Unabomber News History

Copyright 1996 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 529 words

HEADLINE: Kaczynski, Zodiac Killer -- the Same Guy?

BYLINE: Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer


It's a wild longshot, but San Francisco detectives are looking into what would be one of the more amazing criminal developments in modern times if true: the possibility that Unabomber suspect Theodore J. Kaczynski is also the infamous Zodiac killer.

The new twist to the investigation was spurred by calls to police from amateur sleuths who were struck by similarities among Kaczynski, the Unabomber's crimes and details from the saga of the Zodiac, a never-identified man who shocked the nation with his string of slayings and taunting letters in the 1960s and '70s.

Among the possible links are that Kaczynski lived in the Bay Area from 1967 to 1969, the same period that the Zodiac's confirmed killings occurred in California, and that Kaczynski once signed a high school yearbook with a symbol similar to the Zodiac's. The Zodiac also told one victim that he had resided in Montana near Lincoln, the town Kaczynski lived near when he was arrested last month.

Also similar was the evident pleasure that both the Unabomber and the Zodiac took in bragging in letters to newspapers -- both wrote to The Chronicle -- and in ridiculing investigators.

Still skeptical at best, San Francisco detectives have asked the FBI for copies of Kaczynski's fingerprints to see if they match a bloody print from one Zodiac slaying scene, and yesterday they pulled three boxes of files from storage to sift for new clues.

''Some of it is pretty farfetched, but there are enough similarities for us to at least look at it,'' said Vince Repetto, a San Francisco homicide inspector assigned to the Zodiac probe. ''It's not like this is a full-fledged investigation into this angle, . . . but then you just don't want to ignore it.''

Despite the common threads, there are plenty of differences between the Zodiac killer and the Unabomber. Chief among them are their methods of killing. The Zodiac killer used guns and knives; the Unabomber employed bombs to leave three dead and 23 injured since 1978.

If the fingerprints match, or if solid links appear between the copious writings of the Unabomber and the Zodiac, detectives may ask the FBI for more documents, Repetto said. They may also run DNA tests comparing Kaczynski's saliva with that on old Zodiac envelopes.

FBI spokesman George Grotz said his agency, which has headed the Unabomber probe, will ''turn over anything they (San Francisco police) ask for if it helps them.'' He said he could not comment on possible links between the two cases.

Robert Graysmith of San Francisco, author of the book ''Zodiac'' in 1986, said the similarities are ''fascinating'' but undoubtedly purely coincidental.

For one, witness descriptions of a paunchy Zodiac do not match the lanky Kaczynski, said Graysmith, who is now writing a Unabomber book. The pop-culture writing style of the Zodiac also does not match the Unabomber's terse, dry prose.

Michael Rosconi, a Campbell businessman who has been the most ardent among those urging a probe of Unabomber-Zodiac links, said he wrote to the police because he ''just couldn't shake the feeling that the two killers are the same.''