Book Excerpt: Maryanne Vollers' 'Lone Wolf'

Rudolph spent the next two days at the Cherokee County Jail. He would turn stone cold any time he saw a federal agent, but he was talking a blue streak to his the round-the-clock guards about the Old Testament and politics and how to live off acorns and salamanders; just about everything except his crimes. He seemed interested in his jailer's lives, and even inquired after their families. But he never asked anyone whether his own mother was still alive, or for any news about his sister and brothers. Finally, when it was obvious he wasn't going to confess to anything, the federal agents took custody of the prisoner. As he prepared to leave, Rudolph shook hands with the deputies and jail staff. He even signed wanted posters for them, like some kind of rock star. Rudolph inscribed one with a reference to Psalm 144, that begins: "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." FBI agents confiscated every one of the posters. For handwriting samples, they said.

The camera crews who had been waiting outside the jail all weekend finally got what they wanted when Rudolph was moved from Murphy to a federal court in Asheville. It was a ritual "perp walk," the modern equivalent of a public stoning, where the accused is marched from the jailhouse door to a waiting vehicle. He is dressed in prison orange and fitted with a large bulletproof vest, shackled at wrist and ankle, and hustled along in a scrum of anxious-looking guards, quickly, but with enough time in the open for photographers to capture a few frames of his cool, watchful gaze. Timothy McVeigh, after his arrest for the Oklahoma City bombing, was photographed in this way, setting the gold standard for the terrorist perp walk. McVeigh looked menacing, scowling into the sun. He later said he was scanning the crowd for a gunman he was sure would appear, like Jack Ruby, and kill him on the spot.

Eric Robert Rudolph had a similar look on his face when he emerged from the Cherokee County jail, flanked by Lovin and Thigpen. He turned his head to glare in the direction of the assembled media before he was hustled off in convoy to a waiting helicopter, where he would be delivered to his enemies. He rode to the airport in silence, staring straight ahead. But as the chopper lifted off, Rudolph took one last look at the green river valley and the smooth-knuckled mountains of the Nantahala, folded like hands in prayer.

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