Federal agents Saturday discovered a new bomb as they X-rayed about 40 boxes of materials at the ramshackle cabin of suspected Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski, officials familiar with the investigation said.
The finding - more significant than the partially constructed pipe bomb and other bomb-making materials allegedly found there last week - gives investigators new evidence to compare with the Unabomber’s methods of operation as they have evolved over the past 17 years, the officials said.
It also adds to their growing conviction - after earlier tests found a preliminary match between the Unabomber’s texts and a manual typewriter found at Kaczynski’s cabin - that the thin, unkempt hermit who lived in this Rocky Mountain outback is indeed the bomber responsible for at least three deaths and 23 injuries.
The latest bomb was safely defused, but it underscored the danger of the search as agents make achingly slow progress through the dim and cramped cabin.
Fearful of setting off a booby trap or another unexploded bomb, agents were said to be using water jets to open some of the most suspicious-looking boxes at the site. Some 40 boxes of material, found in a loft at the top of the 10-by-12-foot cabin owned by the former mathematics professor, were being combed through over the weekend.
Meanwhile, other federal agents fanned out from the home in this mountain resort town, attempting to piece together how Kaczynski - who apparently had little money and no car - could have traveled as far as San Francisco, where the Unabomber mailed some of his bombs and letters.
Agents suspect that the Unabomber, whose anti-technology views led him to target airlines, may have traveled by bus.
Bob Pankratz, agent for the Trailways bus line in nearby Helena, told FBI investigators that Kaczynski looked familiar. But there are no records of bus passengers, and Pankratz said in an interview he could not recall for sure whether Kaczynski had ridden the bus.
“I’m sure that I did (see Kaczynski),” Pankratz said. “He’s familiar, but I don’t know when he traveled or where he traveled.”
Dick Lundberg, a local mail carrier who befriended Kaczynski, said he took him down into Helena at least six times a year. He said he would always drop him off at the Park Hotel, a $14-a-night lodging on downtown Helena’s Last Chance Gulch.
Usually, Lundberg said, Kaczynski would stay overnight and ride back up with him the next day. “If he stayed three or four days, he rode up with somebody else,” Lundberg said.
Park Hotel owner Jack McCabe turned over to the FBI hotel records showing that Kaczynski registered as a guest at least 25 times between 1982 and 1995, the key years for which they were seeking information. Four of those stays were within three weeks of Unabomber attacks.
Lundberg also could provide another important link in the investigation: the question of how Kaczynski could have financed wide-ranging travels when his only means of support appeared to be his garden and local wildlife.
In an interview Saturday, the mail carrier said he delivered about half a dozen personal letters to Kaczynski every year, including at least one from what appeared to be a family member. It came on printed letterhead bearing the Kaczynski name, he said.
Government sources confirmed that Kaczynski was sent money by his mother, Wanda, who lives in Schenectady, N.Y.
The hunt for the Unabomber apparently took a dramatic turn in mid-March after agents searched a shed at the suburban Lombard, Ill., family home of Kaczynski and found matches, traces of gunpowder and several half-empty containers of compounds used in making explosive devices, according to law enforcement sources.
At the same time, federal authorities also determined that Kaczynski was in the Chicago area when the first four devices were planted in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The evidence seized in the shed, and Kaczynski’s presence in Chicago at the time the Unabomber struck, led them to zero in on Kaczynski and helped them obtain a search warrant for his Montana cabin, according to federal law enforcement officials.
Among the evidence seized from a dusty corner of the shed in Lombard were potassium and phosphorus, two compounds that can be used to make explosive devices. Authorities also found a mixing bowl with trace amounts of gunpowder and several boxes of wooden match sticks manufactured in the late 1970s, the sources said.
The Unabomber’s first four bombs - planted or mailed from the Chicago area between 1978 and 1980 - contained either wooden match heads or gunpowder. One of the devices contained both match heads and gunpowder.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE HOME OF A MAD BOMBER? Theodore Kaczynski lived for a decade in a home that conforms with the Unabomber’s disgust for modern conveniences: His 10-foot-by-12-foot cabin had three locks on the door, but no sign of an outhouse. It has no electricity or plumbing and is covered with a tar-paper roof. The two windows are about 2 feet square. It has a market value of $350 and the land is valued at $4,200.
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