Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 948 words

HEADLINE: FBI Traces Tips On Serial Bomber But agents are no closer to catching mystery killer

BYLINE: Michael Taylor, Rob Haeseler, Chronicle Staff Wri


The FBI task force investigating the UNABOM slaying of a New Jersey advertising executive said yesterday that it has been deluged with telephone calls over its toll- free bomber line, receiving 3,100 tips since Monday morning and sending agents to check personally on some 600 of them.

But so far, despite what the FBI called an extensive investigation of all leads that have poured in, nothing has brought agents closer to catching the bomber.

Pleading once again for public help in solving Saturday's killing of Thomas J. Mosser, as well as 14 other incidents since 1978 attributed to the mysterious UNABOM killer, the FBI's top agent in San Francisco, Jim Freeman, said the case will be cracked when members of the public notice or remember something about the few scanty clues in the case that so far may have seemed unimportant.

''We're encouraging the public to come forward,'' Freeman said, ''and we're utilizing publicity on a national scale, like the $ 1 million reward and the toll-free number.'' That number is 1-800-701-BOMB. Anonymity will be granted to callers.

The agents hope, for example, that someone might recognize a brief handwriting sample the FBI believes was written by the bomber last year and inadvertently included in a letter the bomber sent to the New York Times.

Freeman also revealed for the first time that the name on the return address on the package mailed December 3 from San Francisco to Mosser's home in North Caldwell, N.J., was H. C. Wickel. The typewritten return address was Department of Economics, San Francisco State University.

''No H. C. Wickel is, or has been, attached to San Francisco State, either as a professor or student,'' said Dennis Hagberg, the chief U.S. Postal Inspection Service officer in San Francisco. Even though the 45-agent UNABOM task force said it came up dry when it started checking out people with the last name of Wickel, Hagberg urged the public to ''think if that name means anything to anybody, and contact our hotline.''

''We've talked to families named Wickel,'' Freeman said, ''but that has been unproductive.''

In fact, the use of a realistic- looking return address is a well- known part of the modus operandi of the UNABOM suspect, who is thought to be a white male in his late 30s or mid-40s. Other packages or letters he has mailed in the past had return addresses of people at various universities.

The bomb that killed Mosser when he opened it in his kitchen was ''the size of two videotapes stacked together,'' said Paul Snabel, chief of the San Francisco office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Snabel said task force investigators are asking people to recall whether they had any ''houseguests who asked them to mail something,'' or if they knew people who were in the Bay Area on temporary relocation from a job elsewhere. Snabel said the device that killed Mosser was a pipe bomb but that investigators have yet to find the initials ''FC,'' a clue found on pieces of other bombs the suspect has crafted in the past.

One other clue was the phrase ''Call Nathan R Wed 7 pm,'' the writing impression that was lifted by laboratory technicians from a letter the bomber sent the Times in June 1993, at the same time two UNABOM bombs injured two professors, one in Tiburon and the other in New Haven, Conn.

Snabel said agents believe that ''it's a message, a notation he was making to himself or a family member.''

When it comes to bombings, California is the leader, the ATF says.

Between 1989 and 1993, the bureau counted 1,599 bombings and attempted bombings in California, representing 17 percent of all such incidents nationwide. For the same period, Florida came in second with 822 incidents, followed by Illinois, 617; Arizona, 472; and New York, 432. A total of 258 people died, including 70 in 1993.

Not only did California outpace all other states, but the number of bombings in the state nearly doubled between 1989, when 203 were recorded, and 1993, when 405 occurred.

New Jersey, where Mosser was killed, had only 191 bombing incidents from 1989-93, accounting for a scant 2 percent of the national total.

Revenge -- said by the FBI and ATF to be the motive in the UNABOM bombings -- accounted for 1,119 explosive incidents and 974 incendiary ones in the five years analyzed by the ATF.

Until 1991, pipe bombs were most often used in destructive devices. They were outnumbered by bottles the following year. In the five-year period up to 1993, 3,081 pipe bombs were responsible for 46 deaths and 391 injuries nationwide.

According to the FBI, the UNABOM suspect has used pipe bombs in all but one of the 15 devices attributed to him.

The ATF reported 86 mail bomb incidents from 1989-93 that killed eight people and injured 47.



The FBI has set up an Internet site for public help in its investigation of the UNABOM incidents.

The site, which contains information on the serial bomber and on the $ 1 million reward offered for his capture, is reached two ways. The first is by connecting to an Internet server and typing:

telnet naic.nasa.gov

login: gopher

password: your e-mail address

Choose No. 9 Government Resources off the menu

Choose No. 11 FBI Gopher

The site also may be reached with a World Wide Web browser. At the prompt, type in http://naic.nasa.gov/ fbi/ to get to the address.

The FBI warned that it is a federal offense to leave false information or otherwise engage in unlawful actions at either address.

People with information also may call the FBI's UNABOM Task Force at 1-800-701-2662.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO,Asking for the public's help, Jim Freeman of the FBI showed the serial bomber's handwriting , BY ASSOCIATED PRESS