Unabomber News History

Copyright 1996 Times Mirror Company

Los Angeles Times

April 5, 1996, Friday, Home Edition

SECTION: Part A; Page 1; National Desk

LENGTH: 2182 words





Bearded, frail and wearing a bright orange jail suit, Theodore John Kaczynski, the former UC Berkeley math professor suspected of being the Unabomber, appeared in federal court here Thursday and was charged with possessing a partly made pipe bomb.

Federal agents said they found the device in his hand-built, 10-by-12-foot cabin on Stemple Pass, in the Montana mountains near the Continental Divide. In an affidavit, the agents said the device was inside a cylindrical package wrapped in paper and tape. They said they discovered the package in the cabin's loft.

Agents said they X-rayed the package and saw a partially completed pipe bomb inside.

Kaczynski, 53, wore a half-smile as he walked into the courtroom. He stood quietly in front of U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell. Speaking softly but clearly, he answered most of the judge's questions with a "yes" or "no."

When the judge asked if he had any mental impairments, he said, "No."

Lovell: "I take it you are financially unable to pay for counsel yourself."

Kaczynski: "Quite correct."

Public defender Michael Donahoe asked for an additional day to say whether Kaczynski would waive his right to a preliminary hearing and a hearing to set bail. Lovell granted the request. The charge did not mention the Unabomber's 17-year crusade of terror against industry, academia and the airlines in which three people were killed and 23 others were injured.

Authorities said they would convene a federal grand jury to consider additional charges.

In California, Gov. Pete Wilson said he wanted the Unabomber suspect tried in Sacramento County, where two of the three deaths--those of a forestry executive and a computer store operator--took place. "Far too often," Wilson said in a prepared statement, "the Unabomber has chosen Californians for his cowardly actions." The governor said he would seek to have the Unabomber executed.

"If the federal officials don't think they have a case that warrants the death penalty, we do," Wilson told a TV interviewer. "Or at least we're eager to see whether or not, in fact, the evidence does establish that."

'Meticulous Writings'

In the affidavit presented to the Helena court, FBI Special Agent Donald J. Sachtleben, a bomb specialist for the past 10 years, said that agents found 10 three-ring binders in Kaczynski's cabin containing "page after page of meticulous writings and sketches, which I recognize to be diagrams of explosive devices."

The handwritten notes, in English and Spanish, described chemical compounds that can be used in various combinations to create explosive charges, Sachtleben said. The FBI said its investigation showed that Kaczynski is able to write in Spanish.

Besides the partially made bomb in the loft, Sachtleben said, the agents found bomb-making material that included pipes of galvanized metal, copper and plastic and containers of powder, labeled potassium chlorate, sodium chlorate, sugar, zinc, aluminum, lead and silver oxide--all of which can be used as fuel or oxidizers in a pipe bomb.

Sachtleben said that the agents also found solid-cast ingots, shiny metal filings on the cabin floor, C-cell batteries and electrical wire, along with logs of experiments to determine optimum pipe dimensions and combinations in various kinds of weather.

The alleged discovery of the material and the partly completed pipe bomb raised the question of whether Kaczynski was planning to explode a bomb. The Unabomber had pledged to stop his deadly attacks if the New York Times and Washington Post published one of his manuscripts. They did so last summer, at 35,000 words.

10-Year Sentence

Government sources dismissed the possibility of another bombing as speculation. "You'll have to draw your own conclusions," one source said. Another said that the partially completed device could have been a mock-up, or part of a bomb that had been put aside in the loft, above the cabin floor, some time ago.

The affidavit was filed with the court in support of a complaint charging Kaczynski with possessing a firearm--"specifically, components from which a destructive device such as a bomb can be readily assembled." He also was charged with failing to register it with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

That would violate Section 5861(d) of Title 26 of the U.S. Code, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Government sources made it clear that the charges were lodged primarily to avoid legal problems that could arise from detaining Kaczynski without a stated cause while federal agents continue to search his cabin.

The agents hoped to find evidence that has not been made public but which would link Kaczynski to specific Unabomber crime scenes, said a source familiar with the case.

This source and others declined to say whether any such evidence had been uncovered.

The search was taking a long time partly because the cabin was so remote and partly because it was necessary to bring in special equipment, some of it to X-ray everything the agents touched--to make sure it was not booby-trapped. Sachtleben's affidavit said that the cabin had no electricity and no running water.

Sachtleben said county records indicated that Kaczynski "and another person," whom Sachtleben did not identify, bought the property in 1971. Records at the Blackfoot Valley Dispatch, the newspaper in the nearby town of Lincoln, showed that Kaczynski bought the cabin with his brother, David.

Atty. Gen. Janet Reno distributed the affidavit and the criminal complaint in Washington at her weekly meeting with reporters. But she declined to answer all questions about Kaczynski's arrest. The questions ranged from whether Kaczynski was the Unabomber to whether the FBI had ruled out accomplices.

"This subject has lived in this remote cabin for almost 20 years," a frustrated questioner persisted. "He had no car, no electricity. Yet somehow he's managed to allegedly get around the country mailing explosives and other missives to some very particular targets. Given those facts, can the Justice Department or the FBI even at any point rule out any accomplices and say that this is one person?"

"All I can say," Reno replied, "is that the investigation is continuing."

It will be up to Reno whether to grant Wilson's request to try Kaczynski in California, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School. "There is no rule stating that the prosecutions have to go in chronological order of the crimes. The first prosecution need not occur where he was captured."

Among factors to be considered, Levenson said, would be which prosecutors had the best evidence, the most serious charges, the most experience, the most time to prepare a case and the best potential jury pool for a conviction.

In Sacramento, police homicide Lt. Joe Enloe, who took part in the Unabomber investigation, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that federal agents had arrested the right person. Enloe said his detectives will try to establish a timeline placing Kaczynski in Sacramento at precise periods.

"We know he mailed letters from Sacramento," Enloe said. "Our job is going to be to tie him to Sacramento with circumstantial evidence."

One thing that authorities will try to determine, Enloe said, is whether wire found in fatal bomb blasts in Sacramento was snipped by the same tool that cut wire which was discovered in Kaczynski's cabin.

An Oregon artist, asked by the FBI to interview a witness who saw the Unabomber in Salt Lake City in 1987, where he bombed a computer store, and to sketch him for authorities, said she saw a photo of Kaczynski and thought she recognized his square jaw.

"If I were capable of doing a cartwheel," Jean Boylan said, "I would have done it. I am very pleased. . . . He had this distinct jawline."

As the case against Kaczynski began to take shape, acquaintances around the nation tried to recall what he was like when they knew him.

At an afternoon press conference at UC Berkeley, where Kaczynski taught math, two professors described him as brilliant but extremely withdrawn. They said his scholarly papers were impressive and that he published six in a very brief time.

"If he had developed along those lines," said Calvin C. Moore, who was vice chairman of the mathematics department at the time, "I think he could have advanced up the ranks and been a senior member of our faculty today."

But Moore remembered Kaczynski as painfully shy.

On one occasion, he said, Kaczynski spoke about his research at a seminar. "The tradition was we'd go out for beer and pizza afterward. So we said, 'Come along.' He said, 'No, thank you' and walked off."

Midway through his second year at Berkeley, Kaczynski quit.

"We tried to persuade him, 'Please don't do this,' " Moore said. " 'We value your work, and we'd like you to stay on.' But he was adamant. It struck me as unusual--a person of this obvious capability and brilliance."

When Kaczynski's dissertation supervisor, the late Prof. Allen Shields at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found out about the resignation, he wrote to J.W. Addison, chairman of the Berkeley math department at the time, to inquire about the reason.

"He Kaczynski said he was going to give up mathematics and wasn't sure what he was going to do," Addison wrote in reply. "He was very calm and relaxed about it on the outside. . . . Kaczynski seemed almost pathologically shy, and as far as I know he made no close friends in the department.

Addison told the news conference, where copies of his letter were made available, that Kaczynski "simply didn't know himself" why he was quitting.

Copies of a biographical questionnaire on file at Berkeley show that Kaczynski printed his answers clearly and meticulously. He foot-noted two of them.

Junior High Bombs

A psychological profile of the Unabomber, prepared by the FBI in 1993, said he was a bright loner with a good education and a passion for exactitude.

At Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, anthropology professor Dale E. Eickelman said he attended junior high school with Kaczynski in the quiet, working-class Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park.

"Ted had the know-how of putting together things like batteries, wire leads, potassium nitrate and whatever and creating explosions," Eickelman told the Daily Southtown in Chicago. "We would go to the hardware store, use household products and make things you might call bombs.

"Once we created an explosion in a metal garbage can."

In an official statement, Dartmouth said that Eickelman had not been in contact with Kaczynski since 1959.

After Kaczynski and his brother left for college, their father, Theodore R. Kaczynski, and their mother, Wanda, moved from Evergreen Park to Lombard, also near Chicago, where the father was stricken with cancer.

He shot himself in the head at home, killing himself, according to the DuPage County coroner's office. By then, said Roy Froberg, who lived across the street, son Theodore had quit teaching and was living like a recluse.

"There was never a funeral or a wake, at least not for the neighbor people," Froberg said. "David came" into town following his father's death, but "I'm not sure Ted came."

Murphy reported from Helena, Wallace from Berkeley and Ostrow from Washington. Times staff writers Mark Gladstone and Dave Lesher in Sacramento, Judy Pasternak in Chicago, Elizabeth Mehren in Boston, John J. Goldman in New York, Richard C. Paddock in Helena and Henry Weinstein and Richard E. Meyer in Los Angeles also contributed to this story.

The Evidence

Information from affidavit by FBI agent Donald Sachtleben filed in U.S. District Court in Helena, Mont., on items found during a search of the cabin of Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski on Wednesday:

* Ten three-ring binders containing writings and sketches of explosive devices, including cross-sections of pipes and electrical circuitry of bombs.

* Handwritten notes describing chemical compounds that can be used to create explosive charges.

* Pipes of galvanized metal, copper and plastic, four of which appeared to be in the early stages of pipe-bomb construction. Kaczynski's cabin has no indoor plumbing or other piping.

* Containers labeled as chemicals that can be used in explosive devices, including zinc, aluminum, lead, silver oxide, potassium chlorate and sodium chlorate.

* Aluminum ingots. Aluminum can be used as a fuel and a catalyst in an explosive mixture.

* Batteries and electric wires that could be used to power a detonator.

* Papers "containing what appear to be logs of experiments to determine the optimum pipe dimension and combination of explosive materials in various weather conditions."

* A cylindrical package wrapped in paper and secured with tape. An X-ray revealed what appeared to be a partially completed pipe bomb.

* Books on construction of electrical circuitry and chemistry.

* Tools, including drills and drill bits, hacksaw blades, wire cutters and solder.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: U.S. marshals lead suspect Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski into federal courthouse in Helena, Mont. PHOTO: Suspect in the Unabomber case is led into a mass of reporters and photographers as he is escorted into federal courthouse in Helena, Mont. PHOTOGRAPHER: Associated Press PHOTO: Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski GRAPHIC-CHART: The Evidence / Los Angeles Times