Skip to main content
The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

Eric Robert Rudolph: Loner and survivalist

Bombing suspect had few ties to society

more video VIDEO
Officer J.S. Postell of the Murphy, North Carolina, police, and Chris Swecker, FBI, talk about the arrest.
premium content

CNN's Kelli Arena on why it was hard to get information leading to Rudolph's capture.
premium content

Emily Lyons, a victim of the Birmingham clinic bombing, talks about her experience.
premium content

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on what happens after Rudolph's capture.
premium content

January 29, 1998 - Bombing at New Woman All Women Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. One killed, one injured.

February 21, 1997 - Bombing at Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta. Four injured. Second bomb found before it detonates.

January 16, 1997 - Bombing of a women's clinic in Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb. A second bomb explodes. Seven injured.

July 27, 1996 - Bomb explodes in Olympic Centennial Park, 1:20 a.m., One killed, 111 injured. A Turkish cameraman dies of a heart attack as he rushes to photograph the scene.
Did you think Eric Robert Rudolph would ever be arrested?

(CNN) Investigators searching for Olympic bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph, 36, knew he was a loner with a survivalist lifestyle. They long believed he was hiding in the Nantahala National Forest of western North Carolina, not far from where he was captured Saturday morning after eluding authorities for five years.

During the search for Rudolph, investigators talked to his family and friends, and learned he was an experienced outdoorsman who held antigovernment and racial separatist beliefs, and might have grown marijuana in the mountain woods.

Former Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Charles Stone said Rudolph was growing increasingly paranoid, even before the bombings, according to the friends and family members he interviewed.

Deborah Rudolph, the fugitive's former sister-in-law, told CNN that Eric Rudolph was "pretty outspoken" and "more your revolutionary-type person." She said the family held "different views on things.

"They're against ... any form of government or the form of government that we have in our country today," she said.

Authorities have said they believe Rudolph wrote letters that the news media received claiming responsibility for the bombings and declaring war against the federal government. The letters were signed by a group called the Army of God.

Rudolph did not want to be tied to society, CNN correspondent Art Harris reported, and did not have a bank account or any credit cards, which authorities could have tracked. He did not have a drivers' license.

Five-year manhunt

Described by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as "the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list," Rudolph fled his trailer in Murphy, North Carolina, in January 1998, after learning that the FBI was looking for him, authorities said. He had rented a video, "Kull the Conqueror," and eaten at a Burger King that day, but vanished before agents arrived. A full-scale manhunt ensued.

Rudolph, known to be able to survive in the wilderness for long periods of time, was apparently last seen July 7, 1998, six months after his disappearance, trying to buy food and other supplies from a friend who owned a health food store in Andrews, North Carolina. He reportedly took about 75 pounds of food and a pickup truck, leaving $500 in cash behind. The truck was later found near the forest with a note asking that it be returned to its owner.

Investigators had calculated how many calories he would require each day to survive. As time passed, some believed he might have died. Sources told CNN they believed he was foraging, fishing and probably stealing food.

When captured in Murphy on Saturday, Rudolph was in relatively good health, though he had lost weight, Cherokee County Sheriff Keith Lovin said. (Full story)

Authorities say he was familiar with the many thicketed caves and abandoned mines in the area and theorized that he might have been hiding there.

"He and his friends used to play basically an adult version of hide and seek, where they would run and hide in the woods and people would try to find them," Stone said.

Harris said Rudolph had spent time in the woods hiking and camping since childhood and knew caves all around the area, and had cached supplies in some of them.

Rudolph spent his teenage and young-adult years in North Carolina after moving from Florida with his mother and siblings after the death of his father in 1981.

Christian Identity connections

Rudolph and his family were connected with the Christian Identity movement, a militant, racist and anti-Semitic organization that believes whites are God's chosen people.

Rudolph's mother, Patricia, spent time with Nord Davis, a Christian Identity ideologue who built a walled compound called Northpoint in the Nantahala community. Davis wrote propaganda decrying a "New World Order" that he claimed was controlled by Jews, and he advocated killing gays and those who engaged in mixed-race relationships.

Davis reportedly contacted the Church of Israel, a Christian Identity congregation in Missouri that espouses the belief that only white people descended from the biblical Adam and Eve, on Rudolph's mother's behalf. Patricia Rudolph brought 18-year-old Eric and an older brother to the Church of Israel compound in 1984. They returned to North Carolina after less than a year.

Rudolph attended ninth grade at Nantahala School, and once wrote a paper arguing that the Holocaust was fictional. He later dropped out and was homeschooled.

After receiving a general equivalency diploma, Rudolph attended Western Carolina University for two semesters before enlisting in the Army in August 1987.

He served with the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky but was discharged after a year and a half for smoking marijuana, investigators and his family said. Rudolph returned to western North Carolina, where he took up carpentry with his older brother, Daniel. He reportedly was an excellent craftsman.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Father guilty of killing 9 of his children
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.