe.

They were convinced he was close to home. And they looked hard for him, and they couldn't find him. In the last couple of years, they had been laying back, they had been still trying to be in contact with his friends in the area, high school friends, hoping that if he ever made contact with them -- because as you have pointed out, he has surfaced one time after he became a suspect. That if Eric ever made contact with any of his friends, they thought, we want them to know, in our eyes, he's a cop killer, he has a million-dollar reward for him. And we want you to call us. Now, apparently, that's not what happened. As far as we know, apparently they just stumbled upon him last night, thought he was a homeless person.

ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: In fact, Alan Duke, you have more information on that arrest.

ALAN DUKE, CNN WRITER: A little bit more. We've been in touch with the sheriff's office. Earlier this morning when Henry and I were calling him, the sheriff, what about 7 o'clock this morning, there was only 2 1/2 hours after they made the initial arrest of this man, they said looked like a homeless man. It was about 4:30 this morning, Henry, we found out that that is about the time they confronted him, behind a business in Murphy. Murphy's a small town.

COOPER: 4:30 a.m. Eastern time?

DUKE: 4:30 this morning. It's only been, from my information that I've been given recently, it has only been about six hours, best I can tell.

SCHUSTER: What that also shows you, is just how intense the interest is. Because I got a call between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning from somebody is close to the case. At that point, word had not filtered up to Washington yet. But people have wanted this moment for so long that every time there's been a lead, every time there's been a spotting, even when the crazy calls that -- you know, Eric Rudolph was spotted in Moscow are, or Eric Rudolph was spotted in San Bernardino, California, both places, it's hard to imagine that somebody of his personality would be at. The calls went out.

This time, I think what made it different this time is this was in Murphy, North Carolina. I mean, this is where he was supposed to be. This is where they thought he was going to be. The phone lines just lit up pretty quickly.

NEVILLE: But Henry, seeing that he was arrested without incident, are you surprised?

SCHUSTER: I am. But, you know, Anderson asked what must the last five years have looked like -- been like for him? There's no way of knowing -- it's a question of whether we will know. I mean, when some of the people we've been talking to earlier this morning, when they talked about what they'd like to do if they interrogated him -- we talked to his former sister-in-law. She believed that he would kill --- not that he would kill someone -- but she believed if he ever saw a psychologist or psychiatrist or profiler, he was just going to shut down. And he may still do that. That he has this hatred of authority. That's what -- that's why they were so worried, if he even saw a guy with a gun he would fire back.

COOPER: It's extraordinary. We're joined on the phone by -- actually, by satellite, Kelli Arena in Washington, who gave us the first information from her sources at the FBI about the confirmation of fingerprints -- Kelli.

ARENA: Anderson, I'll tell you, I was just trying to get some official confirmation of this. As you know, we have sources confirming for us, sources within the FBI, telling us this is, indeed, Eric Rudolph. But officially, though, no confirmation.

As Henry knows, better than anyone, there was -- when that Olympic Park bombing first occurred, there was a case of mistaken identity. The FBI very clearly remembers that and does not want to be out in front saying anything that may not be 110 percent accurate at this point.

Of course, lots bubbling, I'm sure, over at the Justice Department. We have no official comment from there either. But everyone fully expects it will be Attorney General John Ashcroft who will have to get involved in this case as to whether or not death penalty -- the death penalty will be sought in this matter.

We are just like I said, we're waiting, we're told that we could be hearing officially later on this afternoon from people there on the scene in North Carolina. Obviously, when and if that happens, we'll bring it to you, Anderson.

COOPER: We also understand that FBI officials will be at this press conference at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, which certainly leads credence to the notion that there will at least be official confirmation by 1 p.m.?


COOPER: Henry?

SCHUSTER: I was going to say, Kelli mentioned Attorney General John Ashcroft. But also, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson is from Atlanta. And he used to be a U.S. attorney here. And a number of high-ranking Justice Department officials are from Atlanta. They've had an intense interest in this case. I'm sure they're going to want to take the time to make sure, do we go to Birmingham first, do we go to Atlanta first? Do we combine the cases? COOPER: Also, Kelli, we were speaking to Doug Jones, the former U.S. attorney in Alabama. And what was fascinating, you know, when I asked him what first went through his mind, you know, you could hear the excitement -- perhaps excitement not the right word -- but almost pleasure in his voice because of the intense personal interest so many have taken in this investigation, which has gone on for so long. And I understand a source you talked to this morning also expressed that kind of excitement.

ARENA: Oh, yes. It was more than one, but one in particular who I happened to wake up this morning, was elated at the news. I mean, he obviously was sleeping so he hadn't heard it. I called up and said, hey what do you have for us? He said, That is great! That's the best news I've gotten in a long time. So this is something -- obviously, when there's so much publicity surrounding an individual and the individual manages to elude law enforcement for as long as Rudolph has, it is very frustrating.

And there were a lot of people who spent a lot of time and put a lot of energy into finding this individual, and came up empty. And the thought -- as Henry has said this morning -- the thought has always been predominantly that he was right there in his own backyard. That he stayed in the region. You know, there was some speculation maybe he had gone overseas.

But no, that the overwhelming belief was that he was right there, right under their fingertips and they couldn't find him. So, a great sigh of relief today, within the FBI, within the Justice Department, that this person has finally been apprehended and can finally face justice.

COOPER: In terms of investigation, I suppose the only thing that is equivalent to this is the Unabomber investigation?

ARENA: That's right. We actually just had a conversation a little earlier about that. I was asked, how does a person elude law enforcement for so long? I said, well, here's an example. You can parallel this to the Unabomber case.

These are typically individuals who are loners, who don't have a very extensive social network, who are not very involved in their communities. Who are often doing things by themselves. As we know, and Henry knows, Eric Rudolph was said to have gone away for weeks by himself, off in the wilderness, doing his camping thing. This is someone who was very self-sufficient, didn't need a whole lot of people around.

When you are dealing with a lone individual, whether it's just a criminal, a terrorist, in this case, a domestic terrorism, allegedly, you know, guilty of domestic terrorism. Or Osama bin Laden. It is very difficult to get intelligence on one individual. It is much easier to get intelligence coming in about movement of several people, or of operational base.

When you're dealing with one individual -- and an individual who, allegedly, has somewhat of a support network. And that will be, I think, what's really interesting. Two FBI officials I spoke to this morning said what they really are just, really hungry to get their hands on, is information of what that support is here in the United States, if Rudolph cooperates, and that is a big "if."

NEVILLE: And Kelli, you were talking about the emotional reaction that a lot of law enforcement agents had this morning. This, also, capture of Eric Robert Rudolph also has evoked a lot of emotion from reporters who have covered this story.

Alan Duke, you were there covering the Sandy Spring bombing of that abortion clinic. When you saw that video we showed moments ago --

DUKE: I just had a flashback. This happens occasionally. That morning, the Sandy Springs double bombing at the women's clinic in North Atlanta, I was the first CNN person on the scene. I was reporting on my cell phone. The couple you just saw there, hugging, in that video we've seen over and over again, that's Rob and Christine Stadler (ph).

She -- her law office was in the building. He was there with his twin daughters, with them in his lap, when the first bomb went off. I was just interviewing him on CNN at that very place where that second bomb was planted. And we didn't know there was another bomb there, until about a half hour later.

I had walked down our, the wonderful John Hollaman (ph) was just arriving on the scene, our satellite truck was getting there. I was going to move my car. It was parked right there, near there. And I was walking toward it. And this blast happens.

And -- oh, gosh, I guess it was a few months later, this was in '97? Yes. A few months later, in April, I was in Denver, Colorado, covering the Tim McVeigh trial. With all the security there, with all the ATF and everything, I kept having flashbacks of that bombing.

As I would turn the corner around the federal building in Denver, I would remember that bombing and get goose bumps. When I saw that video again, that's sort of the same effect that I just had. You know, I'm officially listed as a victim, although I wasn't really injured. I've got a victim number from the federal government, as a reporter having been there.

NEVILLE: Clearly, it had such an emotional impact on you.

DUKE: Well, it did. It tied me to the story. Spent a lot of time up in North Carolina during the search for Eric Robert Rudolph and I'm here this morning.

NEVILLE: We're glad to have you here this morning. I know you're glad to be here, of course.

DUKE: Right.

COOPER: Also, Henry's been following the story, Henry Schuster, our senior producer here at CNN, following this thing for a long time. What really sticks out -- I mean what are some of the questions you want answered at this point?

SCHUSTER: Well, I think we heard from Emily Lyons (ph), we've heard from others. The first question is why? We've heard so many things from people who tried to build a profile of Eric Rudolph. What set him off from the government? Why, from an early age did his family get on that journey, which took them to sort of an opposition to authority?

COOPER: Are there hints to the "whys" on that?

SCHUSTER: Yes, there are hints. There are hints that date back to his childhood, when his father died of cancer in Florida. As the story is told in family legend, and that's probably more important than actual fact, because this is the way the family believes it happened. What they believe happened is that an experimental cancer treatment, called Layatril (ph), which had been proven by the FDA to have no value, was what they wanted to use for Eric's father.

His mother went to the doctors and said, we want to use this. The doctor said, no, we don't think it's worth it. Besides, the government says it's not allowed. So, in the family legend, that's what set off both his mother Patricia Rudolph, and Eric Rudolph, to search for an answer against authority --

COOPER: And often, that search turned to religion for them.

SCHUSTER: Well, it did. We have been told that Patricia Rudolph, Eric's mother, at one time wanted to be a nun. The family grew up in the Catholic Church. There was some talk his father had even thought of going into the priesthood. But Debra Rudolph, his former sister-in-law, says that Eric and his mother were always searching for what she called -- they're always searching for the true church. In other words they were always looking for something to believe in.

And through -- they made a progression from the Catholic Church to -- when Eric was a teenager, Eric's mom took him out to a compound in Missouri, the Reverend Dan Gayman's (ph) compound, and that's a place which has been associated with the Christian Identity Movement. They spent some time there. Eric is thought to have absorbed some of the teachings there.

Yet, event here, when the question has always been, did Eric have help? Eric had an authority problem from what everybody has said about him. So, even there, he ran into conflict with Reverend Gayman and left. So, he may have absorbed some of his beliefs but he couldn't be obedient to anybody else. That's part of the profile, that over the years, they kept seeing him be somebody who was headstrong.

His neighbor was a survivalist. And he was on good terms with his neighbor. His neighbor almost became a surrogate father for a while. He and Eric had a falling out, to point that -- when we went up to try to interview him, they weren't talking. We heard from somebody else in the neighborhood that, you know, they were just completely at loggerheads then. COOPER: There are still so many questions at this point that are still unanswered. At this point, 10:30 a.m., here on the East Coast of the United States.

But we can tell you, the one big thing that has been answered, is that Eric Robert Rudolph is in custody. He is being held at a sheriff's station in North Carolina, in Cherokee County, very close to Murphy, where he was apprehended at around -- well, the first word was around 4:30 a.m. That's what sources are telling us so far. 4:30 a.m., this morning, found -- identified, it took several hours for fingerprint identification to be confirmed.

Kelli Arena reporting a source, that the FBI has in fact that the FBI has confirmed. We've not heard officially from the FBI. That may change in about 2 1/2 hours. We're anticipating a press conference from Cherokee County. And what we all believe they will be saying, based on what sources are telling us, is that Eric Robert Rudolph has been found.

NEVILLE: And right now we want to go to Modesto, California. Art Harris is there now. And Art has been covering this story extensively from the beginning.

And Art, we'd like to know your thoughts this morning with this latest information?

ART HARRIS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Arthel, he was apprehended about five miles from where the lead agent, Charles Stone, and several profilers believed he would be, near his home town.

He was so comfortable in the woods. And if you spent any time up there, tromping around in the wilderness of the Nantahala National Forest, you can understand how they couldn't see him in the spring, in the summer. It is so thick that you can't see more than two or three feet in front of you.

And this is a young man who since childhood, as has been discussed, spent so much time in the woods hiking, camping, and had caves all around the area where people believed he was hiding. He had stashed supplies. We went into a number of them.

And a number of FBI, a number of trackers that they used, felt that when they went into these caves, they didn't know -- they might find Eric dead because there's methane. There's poisonous gas that is sometimes generated by the leaking minerals into the pools of water.

So when we went into some of these caves, we would first have to look and see if were there birds, were there insects alive. And they expected possibly to find him in one of those caves.

Of course, that turned out not to be true. But some people think that may be where one of his hideouts may be located, in a cave that he has refashioned into a possible mountain home -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: And Art, we were talking about these caves you're talking about. The terrain is really rugged. This is not like your typical hiking trail here.

HARRIS: No, this is up and down. There are roots. There are rocks. You know, you can fall straight off a cliff if you don't know what you're doing.

And this is -- you know, an accused killer who in the winter time would disappear from his home, and tell his family, "I'm going hiking," and leave with a short sleeve shirt. And so this lead authorities to believe that he had had to have some form of preparation out there, you know, in the woods, in the wilderness. And that he knew it so well that he had pre-stocked and pre-positioned a lot of things.

So how could he hide? I mean, this was one man against a high- tech army of FBI and ATF and Georgia and state and local agents and police who hid from them, and at a cost to the government of $20 million over the years, that they finally wrapped it up.

And they had such things as forward-looking radar. And they could not get a heat signature in the summer because the rocks were so hot. And they felt that he was hiding underground, and that he would take them into the woods and then he would vanish. And they would lose him.

And this was someone who was last sighted in 1998. And how did he survive? This is one of the big unanswered questions. My sources are telling me they believe he still had no help, that he was foraging, he was fishing. He knew the wilderness. And he was probably stealing food. There have been a number of break-ins in the area over the years, reported thefts of food and clothes. And they believe that that could have been Eric Rudolph.

One of the strange things over the years -- I've been getting calls. I know Henry has gotten calls from people. We've seen Eric Rudolph. They may well have seen Eric Rudolph on the Appalachian Trail. And of course no one would believe them because who believe that a fugitive would just be walking in a plain sight on a very prominent and popular hiking trail?

Well, he knew that area well and a number of people with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and others, believe the Appalachian Trail may have been Eric Rudolph's main highway that he used to go back and forth between his hideouts, the woods and to make some of these possible break-ins at the cabins -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: And then, Art, you mentioned the last sighting of Rudolph, which was July 1998, when he went to visit a friend of his who owns a health foods store. He told him he needed some supplies. Because Eric Rudolph said that he was, "Going into the hills and was going to go where no man or dog can reach me." And in fact, that's exactly what happened.

HARRIS: Yes, there are a number of places. When I went up into the mountains with the trackers, there are placers that dogs can't smell. And some of them thought that, well, there are little islands on these mountain lakes. And that possibly Eric would get to a shoreline and swim to these islands and camp and fish. And he just knew it so well that this is how one man could possibly elude this army of law enforcement for this long and the Nantahala National Forest, half million acres, borders on the Smoky Mountains, which is far -- much more wilderness.

And this is an area, this kid growing up learned. He knew routes. He knew herbs. In fact, one of his good friends had a father who was dying and he gave then a book on herbal remedies. He believed that that was the way to go.

And I want to touch on one thing, Arthel, about why Eric Rudolph had so much anger in him. This was believed to be a man whose profile showed that he was full of hatred, hatred towards -- you know, he was anti-Semitic. He hated minorities, gays, lesbians. But he also hated the government.

And we've heard some of the law enforcement say that the secondary devices were planted to kill cops. And where did that come from?

They believe that Eric thought the government had killed his father. At a young age his father was dying of cancer. His mother wanted to administer a very unusual unorthodox treatment, laetrile (ph), which was proved not to be a cure for cancer. It was made from apricot pits. But highly valued at least as lore in the alternative medical community.

And when the doctors said, "Laetrile is not something that we would recommend for your father," his father died. That is something that profilers think could have played into his hatred for the government. There was this transference then towards law enforcement and authority that may have led Eric Rudolph to murder and to bomb -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: Yes, and Art, we spoke to Deborah Rudolph this morning. She is the ex-sister-in-law of Eric Rudolph. And she said those exact words that there is lots of anti-racism, anti-media, anti-authority, anti-gay. You name it. It was there and spoken about at the dinner table, if you will, in that house.

HARRIS: Yes, in that house. She told me when I talked to her, Arthel, some years ago, that they would be watching the TV and Eric Rudolph would hear something he didn't like and start ranting at the television which he called quote, "The electronic Jew."

And this was one of his terms. When I went through the house that he sold to a family from Florida, the family showed me carvings that he had made, swastikas, other things that would indicate his anti-Semitism.

And then they also showed me a secret room. How did Eric make a living? Well, you know, we have talked about how he grew high-grade marijuana with seeds he had bought from Amsterdam, brought them back to the states. He had a growing room in the basement. And with all sorts of plumbing set up. And it was hidden with a secret door. And to get in there, you really had to crouch down. And I was taken on a tour of the home and shown this elaborate place. And then of course, police found in this warehouse near where Eric was caught in North Carolina, some of his lights and other equipment, what they believe grown high-grade marijuana which he made. They believe perhaps $60,000 a year, tax free. Of course he didn't pay taxes. He didn't have a bank account.

But this is how they believe he survived at the time -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: OK, Art Harris, thank you very mulch for that insight.

COOPER: So many people have memories of this case, have been following this case, were involved in this case or in the original incidents.

On the phone right now, Kimberly Crowder (ph). She was in Centennial Park July 27, 1996.

Kimberly, a date you no doubt will never forget?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I will never forget it for many reasons. Number one, it was just an honor to be involved with the Olympics in any measure. I had been hired to do publicity for the venue on which the tower was set and was blown up, apparently by Mr. Rudolph.

We had been evacuated just a few minutes before the bomb exploded. And we spent much of the rest of the evening trying to find and contact all of our colleagues who had been in the sound tower with us. We had been doing a publicity shoot on the tower.

COOPER: Kimberly, tell us a little bit of when you first realized something was wrong. I know there was a call warning of the bomb blast. And did you have an inkling of that or was it the explosion? When did you first realize something was amiss?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were not told why we were being asked to leave abruptly. We had been up there for a couple of hours doing the shoot. And so we just followed the instructions. And I wrapped for the evening and I went home.

We were actually -- we heard the explosion from the parking deck nearby, but did not think it was anything other than fireworks associated with the concert.

When I got home and turned on the television and then saw the crazy camera angles and knew something had gone terribly wrong. And I saw the news reports.

I immediately had to call my colleague -- my client, excuse me, in New York. And we spent the evening trying to find our colleagues on the television.

COOPER: Of course, Eric Robert Rudolph was indicted for that bombing, but of course has not been convicted because he's been on the lam ever since then. But your thoughts upon hearing this morning that Eric Robert Rudolph is now in custody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the first thought is perhaps there's going to finally be some closure on this. There was a tremendous amount of pride, if you will remember, about that particular venue. It was one of the first times in Olympic history that you had a place where athletes, ticket holders, non-ticket holders, locals -- everybody could gather and enjoy the international and Olympic experience. And it was extremely tragic when this happened. There were so many people injured. There was a death.

It was just a real dishonor to what was happening, that -- during the Olympics. Then of course there was the harangue about Richard Jewell and the focus. Richard Jewell had been the security guard of our tower. So there was a bit of fear at first on my part and my colleague's part that maybe, you know, we had been potentially targeted by this guy. But that went away as soon as, you know, some of the news reports around that were changed too.

COOPER: But when you heard this morning that Mr. Rudolph was in custody, was it joy? Was it relief?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Relief. You know, he had alluded capture for so long. And quite frankly, I hope that the FBI gets it right this time.

COOPER: Something that no doubt a lot of people are hoping for this morning.

Appreciate you joining us. It was good to hear your perspective. And you know, this morning has brought about a lot of memories for a lot of people. And we appreciate you sharing yours with us -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: And indeed, Kimberly is not the only person with lots of memories flooding back to their minds and their bodies this morning. Because we've also had some reaction from authorities. In fact, we were speaking to a former U.S. attorney from Alabama, Doug Jones, this morning, who said that he had a rush of emotion when he heard the news.

And in fact, we're joined now on the phone by Jack Dalton, who is a former FBI -- actually in charge of the task force here in Atlanta. And Mr. Dalton, if you would tell us your personal reaction when you heard the news that at about 3:57 a.m. eastern time that the man known as Eric Robert Rudolph had been arrested by authorities.

JACK DALTON, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, as I indicated earlier, I actually had a chill. I mean, as I'd said, I had sort of formed the opinion in my own mind, that he might possibly be dead because he just hadn't been seen or heard for such a long time.

But I was actually very, very happy that we found him.

NEVILLE: Another thing that I was told this morning was that there was -- this case galvanized various authorities to actually work together. And in fact, Doug Jones, also said that they were very proud of the synergy that came about after this particular case. Do you think that that's still in place. And in fact, you mentioned to me earlier, that they were waiting until 1 o'clock eastern to have the news conference so in fact everyone and the major players involved could take part.

DALTON: I suspect that is the case. And I think this investigation actually was probably one of the more successful joint investigations that I've ever been involved with. A lot of agencies were involved. A lot of team work. Everybody really pulled together on this investigation, between federal agencies, federal, state and local agencies in multiple states. It was really a significant investigation. And it kind of stood as a landmark in my opinion, in federal investigations, or investigations of this type.

NEVILLE: And Mr. Dalton, help us understand that if Eric Rudolph did not leave the area, why was it so hard for authorities to find him?

DALTON: Well, unless you've spent any time in western North Carolina in the Andrews-Murphy (ph) area, it's never easy to understand why he was able to elude capture. There are literally hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands of caves and old mines in that area. Many of them you can't find. You can walk very close to them and still not find them because of just the undergrowth, the out cropping of rocks and ledges.

Eric Rudolph knew this area better than anybody as far as I can tell. And quite frankly, he had spent days, weeks, years in that area. He knew the mines, he knew the caves. He had staked them out. He knew the ones that couldn't be found.

And quite frankly, he just was able to live off the land and a lot of garbage cans.

NEVILLE: But then there is also a part of that is a popular tourist area there where he was. And in fact, there were reports that he was seen in broad daylight.

DALTON: Well, I have been away from the investigation for the last four years since I left the bureau. And quite frankly, I haven't stayed that close to it.

I do suspect the reason the task force was reduced in size was because the fact that there were just fewer and fewer leads. I know at one time strange things would happen early on. Cabins would be broken into. Things like socks and underwear were stolen, but not a TV. Food would be stolen and things of that nature.

So that's -- those are some of the indications that there was somebody still in the area early on. As I understand it, those things kind of diminished. So I think that changed the view.

NEVILLE: And Mr. Dalton, talk about if you would, the fact -- if in fact Eric Rudolph actually surfaced in around regular people, tourists up there. What sort of mind set in, you know, -- someone has to just kind of taunt authorities and just show up. DALTON: That's what Eric Rudolph was good at. He taunted us for some time with his bombings, his escapades. And if in fact, he was able to do that, that's pretty much of his nature, to put it in your face, a kind of stick-it-in-your-face kind of guy. And I think he probably took great pleasure in that.

NEVILLE: And Art Harris is a CNN correspondent who has covered this story extensively from the beginning. And Art is actually in Modesto, California this morning.

And Art, you've been listening to the conversation with Mr. Dalton. If you would like to add to it, go right ahead.

HARRIS: Sure, Jack. I don't know if he's still on the line. We spoke quite a bit during this whole manhunt. This was a fugitive who was able to allude hundreds of federal agents, state and local law enforcement. As Jack said, you had to go into those woods to understand how he could hide. You cannot see literally in front of you face in the spring and summer. And this is a man who lived and grew up in that area, who knew intimately the mines and caves, who hiked it as a child, who watched special forces train in the mountains of north Georgia. And that may have been one thing that led him to join the Army, though he didn't last that long.

But this was -- this was a place that was his home. And he made it that way.

One thing he apparently had explosives on him. There is still an unsolved mystery of hundreds of pounds of dynamite from a construction site there. And that residue from that was from -- some kind of explosive like that was found in the truck that he quote, "borrowed" from this neighbor, Mr. Nordmann, the day he vanished.

How was he able to elude law enforcement? How is a man able to elude tracking dogs?

Well, he left that truck, for example, at the base of a mountain, at the base of a stream. And I walked that stream with one of the agents. And he showed me how he could go back and forth and then literally use the stream as a stairway to escape. Just stay in the stream and the dogs would not be able pick up his scent on the ground -- Arthel.

NEVILLE: Mr. Dalton, how important is it for authorities to recover any explosives that Rudolph may have left behind?

Apparently, we have lost Jack Dalton. But Anderson, you were going to tell us about a special that his coming up later.

COOPER: Yes. CNN is going to be airing a special presentation, "The Hunt For Eric Rudolph." It's going to be tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern time, an hour-long special presentation, "The Hunt For Eric Rudolph."

And Henry, you produced this. What are going to see on that tonight? SCHUSTER: What you're going to see is basically from the beginning, from the bombing in Olympic -- from the bombing in Centennial Park all the way through to the hunt and where he might have been. And you'll see what happened to people like Emily Lyons (ph). We talked to her on the phone. We've seen some file tape.

But until you can see the impact on the victims, there's also -- we have a long interview -- we walk in Centennial Park -- Fallon Steps (ph), who is the daughter of Alice Hawthorne (ph). Alice Hawthorne (ph) was the woman who died in Centennial Park. She was killed by the nails from the bomb.

And one of the most dramatic things that you'll see, and I hope maybe we will be seeing this live a little bit later this morning, with Marty Savidge, that is you go to Centennial Park, there's a big fan-like statute. Go right up and close to that statute. You'll see the indentation that the nails made that struck that from the bomb.

Those are the sorts of -- at that velocity. That's what killed Alice Hawthorne (ph) and injured more than 100 people.

So you'll see all of that. You'll hear from Deborah Rudolph, who we've been talking to this morning. You'll hear extensively from her. You'll see Eric's history. But you'll also hear about the bombings, and how it was a mystery for them. Remember, they didn't know. In fact, they got it wrong at first with -- you know, they got it wrong at first. They didn't know who did this for 18 months.

It was only after the clinic was bombed Birmingham, only after Officer Sanderson was unfortunately killed...

COOPER: That's what really broke the case open.

SCHUSTER: Yes, that broke the case. And we give you a lot of details about that which weren't reported then. And now that it looks like -- this is him, and he's caught, that will be going to trial, that they're going to be very tight with. Because they don't want that out because that's evidence at trial.

COOPER: And that's going to be at 8 o'clock tonight.


COOPER: A CNN special presentation, "The Hunt For Eric Rudolph." And as Henry said, it's so important I think to remember the victims this morning, because in all of the talk this man, Eric Robert Rudolph, whether or not he did these bombings, someone did, people died, and lives were changed forever. And so we certainly think about them.

As you mentioned, Alice Hawthorne (ph). She was 44 years, from Albany, Georgia. She was killed just close to here in Centennial Park. Police Officer Sanderson (ph) also killed, Robert Sanderson (ph). He was 35-years old. He was an off-duty police officer. And Emily Lyons (ph), as you said.

NEVILLE: Emily Lyons (ph).

COOPER: Her life forever changed, blinded in one eye. She's a young woman, still dealing with the pain from this. And a Turkish cameraman who died on route, of a heart attack, to cover this.

SCHUSTER: One of the -- to give you just a real understanding of just the horrific impact of this bombing, what Emily Lyons lives with everyday, just a simple thing. She ran a magnet over near her skin in her leg. And the skin still puckers out because there are still so many nails in there.

If you can imagine this was what was in these bombs. And it's...

COOPER: They were designed to maim, to kill, to injure, to cripple.

SCHUSTER: We discussed this earlier this morning, but for anybody joining us, one of the key findings was that the bomb in Centennial Park was in a backpack. It was the -- the ATF said it was the largest pipe bomb they had ever seen. Three pipes packed with explosives. The largest pipe bomb they had ever seen.

It was knocked over on its back. It was under a park bench by a sound stage. It was knocked over on its back. And because of that group of teenagers had some and sat down. And they were thinking about actually taking the bag. They had had a few beers. They were thinking of taking it. Well, they knocked it over on its back and that simple act potentially saved hundreds of lives. Because the bomb blast went upwards instead of into the crowd.

And remember that the bomb, the warning call they had gotten -- we haven't mentioned this on the show this morning. The 911 call that came that morning, that never got to the people in Centennial Park. This big...

NEVILLE: Because it came from a pay phone, right?

SCHUSTER: Right. It came from the pay phone, but the Centennial Park warning went to a 911 operator in Atlanta. She couldn't find -- I mean, it's horrible, and you'll hear this -- she couldn't find Centennial Park's address on a map.

So what happened was, first she's laughing about it and she calls over her supervisor and they send some police cars, but the warning never gets transmitted to any of the officers in the park. There are state officers. There's federal officers. They never heard about that.

If they had known that, aside from seeing the backpack, they might have been even quicker to move people out. But that warning said, "You have 30 minutes," and the bomb went off shortly thereafter.

COOPER: One person dead as a result, 100 injured. More than 100 we should say.

Kelli Arena standing by in Washington -- Kelli. ARENA: Anderson, we finally have that official confirmation that we've waiting for. I have in my hand a statement from the Attorney General John Ashcroft. It reads, "Today, Eric Robert Rudolph, the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's Most Wanted List has been captured and will face American justice. American law enforcement's unyielding efforts to capture Rudolph had been rewarded working with law enforcement nationwide. The FBI always gets their man."

He goes on to say, "This sends a clear message that we will never cease in our efforts to hunt down all terrorists, foreign or domestic, and stop them from harming the innocent.

"I want to especially congratulate the local authorities in Murphy, North Carolina who with the FBI and other state and local law enforcement throughout the country, were able to apprehend the suspect. While it has been a long struggle, they never stopped, never yielded and never gave up.

"The American people, most importantly the victims of these terror attacks, can rest easier knowing that another alleged killer is no longer a threat."

It also points out that there will be more details provided at noon, according to this release, at the Murphy, North Carolina courthouse.

So there you have it, official confirmation in black and white. It is him. Our sources were correct. And we move forward.

COOPER: And as you said, 12 o'clock they say indicates this press conference. Prior to this, we had heard 1 o'clock.

ARENA: That's right.

COOPER: It seems now that...

ARENA: Yes, it says noon.

Yes, it says noon. Apparently, all of the people were able to get their ducks in a row a little bit sooner than they thought they would. I was told there was some bad weather prohibiting certain people getting to their location when they wanted to.

But it will be held at the Murphy, North Carolina courthouse. So we'll be getting all the details at 12. Although, I can tell you with our team here, you probably have them.

COOPER: All right, Kelli Arena, thanks for reporting this story hard. Brought us some of the first information from her sources at the FBI. We'll continue to check in with Kelli throughout the morning.

NEVILLE: And of course we have been speaking to people all morning long whose lives have been touched by those bombings. In fact, on the line with us now, Mike Rising, who is a former FBI agent who was in Sandy Springs, near the bombing. And in fact, Mike, if you could tell us how your life was touched by this bombing.

MICHAEL RISING, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, basically, when the bombing had occurred, I had been up there for about 30 minutes when the second bomb went off and had walked away from a group of commands center type people and was actually leaning against one of the two cars right next to where the bomb was located when it went off.

And when that bomb went off I had an immediate instant reaction, deja vu back to Vietnam in 1969. I had been wounded in an ambush that had occurred at night where a rocket propelled grenade had landed about four or five feet away from me. And when that bomb went off, it hit me the force of the blast, hit me on the left side of the head in the back and knocked me about three or four feet. And I just had this immediate instant reaction there, and go flopping on the ground, back to that incident.

I was able to keep my feet, and I realized I was bleeding pretty heavily from the head. And after the blast cleared a little bit, I knew I needed to probably sit down if I could because I didn't want to -- I was afraid I might go into shock. And about the time I sat down, two of my buddies grabbed me and drug me out.

But I was out of work for about three weeks. I've suffered some upper cognitive functioning loss to the right side. And some nerve endings were cut on the outside of my head.

Other than that, I stayed in the bureau for three more years. I retired in February of 2000. And it's just -- it makes you reflect and appreciate to me the simpler things in life. Having been a witness or a victim of the incident, I really was not involved in the manhunt that went on for Rudolph after the incident. And went on my way and continued on with my career.

NEVILLE: Mr. Rising, do you have use of your right side?

RISING: Yes, I'm right-handed. And actually right-handed -- that strength is about the same as my left-hand strength now. So there was some diminishment of that. And I had three puncture wounds in the back. And there was no residual affect from that. And a chuck of meat was blown out of my right ankle. And there wasn't really any problem with that, just some not too pretty scars.

Towards the end of the day if I get tired when I'm talking with people in a discussion sometimes my speech functioning will -- it's like your clutch is slipping. And I'll hesitate while I'm talking. And I know it's occurring and most people don't notice it because a lot of times I use -- I've used that hesitation in talking as kind of a technique just talking with people in general.

NEVILLE: Mr. Rising, knowing how the bombing in January '77 in Sandy Springs, Georgia, affected your life so profoundly, what was your reaction when you heard the news that 4 o'clock this morning eastern time the authorities had captured who they believed at the time was Eric Rudolph and has now been confirmed that it is him.

RISING: I just, I thought it was great. I mean, this is just confirmation that the FBI's investigative system works. And there are things like this -- a lot of the regular public, they don't understand how dogged and how determined street agents become especially ones that have been personally involved in these types of investigations.

And I just know there were so many people involved in this, a lot of them that I know personally from my days of being stationed in Atlanta, that they've just got to be flying you know, 100 miles high right now.

NEVILLE: Well, Mr. Mike Rising, thank you so much for joining us here this morning and sharing your story with us.

COOPER: It is just an amazing morning, something long sought after has finally been found.

I want to update you on our top story this hour.


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