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True crime. Casually done.

The UNABOMBER: The Biggest Manhunt in FBI History (Part 2)

Written by Angus Keenan


In the previous episode, we saw the UNABOM case progress from a small, regional investigation to one of the largest and most expensive manhunts in history. When we left off, we saw the UNABOM manifesto getting published and a tip come in that would pique the interest of the investigators, referring to one Ted Kaczynski.


A Prodigy is made

Theodore John Kaczynski was born unto the world on May the 22nd 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the first child of working-class, Polish-American parents and was named after his father Theodore, though he wasn’t given the name of Jr. Often serial killers are at least a partial product of their environment, they see violence early on or they are subject to violence from their parents, but this was simply not the case for young Ted. His mother Wanda, stayed at home to raise him and his brother and his father, was a Sausage maker. Both parents had been born Catholic but became atheists and were cautious to allow their boys to choose their own beliefs, at the time this kind of freedom of voice was a rare one for the vast majority of children.

They were good parents in every regard, and they did all they could to care for and provide a stable household for both Ted and his brother David. As his mother recalls, Ted was a happy baby, although an incident stuck out in her mind that might suggest a partial reason for the person that he would become. When Ted was still an infant, he contracted severe hives and was sent to hospital. It was common in those days for children to be kept in isolation, even from their parents, today psychologists call this maternal deprivation and it is advised that, during the first few years of a child’s life, it is to be avoided as much as possible. When this occurred to baby Ted is said to have displayed textbook symptoms of a child suffering maternal deprivation, he was highly distressed for several days, eventually becoming quiet and apathetic. Wanda recalls that he showed nothing of the happy baby that went into the hospital when she returned to get him.

Ted attended Sherman Elementary School in Chicago and was described as a healthy and well-adjusted child. After his brother David was born the family moved to a suburb of Chicago called Evergreen Park. A friend of the family who was a psychologist, tested Ted and found that he had an IQ of 167. Later in life this would be tested as high as 187 which would put him firmly in the category of Genius. At this time Ted showed a lot of promise as a student and it was recommended that he skip 2 years, moving him from a class of his peers to a class of much older children. He did not fit well with them and was persistently bullied from then until the time that he would graduate high school.

It was around this time that he would begin to remove himself from society, his father Theodore apparently adored the outdoors and would regularly take his sons out on camping trips, teaching them how to hunt, fish and survive in the wilderness. Both Ted and David, who were very close, enjoyed these excursions. David recalls that his brother would be happiest when he was out the house and exploring the wilderness. A stark contrast to how he behaved in social situations. As he continued to be bullied and excluded by the kids in his classes he would isolate himself more and more. When his mother grew concerned of this isolation she would try to bring him to social events, but every time she did, he would become even more unresponsive and reclusive. Concerned for his development she considered entering him into a study for autistic children, however she felt that the lead psychologist’s manor was abrupt and cold and she felt that it would only harm Ted to be in that kind of situation.

As Ted got older his capacity for learning only grew. He would find a select group of kids that he was comfortable socializing with. He was also part of several clubs, played the trombone, spoke German and most of all, excelled in his math classes. As he progressed through his teens Ted began spending less time outdoors and more time shut up in his room studying. According to his family and teachers, Ted would willingly commit hours every day to studying advanced math problems. So much so that in 1957 after attending summer school he graduated and earned a full Scholarship to Harvard university at the age of only 15.

By 16 he had begun his studies at Harvard, spending his first year in a house for the younger members of Harvard, most of them prodigies like himself. The following 3 years he lived at Elliot house. His housemates at that time recall that Kaczynski was incredibly reclusive, he would rarely leave his room except to eat, attend classes and occasionally socialize. Late at night he would practice Trombone. Most sources report Ted was a recluse at this time however, interviews with his classmate’s paint Ted as a reserved but passionate youth. He had friends and would socialize with them fairly regularly. In one interview a classmate of Ted’s said that he would come across as quiet and shy at first meeting, but it only took for him to trust you and he would become very talkative, eager to expound upon his views on both the world and mathematics.

In his second year Ted entered himself into a psychological study, with one of the universities head psychology professors, Dr Henry Murry. Out of roughly 200 other applicants Ted and 9 other boys were selected after extensive psychological testing. These tests were designed to find the most psychologically fragile of all applicants. These students would then be interviewed at length about their philosophies on life, their beliefs, and many other highly personal topics. They were told to submit essays describing their own personal philosophies, beliefs, and aspirations.

These essays and an in-depth psychological analysis of the subject’s personality were given to an anonymous individual who sat down with Kaczynski and effectively ridiculed him for it. Making what Murry described as ‘vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive attacks’ Ted and the other subjects were strapped with electrodes to monitor their brain activity and their facial expressions were closely recorded, to see how they responded to these attacks. In later sessions these recordings of his expressions of rage and upset were played back to him. In all the study lasted 2 years, Ted would spend upwards of 200 hours as part of the study, being humiliated, ridiculed, and verbally abused for the vast majority of sessions.

This is often pointed to as a watershed moment in his life, one of the most direct causes of the kind of person he would become. However, Kaczynski insists that he was not adversely affected by these traumatic interviews.


Whatever the case, Ted graduated in 1962 aged 20 with a degree in mathematics. He would then enroll at the University of Michigan where he would earn both his masters and doctoral dissertation by 1967. Though he attended Michigan he also applied for postgraduate education at UC Berkeley and University of Chicago, both of which were universities that he preferred and both of which accepted him, however they did not offer him a teaching position or financial aid. Which Michigan had offered, paying him $2,310 annually, equivalent to $19,763 today and offering him a teaching post.

In his time at Michigan, Kaczynski specialized in Complex analysis and geometric function theory, all of which are about as boring as they sound. Believe me, I committed a whole hour of my life, just trying to understand precisely what those words mean. Why? I guess I hate myself. Anyway, Kaczynski was apparently really good at this. According to his math professor Kaczynski was unusual, more focused than most other students and more committed to plumbing the depths of mathematical truth. Despite receiving his excellent marks Kaczynski says that his time at Michigan was not happy.

His teaching obligations made him feel resentful of the fact that he was having to spend his time teaching less capable minds than his own. Socially he was struggling to form any kind of romantic connection with a woman. They would either ignore him or lose interest after spending any amount of time with him. Though looking at pictures of him from this time, I would not judge him to be a bad looking guy. He apparently took no interest in the social uproar that was the 1960’s instead dressing like a stuffy professor and avoiding social contact at all costs. No surprises why the girls weren’t fawning after him.

It was noted in a psychological evaluation of Kaczynski that he had a habit of becoming deeply infatuated with women that he interacted with. He would spend hours writing about them in his diary. The only issue was that these women gave absolutely no indication of reciprocation for these feelings. Which led to a pattern forming where Ted would become infatuated with someone, give said person no indication of his feelings due to his social anxiety, grow despondent at the lack of a connection between them, which would inevitably lead to venomous hatred against this entirely unsuspecting individual growing within him.

Then several years after beginning at Michigan Ted began to have intense erotic feelings about the idea of becoming a woman. Gender dysphoria can be caused by a multitude of things, which are very real and can deeply impact the life of a person who experiences it. To Ted it was highly sexual in nature, which would mean that it was not a true case of gender dysphoria. He believed that gender reassignment would give him some kind of sexual release. So, he made an appointment at a university clinic to see a psychiatrist who specializes in gender reassignment with the idea that he would lie to the psychiatrist and convince him that he was suffering from real Gender Dysphoria. However, while sitting in the waiting room Kaczynski changed his mind. He told the psychiatrist that he was just depressed about the idea of getting drafted and was looking for a way out.


His diary on the other hand said something different: “I felt disgusted about what my uncontrolled sexual cravings had almost led me to do. And I felt humiliated and violently hated the psychiatrist. Just then there came a major turning point in my life. Like a Phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to a glorious new hope.” What was this new hope? It was to enact his hatred on those that he hated most, this was the experimenters that had tortured him while at Harvard, it was the therapist, it was everyone that he had grown to resent in his life, strangely enough some of the people he hated most were his family, whether they deserved it or not. He “I will kill. But I will make at least some effort to avoid detection so that I can kill again.”. In a later interview he explained that he thought he wanted to kill the psychiatrist because his future looked empty. However, in a sudden realization he found he didn’t care whether he lived or died and, in a leap of logic that for the life of me I cannot fathom, he concluded that if dying was not an issue to him, why not actually kill the psychiatrist and everyone else that he hated while he was at it. He describes the feeling as being liberated, like relinquishing the desire to live gave him the freedom to be daring, irresponsible or criminal. And he decided all of this on the walk home from the clinic.

This of course was all going on privately, deep within the disturbed psyche of Ted Kaczynski. On the surface however, it was smooth and unperturbed. He continued to teach and achieved his masters and PhD in “Boundary Functions” by 1967 winning the Sumner B Myers prize for best mathematics dissertation of the year. With these credentials he secured the assistant professor position at Berkeley that he had been denied years before and was on his way to receiving tenure. Bearing in mind he was only 25 at the time.

Same as his time at Michigan Kaczynski taught but was not well liked by those whom he taught, and same as when he was in Michigan he courted women but was unsuccessful. It was also at this time that he read a book called the “Technological Society” by Jacques Ellul. This book became his bible and many of the ideas listed in this book would reappear in the manifesto years later, though Kaczynski would progress the ideas to an extreme. Then in the summer of 1969, shortly before Ted was to attend a meeting to discuss his receiving tenure, he submitted a sudden and unexpected letter of resignation providing no explanation.

At least to the colleges this decision was sudden and unexpected, however to Ted this decision had been made 3 years ago on the same day that he attended the gender reassignment clinic. On his walk home, he had decided many things. One was that he was going to kill. Another was that he was going to exit society, his plan was to achieve his PhD and work until he could save up enough money to buy a piece of isolated land in Alaska or Canada that he could live off , in complete isolation. Avoiding both people and the changing of the society around him.


Life as a Luddite

From Berkley Ted would return to living with his parents in 1971 for two years, until he moved into a cabin that he and his brother had purchased in Lincoln, Montana. To Ted this was bliss, a life away from government intervention, from deceitful and manipulative agents who would stop at nothing to abuse, slander, and belittle him… If that last bit sounds off, there is one little bit of Ted’s personality that, for narrative reasons, I forgot to mention. From a young age Ted would obsess over small things that were said to him. Even the smallest comment about his personality, his intelligence, his ideas, anything, even if it was just a jovial comment, Ted would receive as an open and aggressive attack. Even things that weren’t negative he would obsess over. A notable incident occurred when Ted was 19 and a 45-year old woman said that Ted was “a handsome young man” most of us will have heard something like this from a kind motherly type at some point in our lives, it’s a nice thing to hear and of course they mean it. Ted however, would hold onto this comment for the next 29 years. He would wonder why women were not interested in him if that 45-year-old woman had said that one thing to him when he was 19. We know this because in his diary he writes about this woman, whenever he begins to question why he is repeatedly unsuccessful finding a partner. Something along the lines of, but if she said I was handsome why do I have no luck with girls. This all came to a head when, at the age of 47 he asked a neighbor what her opinion of him was and she replied that he was entirely average looking. Strangely enough Ted used this as evidence that he was simply unattractive to all women but on the contrary the woman said this implying that the vast majority of the population fall into the average category and therefore he should have been quite likely to find a partner.

Another issue was that while living in normal society Ted became convinced that people all around him were slandering him. It was a common occurrence that if he saw the woman he was obsessing over at the time, talking to another person, he would assume that this woman was talking about him, insulting him and generally sharing a negative opinion of him. He would also overhear his landlord regularly sharing nasty comments about him, though this would always be heard through a door or an open window. He would never directly see it happening. When questioned about what it was that was being said, Ted wasn’t quite sure, just that they were negative comments. These are all symptoms of a paranoid mind with tendencies toward paranoid Schizophrenia.

But that didn’t bother Ted anymore, he was away, far away from all of that, cut off and unconcerned by the thoughts of others, he was living the life that he had sought to live for years and moreover he was living autonomously. He was isolated but happy. Or at least he thought he was, if being a writer has taught me anything it is that isolation is like a drug, even if it feels good, it is dangerous, the more you have the more you want and the more of it you have, the more damage it can inflict. For a mind as fragile as Ted’s it can cause a spiral that is guaranteed to end in disastrous consequences. This is shown by the fact that every now and again he would commit small acts of arson here and there to the local logging industry but what’s a bit of arson between friends hmm?

He would occasionally move between Chicago and Salt Lake City in this time, working odd jobs, only for a month or two before returning to his cabin. This was his habit, and he stayed that way until 1978 when he moved to Chicago to work at the factory that his brother owned, working as a foam cutting engineer. During this time, he started a new obsession over the shift manager at the factory; however, this one was exceptional because he actually asked her out and she said yes. They had two dates that he felt had gone well, however she unfortunately did not and said she didn’t want to pursue a relationship with him, and Ted… Well, let’s just say that Ted did not take this rejection well.

The next day he turned up at work early, before anyone had arrived and stuck insulting limericks about the shift manager all over the factory.  David, his brother, was the first to arrive and managed to get rid of them before others arrived. He confronted Ted about it, who argued but eventually David ended up firing him for it. Needless to say, this took an already distraught Ted and turned it up several thousand percent. And, if any of you have been keeping up with the timeline, this would coincide with a certain bomb being placed in a Northwestern University parking lot.

And it is here that we have come full circle. After the placing of his first bomb Ted would return to his cabin and remove his brother as co-owner. He would then spend the next 17 years developing his ideology and his bombing techniques in complete isolation. He would build the devices in his cabin and catch a bus to a random location for sending, pay cash for all stamps and bus tickets, any accommodation he would give a false name and pay cash. All of his victims were, for the most part, picked out randomly from listings of experts in certain fields that he found at his local library.

If you look back at the timeline of his life you have a person who doesn’t receive so much as a parking fine across their entire lifetime, he removes himself from society and gives no indication to anybody in his life that he has homicidal ideation. To the government he is barely a blip, they barely had any idea of his existence much less the kind of hatred that was seething beneath the surface. He chooses random targets; he even delivers his bombs in an anonymous manor. On the odd occasion that he does enter society, he does so disguised and leaving no trace that he had ever been there. He is meticulous and intelligent, if he sets his mind to something he will understand all there is to understand about it even down to the choice of stamp, choosing one that would be most difficult to trace. This has got to be one of the only cases that I have ever heard of where both the criminal and the authorities aren’t incompetent, but at some point, one of them has to slip up.



And that brings us round to the tip sitting on the desk of the head of the UNABOM task force in San Francisco. This letter, sent by an anonymous man in Montana, said that the person who wrote the UNABOM manifesto shared a lot of similarities with his estranged brother. He attached letters that were sent to him years ago from his brother, describing anti-technology views and ridiculing him about how he was sacrificing his freedom by living in modern society. This was enough to pique the investigators interest and as they dug more, they began to connect the dots.

Born in Chicago, moved away for college, received his PhD, returned to Chicago before moving around. The only bit they got wrong was that he had not lived in Salt Lake City or the San Francisco Bay area, or he had, but only while he was studying and not during his bombing spree. At once they sent agents to begin surveilling his cabin in the woods. Watching to see his movements. He would go out regularly, tend a small patch of crops and hunt. They contacted the lawyers office that had made the anonymous tip, insisting that they get through to whomever had made it.

This brought them through to David Kaczynski, now 47 years old and married. He and Ted had not spoken for years, although they had continued correspondence with letters. Fortunately for the FBI David had kept each one of them, David and his mother were interviewed about Ted, asked about his movements, his childhood, everything. They interviewed his professors, his colleagues at the university, and the people he worked with. When they got to Montana, they began interviewing everyone in the town of Lincoln. They interviewed his neighbors and the more information they got the more certain that he was the UNABOMBER.

Eventually they had enough for a search warrant. Which posed a bit of a problem, because as his neighbors knew full well, Ted was not one to enjoy an unprompted visit, much less from complete strangers. Even less when those strangers were from the FBI. If they were right that he was the UNABOMBER, it would not be out of the question that he would have some kind of trap set up to catch any unwanted guests. So, they had to be cunning. Out of all the townsfolk who knew of Ted, his neighbor knew him best. He was the only person to ever enter Ted’s cabin outside of Ted himself. So they got him and the local sheriff to agree to call upon Ted. They used the excuse that they wanted to know where Ted’s land ended, so that a forestry company could start logging near him.

Early on April the 3rd 1996 a knock rang out on the door of Ted’s cabin. He didn’t answer at first, so the sheriff called for him and knocked again. After a moment, the door opened a crack, just enough for Ted to peer out with one eye. The sheriff asked if he could just point out the Eastern stakes of his property line. He paused for a moment before opening the door a little wider. Looking suspicious he said that his land was clearly marked. The sheriff said that they couldn’t find his markings. Finally, Ted opened his door fully and stepped out of his cabin. The moment he was clear of the door, the sheriff lunged at him, wrapping his arms around Ted’s chest, and pulling him to the ground outside of the cabin. The Neighbour jumped in and grabbed Ted’s legs. At the same moment the FBI agents came running from behind the trees and began detaining him. He struggled for a moment but ultimately saw that he would not escape and gave up. After 19 years of hunting, they finally had him.


Trial and imprisonment

With this search warrant approved the FBI could investigate every minute detail of this hermit’s life. What they found was a 10 foot by 12 foot cabin full to bursting with evidence. As you walk into the cabin there is a bed on your right, a desk on your left, with two typewriters on it. All over the walls there is shelves upon shelves filled with books, food, clothes, homemade guns, chemicals, and everything one might need to build a bomb. Contrary to his promise to stop all bombings if they published his manifesto, there was a fully constructed bomb lying underneath Ted’s bed. On top of the desk there was an enormous notebook, outlining nearly every day of Ted’s life from the age of 20.

The day following the raid, Kaczynski was charged with possessing the components of a bomb, all based on evidence found in the search of his cabin. This is of course a pretty minor charge in the grand scheme of his crimes, but this was just so they could have a reason to detain him while they built a further case against him. This all came to a head when Kaczynski was indicted by a federal grand jury on ten counts relating to bombing attacks on Hugh Scrutton, Charles Epstein, Gilbert Murry and David Gelernter. He is then indicted by a separate federal grand jury, this one in New Jersey for the bombing of Thomas Mosser.

This was supposed to be an open and shut case, he was found in his cabin, with a notebook, detailing only things that the bomber would know, detailing, how to build a bomb of a similar specification to the one recovered at the Boeing factory, with supplies to build a bomb and with a pre-made bomb literally sitting underneath his bed. The evidence given by his family, combined with the evidence collected by the FBI over the course of his bombing spree and the evidence collected at his cabin, collectively made the largest volume of evidence applied to a single case in US history. Upon meeting his lawyers Kaczynski insisted on being heavily involved in his defense and that all motions must be ran by him. Kaczynski and his lawyers chose to plead not guilty, due to lack of evidence, which I will explain in a moment.

With control of his legal defense Kaczynski began filing a great many motions and some of them were pretty bazaar such as the request that no computers be used during the course of the trial, which was of course denied. Others were not quite as off the wall though, such as the motion that all evidence gathered from the cabin should be thrown out on the grounds that the warrant was obtained by giving false and misleading information to the judge that signed off on it. This motion brought to light the fact that DNA gathered from letters sent by Ted to his brother conflicted with the DNA found in his bombs. The motion also stated that, when David Kaczynski gave the tip to the FBI it was based only on a suspicion that his brother was the UNABOMBER, not a certainty. However, when the warrant was submitted to the judge it made it appear that David was certain of his brother’s guilt.

I guess I should explain here, when a search warrant is issued by a judge, like the warrant to search Kaczynski’s cabin, it has to be done on the basis that the investigating body already has sufficient evidence to suspect the person of their guilt, or something like that perhaps Simon can correct me on the finer points there. The defense can challenge the validity of that search warrant at any time, so it is important that the evidence against them is air-tight. If the defense challenges the warrant and it is found that the evidence presented to the judge who issued the warrant was not sufficient it would make all evidence found during the search unusable in court proceedings. Even if the evidence proved that the person was guilty, they would be unable to present it as it was not acquired lawfully. What Kaczynski was effectively saying here was that the FBI had not mentioned the discrepancy between the DNA evidence in the bombs and the DNA evidence on the letters that linked him to the bombs.

He also argued that the evidence that drew ideological similarities between the letters that he wrote to his brother and the ideology of the UNABOMBER were not sufficient evidence to warrant just cause for a search of his cabin. Every person has a distinct style of writing that can give details as to where they come from and the environment from which they learnt to speak and write. Take for example the word Mum, in America it is spelt and pronounced Mom, while over most of the UK it is spelt and pronounced Mum, more specific still, in certain parts of the UK people spell and pronounce it as Mam. They all mean the same thing but can give you information about the background of the person talking, this is called a person’s idiolect. This was one of the areas that Kaczynski challenged, the FBI used similarities in his idiolect from the Manifesto and letters to his brother as evidence that they were the same person, which as far as I can tell had never been done before, which made it a shaky basis to build a search warrant upon. As this was the only thing connecting him and the evidence found in his cabin to the evidence acquired by the FBI during the course of the UNABOMBER’s reign, this would effectively make him innocent as nothing else would connect him to the bombings.

However, as you can probably tell Kaczynski was not granted this overhaul of the evidence and the judge ruled that the search warrant would be upheld, which was well received well in the press and was a huge blow against Kaczynski who continued to file for the case to be thrown out on various different grounds, up until the date that the trial commenced. That being the 12th of November 1997.

At the commencement of the trial Ted pled not-guilty however, the issue of psychological testing was raised. In essence Ted did not trust the government to psychologically analyze him, he believed they would send in a psychiatrist with a pre-decided diagnosis that would fit whatever narrative the prosecution wanted. At the same time, Ted had ordered several psychological analyses of his own but threw out all their evaluations after they diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He did not want to be branded as insane and rather be found not guilty by some other means.

His defense pleaded with Ted to take the diagnosis and present it as a diminished responsibility defense. But he still refused. By this time the jury had been selected and court proceeds could begin, which brings us to the 5th of January 1998. As soon as proceedings began however, Kaczynski stood up and announced that he had something important to discuss with the judge about his relations with his attorneys. Judge Burrell allowed this and he, Kaczynski and his attorneys all retreated to the judge’s chambers for a closed meeting. The issue was that Kaczynski’s attorneys were impeding him from pursuing any other defense than the insanity defense. A lot of the Hollywood enactments of the UNABOMBER case have played on this part making it seem like his refusal to pursue an insanity defense was because it didn’t want his manifesto to be perceived as the ravings of a lunatic. In reality, he simply refused this defense because he didn’t trust psychologists.

The judge did not appreciate this argument and ruled that he could not make a last-minute switch of defense lawyer, despite receiving an offer from another lawyer earlier that day. Judge Burrell ruled that the trial would go ahead with his current team and that they would be allowed to provide evidence that painted Kaczynski as paranoid Schizophrenic. In effect he was saying that Kaczynski’s defense was out of his hands. Because opening arguments had been interrupted when the trial began, they needed to be pushed back to the following day. However, that night, Kaczynski tried to hang himself in his cell, using his underwear. He was found before he could do any significant damage, but it showed that he was getting desperate. It seemed that he would rather die a sane man than live as a mentally ill one.

The next day, court recommenced and it seemed that the judge was not made aware of Kaczynski’s suicide attempt the previous night, if he was, things would have likely played out differently. As soon as the opening statements had begun, Kaczynski once again interrupted proceedings and announced his decision to dismiss his legal team and represent himself. Surprisingly the judge allowed this interruption and even more surprisingly agreed to allow Kaczynski to represent himself, on the condition that he submit to psychological evaluation to ascertain his competency. With no other option Kaczynski agreed but insists that both he and the prosecution can provide an expert of their choosing.

After a week of evaluation, a report is submitted to the court stating that Kaczynski is fit to represent himself but also states that he is likely Paranoid Schizophrenic with episodic symptoms. It also says that he likely has Paranoid Personality Disorder, with Avoidant and Antisocial Features. Both prosecution and defense agreed this meant Ted could represent himself but Judge Burrell, after saying he could represent himself, then rejected Kaczynski’s request saying that it would take too much time for Ted to build his own case. As far as I can tell the judge only agreed to it in the first place as a way to get Ted to willingly submit to a psychological evaluation. Pretty much this meant that Ted would have to either represent himself now, with no preparation or make a plea deal. If Ted continued to plead not guilty but was found guilty, he would likely receive the death penalty. The alternative was to plead guilty and make a plea deal. Ted took the latter, pleading guilty on all counts in return exempting himself from the Death penalty. On May the 4th Kaczynski was sentenced to four life sentences to be served consecutively, bringing an end to one of the most protracted and the most expensive man hunts in law enforcement history.


At the sentencing hearing the court used excerpts from his diary as evidence to recommend that Ted be kept in a maximum-security prison for the entirety of his sentence. It was here that the court released the contents of the diary from which Kaczynski had documented the entire course of his bombing spree, it contained his Ideology, experiments that he conducted refining his bomb making skills, commentary on the UNABOM case, every thought he had, ever person he had met, every event that was noteworthy to Ted Kaczynski was written in this book. The image that Kaczynski had tried to craft with his letters and his manifesto, the image of the principled crusader, a martyr for the people, one that foresaw the dangers of technology and did all he could to warn the masses. This image that he tried so hard to craft was entirely brought down by this book. I will give you two excerpts from it.

First was a commentary on the bomb that was placed by Kaczynski at U.C Berkeley. This was the bomb that injured Diogenes Angelakos. It reads: ‘Not long after foregoing, I think in June or July, I went to U. of California Berkeley and placed in computer Science Building a bomb consisting of a pipebomb in a gallon can of gasoline. According to newspaper, vice chairman of computer sci. dept. picked it up. He wsa [was] considered to be ‘out of danger of losing any fingers’ but would need further surgery for bone and tendon damage in hand. Apparently pipebomb went off but did not ignite gasoline. I don’t understand it. Frustrated. Trveling [Travelling] expenses for raids such as the foregoing are very hard on my slender financial resources.’

The second excert is on the Scrutton bomb, the first bomb that Kaczynski managed to get a kill with. He refers to the bomb as Experiment 97. Here is what he wrote: ‘Experiment 97. Dec. 11. 1985 I planted bomb disguised to look like scrap of lumber behind RenTech computer store in Sacramento. According to the San Francisco Examiner, Dec. 20, the ‘operator’ (owner? manager?) of the store was killed, ‘blown to bits’ on Dec. 12. Excellent. Humane way to eiiminate [eliminate] somebody. He probably never felt a thing. 25000-dollar reward offered. Rather flattering.’

During this script I have made an effort to describe the effects of Kaczynski’s bombs using only the facts of the event as they occured. I did this in order to not make a macabre spectacle of these people’s misfortunes, and suffering. The exception of this was the Hugh Scrutton bombing. For that I made a point of researching the event as much as possible, finding reports on the effect that it had on his body, timings of events, locations, all that I could so I could describe the precise effect. Perhaps if Kaczynski had seen what this had done to Hugh Scrutton, he would not have described the kill as ‘excellent’, if he had seen that it took him half an hour to die, he would not have described it as ‘humane.’

Whatever you can say about Kaczynski, and you can say a lot about him, you cannot deny that he is an interesting case in the history and law enforcement, in psychology, in the world of mass murderers. In many ways he is a collection of walking, talking contradictions. A genius who didn’t have an ounce of emotional intelligence. A scientist who was incapable of questioning his own actions. A prolific writer who spent the vast majority of his life avoiding people. A hermit who was more famous than most B-list celebrities. The list goes on but you get the point.

It is often the case that Hollywood deifies serial killers. They glamourise their crimes and their personalities into that of an infamous legend. In the case of Ted Bundy, it was the intelligent and good-looking guy, who could achieve anything through his sheer charm. Ted Kaczynski’s legend was that of a genius who saw flaws in society and chose to live life his own way, on his own terms. Reprehensible yes but smart enough to run rings around the FBI for 18 years, in writing this is called the anti-hero. A person that for all their bad qualities has a redeeming quality, Bundy had his charm, Kaczynski had his intelligence. But if writing this script has taught me only one thing it is that these legends are true works of fiction, Kaczynski was not a man acting on principle, he was a man who felt he had been mistreated by the world and was lashing out at those he felt responsible. He has nothing that makes him exceptional other than his ability to justify his misguided anger more eloquently than other serial killers.

I will leave you with a quote from the wife of Charles Epstien who spoke to Kaczynski during the sentencing hearing.

‘Given that your victims were blinded by your bombs may your eyes be deprived of the light of the moon, the stars, the sun and the beauty of nature for the rest of your life;

Given that your victims lost their hearing because of your bombs, may your ears become deaf as your eardrums implode from the stony silence of your surroundings for the rest of your life;

Given that your victims were maimed by your bombs, may your fingers, your hands, your arms, your legs and your body be shattered by the violence and hatred you wrought against others, the violence and hatred which has already mangled and distorted your mind;

Given that you victims were killed by your bombs, may your own eventual death occur as you have lived, in a solitary manner, without compassion or love.’

Dismembered Appendices

  1. If you picked up on it, Ted Kaczynski was on the list of potential suspects just not even in the top 1000, of their entire list the FBI had him placed at 2,416th in their list of likely suspects, so I mean, they may have gotten to him eventually… maybe.
  1.  During the 1993 bombing at Yale, I found several reports of a call that was made on the same day as the attack to a switchboard at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The anonymous caller simply said ‘You are Next’. And then hung up the phone. This was apparently aimed at David Gelernter’s brother Joel, who worked at the Veterans Affairs Hospital.

 Now it wasn’t out of the question for Kaczynski to ridicule his victims, he did this on several occasions but I do find it very unlikely that he would do it in this way, based on what we know about him. First of all he was a notorious luddite and abhorred the use of phones, second was that David Gelenter was selected randomly from a list of Yale professors. Why would Kaczynski go to the trouble of finding out, not only who his brother was but where he worked and how to contact him, if only to call him and say ‘you are next’. What is strange is that this event was mentioned in a couple of publications, which would mean that 1. This actually happened, which I find unlikely. 2. That someone made it up for some unknown reason or 3. Just by coincidence on the same day that David Galenter received a bomb, his brother Joel recives a random phone call stating ‘you are next’ but the two incidents are just completely unrelated. There is also option 4. That some piece of information has been misquoted at some point and then repeated by multiple press who misinterpreted the quote.

  1. If you are interested, Ted Kaczynski is still alive, he is a prolific writer, and is in contact with many neo-anarchist philosophers. He spends something like 23 hours a day in solitary confinement of which he spends that time writing. And if you would like to contact him you can, although I wouldn’t recommend it, you’re likely just going to annoy some poor prison clerk who sifts through all of the letters sent to him. If you want his address, get involved with neo-anarchist philosophers, or contact a journalist that has spoken with him. But I’d recommend you don’t give him your return address.

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