January 24, 1998 in Nation/World

Kaczynski Plea Foils A Full Explanation Questions Left Unanswered Include How He Chose Victims, Who Was Last Bomb For?

Maurice Possley Chicago Tribune
 

The sudden end to the Unabomber case with the guilty plea entered by Theodore Kaczynski threatens to leave many questions hanging that otherwise might have been answered during a trial.

With Kaczynski agreeing to a life sentence in prison without the possibility of release in exchange for his guilty plea to three bombing murders and the maiming of two other people, a full airing of the mountain of evidence assembled by the FBI will not occur.

Some partial answers may yet be provided when the Justice Department files its sentencing memorandum prior to formal sentencing of Kaczynski, scheduled for May 15 before U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr.

“I doubt that a full disclosure of all of the prosecution’s evidence will ever happen,” a Justice Department official said Friday.

The identity of Kaczynski, an Evergreen Park, Ill., native who abandoned a life as a mathematics professor in California for a career as a serial killer hiding in the woods, baffled an army of investigators for nearly 20 years as he shipped 16 separate bombs in a crusade against technology.

Yet numerous questions remain to be answered before a complete picture of the man can emerge.

How did he pick his targets? Why did he pick those individuals? Who was the intended victim of the 17th bomb that was found in his Montana shack, a bomb built and ready to be shipped?

What sort of insight into his mind is contained in the thousands of pages of his diary and logs?

In addition to making bombs, what sort of life did Kaczynski lead while residing in the 10-by-12-foot shack that had no electricity or plumbing? Are there any other bombs hidden among his other shacks constructed in the wilderness?

That last question particularly interests the FBI as a safety concern, according to Justice Department prosecutor Stephen Freccero. As the case neared trial, a squabble arose between defense lawyers and the prosecution over the location of other shacks. Freccero disclosed that Kaczynski’s writings contain mention of “numerous locations” of other structures and that the FBI had located a number of crudely built shelters.

Freccero said Kaczynski’s writings refer to buried articles, ammunition, booby traps. “We’ve taken metal detectors. We’ve gone all over,” Freccero said.

But, he noted, the investigators found no explosives or anything that would link any of the sites to Kaczynski and that only Kaczynski would know the locations of the structures he wrote of in his journal.

Perhaps most intriguing question involves the 17th bomb found in the cabin. All it lacked was a mailing label.

A specific target has not been identified. Kaczynski carefully documented his bombs, labeling each one as well as other apparently unsuccessful attempts as an “experiment.”

The bomb found in the cabin was virtually identical to the last device sent by Kaczynski that killed timber lobbyist Gilbert Murray in Sacramento on April 24, 1995. The Murray bomb was detailed by Kaczynski in “experiment 245” and investigators found no writing of an “experiment 246.”

The information found in the cabin suggested that Kaczynski conducted extensive and time-consuming research before selecting a victim. Among the materials were dozens of names of individuals whom investigators believed were considered as targets by Kaczynski.

In attempting to determine Kaczynski’s intended target, investigators have considered a handwritten document found in the cabin, titled “How to hit an Exxon Exec.” In the document, Kaczynski discussed sending a book-like package to the target’s home, preceded by a letter. This was the same formula he used in the bombing of Percy Wood.

On June 10, 1980, Wood, then the president of United Airlines, opened a package he had received in the mail at his Lake Forest home and it exploded, causing serious injuries.

In a coded entry in his journal dated Sept. 15, 1980, Kaczynski wrote, “After complicated preparation I succeeded IN INJURING THE PRES. OF UNITED A.L. BUT HE WAS ONLY ONE OF A VAST ARMY OF PEEPLE WHO directly and indirectly are responsible for the JETS.”

Why he selected Wood among that “vast army” has not been revealed, if it is known at all.

A May 15, 1985, bomb severely injured a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. The student was planning a career as an astronaut and in Kaczynski’s writings of that bomb, he again mentioned his hatred for jets, particularly those that flew over his cabin.

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