Manhunt: The Searches for Eric Robert Rudolph and Dr.
Barnett Slepian's Killer
CNN Talkback Live
October 27, 1998; Tuesday 3:00 pm
GUESTS: Oliver "Buck" Revell, Bernie Tolbert, Tom Brown
Interviewer: Bobbie Battista
[Note: This has been edited to remove parts of the show in
which Tom Brown played no part]
BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST: A sniper on the run, a suspected bomber
still on the loose after nine months; will the FBI capture these
fugitives? Ask former G-man "Buck" Revell, and get ready
to talk back.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to TALKBACK LIVE, CNN's interactive
I'm Bobbie Battista.
Welcome back. Our next guest could teach any of us how to survive
in the wilderness. Tom Brown, Jr., has done it for 20 years at
Tracker incorporated, the tracking nature awareness and survival
school that he founded. He has also written 15 books on the subject.
Tom, good to see you again. Welcome to the show.
TOM BROWN, SURVIVALIST: Hi how are you? Thank you.
BATTISTA: That was an interesting Internet message we had there
from Susie a few moments ago, said that she doubts Eric Rudolph
is a survivalist. That he is probably hiding under someone's house.
BROWN: Well, actually, that is true. To me, if you take anything
even clothing or a knife into the woods, you are not a survivalist.
He might as well be camping in Disney World or something. The
reason Rudolph, I don't believe, is a survivalist is he had to
steal food and a good survivalist should never have to do that.
To me, he is a little better than a boy scout, let's put it that
BATTISTA: You've got a rough standard there, Tom.
BATTISTA: OK, how he is managing to do it, then, from what you
know of this case?
BROWN: Actually it's quite easy. I have to agree with "Buck,"
because the man is probably underground, either figuratively or
literally. He has got to be hiding someplace, if, in fact he is
in the area, and that is quite easy to do. It is so easy to counter
track, it's so easy to throw off dogs, it's so easy to beat infrared,
motion detectors -- all of it. If he has got any training at all,
he is going to be able to allude, escape, evade forever if he
BATTISTA: Is he getting help, then, do you think?
BROWN: Possibly. Possibly, he knows somebody. He is going to come
out sooner or later to get more food or somebody is giving it
to him, let's put it that way. But there's caves and stuff down
there that he could have chosen a long time ago and had things
stockpiled for just such an occasion.
BATTISTA: "Buck," what would be the chances of him giving
himself up at this point -- pretty nil?
REVELL: I think that's probably very unlikely. He has recently
been charged with the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing and the other
bombings here -- these are very serious capital offenses. He's
facing the death penalty. I suspect that he's in it for the long
term and may never intend to give himself up. Hopefully he will
be captured, but he might even choose not to be captured by extreme
BATTISTA: Let's take a Internet question on the screen. The person
is wondering, I think, whether or not there is any evidence that
Rudolph is still in the western North Carolina area. I don't know
if either one of you can answer that.
REVELL: Well, I don't know the current state of the evidence.
I am not following the case on a daily basis, but I can say this:
that the F.B.I. and all of the other agencies you mentioned would
not be spending a lot of time and effort in this area, if they
didn't have a strong belief that he was still there.
BATTISTA: Let me ask Tom, why would you stay at a place where
you know everybody is looking for you?
BROWN: Well, actually the better you know an area, the better
chance you have of survival and to evade. It's when you get into
unknown areas that you run the risk of making mistakes because
you don't know where the hiding places are, you don't know the
way of the forest and all that other stuff, so he will probably
stay in that area.
BATTISTA: We're now getting into winter. Doesn't that change the
whole equation for somebody who's trying to survive outside or
BROWN: Well, someone like him, yes, it is going to. He is going
to be subject to a lot more brutal conditions, unless, of course,
he's got something like a cave or a bunker or some place he's
got things stored up. But eventually he is going to have to build a fire, if he is out
there. Eventually he is going to have to hunt food or at least
come out and find it or somebody has got to get it to him. But
winter is a brutal time of the year. I teach my survivalists to
walk into the woods naked in the winter as a true test of survival.
BATTISTA: And they pay money for that?
BROWN: Well, when they get to that level, called the expert course,
the class is on me.
BATTISTA: OK, good to know. I'm hogging my guests here. Let me
take a question from Lily (ph).
LILY: My question is how does he sleep and how does he take a
bath out there?
BROWN: Actually he can be sleeping in any number of different
shelters. He could be sleeping in a makeshift debris hut. He could
be bathing in a stream. His movements are planned to be evasive,
if he knows the area that well.
BATTISTA: Joyce, you had a question?
JOYCE: Yes. I wonder, Tom, have you been invited to join in this
search? Have you made any suggestions or contributed anything?
BROWN: No, not yet.
JOYCE: If they ask you, would you?
BROWN: I would have to think about it. I would have to review
the evidence, because there has been thousands of man hours of
searching down there. I have no idea what these trails look like
now. Maybe I could give them some help that way, but I have a
lot of faith in the F.B.I. and their equipment. That's what leads
me to believe he's probably underground.
BATTISTA: What would you do, Tom, if you were tracking Rudolph
BROWN: Well, first of all what I would do is gather up all of
the information from the dog searchers, other trackers, and then
I would start looking at the landscape very seriously, through
the eyes of a survivalist, someone who is going to escape and
evade. And then what I would do is scout those areas. But with
Rudolph you run the risk of land mines, trip wires, all sorts
of other things that you have to be very, very careful of, when
you start nearing his encampment, wherever that might be.
BATTISTA: Looking at dogs, there was a report I saw on the wires.
I think it came from last week or sometime recently, that the
authorities up there now think that Rudolph could possibly be
killing dogs in the area. Is there any reason that you know of
why he would be doing that?
BROWN: Well, if he is having trouble getting larger game, he might
be killing them to eat them. In fact we have no -- I have not
heard that report. It depends on what kind of dogs they were.
Are they hound dogs, police dogs, or are these just strays? If
Rudolph is killing dogs, it's probably strays for food.
PAULA: If he's not killing the dogs, what are some of the things
you think he is doing to avoid the dogs or to avoid the infrared
BROWN: The dogs are going to pick him up, sooner or later, if
he ventures too far from his hiding place. And it's very easy
to throw a dog off your scent. We play with it all the time, when
I teach military classes or police classes. We get the hounds
to chase us and show the hound handlers what goes on to evade
a dog, and it's quite easy.
BATTISTA: Let me get to Hannah here who has a question -- go ahead.
HANNAH: As I understand it with survivalists, they take barks
off of trees to make drink and cut roots for food and they know
what to eat and what not to eat in the woods.
HANNAH: Has there been any evidence of that found?
BROWN: I have no idea. There is plenty of water up there, and
that's one of the major factors. Shelter is easy enough. What
he's going to have to start worrying about is food. And he's going
to have to start worrying about his health, unless he has stockpiled
penicillin and stuff like that, in case he gets a water borne
sickness. That's what he is essentially doing. It's all too easy
to survive out there.
BATTISTA: Do you think he is that knowledgeable, Tom?
BROWN: No, absolutely not.
BATTISTA: By the way, where did you learn all of your skills?
BROWN: Well, my best friend, his grandfather was an Apache and
a survivalist, tracker, master of awareness, and I spent ten years
with him, from when I was seven until I was 18. And then I started
to wander the country and just picked up the skill and live off
the land. Generally I was gone more than I was home, but that's
how I learned it, just by doing.
RICH: Yes, I was kind of curious to know if any previous military
experience he has would help him out in the wilderness?
BROWN: A little bit. I train -- a lot of military people come
through my school, and you know, judging from his military back
ground, no, it's not going to help him that much.
BATTISTA: We have to take a break at this time. When we come back,
we will talk about whether or not domestic violence is on the
rise and also Tom Brown will take more of your questions on surviving
in the wilderness. We will be back.
BATTISTA: And welcome back everybody. Let's take a phone call
at this time, from Norman, in North Carolina, who is familiar
with the territory, I think, where Eric Rudolph is supposedly
hiding out. Norman, go ahead.
NORMAN: Yes, this is Norman Smith. I have a vacation home in Franklin,
North Carolina, which is approximately 30 air miles from where
Mr. Rudolph is supposedly hiding. The point is he does not have
to be a true survivalist, because there are thousands of vacation
homes up here that people live in sporadically, including mine.
Mine happens to be four miles from Franklin. But there's plenty
of food left in those pantries that he could avail himself of.
Plus this winter very few people will be up here in these homes,
and he can hole up in one of these homes and be very comfortable.
BATTISTA: Yes, I don't think Tom would dispute that, would you?
BROWN: No. Not at all.
BATTISTA: A question for Tom Brown from Anna.
ANNA: What type of person goes to survivalist camp, and how long
do you teach people to survive out alone without anything?
BROWN: The kind of people that come to my school are probably
sitting all around you there in the audience, because we have,
probably, one of the most beautiful cross-sections of the world
that there are. Anybody interested in nature would come to my school, because,
to me, a backpack is like a liability: if you lose it, you're
not going to survive. And people don't feel comfortable, they
don't feel safe, and that's why they come to me. To -- so that
if they know if anything goes wrong, they're going to be able
to survive, and it's like being home.
BATTISTA: Hey, Tom, one more question, too, before we say goodbye:
is it possible that -- I mean, we've just been assuming that Eric
Rudolph is most likely hiding out in the western North Carolina
mountains, but is it possible that he's somewhere else, say, living
as a homeless person?
BROWN: I'm a tracker. I don't assume anything until the tracks
prove it, and...
BATTISTA: But is that a possibility?
BROWN: Yes. He could be in L.A., for all we know. You know, he
could have gotten out of the state. But you know the scary thing
about all of this is if we don't find guys like this real soon,
that's going to give, like, carte blanche to anybody out there
that's a terrorist; "Hey, run to the woods; nobody can find
you. We don't have the trackers, we don't have the dogs, we don't
have the equipment." That's pretty scary for the United States,
to tell you the truth.
BATTISTA: And on that scary note, Tom, thanks very much for being
with us today. We appreciate it. Good to see you.
BROWN: You're very welcome.