Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 Gannett Company, Inc.


December 14, 1994, Wednesday, FIRST EDITION


LENGTH: 470 words

HEADLINE: Fear, frustration on trail of elusive, deadly bomber

BYLINE: Maria Goodavage; Maria Puente



The return of a notorious serial bomber to his murderous ways is reviving old memories for past victims and the law enforcement officials who have sought him unsuccessfully for 16 years.

Nearly nine years to the day after the so-called Unabomber first killed someone, he struck again Saturday, when a New Jersey advertising executive was killed after opening a mail bomb.

Sacramento Sheriff's Detective Bob Bell remembers the first deadly blast, on Dec. 11, 1985, that instantly killed businessman Hugh Scrutton.

For nearly a decade since, Bell pursued the unknown bomber, running down hundreds of leads, running into many brick walls. But he's not giving up.

"One of these days, he's going to get careless," says Bell. "He may end up in the emergency room, or someone could point (investigators) to the right guy. We will not let this man get away with murder."

Scrutton was killed when he found a paper sack outside the back door of his fledgling computer business and picked it up to put it in a Dumpster. He died of massive chest injuries.

"There was shrapnel all through the building and on the roof," Bell says.

"Hugh Scrutton didn't have a chance."

The latest incident only underscores how difficult it is to catch a clever bomber, investigators say. Even though they've failed to find the bomber, some of his past victims have nothing but praise and sympathy for the agents.

"The poor guys, they're at a loss," says Diogenes Angelakos, a University of California Berkeley professor, who was severely burned on his right hand by a bomb left in the faculty lounge in July 1982. "What can they do?"

Angelakos, 75, says he's still very cautious opening packages.

"The reason it's so difficult (to find) a serial bomber is because the bomber most likely has no direct personal connection with the victims," says Jim Cavanaugh, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who worked on the Unabom task force and is now looking for the "Dixie bomber" who tried this year to kill the president of ABC-TV with two mail bombs.

"There are three kinds of motives - personal, corporate (such as a disgruntled worker) or moral/philosophical," Cavanaugh says. "The last one is the most difficult because you're dealing with feelings or thoughts in people's head."

In other developments:

-- CNN reports that the latest bombing victim may have gotten a call at his office from the bomber telling him to expect a package. At least two other targets also had received calls before receiving bombs.

-- Fragments of a leather camera bag were sent to an Atlanta lab Tuesday to determine whether it contained a bomb when shipped to a Kmart store in Fort Pierce, Fla. Employees became suspicious of a newly arrived package Monday afternoon and called police.

A bomb squad evacuated the store.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, b/w, The Sacramento Bee; PHOTO, b/w, Reuters