Unabomber investigation far from over

FBI says partially built bomb, other evidence found in cabin

April 4, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Theodore Kaczynski, the suspected Unabomber, was charged Thursday, not with the crimes the Unabomber is accused of, but with the relatively minor crime of possessing bomb components.

Federal officials said the charge was designed simply to hold him while agents build a stronger case.

Kaczynski, described by acquaintances as brilliant, reclusive, and intense, may have been tripped up by his own words. Law enforcement sources told CNN that the key breakthrough in their investigation came when Kaczynski's family found suspicious writings by him in a house where he had lived in suburban Chicago.

Sources say they found the wording similar to the Unabomber's manifesto, published in the Washington Post and the New York Times last year. So, they told authorities.


"We said all along that the end result would probably not come from investigative results, but from someone who knew the Unabomber well, who could come forward and say, I know who that person is. His brother coming forward doesn't surprise me," said Louis Bertram, a former FBI special agent.

"Back when it was published, I said that someone will recognize material from this," said former Secret Service agent Jack McGeorge. "Highly intelligent does not mean he is not without his foibles. He is not well rounded, he is someone who will make mistakes." (255K AIFF sound or 255K WAV sound)


The tip eventually sent FBI, Treasury, and Postal Service agents to Kaczynski's remote Montana cabin to secretly watch him. Sources indicate the FBI used high-tech surveillance equipment on the ground and by satellite.

Ironically, Kaczynski had an aversion to such technology -- his Montana cabin lacked even electricity -- but he had a strong background in math and science.

At a brief hearing, an affidavit submitted by FBI agent Donald Sachtleben said federal agents who searched the cabin found a partially completed pipe bomb, chemicals and "diagrams and notes" for making pipe bombs.

'He was a genius'

At Evergreen Park High School in the suburbs of Chicago, he was in the German, math, and biology clubs. He won an award for achievement in science, and was one of five National Merit Scholarship finalists.

It seems the seeds of a lifelong isolation from humanity were sown at the high school. Perhaps he was cut off from classmates when he skipped his junior year of high school. Perhaps it was simply his uncommon intelligence that isolated him.

"No one really knew Ted, he was a genius."

-- Former classmate


His family was close, and likely introduced him to his love for the wilderness. Neighbor Roy Froberg recalled tales of summer vacations where the family would "go live in the woods and live off the land." (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound)

But he pursued his education, receiving a diploma from Harvard by age 20, finishing his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and teaching briefly at the University of California at Berkeley. At the time, the campus was a hotbed of student protest and radical behavior. Some theorize that his experience there led him to abandon his career and take off for the Montana wilderness.

18-year probe still unfinished

Then, ironically, it was the modern technology that the Unabomber denounced that helped to catch him.

Investigators said they conducted a nationwide manhunt for years, using technology to encompass every aspect of the investigation, from forensic analysis of the debris left behind by bombs to the manifesto that the Unabomber sent to the press. And in Montana, Kaczynski was monitored by satellite.


Despite the fact that this investigation already spans 18 years of suspected Unabomber incidents, and Kaczynski himself has been under surveillance for several weeks, the investigation still isn't done.

"It's a very important investigation. It's continuing. They've done an excellent job, but we have much to do yet," said U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

University of Michigan professor Peter Duren, under whom Kaczynski once studied, agreed.

"I'd like to remind everyone that there will be a trial," he said. "The only one who really knows if he's the Unabomber is Ted Kaczynski."

CNN correspondents Jeff Flock and Anthony Collings contributed to this report.

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