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"Unabomber"

The 17 year search for a serial bomber

By Sean CallaghanPublished 2 months ago Updated 4 days ago 8 min read
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Composite sketch of the Unabomber

Theodore John Kaczynski was born on May 22nd 1942 to Theodore Richard and Wanda Kaczynski in Chicago Illinois. As an infant at 9 months old, Kaczynski contracted hives and was hospitalized. He was left alone without his mother for several days. When he was returned to his mothers care, He no longer was open to her love and affection and for the first time went into what his mother called his "Shutdown" state. It took weeks for Ted to return to normal.

Young Ted with his brother David.

In 1949 when Ted was 7, Ted's brother David was born. Three years later the Kaczynski family moved from the city of Chicago to the suburb of Evergreen Park Illinois. After taking an IQ test on which he scored 167% he was moved past the 6th grade which turned out to be a mixed blessing as young Ted was bullied by his older peers.

He graduated High School when he was 15 years old and applied and was accepted at Harvard University, He was 16 years old.

Young Ted Kaczynski during his Harvard days.

While at Harvard, Ted participated in a highly ethically questionable study by psychologist Henry Murray formerly of the CIA in which the students would write essays detailing their personal beliefs and would then debate with an anonymous individual who would mock and belittle their ideas.

Ted graduated Harvard at 20 years old after only 3 years. He then went on to earn a PHD in mathematics at the University Of Michigan.

Ted as a professor at UC Berkeley.

In late 1967, at age 25. Ted became an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was not well liked by his students who claimed his classes were boring and his lectures useless.

In 1969, Ted resigned from his post at UC Berkeley without explanation. He moved into a cabin in Lincoln Montana without running water and electricity.

He spent most of his time learning survival skills in the wilderness and journaling about his hatred of the industrialized world.

Ted continued to live in obscurity with his thoughts until one day he found that one of his favorite nature spots had all it's trees removed and a road paved over it. He decided he could no longer tolerate the encroachment of technology on the natural world and to stop it he would have to destroy it by killing those who he believed aided in the development of technological society.

In the late 1970s, Ted returned to Chicago to work in a foam rubber plant where his brother and father worked. While there he placed his first package bomb at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois on May 25th 1978. It was addressed to Professor Buckley Crist. Crist, suspicious of the package called in campus police officer Terry Marker. The package exploded in Marker's hands but he only suffered minor injuries.

Ted's Brother David fired his brother from his job at the foam rubber plant after an incident with a Female co-worker.

Ted returned to his cabin in Montana. Kaczynski delivered his second bomb in a cigar box also to Northwestern University where a graduate student named John Harris opened it, He suffered minor injuries.

His third bomb was sent on an American Airlines plane which resulted in twelve people hospitalized for smoke inhalation after an emergency landing.

In June of 1980, United Airlines President, Percy Wood was sent a letter in the mail saying that he would receive a book "of great social significance. a few days later he received a book in the mail called "Ice Brothers" by Sloane Wilson. Upon opening the book it exploded. He was severely injured.

Since the serial bomber targeted Universities and Airline executives. They came up with the acronym UNABOM. At first they thought the bomber was a disgruntled airline employee.

On October 8th 1981 a package bomb was discovered by a student at the University of Utah. The student recognized that something was not right about the package and campus security defused the bomb.

On May 5th 1982, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee another bomb injured secretary Janet Smith.

Two months later Kaczynski targeted the University where he used to teach. UC Berkeley. Professor Diogenes Angelakos was severely injured.

A tip line for the crimes was established and Kaczynski waited 3 years to send his next bomb. He returned to Berkeley and planted a 3 ring binder-based bomb which injured graduate student John Hauser. It ended Hauser's career with the US Air Force and his dream to become an astronaut. Ironically, Dr. Angelakos was there to tend to Hauser's injuries.

In June of 1985 a package at the Boeing Company was discovered by suspicious janitors, but the bomb failed to go off.

On November 15th 1985. A package bomb was sent to psychology professor at the University Of Michigan, James V. McConnel. Both McConell and his assistant Nicklaus Suino who opened the package, were injured.

On December 11th 1985 the Unabomber became a murderer when computer store owner. Hugh Scrutton was killed while picking up a bomb disguised as a road hazard in Sacramento California. Coincidentally Scrutton happened to be a former UC Berkeley student around the same time Kaczynski was teaching there.

In February 1987, another computer store owner Gary Wright would be seriously injured by another "road hazard" bomb. Luckily, Wright's secretary saw the bomber placing the bomb before the incident and was able to describe him to police resulting in the first composite sketch.

1987 composite sketch of the Unabomber by the FBI

For 6 years, The Unabomber disappeared, sending no bombs. Many thought he was dead by one of his own bombs.

One June weekend in 1993 the Unabomber ended his silence sending two bombs. One to the home of geneticist Charles Epstein in California and another to the Connecticut office of Yale University computer science professor, David Gelernter. Both were severely injured.

That same weekend a letter was sent to the New York Times from the bomber claiming to be a terrorist group called FC. FC had been included in some form in the bombs since 1980.

The UNABOM task force was established to coordinate the investigation across various government agencies.

On December 10th 1994 Advertising Executive Thomas Mosser was killed when he opened a package in his home in North Caldwell, New Jersey. (On a personal note, My Uncle was a Funeral Director in the Caldwells at the time and thus was in charge of Thomas Mosser's funeral service.)

The funeral of advertising executive Thomas Mosser. The Author's Uncle is seen leading the casket.

Kaczynski wrote that he targeted Mosser because an environmental publication (falsely) linked him and his company Burson-Marstellar to helping Exxon clean up their image after a major oil spill.

6 months later bomber Timothy McVeigh supposedly stole the Unabomber's thunder with the horrific Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. On April 24th 1995 just days after Oklahoma City, a package arrived at the California Forestry Association. It was addressed to the previous President of the Association William Dennison. The current President, Gilbert Murray opened it and was killed.

In June 1995, Kaczynski sent another letter to the Washington Post and New York Times offering to stop the bombing if they published his "Industrial Society And It's Future" manifesto. A 35,000 word essay condemning technology and it's supposed effect on human freedom and the environment. Another letter threatening to blow up a plane out of LAX was sent to the papers causing a mass panic at LAX. He later sent the papers a letter saying it was a prank.

The FBI decided to reluctantly give in to Kaczynski's demands and ordered the New York Times and Washington Post to publish the manifesto.

Once it was published one of the many readers, a College Professor named Linda Patrik who was married to David Kaczynski. She had an awful intuition that perhaps the Unabomber was David's Brother, Ted whom she had never met but knew of from his writings David would show her.

The Kaczynski's hired a private detective to compare a 1971 essay that Ted had given David to the Unabomber manifesto. Eventually they found that the odds were that Ted was indeed the author of the Unabomber manifesto.

After much soul searching they contacted the FBI with their suspicions. Eventually, it was clear that the FBI had their man.

The FBI swarmed into Lincoln Montana to arrest Ted. Ted was asked to come outside and he was immediately apprehended.

Against David's wishes, the media was tipped as to the identity of who turned him in.

Kaczynski's mugshot. FBI

In January of 1998, Ted was tried and found guilty of all Unabomber crimes, ultimately agreeing to a plea deal which spared him the death penalty just as his family had wished in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole. David gave half of his reward money to victims families and eventually became close friends with Gary Wright, One of the victims his brother had targeted.

Kaczynski in jail.

Ted Kaczynski spent the rest of his life in the supermax prison in Florence Colorado until December of 2021 when he was transferred to a Medical Center in North Carolina due to a cancer diagnosis. He died of an apparent suicide on June 10th 2023.

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About the Creator

Sean Callaghan

Neurodivergent, Writer, Drummer, Singer, Percussionist, Star Wars and Disney Devotee.

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  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Very interesting. I wonder what made him snap.

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