Unabomber News History

Copyright 1996 Times Mirror Company

Los Angeles Times

April 11, 1996, Thursday, Home Edition

SECTION: Part A; Page 1; National Desk

LENGTH: 1353 words





Federal investigators searching the mountainside shack of Theodore J. Kaczynski have discovered a hooded sweatshirt and aviator sunglasses that closely resemble those reportedly worn by the elusive Unabomber the one time he is believed to have been sighted while placing a bomb.

The glasses and sweatshirt were a prominent feature of a sketch of the suspected Unabomber that has been circulated since February 1987, when a worker at a Salt Lake City computer store reported that she saw a man with a mustache, dark glasses and a sweatshirt put something under the wheel of her car in the store's parking lot. The parcel exploded when another worker moved the item. The woman is believed by authorities to be the only person to see the Unabomber planting a bomb.

Officials also disclosed that lists found in Kaczynski's cabin included names of at least three prominent timber association executives from the Northwest. Government officials have told the executives to "keep their eyes open and be careful" on the off chance that a bomb might already have been planted, industry officials said.

The last of the three people killed by Unabom attacks was Gilbert Murray, president of the California Forestry Assn., who died in an explosion at the group's headquarters in Sacramento just under a year ago.

Those disclosures came as the government, for the first time, officially tied Kaczynski to the Unabomber's full spree of crimes. Kaczynski has been charged with a single count of possessing bomb-making materials, and until now the government has only unofficially linked him to the 16 bombings.

But in a court proceeding Wednesday, opposing a request by news organization to release documents in the case, government lawyers confirmed Kaczynski's status as a suspect in all the Unabomber crimes.

In arguing that the documents should remain secret, Assistant U.S. Atty. Bernard F. Hubley said government officials had promised the Kaczynski family that further information about the family would be kept confidential in exchange for their cooperation. District Judge Charles C. Lovell ruled that the promise should outweigh the public's right to immediate information in a case, which has riveted worldwide attention to western Montana since Kaczynski's arrest last week. Lovell said he would consider releasing the information next week.

The FBI's application justifying the search warrant for Kaczynski's cabin was sought by news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times. The government objected to releasing the information, which "describes a series of crimes occurring over an 18-year period, including 16 bombings and three murders."

"The FBI's overt investigation of Kaczynski's ties to specific bombing incidents is only a few weeks old, and an extraordinary amount of work remains to be done," Hubley argued in court filings. The media's "contention that the government's investigation is 'essentially complete' simply ignores the reality of this case."

Lovell also extended until Monday the period in which federal agents can search Kaczynski's mountain shack. The search warrant had been scheduled to expire next Saturday.

"There were explosive devices and components which have necessitated cautious examination by X-ray equipment at the place to be searched," Lovell said in court. "The presence of these devices caused some delay in the exercise of the warrant and the completion of the search."

Meantime, sources familiar with the investigation said that agents had recovered at least one manual typewriter from Kaczynski's cabin in addition to the two typewriters whose discovery has already been reported. It could not be learned, however, whether any of the machines have been identified as the typewriter used for the Unabomber's 35,000-word manifesto, letters to newspapers and other writing recovered from bomb scenes.

Last week, government sources said there had been a preliminary match between one of two machines found at Kaczynski's cabin and the Unabomber writing, but that additional testing at the FBI laboratory in Washington was needed.

At the time, those officials estimated the testing would take two to three days, but now they decline to say whether any of the machines match or have been ruled out.

The sources also revealed further signs of Kaczynski's estrangement from his family, particularly his father, who died in 1990. According to the sources, the suspect had told his family to use a special code when they were writing him about something "urgent and important." He instructed them to underline in red the postage stamp on any such correspondence to assure he would not ignore it.

The sources, confirming an account first reported by the Chicago Tribune, said that the family used the urgent red line when they wrote him of his father's death. Kaczynski objected to that use of the code, saying the death of his father did not warrant it. As previously reported, Kaczynski did not attend his father's funeral.

In arguing for public release of the file on the search warrant, attorney John Morrison, representing the news organizations, said that "the story of Theodore Kaczynski is on the lips of thousands of Americans."

"The public already knows that the government believes Mr. Kaczynski engaged in criminal activity," Morrison said. Without accurate information about the case from the news media, "more and more people will make up their minds and get their opinions based upon what is insufficient evidence."

But Lovell, citing the risk that evidence would be lost and witnesses influenced, denied the request.

In addition to a comprehensive statement of the government's evidence, the file would include information about leads explored and as-yet untapped and a list of witnesses and potential witnesses. The affidavit also includes portions of Kaczynski's letters to his family and other confidential information from his relatives.

"In order to obtain the cooperation of the Kaczynski family, the government agreed to protect the letters from public disclosure to the extent possible," Hubley said in opposing release of the papers.

The search warrant affidavit includes "a substantial amount of information received from members of Kaczynski's family," underscoring just how crucial the family's cooperation has been and just how much the prosecution wants to protect its relationship with them.

Unsealing the affidavit now, at "this highly sensitive stage of the investigation," Hubley said in the documents, "will significantly damage the investigation."

In support of their argument, government lawyers provided an affidavit from FBI officials citing problems that have occurred with some potential witnesses because of publicity in the case.

In particular, the government pointed to the manager of a Sacramento hotel as proof of how media attention can taint a case and create "false positives" in witness identification.

Government officials did not name the manager in question, but said that over the past several weeks, the FBI had interviewed him and that he had been unable to identify a photograph.

Since Kaczynski's arrest, however, several newspapers and television stations have interviewed the man and quoted him as saying that Kaczynski had stayed at the hotel several times in years past. Such an identification puts Kaczynski in Sacramento, where several of the Unabomber's lethal packages were mailed.

"The FBI has again interviewed this individual, who has advised that the media had misquoted him and that he thought Mr. Kaczynski had been seen in the area of the hotel," the federal affidavit said. "He had no records to support this, and told the FBI he had no records of hotel stays."

Also on Wednesday, Lovell denied a request from Kaczynski's attorney for an inventory of all evidence and property seized.

La Ganga reported from Helena and Ostrow from Washington. Times staff writers John Balzar in Helena, Paul Jacobs in Sacramento, Amy Wallace in Los Angeles, Judy Pasternak in Chicago, and Richard Paddock in Mendocino, Calif., contributed to this story.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Sketch of suspected Unabomber is based on witness description of 1987 Salt Lake City incident. PHOTOGRAPHER: Associated Press