The Unabomber – Theodore John Kaczynski

In 1971, Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water near Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. He witnessed the destruction of the wilderness surrounding his cabin and concluded that living in nature was untenable; he began his bombing campaign in 1978.

Kaczynski’s first mail bomb was directed at Buckley Crist, a professor of materials engineering at Northwestern University. On May 25, 1978, a package bearing Crist’s return address was found in a parking lot at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The package was “returned” to Crist who was suspicious because he had not sent the package, so he contacted campus police. Officer Terry Marker opened the package, which exploded and injured his left hand.

Kaczynski had returned to Illinois for the May 1978 bombing, and stayed there for a time to work with his father and brother at a foam rubber factory. However, in August 1978 he was fired by his brother for writing insulting limericks about a female supervisor whom he had briefly courted.The female supervisor later recalled Kaczynski as “intelligent, quiet,” but remembered little of their acquaintance and firmly denied they had had any romantic relationship.

The initial 1978 bombing was followed by bombs sent to airline officials, and in 1979 a bomb was placed in the cargo hold of American Airlines Flight 444, a Boeing 727 flying from Chicago to Washington, D.C. A faulty timing mechanism prevented the bomb from exploding, but it released smoke, which forced an emergency landing. Authorities said it had enough power to “obliterate the plane” had it exploded. As bombing an airliner is a federal crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved, designating the case UNABOM for University and Airline Bomber.

Kaczynski left false clues in every bomb, which he made hard to find to make them believable. The first clue was a metal plate stamped with the initials FC hidden somewhere (usually in the pipe end cap) in every bomb.Another clue included a note left in a bomb that did not detonate; it read “Wu—It works! I told you it would—RV.”

Another clue was the Eugene O’Neill $1 stamps used to send his boxes. He sent one bomb embedded in a copy of Sloan Wilson’s novel Ice Brothers.The FBI theorized that Kaczynski had a theme of nature, trees and wood in his crimes. He often included bits of tree branch and bark in his bombs, and targets selected included Percy Wood and Professor Leroy Wood. Crime writer Robert Graysmith noted that his “obsession with wood” was “a large factor.”

The first serious injury occurred in 1985, when John Hauser, a graduate student and captain in the United States Air Force, lost four fingers and vision in one eye.[59] The bomb, like others of Kaczynski’s, was handcrafted and made with wooden parts.

Hugh Scrutton, a 38-year-old Sacramento, California, computer store owner, was killed in 1985 by a nail-and-splinter-loaded bomb placed in the parking lot of his store. A similar attack against a computer store occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 20, 1987. The bomb, which was disguised as a piece of lumber, injured Gary Wright when he attempted to remove it from the store’s parking lot. The explosion severed nerves in Wright’s left arm and propelled more than 200 pieces of shrapnel into his body.

In 1993, after a six-year break, Kaczynski mailed a bomb to David Gelernter, a computer science professor at Yale University. Though critically injured, Gelernter recovered. In the same weekend, Kaczynski mailed a bomb to the home of Charles Epstein from the University of California, San Francisco, who lost several fingers upon opening it. Kaczynski then called Gelernter’s brother, Joel Gelernter, a behavioral geneticist, and told him, “You are next.” Geneticist Phillip Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received a threatening letter two years later.

In 1994, Burson-Marsteller executive Thomas J. Mosser was killed by a mail bomb sent to his home in North Caldwell, New Jersey. In another letter to The New York Times, Kaczynski said he “blew up Thomas Mosser because … Burston-Marsteller helped Exxon clean up its public image after the Exxon Valdez incident” and, more importantly, because “Its business is the development of techniques for manipulating people’s attitudes.”[64] This was followed by the 1995 murder of Gilbert Brent Murray, president of the timber industry lobbying group California Forestry Association, by a mail bomb addressed to previous president William Dennison, who had retired.

In 1995, he sent a letter to The New York Times and promised to “desist from terrorism” if the Times or The Washington Post published his essay Industrial Society and Its Future, in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies that require large-scale organization.

Kaczynski was the subject of the longest and most expensive investigation in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Before his identity was known, the FBI used the case identifier UNABOM (University and Airline Bomber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media naming him the “Unabomber.” The FBI and Attorney General Janet Reno pushed for the publication of Industrial Society and Its Future, which led to a tip from Kaczynski’s brother David, who recognized the writing style.

After his arrest in 1996, Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted him to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, whereas he did not believe that he was insane. In 1998, a plea bargain was reached under which he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Theodore John Kaczynski (/kəˈzɪnski/; born May 22, 1942), also known as the Unabomber (/ˈjuːnəbɒmər/), is an American domestic terrorist, anarchist, and former mathematics professor. He was a mathematics prodigy, but abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a more primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, he killed three people and injured 23 others in an attempt to start a revolution by conducting a nationwide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology. In conjunction with this effort, he issued a social critique opposing industrialization while advocating a nature-centered form of anarchism.

Theodore John Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to working-class, second-generation Polish Americans, Wanda Theresa (née Dombek; 1917–2011) and Theodore Richard Kaczynski (1912–1990),a sausage maker.His parents told his younger brother, David Kaczynski, that Ted had been a happy baby until severe hives forced him into hospital isolation with limited contact with others, after which he “showed little emotion for months.” Wanda recalled Ted recoiling from a picture of himself as an infant being held down by physicians examining his hives. She said he showed sympathy to animals who were in cages or otherwise helpless, which she speculated stemmed from his experience in hospital isolation.

From first to fourth grade, Kaczynski attended Sherman Elementary School in Chicago, where administrators described him as “healthy” and “well-adjusted.” In 1952, ten years after Ted was born, the family moved to southwest suburban Evergreen Park, Illinois; Ted transferred to Evergreen Park Central Junior High School. After testing scored his IQ at 167,he skipped the sixth grade. Kaczynski later described this as a pivotal event: previously he had socialized with his peers and was even a leader, but after skipping ahead he felt he did not fit in with the older children and was bullied.

Neighbors in Evergreen Park later described the Kaczynski family as “civic-minded folks,” with one stating that the parents “sacrificed everything they had for their children.” Both Ted and David were intelligent, but Ted stood out in particular. One neighbor said she had “never known anyone who had a brain like he did,” while another said that Ted was “strictly a loner” who “didn’t play … an old man before his time.” His mother recalled Ted as a shy child who would become unresponsive if pressured into a social situation. At one point she was so worried about Ted’s social development that she considered entering him in a study for autistic children led by Bruno Bettelheim. She decided against it after observing Bettelheim’s abrupt and cold manner.

Throughout high school, Kaczynski was ahead of his classmates academically. Placed in a more advanced mathematics class, he soon mastered the material. He skipped the eleventh grade, and by attending summer school he graduated at age 15. He was one of his school’s five National Merit finalists, and was encouraged to apply to Harvard College. He entered Harvard on a scholarship in 1958 at the age of 16. A classmate later said that Kaczynski was emotionally unprepared: “They packed him up and sent him to Harvard before he was ready … He didn’t even have a driver’s license.”

During his first year at Harvard, Kaczynski lived at 8 Prescott Street, which was designed to accommodate the youngest, most precocious freshmen in a small, intimate living space. For the next three years he lived at Eliot House. One of his suitemates there recalled that he avoided contact with others and “would just rush through the suite, go into his room, and slam the door.” Another said Kaczynski was reserved, but regarded him as a genius: “It’s just an opinion – but Ted was brilliant.” Other students stated Kaczynski was less socially averse than these descriptions imply; an Eliot House resident who dined with Kaczynski at times called him “very quiet, but personable … He would enter into the discussions maybe a little less so than most [but] he was certainly friendly.”

Kaczynski earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Harvard in 1962. He finished with a 3.12 GPA, but had been expected to perform better.

In 1962, Kaczynski enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics in 1964 and 1967, respectively. Michigan was not his first choice for postgraduate education; he had also applied to the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, both of which accepted him but offered him no teaching position or financial aid. Michigan offered him an annual grant of $2,310 (equivalent to $19,343 in 2018) and a teaching post.

As a sophomore, Kaczynski participated in a study described by author Alston Chase as a “purposely brutalizing psychological experiment” led by Harvard psychologist Henry Murray. Subjects were told they would be debating personal philosophy with a fellow student, and were asked to write essays detailing their personal beliefs and aspirations. wiki