CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Eric Rudolph Captured
Aired May 31, 2003 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We thought it fitting to report to you tonight from Centennial Olympic Park because this is where the first bombing that authorities now link to Eric Robert Rudolph took the place. The year was 1996. It was a hot July night, a Friday night. The park was packed. A band was playing. People were happy celebrating the Olympics, which were taking place here in Atlanta at the time.
All of a sudden, suddenly a bomb went off, a pipe bomb placed in a backpack back there exploded. ATF agents say it is now the largest pipe bomb they'd ever seen in the United States, weighed more than 40 pounds, packed with explosives, packed with nails, which went flying all the way over here.
A woman, Alice Hawthorne is her name, she was 44 years old. She was a wife. She was a mother, standing here. Nails entered her head. She was killed instantly on the spot. You can still see in this sculpture some of the marks, some of the residue from nails that hit this statue, hit this sculpture all the way from that pipe bomb. Authorities now link this bombing to Eric Robert Rudolph. It was they say his first. It was not, they say, his last. In the months to come, there would be other bombings. There would be another death and more injuries.
Six months later, that is when the second bombing occurred. It was at a women's clinic in Sandy Springs, a northern suburb of Atlanta. This was the second device to explode at the site. Another bomb had gone off an hour earlier. Seven people were hurt in that.
About a month later in February, 1997, a bomb exploded at a lesbian night club in Northeast Atlanta. Four people hurt there. Authorities found a second device before it could explode.
But this was the one that put the FBI on to Eric Rudolph. The January 1998 blast a women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama killed an off-duty policeman, seriously wounded nurse Emily Lyons. A witness spotted a pick-up truck leaving the area. That truck was traced to Rudolph and was soon found after in the North Carolina woods.
The manhunt was on. And that manhunt came to an end early this morning. While most of us were asleep, a young rookie police officer on a routine patrol in the town of Murphy, North Carolina found a man, thin he was described, wearing blue jeans, tennis sneakers, rummaging behind a grocery store in this small town of Murphy. We're going to hear a lot more from them, but let's get the latest right now from Gary Tuchman, who is standing by in Murphy, North Carolina -- Gary? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, hello to you. And it's been one of the great mysteries in the history of American law enforcement. Two major questions. Is suspected bomber Eric Robert Rudolph still alive? And if he is alive, where is he? Well, now we have big answers to both those questions. Yes, he is alive. And his whereabouts are behind bars.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is what Eric Robert Rudolph looked like when he posed for his mugshot more than five years after he was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. He was spotted behind a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina, holding a flashlight that looked like a weapon. A 21-year-old police officer thought he was a prowler.
JEFFREY POSTELL, OFFICER, MURPHY, NC POLICE: As I approached, he observed me and he took off running and got in behind some milk crates, which were stacked up there. Not knowing what -- who it was or what he had, I took safety and concern and advised him to come out. He complied to everything I asked to do.
TUCHMAN: Rudolph was brought to the Murphy police station and told detectives his name was Jerry Wilson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went back and advised him that the information he had given initially was inaccurate. And they asked him for his name. And he told the officers there his name was Eric Robert Rudolph.
TUCHMAN: The same Eric Robert Rudolph accused of planting a bomb in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in July, 1996, killing one woman and injuring more than 100 other people. He's also accused of bombing a suburban Atlanta women's clinic six months later, injuring seven. Bombing a gay night club in Atlanta, injuring four in February 1997. And then bombing a Birmingham, Alabama women's clinic in January 1998, which left an off-duty police officer dead and permanently disabled a nurse. That nurse, Emily Lyons, lost one eye in the attack and says the capture is giving her great happiness.
EMILY LYONS: Joy. Great joy, in fact. Something to celebrate is that they caught him. And maybe we'll all know why he did it now. Maybe he'll tell us.
TUCHMAN: There is much more to find out. Exactly where was the suspect for all this time? At its peak, the southeast Bomb Task Force had as many as 200 federal agents combing half a million acres in the mountainous area, where it's believed Rudolph spent the last half decade. Now the question, was he assisted?
CHRIS SWECKER, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Well, five years is a long time. And that's something we're going to be looking into. That's one of our primary areas of inquiry right now.
TUCHMAN: Back at the grocery store, the business' only says he now believes he had an encounter with Rudolph last week in the same parking lot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was in front of me. So I actually stopped and let him pass me. I thought to myself, that looked like Eric Rudolph. And I was like, no, that's impossible. It's mid-day. There's plenty of people around. And so I let him go on about his business.
TUCHMAN: As we speak, Eric Rudolph is in the jail building, which is right behind this courthouse over my shoulder. It's expected that sometime tomorrow, he'll be transported to Ashville, North Carolina, where he'll make a first appearance in a federal courtroom Monday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. It's been expected he will quickly be transferred to either Alabama or Georgia, the states where the bombs went off. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Gary, this is such an extraordinary end to this extraordinary investigation. There are some questions to ask. We're just going to ask one. That picture that's been released of him in custody, his head is -- his hair is cut, his mustache is trimmed, he's wearing jeans, tennis sneakers. He does not look like a man who's been hiding in woods for the past five years. Have authorities said anything about the possibility that he might have been aided in -- sometime in the last five years?
TUCHMAN: Well, authorities are telling us they are investigating whether he was aided. That's a crime called harboring a fugitive. So it's an active part of the investigation. As far as his neat looking haircut, authorities do tell us that he cut himself. We asked them how do you know he cut it himself. And they say we're not telling you at this point. They're not telling us a lot of information. For example, was he living in the mountains all the time? They're telling us he was in this part of the state all the time. How do they know that, we asked them. They're not telling us. So there's a lot they're telling us, but a lot more they're not telling us at this point.
COOPER: All right, Gary Tuchman, following the story from Murphy, North Carolina. Thanks very much.
We told you a little bit about the police officer who made this arrest initially early this morning. It was about 3:30 a.m. in the morning when he apprehended this man behind this grocery store. Didn't know who he was at the time. This is a rookie police officer. He's been on the force for about a year. 21-years old. His name is Jeffrey Postell. You'll be hearing a lot from him in the coming days, no doubt.
Let's hear a little bit what he had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFC. JEFFREY POSTELL, ARRESTED RUDOLPH: Well, when I walked up behind him, I was under the impression I had somebody back there breaking and entering or prowling around. Never realized it would have been who it is now. It's probably a relief to some of the families. It's been involved in also the law enforcement agencies have been involved. I don't deserve any more credit than anyone else does. I was just here doing what I was -- what I'm supposed be doing. And that -- you know, and that -- like I said, it's my job. And I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He certainly was. And that amazing young man, we're going to try to hear more from him in the coming hours and days no doubt.
Also wanted to show you a little bit -- give you a little bit of a sound byte from FBI special agent in charge, Chris Swecker. This is what -- some of what he had to say earlier today as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS SWECKER, FBI: We're going to have to work backwards from where he was last and wherever he's been. And we're just going to methodically go through the whole thing. Obviously, we can't just leave here. You know, he's been somewhere. And we have to go to those places and process those places and see what evidence may be at those places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're joined right now by Jack Thompson, former sheriff in Cherokee County when all this happened, all this investigation went underway.
Mr. Thompson, thanks for joining us tonight. It has got to be just an extraordinary day for you. I know this is something that you have been working hard for, for many years now. Do you think there is any chance that he had help from other people locally?
JACK THOMPSON, FORMER SHERIFF, CHEROKEE COUNTY: I didn't understand the question.
COOPER: I'm asking, sir, if you've -- sir, I'm asking if you believe he might have had help or an accomplice anywhere along the way in the last five years?
THOMPSON: Still I'm not hearing.
COOPER: All right, we're having some audio trouble. Let me try it once -- let me try it once again. Mr. Thompson, you still there? All right, we're going to come back, try to get Mr. Thompson a little bit later on.
One man who has been following this investigation since the bombing right here in Centennial Park 1996. CNN investigative reporter Art Harris. He has been following this thing just about as long as anyone. And he filed this report for us just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Carolina's Nantahala National Forest, a half million acres of wilderness, natural habitat for wild animals, poisonous snakes, and the FBI says at least one deadly human predator.
Accused serial bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph. For five years, the FBI has fielded hundreds of agents, spent more than $20 million, and found evidence Rudolph was here, but no Rudolph. Early on, the FBI enlisted two unique trackers to help, a cave expert...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a hand mark.
HARRIS: And a folksy cop from Georgia.
CHARLES STONE, RETIRED GBI AGENT: Just like when you're hunting, you're listening with your ears. You see -- you're sensing things. Eric has gotten that down to a fine art.
HARRIS: Charlie Stone, 25 year veteran of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He feels he knows Rudolph. He's hunted the suspected bomber from day one.
STONE: How could one man elude all the law enforcement personnel that have been looking for him over the last three years? You've got a double canopy forest. You have the Appalachian Trail. And I believe he's staying on the trails and roads, but he can move from point A to point B with relatively ease and without any real danger of being discovered.
HARRIS: After teams of bloodhounds, high tech helicopters and an army of agents couldn't find Rudolph above ground, the FBI went underground.
STONE: And just think, as you can tell, 15 feet over there could be a mine. And we walked right by.
HARRIS: Darren Free, part Cherokee Indian, part Indiana Jones. He taught agents how to search caves and mines safely.
DARREN FREE: I can smell the sulfur and the copper.
HARRIS: Free's explored them since he was 12-years old, about the same age as Rudolph when he discovered the woods and caves here.
FREE: They may have went further down.
HARRIS: Is there a way to tell if Rudolph's been here?
FREE: Oh, yes, you could have told with the tracks and all that there was as a matter of fact -- some had to probably been in here in 60 years. It's just one of the -- like 400. OK, fellows.
HARRIS: The same Rudolph seen in this exclusive video obtained by CNN, who dug out this secret room beneath his house, should be able to convert a cave into a home, says Free.
FREE: Felt that his is like I said is just as good as Motel 6. Who knows, he might even have a Jacuzzi.
HARRIS: These two trackers believe Rudolph is still alive and sometimes feel that Rudolph is tracking them.
(on camera): A loner who can live off the land and Army training, food, spring water and shelter, and you've got everything a fugitive needs to run and hide.
Art Harris, CNN, in the Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina.
COOPER: Well, one of the men you just saw in that story, Art Harris' story, Charlie Stone, a man who spent several years working this investigation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. So we're pleased that he joins us now.
Charlie, I know it's a great day for you. You've been working hard for this all along. We're in Centennial Park, where the first bombing linked to Rudolph or that authorities linked to Rudolph took place. Let's talk a little bit about that night. And we have a photo that we're going to show while talking, which shows a hooded figure. Tell us what we'll be looking at?
STONE: Anderson, on the night -- in July of '96, prior to the bomb explosion, we received photographs that we requested from the public. And one of the photographs showed a hooded individual sitting on the bench, where the bomb was ultimately located and where it detonated.
COOPER: And you sent this photo to NASA and they -- I don't know...
STONE: Well, NASA agreed to enhance it. And we were able to get an enhanced picture of the individual sitting on the bench. We also did a police sketch with one of our sketch artists, who's...
COOPER: This is based on people here, what they were...
STONE: Right. People right around the (unintelligible.)
COOPER: We're going to -- let's show that sketch on the left hand side of our screen. I believe on the righthand side of the screen is going to be the most recent photo taken this morning of Eric Robert Rudolph. And the similarities, just extraordinary, keeping in mind that at this point, authorities didn't know who Rudolph was.
STONE: We had no idea who Eric was at the time. We knew we had an individual with a goatee and mustache. The artist met with a witness, produced this sketch. And then when you compare it with the mugshot taken the day after Eric was arrested, the similarities are very striking.
COOPER: And it wasn't until about two years later or so, and several bombings later, that there was a break in the case and authorities came up with the name Eric Robert Rudolph?
STONE: Exactly. Eric was identified after the bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
COOPER: How was he identified? What things happened?
STONE: Oh, we had witnesses. Without going into a lot of detail, we had witnesses in Birmingham, were able to obtain the tag number. And through investigation, we were able to identify the subject as being Eric Rudolph.
COOPER: You had been hunting this man. You have been thinking about this man. I'm sure dreaming, eating, sleeping this man for years now. What's the number one thing you want to know?
STONE: I would like to talk to him, and find out his justification, why he elected to -- I think he was waging war against the government, and in particular federal government. And I'd like to ask him why.
COOPER: Do you believe, and I -- this is just a gut feeling, do you believe he had help along the way sometime in the last five years?
STONE: No, I don't believe so. I talked to his family members, his girlfriends, his friends of his that he ran around in the woods with. Prior to the Olympic Park bombing, according to them, he became increasingly more paranoid. He believed the government was spying on him all the time. And through his actions, exhibited...
COOPER: But the pictures of the guy today, you know, he's got a short haircut. His mustache seems relatively trim. We're told he was wearing sneakers. Does it sound like someone who's been hiding in the woods for five months, years?
STONE: Yes, I think he very well could be. He had (unintelligible) for camps, I believe in the western North Carolina area. We know he had material and disguises. A disguise was used in Birmingham. So he's aware of the necessity of being able to alter his appearance.
COOPER: And according to authorities, in several of these cases, not only the bombing right here in this park, but also in the Birmingham case, he was actually on the scene at the bombings, watching.
STONE: We believe that to be the case, yes, sir.
COOPER: And you believe this both, right, from these photos here, but also there was a witness in the Birmingham issue?
STONE: In the Birmingham, there was a witness. And plus, the type of device that was used in Birmingham, he had gone from a timed device to a command detonating device.
COOPER: Well, I know it's an exciting day for you. I know there's still a lot of questions you'd like to have answered. I'm sure you'll be paying attention to the news coverage a lot in the coming days and weeks. And Charlie Stone, we appreciate you joining us tonight.
STONE: Quite welcome.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
STONE: Yes, sir.
COOPER: Great work.
STONE: Thank you.
COOPER: There are a lot of people who would like to know who is Eric Robert Rudolph? What kind of a man is he? What do we know about him? We tried to build sort of a profile as close as anyone can for public documentation, also through extensive interviews. Kathleen Koch has that report. We're going to show it to you right now.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's most wanted list spent most of his life in the dense Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. Eric Robert Rudolph was a loner as a teenager, spending weeks alone in the woods, hunting, fishing and exploring caves. Relatives say the one-time carpenter and roofer hated gays, Jews, and developed an interest in the anti-abortion movement.
DEBRA RUDOLPH, FMR. SISTER-IN-LAW: He felt like if women continued to abort their white babies, that eventually, the white race would become a minority.
KOCH: Rudolph came to law enforcement's attention in January 1998 when his gray pick-up was spotted near the scene of a bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic. The blast killed an off-duty police officer and disfigured the clinic's head nurse.
A day later, police in North Carolina searched Rudolph's storage shed. He'd already left his home. They seized grow live's pot seeds and a bomb making pamphlet.
Authorities quickly began to connect the dots. Police believe Rudolph's first attack was the 1996 pipe bombing during the summer Olympics in Atlanta. One woman died and more than 100 were injured in Centennial Olympic Park.
Rudolph was also charged in the 1997 bombings of an Atlanta area abortion clinic and a gay and lesbian night club. The motive, Rudolph's mother claimed his father died after doctors refused to treat his cancer with Laetril (ph), an experimental drug the government wouldn't approve. So the bombings came.
STONE: Out of a perverse sense of getting back at the government or hurting his family. KOCH: Authorities launched one of the most intense manhunts in U.S. history. Hundreds of armed searchers with bloodhounds combed the North Carolina woods. Search helicopters with heat seeking devices poured overhead. The last sighting was July 1998, two months after the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Rudolph turned up at a former neighbor's home asking for a surprise before heading up into the hills. Rudolph took a pick-up truck stocked with food from the house, left behind $500 and disappeared. Since then, the trail had grown cold. The task force dwindled to just 20 members. Still, some law officers believed Rudolph's long game of hide and seek would eventually end.
SWECKER: No one in this area and no law enforcement ever gave up on finding him. And the search continued, albeit on a different scale with a different strategy, but we always thought that he was up here in the mountains in North Carolina somewhere.
KOCH: Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: You know, so many times in these kind of stories, we focus on the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator of crimes, not on the victims. Two people were believed to have been killed by Eric Robert Rudolph, this according to authorities. We can say at least two people have died as a result of bombings.
One of them we told you about, Alice Hawthorne, 44-years old, a wife, a mother, killed in this part on a hot July night in 1996. A few years ago, Art Harris on the fifth anniversary of her death spoke to Hawthorne's family. Here's some of what they had to say.
HARRIS (voice-over): ...dreams about the last time she saw her mother alive. In Atlanta just before 1:00 a.m. on July 27th, 1996.
FALLON STUBBS, BOMBING VICTIM: I dream about what she will be like here with me watching me grow up.
HARRIS: That night, she saw nothing suspicious, just a party going on at Centennial Olympic Park. All part of the surprise 14th birthday trip from her mother, Alice Hawthorne with tickets to see the dream team.
STUBBS: Everybody was happy and laughing and moving and dancing.
HARRIS: And smiling. Like friends say, her mother always did as she posed for the last snapshot.
Where were you standing?
STUBBS: Probably about over here.
HARRIS: Some 60,000 people jammed into the park, soaking up the spirit, free rock and roll. Then shrapnel from the biggest pipe bomb in U.S. history.
STUBBS: I remember seeing my mother turn, do a complete 360. It was probably going to be the most lasting memory out of all of that. 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. And I saw my mother on the ground.
HARRIS: The bomb knocked her down, but Fallon ran to get help for her mother. Shrapnel in her arm, her leg, a finger nearly cut off. Bleeding, she was scooped into an ambulance, but she still wanted help for her mother.
STUBBS: Some people told me to lay down, get down, get down, get down. And I was like, wait, my mother.
HARRIS: Alice Hawthorne kept hers. The first murder victim, says the FBI, of alleged serial bomber Eric Rudolph, a working mother admired and eulogized for her good work. Then a police escort to the cemetery. That's John Hawthorne, her husband of 14 years. So despondent at first.
JOHN HAWTHORNE: I was sort of in a fog.
HARRIS: He says he considered suicide.
JOHN HAWTHORNE, HUSBAND: She really made me realize some skills and talents that I didn't know that I had.
HARRIS: He now aims to raise millions for an Alice Hawthorne youth center.
STUBBS: It's a feeling of incompleteness. You know, you would look for closure for things and situations like this. I haven't found that yet. And you know, hopefully, somebody will be caught.
HARRIS: Alice Hawthorne's daughter tells CNN she will never find peace until the killer is caught.
Art Harris, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Well as we mentioned earlier, that piece was from the fifth anniversary of Alice Hawthorne's death. We heard earlier today from her husband, reacting to the arrest of Rudolph. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. HAWTHORNE: When he wasn't captured within the first six months after it happened, I mentally had prepared myself for the long haul. And I said to them that he would make a mistake, that it wasn't like they were going to surround him some place and there would be a gunfight that he would have to make a mistake. And it appeared that he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The other person to die in one of these bombings was a 35-year old off-duty police officer, Robert Sandy Sanderson. They all called him Sandy, I'm told. 35-years old. He was killed on duty protecting a women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.
He was not the only person affected by that blast. A woman, a nurse, 41-years old at the time, Emily Lyons was her name. She was injured severely, blinded in one eye. She still has scars. She still has shrapnel in her body even to this day. I talked to her earlier today. CNN asked her a very simple question, what would she like to ask Rudolph? This is what she had to say. Why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYONS: This person wanted to kill me, rob me of my life, my family. And he took away my independence. I am not what I used to be. And I used to be able to get in the car and drive for hours somewhere that I wanted to go. But I go to the airport, get on a plane without any problem. And now it's not that way. It's not easy.
The little things in life that you all do, that are really simple things are difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We hope to talk to Emily Lyons and her husband a little bit later on in the program, if we can establish contact with them, as we've been trying to do.
I'm joined now by Doug Jones, former U.S. attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. You were -- you actually went to the scene of the bombing in Birmingham?
DOUG JONES, FMR. US ATTY. FOR BIRMINGHAM: Yes, I was there about -- just fortuitous events. They're very close anyway. So I was one of the first ones on the scene, as one of those memories you'll never forget.
COOPER: I can only imagine, let's talk a little bit where this thing turns legally now. Do you think the case will be tried in Birmingham first, because there was a bombing in Birmingham. He's also wanted for a bombing here in Atlanta. He's also on federal charges. Do you think it's going to go to Birmingham?
JONES: Well, you know, I would hope that it would. I mean, this was looked at a long time ago, back when all of this was -- the indictments came down. If you'd look at where this evidence really derived, it all came from the Birmingham identifications. A decision was made at one point to have this case in Birmingham initially, but everyone knew that it would took another look.
COOPER: Do you think that's where the case is strongest?
JONES: Well, I believe the case is strongest in Birmingham. But I think you have to look at the big picture. Everyone's going to have to examine the evidence, but obviously from Birmingham, you have the initial identification of the truck and you had the initial identification of Mr. Rudolph. The search warrants came from Birmingham evidence into probably cause.
So it would seem that that would be the logical place to look. When you start trying to blend cases, you run some risks at prosecutors. They're going to look at that very closely.
COOPER: People are probably a little bit confused out there about what this man has been charged with, what Rudolph has charged with, and what charges he is likely to face, because there are two different things.
JONES: Right, well, I don't know if he's going to face any additional state charges. Right now, he is facing charges in Birmingham dealing with the explosion at the women's clinic in the death of Officer Sanderson. He is facing charges separately in a separate indictment here in Atlanta for charges stemming from the Olympic Park bombing, the Otherside lounge, and the clinic here, the professional building.
So they're separate charges. There are two separate indictments. I doubt you'll see any additional charges coming, but we don't now. They're going to assimilate a lot of evidence at this point.
COOPER: Let's talk about death penalty. Obviously, that is the decision that will probably be made by the Justice Department.
JONES: That's right.
COOPER: It would seem, at this point -- well, what's your gut feeling?
JONES: Well, my gut feeling is you would have to assume that both U.S. attorneys offices will petition the Justice Department for approval to seek the death penalty. I think that's obvious in cases that you have here with the deaths of Olympic Park, the death of Officer Sanderson.
There's a procedure in place for the Justice Department to review that. Ultimately, it'd be the attorney general that will make the final call.
COOPER: How tough a case is this? I mean, without getting into specifics of evidence, which I know you can't, but you know, you have multiple bombings. You have multiple different kinds of bombs. We're told the signature on the bombs is different.
COOPER: And the bomb that was used here in this part, different than the one that you saw the effects of in Birmingham. JONES: Sure. And I think therein lies the interesting dilemma for the Justice Department because right now, the decision had been made early on that these cases would be tried separately for that very reason, which you can focus on the Birmingham case, and then focus separately on the Atlanta cases. I think those cases for the prosecution are much easier to make, because when you start blending all of that evidence that I think things will get a little bit crazier. And it gives the defense a lot more to that.
COOPER: There's a cliche, of course, that time is always on the defense side, that memories fade, witnesses die off. Do you think that...
JONES: No, not in this case. I mean, you know, we...
COOPER: Because the emotions are so strong?
JONES: Well, it's not just that. I mean, people that were involved in this, it's ingrained in their memory. I mean, you got to remember, we just tried a case in -- two cases in Birmingham that are 38 and 39 years old.
COOPER: This -- the church bombings?
JONES: The church bombing case. We still had good memories. People, there are certain things and witnesses in those crimes that they never forget. I'm not worried about that.
COOPER: And you came back to work on this church bombing case. Would you like to come back and...
JONES: Oh, I'd love to come back. I mean, you know, I've tried to, you know, call right now and say put me in touch. The fact is there are prosecutors in place that are very good, that are going to take up that mantle. And they've been working on this case for a long time.
COOPER: All right, well don't sell yourself short. Doug Jones, appreciate you joining us.
JONES: Thank you.
COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the capture of Eric Robert Rudolph. You are looking at a live picture of the county jail in Murphy, North Carolina, where tonight, a man, Eric Robert Rudolph, sits accused by authorities of being a serial bomber responsible for the deaths of at least two people, the maiming of another, injuries of hundreds of people in this park, where we are live right now, Centennial Olympic Park, downtown Atlanta, right next to CNN headquarters, where the first bombing that authorities linked to Eric Robert Rudolph took place, 1996, that hot July night.
A band was playing just over there. The park was packed. An explosive device went off. 40 -- more than 40 pounds of explosives -- a 40 pound pipe bomb. ATF agents say it's the largest they've ever seen exploded, killing a woman, Alice Hawthorne, right here in this part, 1996. We remember her and all the other victims tonight, as Eric Robert Rudolph sits in jail accused by authorities in those bombings.
Want to toss it right back now to Gary Tuchman, who is standing by in Murphy for an update on what's going on in that tiny town in North Carolina -- Gary?
TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, tonight, Eric Rudolph is in a jail cell 100 yards behind me, right next to that courthouse over my shoulder. And he was nabbed here in the picturesque town of Murphy, North Carolina. A lot of people are surprised he's been caught, but it's not a big surprise that it happened here in Murphy because this is where Rudolph lived before he became a fugitive. And authorities believe he's been in this area for as long. He's been on that FBI most wanted list.
We saw him for the first time since he got on that list today. Not in person, but via a mugshot. The mugshot was released to us several hours ago. He has a mustache and stubble on his chin, and a relatively neat haircut. Authorities say they believe he cut it -- the hair himself, although they're investigating the possibility that he was aided and abetted by other people. That investigation is going on as we speak.
He was caught behind a grocery store here in Murphy, North Carolina. A 21-year old police officer thought he saw a prowler, thought the prowler had a gun. It turns out it was Rudolph. And Rudolph had a big flashlight, but he did not have a weapon. He started to run away, but then stopped. The 21-year old police officer brought him in to the precinct. He told authorities, Rudolph, that his name is Jerry Wilson, but then admitted that he was indeed the man they were looking for, Eric Robert Rudolph.
The owner-manager of the grocery store where he was caught tells us that about a week and a half ago, he believed he saw Rudolph there also. He says he thinks that Rudolph was going through the dumpster. He wishes he'd told police about it at that point, because $1 million reward was offered. It's not clear if that $1 million reward will be eligible for a police officer. We asked the police officer if he thought he should get it. He said he had no comment about it.
Rudolph will have his first appearance in court in Ashville, North Carolina, on Monday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern time -- Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, no doubt that, Gary, tomorrow we're going to be showing our viewers a lot from those press conferences that took place today, because the two police officers who were involved in this arrest, laconic might be the word to describe them. You know, they were asked how does this data compare to all others. And they said different. One word answers sometimes, but a lot of people so pleased with them tonight. And they're so modest just saying, you know, they were out just doing their job like they do everyday, working the night shift. A tough job it is. And a lot of praise goes to them today.
Gary Tuchman, thanks very much.
Now Murphy, North Carolina is a very small town, about 1700 people or so. It's in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains, I guess we should say. And the mayor there is a man by the name of Bill Hughes. He's the mayor of Murphy. And he was kind enough to join us tonight. He joins us right now.
Mayor Hughes, appreciate you joining us. I know you were -- you saw Rudolph in person early this morning. How did he look to you? We've all seen the photograph now. Were you surprised at his appearance?
BILL HUGHES, MAYOR, MURPHY, NC: Yes, I was. I was quite surprised. He looked nothing like the pictures we've had. And after having observed him for just a few moments, I don't believe I would have ever recognized him, even if we'd met him on the street. He had a mustache, short haircut, and he resembled nothing of his pictures there. I was rather surprised to see that.
COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that, because you know, I saw the photo as well. Had the same thought. I think this could be a guy walking down the street in any city, anywhere in the United States, short hair, tennis sneakers, blue jeans, a little trim mustache, didn't look like a guy who's been living in a forest, eating nuts and berries for the last five years. Does that raise questions in your mind about whether anyone might have aided him over the last five years?
HUGHES: I do not believe he's received any assistance from the local people here. He's a survivor. He's been trained in that. The forest is his environment. If you look at the psychological profile, he's a loner. And I honestly do not believe he's received any assistance. I'd be quite surprised if that were the case. I know that's been rumored, but I don't believe that's so.
COOPER: OK, well, and it's good to hear your opinion on that. I also understand that in this area, there are some vacation homes, a lot of sort of log cabins up in the woods. Sometimes they're abandoned for parts of year. Do you think it's possible he was using one of them or hiding out in some sort of abandoned cabin somewhere?
HUGHES: Well, that's entirely possible. There are a number of houses in the area. Some are homes that are not occupied during the winter months. And it's quite possible that he could have been staying in some of them, just moving from one to the other as time passed. So you certainly wouldn't rule out that possibility.
COOPER: Have you or anyone else in the local government there talked to his family at all?
HUGHES: No, I've had no contact whatsoever with his family.
COOPER: All right, Mayor Hughes, I know it's been a real busy day for you. Bill Hughes, we appreciate you...
HUGHES: Been quite busy day. COOPER: I thank you so much. Yes, I can only imagine -- and I'm sure tomorrow's going to be equally busy for you, but we do appreciate you're taking the time this evening.
HUGHES: Tomorrow will be a busy day indeed. Good evening.
COOPER: All right, well take care. You get a good night's sleep.
We have a lot of coming up, coming up next, a look at some of the other news out there, and there is other news out there.
COOPER: Right now, you're looking at a live picture of the New Woman All Women Health care Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Five years ago, last January, a bombing there killed an off-duty police officer, severely wounded a nurse. Tonight, the man accused in that bombing, as well as three other attacks, Eric Robert Rudolph is behind bars.
That Birmingham bomb, of course, was not the only one at a women's clinic. There was one that took place here in Atlanta. And we're in Centennial Park where a bombing took place in July of '96. In January '97, there was a bombing at a clinic. It was the -- Sandy -- the clinic was in Sandy Springs, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta. TV cameras captured it all on tape.
And CNN's Martin Savidge went there earlier today, takes a look for us now.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Olympic Centennial Park bombing may be the most famous attack linked by law enforcement to Eric Rudolph, but it's what happened six months later that authorities say revealed an even darker side of Rudolph, something known as the secondary device.
January, 1997, suburban Atlanta, a bomb goes off around 9:30 a.m. at a women's clinic. A crowd of first responders, police, emergency personnel and federal agents descend on the scene. With them came the journalists. Among them, CNN's Alan Duke.
ALAN DUKE, CNN PRODUCER: We had the report of an explosion. We heard an abortion clinic and in Sandy Springs. So I started rushing here, armed with my cell phone.
SAVIDGE: Also on the scene, FBI agent Mike Rising.
MIKE RISING, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I got there in about 30 minutes. I hope that (unintelligible) other FBI agent, we conducted an initial walk through.
DUKE: So we had dozens of people who were crowded around here.
SAVIDGE: And the headquarters of say the investigative effort was where?
DUKE: It was centered right here.
RISING: I had been directed to call the U.S. Attorneys office. And I had walked away from the crowd. So it was the -- I could operate the cell phone. Unbeknownst to me, I walked over to where two vehicles had just been moved, and was leaning against one of the cars. And on the opposite side of the vehicles, about 13 steps away was where the second device was.
SAVIDGE: It is now about 45 minutes to an hour since the first explosion. Then a second blast.
DUKE: There was a firefighter standing just a few yards in front of me. The blast went off. And I looked at, of course, my first thought was I saw him and blood was coming down his face. I started feeling around my own body and realizing I wasn't hurt. And I was thinking why am I not hurt?
RISING: The full force of the blast came over the top of the car and under it. And I was immediately struck on the side of the head with about a shotgun blast load of nails and wire.
SAVIDGE: Authorities say the second device was purposely tied and set to do the most harm to those first on the scene. Amazingly, no one was killed. For Agent Rising, the blast did more than leave him injured. It took him from the case.
RISING: Absolutely, I'd become a victim witness in the case, even though I was an active special agent.
SAVIDGE: Duke also became a victim.
DUKE: I actually have a victim identification number with the federal government.
SAVIDGE: What both men endured that day was not overlooked. When another bomb exploded weeks later outside an Atlanta night club, authorities knew what to look for, a second device. And they found it before it could go off.
Investigators say it was the trademark of the same suspect, Eric Rudolph.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Well by no doubt, you've seen the videotape of the home video of that bombing right here in Centennial Park. Took place in 1996. The two people who took that videotape, Robert and Nancy Gee, they join us right now from Phoenix, Arizona. Robert and Nancy, thanks for being with us. When you were in the park videotaping, what gave you the presence of mind to just keep on rolling once the explosion took place?
ROBERT GEE, CAUGHT PARK BOMBING ON VIDEO: You know, I think we were all in shock. We felt the explosion, the ground rock, but we just thought the tape run, because you know, our main concern was I thought was not the camera. It was the risk of another bomb going off. It was the risk of another terrorist attack occurring or perhaps even the crowd starting to stampede. I was more concerned with grabbing Nancy and pulling her close to my side, and making sure that we didn't get hurt.
COOPER: There had been some events warning. A call several minutes before the bomb went off, warning of the blast. Did you hear any of that? Did you know there was something up?
R. GEE: You know, in retrospect, we did, but you know, we didn't at the time. We actually saw the -- a garbage can go by with two policemen and a park worker. And they just ran by in the direction of where the blast went off. And I'm assuming that they were trying to get this large garbage can into place before anything yet occurred.
I'm assuming that they weren't anywhere near there, because I don't think they were hurt in the blast.
COOPER: Is this a story you have been following, as well since then? I mean, you were really part of history, in a sense, and have recorded a historic marker?
R. GEE: You know, sometimes you win the lottery and sometimes you catch something like this on tape. And I have to admit, if I was given the choice, and I wish I had the choice, I'd win the lottery and nobody would have had to die for this. Yes, we have been following the story. And it's meant a whole lot to us. It doesn't mean anything more or less, given the events of 9/11. But we do want to make sure that we do get closure for this, because hopefully whoever perpetrated this gets caught.
COOPER: Well, Robert and Nancy Gee, we appreciate you joining us tonight. You've brought a piece of history along with you, and we appreciate your contribution to the story. Thank you so much.
NANCY GEE, WIFE: Thank you.
COOPER: We still have a lot more coming up tonight. One more interview with the man, Henry Schuster, senior producer here at CNN, who has been following this case since 1996. We're going to talk to him, get some final thoughts when we return.
COOPER: One of the first men who got the tip-off from sources that Rudolph was in custody was this man right here, Henry Schuster, a senior producer with CNN.
You've heard earlier this morning, what are the big questions, the big points that still are in your mind?
HENRY SCHUSTER, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, what's happened in the last five years, one of the most significant things that we've heard at the news conference today was that the FBI associated in North Carolina said Eric Rudolph never left the area after the manhunt got underway five years ago. That's what they're profile said. That's what Charley Stone, who we heard from earlier tonight or earlier in the show, had said to us year after year after year that he had not -- they didn't think he left the area. And that turned out to be correct.
The other thing is they said Eric was talking to them, not yet being interrogated, but he was talking to them. Now my question is, has he talked to anybody in the last five years? I think when the FBI goes backs and looks and tries to see if he had any help, one of the things is, did this man speak a word to anybody else in five years? We don't know that.
COOPER: It is a fascinating question. We're probably going to be talking a lot more tomorrow, because this thing is just beginning. There's so many questions left unanswered. Henry, appreciate you joining us. I know your work today. Thank you for CNN.
And so it ends. Eric Robert Rudolph is in custody. No great, big last stand, no shootout, as some had anticipated there might be. It ended rather quietly. A thin man hiding behind milk crates behind a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina, arrested, no less, by a rookie cop on the beat, under a year, 21 years old. Just an extraordinary end when you consider the hundreds of hours in manpower spent searching, the years of searching and the millions of dollars spent in this, tens of millions of dollars searching for this man. It is over, this part of the investigation.
Still many questions remain, as Henry has just mentioned, did he get help over the last five years? Has he been alone? Has he talked to anyone else over these last five years that we don't know about? And if he is in fact the serial bomber the police claim, why? Why did he do it? Those are the questions we here at CNN will be trying to get answers to tomorrow and in the coming days and weeks.
Thank you so much for joining us, the special presentation live from Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. I'm Anderson Cooper. We'll see you tomorrow morning, at 7:00 a.m. Good night.
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