You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

News: Homepage News Stripe

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski continues to fret over technology, doesn't regret years of spreading fear

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 7/15/2018

a house with trees in the background © Elaine Thompson/AP On a spring day in 1978, a young Northwestern University engineering professor named Buckley Crist received an odd phone call from another Chicago college campus.

Someone had found a package in a parking lot at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Crist was listed as the return addressee.

The caller asked if Crist would like the parcel returned.The professor was dubious.

“The person who ostensibly sent that package was me, which was not true,” Crist recalled recently on a Northwestern podcast. ”My antenna was up. Obviously something was amiss.”

The package was delivered by courier to Crist. He gingerly scissored away the paper wrapper, and underneath he found a handcrafted wooden box with a door inscribed “OPEN.”

He said he was spooked by the “stupid little door…and I said, ‘I’m done.’”

A Northwestern campus cop, Terry Marker, decided to open the box himself. As he did, it exploded with a thundering boom. Inside the box was a 9-inch piece of pipe packed with explosive powder rigged to ignite with matchheads when the door was opened. Despite the big bang, the bomb was a dud. Marker escaped with a minor hand injury.

University officials and law enforcers shrugged at the incident. It seemed like a one-off anomaly—no big deal.”

a group of people standing next to a man © John Youngbear/AP

They collected all the bits and pieces and dumped it in a trash can,” Crist recalled.

That explosion on May 25, 1978, gained new importance a year later when a second bomb-in-box at Northwestern injured a student who opened it. The 1978 case proved to be the curtain-raiser for a domestic terrorist that the FBI would dub the Unabomber because his early targets were universities and airlines.

It would be 18 years before the madman was unmasked as Ted Kaczynski, a reclusive former academician on a whacked-out quest to publicize his theory that technology was destroying the human race.

A federal task force pursued the elusive bomber throughout the 1980s, as a series of explosives arrived at universities in Utah, Tennessee, California and Michigan.

The Unabomber got his first fatality in December 1985 in Sacramento, Calif., when Hugh Scrutton, 38, was killed by an explosive left outside his computer store. Public relations executive Thomas Mosser was killed in December 1994 by a bomb sent to his New Jersey home.

a person posing for the camera © AP Photo/Sacramento Bee,file

In April 1995, Gilbert Murray, a California timber lobbyist, died when he opened a letter bomb at his Sacramento office.

After 17 years underground, the Unabomber came into the light with a 35,000-word screed— “Industrial Society and Its Future” — that the Washington Post published as an eight-page supplement on Sept. 19, 1995.

David Kaczynski, an Albany social worker, noticed similarities in the manifesto to themes and phrases in letters from his older brother Ted, and he approached the FBI through an intermediary.

Born in Chicago in 1942, Ted Kaczynski once was a mathematics genius who had won a scholarship to Harvard at age 16, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and worked as a professor at Cal-Berkeley before walking away from society in 1971, eventually retreating to the woods.

On April 3, 1996, federal agents roused Kaczynski, then 53, from his cramped cabin near Lincoln, Mont. Inside they found journals with detailed accounts of the planning, construction and execution of his bombings. He took macabre delight in his work.

After reading in a newspaper that his first murder victim, computer salesman Scrutton, had been "blown to bits,” Kaczynski wrote in his journal, “Excellent. Humane way to eliminate somebody. He probably never felt a thing. $25,000 reward offered. Rather flattering.”

Charged with multiple felonies, Kaczynski avoided capital punishment by pleading guilty to murder and other charges 20 years ago. Now 76, he is serving life at the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., where he continues to fret over technology.

a close up of a newspaper © Evan Agostini/Getty Images

His manifesto and two more recent tomes with similar themes are available at Amazon, where his author’s page says Kaczynski “has focused his life’s work on sounding the alarm about society’s paramount problem: the omnipresent, subjugating, and destructive force of technological progress.” (He earns nothing from sales, his publishers say.)

His bio glosses over the three murders and more than 20 injuries he caused with his 16 helter-skelter bombings over two decades. He had hoped for many more victims: The bomb he secreted on an American Airlines flight in 1979 — because he objected to jet engine noise — was another dud.

Two decades behind bars have not changed Kaczynski, whose ideas lean to the alt-right.

In addition to technology, he is nettled by “elite” scientists, activist women, liberals, and other “politically correct types.”

Like many mass killers—from Columbine’s Eric Harris to California “kissless virgin” Elliot Rodger—Kaczynski presents himself as part of a “revolution.”

And like the others, he offers no apologies for killing innocent people.

In a letter from prison to a love interest who questioned his violence, he wrote, “Do I feel that my actions were justified? To that I can give you only a qualified yes.”

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon