Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Lone Wolf by Maryanne Vollers
Murder, Myth, and The Pursuit Of An American Outlaw
This is the story of Eric Rudolph, the man responsible for the Olympic Park Bombing as well as two others: a gay night club and a family planning clinic in which a security guard was killed. He was the object of a prolonged manhunt by agents of the FBI and AFT as well as a host of local law enforcement agents. He hid out in the mountains but was also able to shop at Walmart and eat at Taco Bell with some frequency. He had an observation post overlooking the National Guard Armory where the search teams had their headquarters and once planted a bomb at the entranceway to it. Taking pity on the agents and figuring that if things had turned out differently he would have been among them, he eventually defused it. After a couple of years he tired of being on the run, reluctant to spend another winter in the hills, grew careless and allowed himself to be captured raiding a dumpster at a local restaurant by a novice sheriff's officer.
An intelligent and resourceful individual he was careful about his health (eating "healthfully"- mostly nuts, dried fruit and whole grain) and considerably well- read in history and philosophy, not a militia or assaultive type of personality. After capture he endured lengthy interrogations without unduly incriminating himself and won the respect and lasting admiration of his very high-power lawyers. He was able to plea bargain his sentence from death to life in prison by agreeing to reveal the location of his large and dangerous stash of dynamite.
Among his belongings agents discovered a Bible with passages justifying the killing of homosexuals and abortionists carefully underlined. This seems to have been his fairly exclusive interest in that book. Even so, the author and various other investigators who have looked into his case doubt that his commitment to "saving the lives of the unborn" was very thorough-going or the prime motivation for his crimes, although that was what he tried to present in Court.
Ms.Vollers conducted several exclusive interviews with Rudolph. In one she asked:
"You mentioned in your letter that you've been "personally confronted with the horror of abortion" Would you be willing to explain what you mean? Was it a girlfriend of yours?"
"My ex-girlfriend [he never told me which one] had a close acquaintance who had an abortion. I can still remember the sense of hollowness, the atmosphere of indifference that surrounded her "choice" It was a kind of rotten, superficial, amoral feeling that MTV specializes in promoting. I felt dirty and wanted to wash the "cool", "hip" indifference off me with a Brillo pad."
Another clue to what made Eric Rudolph tick is suggested in his answer to the question:
"You have been labeled a loner. How would you describe yourself?"
"I would describe myself as an idealist with average intelligence. I associate with people and enjoy social situations, especially if there is stimulating conversation. I like serious conversation. This has narrowed my social circle considerably. Most of the people I have associated with don't enjoy serious subject matter, so I have tended to keep to myself. This is probably where they get the loner label. I don't mind. If the "normal"man is expected to sit around all weekend drinking beer and watching greased men beat each other with folding chairs on television, then put me down as a loner."
Today, (or at least in 2006 when this book came to press) Eric Rudolph is incarcerated in a special unit of the Federal SuperMax in Florence, Colorado, along with Theodore Kaczynski (the Unibomber), Richard Reed (the shoe-bomber), Zacarias Moussaoui and a few other Muhajadin. He is only allowed out of his cell after a full body search, for a shower or a brief time in an isolated recreation yard. Perhaps the authorities are justified in their suspicion that if it were possible to make a bomb out of sugar and salt, Eric Rudolph would do it.
The prisoners in Rudolph's unit are not allowed to associate except that they each have a television and can holler out comments to each other through the openings where food trays are received. Besides the news the only program the muhajadin watch is "Jeopardy" , because the female contestants are always dressed demurely enough for their religion. In the contest of this game Rudolph is a tremendously useful resource to them.