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S P E C I A L The Unabomb Case

To one of his victims, Kaczynski is 'personification of evil'

Epstein and wife
Charles Epstein and his wife speak out for the first time   

Guilty plea won't bring closure

January 23, 1998
Web posted at: 11:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- For the first time since 1993, when a mail bomb sent by Theodore Kaczynski blew up in his hands, Dr. Charles Epstein has spoken out publicly about the Unabomber and the nearly five-year ordeal that ended with Kaczynski's admission that he was responsible.

"In all this, the concept of what it really is to be a victim -- to be blown up by a bomb sent to kill you and anyone else who might be in the neighborhood -- was, if not forgotten, certainly ignored," said Epstein at a press conference Friday.

Epstein, a genetics professor at the University of California, called Kaczynski "the personification of evil." He was in court Thursday when Kaczynski stood before a judge and admitted to being the Unabomber.

Epstein after blast
Paramedics prepare to transport Epstein after the blast   

"It was not actually until I saw him in court and observed him in action that it became clear to me who and what he is," Epstein said.

But Epstein says he's relieved that Kaczynski will not get the chance to play the role of victim before the public in a trial.

"For reasons inexplicable to me, Kaczynski was on his way to becoming not only a victim of the system, but also a martyr if he was executed," he said.

Epstein was the victim of the 13th of the Kaczynski's 16 bombs. It arrived at his Tiburon, California, home on June 22, 1993. His daughter brought in the mail and left before her father opened the package.

He was critically injured, losing three fingers on his right hand and suffering severe abdominal injuries, a broken arm and permanent hearing loss.

"Had I held it a few degrees another way, the same blast that went through my arm would have gone through my heart," he said.

He offered thanks to members of Kaczynski's own family, who helped bring his bombing campaign to an end by turning him in to the FBI.

"As much as Theodore Kaczynski acted in cowardice, his brother and mother, David and Wanda Kaczynski, showed what true courage really is," he said. "How terrible it must have been for them to turn in their own brother and son, knowing full well what the consequences might be."

But Epstein says that Kaczynski's guilty plea, and his sentence of life without parole, will not give victims a sense of closure.

"There's never closure," he said. "Every time I look at my hand, it's still there. Every time I have to have somebody speak up, it's still there. And for the other families who've had people killed, there'll never be (closure.)"

But for all the horror, Epstein says the bombing did have one positive effect. Now, he says he and his family live life as fully as possible, not knowing what each day might bring.

Correspondent Don Knapp and Reuters contributed to this report.

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