Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Gannett Company, Inc.


April 27, 1995, Thursday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 811 words

HEADLINE: Bomber taunts police, victims in bold letters

BYLINE: Gale Holland; Maria Goodavage



In an era of terrorist bombings, those behind the Oklahoma City blast proved the deadliest - but experts call the Unabomber the most proficient.

No one in the United States has set off as many bombs (16) over as long a period (17 years) as the self-described "anti-industrial anarchist" who spelled out his motives this week.

And few criminals drop so many intriguing clues, ranging from a penchant for wood and wood puns to a series of highly literate, possibly coded letters.

The task force that has chased the bomber since 1982 hopes a new crop of Unabomber letters will produce a breakthrough.

"He now thinks he is untouchable in his own belief system," an investigator told The Associated Press.

Federal authorities Wednesday released the text of one letter, sent to Yale University computer science professor David Gelernter, who was badly injured by a Unabom mail package he opened in June 1993.

The communique, along with a letter to The New York Times, was mailed from Oakland at the same time as the mail bomb that on Monday killed California Forestry Association lobbyist Gilbert Murray, authorities said.

In the letter, Unabomber denounced Gelernter as a "techno-nerd" and criticized his book, Mirror Worlds, which predicts the rise of computers. He taunted Gelernter for getting injured.

"If you'd had any brains . . . you wouldn't have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source," the letter read. The bomber listed FBI headquarters as his return address.

In The Times letter, the Unabomber said he belonged to an anarchist cell, "FC," bent on destroying "the worldwide industrial system."

"The people who are pushing all this growth and progress garbage deserve to be severely punished," the letter said.

Despite his use of the word "we" in describing his exploits, federal authorities still believe the Unabomber is a white male loner in his 40s.

"We feel the strategy we launched after the June 1993 bombings has been right on," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jim Freeman said.

Another 100 FBI agents have been brought in to chase down leads, Freeman said. More than 600 calls poured into the Unabom hot line Tuesday, he added.

"If he didn't have an extraordinary degree of criminal savoir-faire, he would have gotten caught years ago," said James Fox of Northeastern University criminal justice school.

Starting in 1978, the Unabomber sent bombs to science and engineering professors at universities as well as to airlines. Thinking they had a disgruntled student or airline employee on their hands, the FBI code-named the investigation Unabom.

A 1980 bombing in Lake Forest, Ill., of United Airlines President Percy Wood sustained the airline theme. It also opened up a new one - picking victims with references to "wood," in names or addresses.

Later, the Unabomber attacked a man who lived on Aspen Drive and used phony return addresses including Ravenswood and Forest Glen Road. One bomb was in a book with a leaf embossed on the cover; another was adorned with twigs.

The Wood bombing also brought the first of the Unabomber's letters, said psycholinguist Murray Miron, who has studied his writings. The letter was signed Enoch W. Fischer. Miron said he thinks he may have been likening himself to a Biblical figure named Enoch, who acted in the role of an invisible avenger.

Six more bombs of increasing intensity hit university and airline targets from Nashville to Berkeley, Calif., between 1981 to 1985.

Miron said the Unabomber sent a letter to one of the professors claiming to be a student who planned to send his dissertation for review.

A Dec. 11, 1985, bomb killed a computer store owner, giving detectives another tack: Perhaps the Unabomber was a modern-day Luddite, railing against high technology.

Next, the Unabomber left a package outside a Salt Lake City computer store on Feb. 20, 1987 - but he was seen by a passerby. Out went a composite picture of a ruddy-faced white male with strawberry blonde hair under a sweatshirt hood.

The Unabomber went underground for six years.

When he re-emerged, starting with a package bomb to a northern California professor in June 1993, he had shifted exclusively to mail bombs.

Last December came the fatal attack on New Jersey advertising executive Thomas Mosser.

The New York Times received a letter from Sacramento postmarked before that bombing. Like the one received this week by the paper, it was signed "FC" and included a nine-digit number that could be used to authenticate future communications.

What seemed a promising clue emerged from the letter. Investigators traced the impression of a message the bomber might have written on an overlapping slip of paper: "Call Nathan R Wed 7 p.m."

They checked 10,000 names before deciding the message was written by somebody else on a library typewriter - another dead end.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, b/w, FBI via AP; PHOTO, b/w, Susan Ragan, AP; PHOTOS, b/w, AP (3)