Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 967 words

HEADLINE: Serial Bomber Described as Perfectionist, Misfit Terrorism experts draw psychological portrait

BYLINE: Michael Taylor, Rob Haeseler, Chronicle Staff Wri


The serial bomber who killed an advertising executive in New Jersey last weekend is a highly disciplined yet vengeful social outcast who has a major problem communicating his reasons for a 16- year campaign of murder and mayhem, police and terrorism experts said yesterday.

''He is lacking in social skills and self-esteem, and may have problems dealing with members of the opposite sex, perhaps deriving from real or imagined physical flaws,'' two federal explosives experts wrote in a professional law enforcement publication three years ago. ''If he does interact, it may be with a woman younger than himself.''

''His motive for the bombings is revenge, although this may not be apparent to any of the victims,'' FBI agent James Ronay and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Richard Strobel said. ''The time span between the precipitating incident and the act of revenge may be quite lengthy.''

A portrait of the so-called UNABOM killer began to emerge yesterday as a 30-agent federal task force tried to piece together evidence from the mail bomb that decapitated Thomas J. Mosser, the 50- year-old executive vice president and general manager of the big New York advertising agency, Young & Rubicam. Mosser was in the kitchen of his home in North Caldwell, N.J., on Saturday morning when he attempted to open a package mailed December 3 from San Francisco, with a return address of San Francisco State University.

The lethal bomb was made by an elusive craftsman who is the central figure in the UNABOM case, named because the bomber's first four targets were universities and airlines. He is so hard to catch that authorities freely admit they have no idea who he is. He has left no clues that would narrow the search, and his targets have never been linked to any one person or group who had it in for them.

Based on a single eyewitness account, the suspect is believed to be white, about 6 feet tall, in his late 30s or mid-40s, with a ruddy complexion and reddish or blond hair.

Seven of the 15 incidents associated with UNABOM have ties to Northern California, where the federal task force is centering its investigation. A $ 1 million reward has been posted and anybody who has information is urged to call the toll-free hotline, (800) 701-BOMB. About 500 calls had been received by yesterday, the FBI said.

One person who has apparently not yet called is the bomber, and it is this silence on his part that has investigators baffled.

''We have to acknowledge the fact that he has been very clever and unless he makes a mistake it will be very difficult to catch him,'' said Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert and deputy chairman of Kroll Associates, a high-powered Washington-based investigative and security firm. ''But the one area in which he has failed is in his message. He has failed to communicate it, and he clearly wants to communicate.''

One way the killer has sent some sort of message is by engraving the initials FC into his bombs. Investigators say this could stand for anything from an unflattering reference to computers to the phrase ''Fight Control.'' Another small clue came from an incident in July, 1982, when Diogenes Angelakos, an engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley, picked up a strange steel device that was on the floor of Cory Hall.


The bomb went off, injuring Angelakos. A scrap of paper found near the debris said, ''WU--IT WORKS! I TOLD YOU IT WOULD. R.V.''

''We have run that WU thing every which way to Sunday,'' said UC Berkeley police Captain Bill Foley. ''We interviewed people with that name. We tried to figure out if it was left by the bomber, or if it was left by someone else. We ran all this down and really came up with nothing.''

In June 1993, at about the time that Charles Epstein, a geneticist at the University of California at San Francisco, and David Gelernter, a Yale computer expert, were wounded by bombs that exploded two days apart, the bomber made his only written communication. The New York Times received a letter from a self-described ''anarchist group calling ourselves FC.''

The writer promised to give ''information about our goals at some future time,'' but none was forthcoming. The letter was mailed from Sacramento and bore a Social Security number, which FC said would be the way he could be identified in future letters. It turned out that the number belonged to a former California prison inmate who had no connection with the bombings.

A writing impression lifted from the letter said clearly, ''Call Nathan R Wed 7 pm.'' But nothing ever came of that lead, either.

If there are any clues to be found, investigators say, they may come from the devices themselves. Explosives experts say the man making these bombs sometimes spends hundreds of hours on each one, carefully polishing pieces of wood and aluminum.


''The construction techniques suggest obsessive/compulsive behavior that is reflected in his private life,'' the two federal agents, Ronay and Strobel, wrote about the UNABOM suspect. ''He may be a list maker, dress neatly and have a meticulously organized life style. He is likely to be quiet and would be almost an ideal neighbor.''

''His post-offense behavior would include visiting the scene, perhaps watching the device function and the response of emergency and investigative personnel,'' the agents said. ''To relive the experience, he may keep souvenirs such as news clips or news videos. His mood may be elevated for a time after the bombing.''

He may be happy, but he is still frustrating the authorities.

''Each crime brings us a little big closer,'' UC's Foley said, ''but he's still out of reach.''

GRAPHIC: PHOTO,An FBI sketch of a man suspected of mailing the letter bomb that killed an advertising executive in New Jersey , BY REUTERS