Home News Stories 2005 May The Pursuit and Capture of Eric Rudolph, Pt. 2
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The Pursuit and Capture of Eric Rudolph, Pt. 2

The Pursuit and Capture of Eric Rudolph
Part 2 of an Interview with FBI Exec Chris Swecker


North Carolina grocery store dumpster
Garbage dumpster in North Carolina
where Rudolph was arrested.
REUTERS/Tami Chappell

FBI Executive Chris Swecker resumes his discussion of the case.

What did Rudolph look like when he was captured?
Mr. Swecker:
He was thin, much thinner than when he first went into the mountains, but in very good shape. He talked about being very sick in the first winter, malnourished. After that, things kind of steadied for him.

Rudolph was finally caught foraging for food at a grocery store dumpster. How else did he gather food?
Mr. Swecker:
A number of ways. His campsite had a lot of storage. He had a bunch of 55-gallon barrels buried in the ground, full of grain, soy, and oats. There was a granary about four miles from there, and he would go there at night. He said he always traveled at night. He would get a backpack of grain or whatever else and bring it back. He filled up these 55-gallon barrels and he said it was pretty good eating, actually. He also foraged around some of the restaurants, got the patterns down. He knew when vegetables were going to be put out on the loading dock. He knew how to live off the land, but he also knew how to live off the local restaurants and grocery stores.

How did he survive the winters?
Mr. Swecker: There are so many cabins up there that nobody goes anywhere near because they are owned by people out of town. I think it is very likely that he not only had campsites and caves, but he was also spending some time in those cabins. He knew exactly which cabins he could go into—he had them scouted out way ahead of time.

Would you call him a survivalist?
Mr. Swecker:
Absolutely. He was anticipating a great conflict and he had clearly lined up caves and campsites where he could go. He had a number of hiding places, and he knew the mountains so well he could navigate them at night.

What were Rudolph’s motives for the bombings?
Mr. Swecker:
He had borrowed ideas from a lot of different places and formed his own personal ideology. He clearly was anti-government and anti-abortion, anti-gay, ‘anti’ a lot of things. The bombings really sprang from his own unique biases and prejudices. He had his own way of looking at the world and didn’t get along with a lot of people.

When he pled guilty, a defiant Rudolph said he had no remorse or regrets. Was he that way at his capture?
Mr. Swecker:
Not at all. When he was arrested he was actually pretty compliant and subdued. Almost relieved in a sense. His attitude was, ‘You got me.’ And that was part of our plan. We stepped back and let the local and state authorities do the talking and questioning, and that helped put Rudolph at ease. Later, when they put him on the plane to go to Atlanta, he had tears in his eyes. As he saw those mountains receding in the background, he probably realized he would never see them again. I think at that point, it wasn’t defiance. It was defeat. He knew he was defeated.

Link: Part 1 of the interview