Sources: Rudolph talked about his 5-year 'camping trip'
CNN's Art Harris says jailers in Cherokee County, North Carolina, put Eric Rudolph at ease and got him to talk about surviving in the woods.
|HOW HE SURVIVED|
Killed turkeys, deer and bear for food
Covered sleeping bag with leaves in cold weather
Ate corn, soybeans stolen from farm bins
Ate crushed turkey bones for calcium
Source: Law enforcement officials
MURPHY, North Carolina (CNN) -- Eric Robert Rudolph, described by U.S. officials as a hateful zealot who carried out four bombing attacks in the Southeast, opened up to local law enforcement officers at a North Carolina jail and painted a detailed picture of how he survived five years hiding in the mountains, authorities said Tuesday.
He also pointed out his campsites on a map, and authorities found them where he said they would be, officials told CNN.
At one of those sites, officials found a semi-automatic assault rifle with a range of about 200 yards, sources said.
Rudolph told authorities that when Murphy police captured him Saturday morning, he was looking for fruits and vegetables that may have been tossed away, which he planned to freeze for the winter, local officials said.
Cave expert Cato Holler of Asheville, North Carolina, told CNN Rudolph could have used caves as a refrigerator for his food. "If you get into an area inside with a deep pocket, it can trap cold air and keep things icy even in the summertime," he said.
Rudolph has not indicated that anyone helped him during his years in hiding, officials said.
Four local officers obtained the information through relatively cordial conversations with Rudolph, who was placed not in a cell but in the breathalyzer room of the Cherokee County Jail, where he slept a lot and was given a steady supply of the things he requested -- cigarettes, water, and healthy foods, officials said.
"He said he appreciated the way we treated him. We treated him awful good," said Cherokee County Detention Officer Lester White.
It wasn't long before Rudolph, a 36-year-old Army veteran considered a consummate survivalist, began describing how he ate wild animals, stolen grains, and "a steady diet of acorns and salamanders," and bundled himself up in piles of leaves to last through several bitter cold winters, the officials said.
He never talked about the bombings, the officials said, adding that they believe he had a bomb-making factory that he didn't tell them about. "We expect to find that somewhere, along with other weapons," one law enforcement source said.
Rudolph is charged with four bombing attacks: the 1996 explosion at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta that killed one person and injured more than 100; the 1997 bombings of a suburban Atlanta health clinic that performs abortions and an Atlanta lesbian nightclub, which, combined, left 11 people wounded; and the1998 bombing of a Birmingham clinic that performs abortions, which killed an off-duty policeman and seriously wounded a woman.
Rudolph's attorney says his client is innocent on all counts.
At his arraignment in a Birmingham courtroom Tuesday, Rudolph pleaded not guilty in the 1998 explosion.
The manhunt for Rudolph began when his truck was seen leaving the scene of Birmingham bombing in 1998. The search centered on the thickly wooded Nantahala National Forest. They believe he never left that area.
White said the authorities were right on that count. "He kept moving the first few months -- day to day, never set in the same camp, slowly moved around the woods, and just kept moving."
Rudolph killed and ate turkeys, deer, and bears, and stole corn, soybeans and other grain from bins at a giant cornfield near the Andrews Airport, law enforcement officials said. He got calcium from grinding up turkey bones, and found food among the herbs, trees and bushes in the woods, which he knew well enough to decipher what was poisonous and what edible, the officials said.
White said local officials tried to make Rudolph comfortable by setting up a mattress for him in the separate room and getting him the foods he asked for, such as bananas, apples, and oranges. While they got him cigarettes, he never asked for coffee, officials said.
Murphy Mayor Bill Hughes, who often watched through a one-way mirror, said it was just "three guys sitting in a room talking. ... Just that simple. Nothing complicated."
Rudolph even asked about some people that he and the officers knew, officials said.
"I asked him how he could handle being in the woods that long," said White. "He said, 'Well, you have to just make like it's a long camping trip.'"
When Rudolph left for Birmingham, White said, "We wished him the best of luck, shook his hand, and said we'd remember him in our prayers."
Rudolph was then handed off to federal agents who took him first to Asheville, North Carolina and later to Birmingham. Sources tell CNN he didn't tell them anything.
Authorities have described Rudolph as being motivated by hate, born at least in part from growing up a part of the Christian Identity Movement, a right-wing group that touts anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-abortion, racist, and anti-government beliefs.
CNN Correspondent Art Harris contributed to this report.