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Manhunt: The Searches for Eric Robert Rudolph and Dr. Barnett Slepian's Killer
CNN Talkback Live
October 27, 1998; Tuesday 3:00 pm Eastern Time
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 talk show.

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 way.

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 wanted to.

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 means.

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 no?

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 right now?

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 lights?

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.

BROWN: Exactly.

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? I mean...

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.

This website has no official or informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever


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