Title: Unabomber; In His Own Words
Author: Mick Grogan
Date: 2020
Notes: Originally released as two episodes as ‘The Lost Unabomber Tapes’ on the Discovery Channel & then as four episodes on Netflix.



    Ep. 1 — Campaign of Terror (Part 1)


      The Panic

      The Interview

      The First Bombings



      Evergreen Park, Illinois 1952

      Harvard University

      Michigan University

      Lincoln, Montana 1972

      Utah 1981

      Lincoln, Montana 1982

    Ep. 2 — Campaign of Terror (Part 2)

      More Powerful Bombs

      The Journals


      Potential Early Trauma


      Salt Lake City, Utah 1985

      Ann Arbor, Michigan 1985

      Ann Arbor, Michigan 1962

      Missoula, Montana 1987

    Ep. 3 — Capture and Conviction (Part 1)

      Lincoln, Montana


      Eugene, Oregon



    Ep. 4 — Capture and Conviction (Part 2)


      Cambridge, Massachusetts 1958


      Florence, Colorado

      Vale, Colorado 1988

      Seattle, Washington 1999


Anchored by a rare interview, this docuseries details Ted Kaczynski’s path from a young intellectual to one of the most feared people in US history.

Episodes 1 & 2: Campaign of Terror

CAMPAIGN OF TERROR reveals the beginning of the Unabomber’s campaign of terror from 1978 to 1985, and delves into his childhood to discover what might have made a young mathematical genius with few friends into a sociopathic terrorist. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR also tells the story of how the Unabomber began to ramp up his terror campaign from 1985 to 1993, claiming his first murder and taunting his FBI pursuers. His secret journals from his time as a grad student in Michigan reveal the extraordinary moment when Kaczynski’s thoughts first turned to murder.

Episodes 3 & 4: Capture and Conviction

CAPTURE AND CONVICTION tells the story of 1993 to 1996, when the Unabomber was holding America to ransom with a series of increasingly powerful bombs until his arrest in 1996. Kaczynski’s brother and sister-in-law reveal the extraordinarily emotional story of how they came to suspect he was the Unabomber which ultimately led to his arrest. CAPTURE AND CONVICTION also tells the story of Kaczynski’s trial, with the revelation that as a teenage student in Harvard he was subjected to a secret psychological experiment, which some claim could have been responsible for turning him into the terrorist he became.



David Kaczynski — Brother

Roy Wright — Harvard Classmate

Linda Patrik — Sister-in-Law

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

Chris Waits — Neighbor

Gary Wright — UNABOMB Survivor

Colin Ross — Author: ‘The CIA Doctors’

Glenn Carle — Former CIA Agent

Joel Moss — FBI Supervisory Special Agent, UNABOMBER Task Force

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

Phillip Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

Bob Hood — Warden (Retired): Supermax Prison

Peter Vronsky — Author, ‘Serial Killers’

Theresa Kintz — Former Editor: Earth First! Journal

Sasha Reid — Developmental Psychologist

John Zerzan — Anarchist Philosopher & Activist

David Skrbina — Lead Collaborator: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski

Tim Lewis — Anarchist Filmmaker

Forrest Robinson — Authorized Biographer of Henry Murray

Susan Swanson — Private Investigator

Kevin Fagan — Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

Ep. 1 — Campaign of Terror (Part 1)


THERESA: I remember the guards brought Kaczynski in and he was in shackles, and he was wearing a white jumpsuit. And he looked very small and... I was, I was nervous.

THERESA: Okay, so... I guess I should say something like ‘this is the interview with Dr. Theodore Kaczynski and we’re going to begin the interview now.

This is the only in-depth interview ever granted by the unabomber.

KACZYNSKI: Well, here’s exactly what happened…

NEWS REPORTER: The killer called, the Unabomber, has terrorized this country for nearly 18 years now. In addition to killing three people, his attacks have wounded 23 others, some seriously.

THERESA: Ted Kaczynski is known as “the Unabomber”.

KEVIN: Those kinda guys are rare and they’re terrible. And Ted was terrible.

GARY: This guy was a pop culture icon. I mean, people wanted him to run for President.

ZERZAN: I love this one. This is one of my favorites.

TIM: The Unabomber to a lot of kids was inspiration.

GARY: He’s inspired Hollywood movies.

A film clip from ‘Mission Impossible’ has a character inspired by Kaczynski say “And the blood will be on your hands.”

GARY: Why would somebody try to kill you? Why would they do that to you?

LINDA: I was shocked by the three years at Harvard University in an experiment.

GLENN: It’s perverse. It’s sick. It doesn’t work. But that’s what Kaczynski was subjected to.

DAVID: Well, I think it, it takes a whole perfect storm to create someone as violent as my brother.

ROY: He was a good friend. It was as if he was in pain, but I couldn’t say why.

JAMIE: I never would have thought that my neighbor was sitting in that little cabin creating bombs and killing people.

GREG: It was the most expensive investigation in the history of the FBI. “Are you the Unabomber?”

SUSAN: It was Linda who cracked the Unabomber case.

LINDA: For me, it was easy. We had to do something.

THERESA: Every journalist in the United States, in the world, would love to get the first interview with Ted Kaczynski. By his invitation, he approached me. My writing and his writing were very similar.

KACZYNSKI: I was practically alone in the world, it’s just that I was mad.

THERESA: He comes right out and says it.

KACZYNSKI: I was going to work at getting back at the system... Revenge.

The Panic

Lincoln, Montana 1995. From a remote cabin in the woods, the unabomber is terrorizing america.

♪ Man, now what has been done ♪ ♪ Man can’t stand himself ♪ ♪ Or where he’s told that he belong ♪ ♪ Man don’t understand ♪ ♪ Man blames everyone ♪ ♪ Everyone under the sun ♪ ♪ Tell me what has Man become ♪ ♪ Man can’t help himself ♪ ♪ Don’t know where he can run ♪ ♪ Man can’t run for help ♪ ♪ Can’t stand anybody else ♪ ♪ Man don’t know where he’s from ♪ ♪ Don’t know where he belong ♪ ♪ Now would Man trade tomorrow ♪ ♪ For a time long forgotten? ♪♪

KACZYNSKI: No. It was simply anger and revenge, and I was gonna strike back. Try not to get blown up. (Laughs)

♪♪ Man don’t understand ♪♪ What has man become ♪♪

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: You have an individual living in a little cabin by himself in essentially a wilderness area right outside a very small town. He doesn’t have a car, doesn’t have electricity, doesn’t have power tools, doesn’t have a job…

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: I figure he’s one of those guys holed up somewhere, obsessing, reading every article he can find on the ills of society as he sees them, and, you know, pounding his fist on the table saying, “I gotta do something about this.” And the kinda guy that the neighbors say, “He was a little torqued, but he kept to himself. Kinda quiet.”

KACZYNSKI: I wanted physical freedom, I wanted to get away from the cities and civilization because I just wanted to be a hermit. There’s no doubt about the actual reason that I dropped out of the technological system.. I mean it reduces people to gears in a giant machine. It takes away our autonomy and our freedom.

JOEL: The cabin is 10 by 14 feet uh, and is full of stuff. His heat is provided only by a potbelly stove. It’s smoky, there’s soot everywhere, it’s dark. And he’s been doing a great deal of work in there. Apparently, the work to construct these bombs has all been done in the cabin.

NEWSREADER: Good evening. We begin tonight with an emergency security alert issued in California today. The government says there is a credible threat that a passenger jet may be bombed from a man the FBI calls the Unabomber.

JOEL: He’s causing all kinds of havoc, he’s causing all kinds of public concern.

NEWSREADER: Police are swarming around the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport. Airlines have stopped loading the 200 tons of mail that leave here daily. It’s being screened at a nearby postal facility for the possibility of letter bombs.

KEVIN: LAX is closed and security goes to, you know, DEFCON 4.

NEWSREADER: Security has been heightened and with it, anxiety. The Unabomber’s unique campaign of terror started in 1978 — in 16 separate bombing incidents. Three people have been killed, another 23 injured.

JOEL: He’s been going on for decades it seems.

NEWSREADER: The FBI is warning everyone to look out for unusual packages.

NEWS POLICE INTERVIEW: If it appears suspicious in any way, shape, or form then they should contact their local police.

KEVIN: Nobody knows who he is. It’s, it’s creepy. It’s creepy.

Gary Wright — Unabomber Survivor

GARY: Not knowing is a hard thing. I didn’t know who this was for nine years. So, basically, you’re dealing with a ghost.

KEVIN: It’s a killer on the loose and he’s got a wide range of targets.

JOEL: There’s a tremendous sense of public fear at this point and there doesn’t seem to be any clear sign that the task force is going to be able to stop him anytime soon.

NEWSREADER: More than 100 FBI agents are working the Unabomber case.

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP RESNICK: It was the largest manhunt in American history, and it was estimated to cost $50 million.

THERESA: Is he a terrorist or a freedom fighter? Is he a revolutionary or a serial killer?

JOEL: What you have are the facts of the case to work with. If you can figure out the why, you may be able to figure out who’s doing it.

The Interview

KACZYNSKI: My motives are certainly not altruistic, I just don’t like living in this damn system.

Theresa Kintz — Lecturer in Sociology & Former Editor for the Earth First! Journal

THERESA: The interview I did with Kaczynski was the first interview he allowed, three years after he was arrested, and it was a historical opportunity.

KACZYNSKI: This is being recorded alright?


KACZYNSKI: Alright. I don’t think…

THERESA: Do you want to talk off the record?

KACZYNSKI: No, no, this is fine. This can be on the record. I get letters from kooks who think that I’m in cahoots with space aliens… (laughs) really… I’ve had a few letters from people… who do regard me as some kind of cult figure. And my personal preference is to be depicted truthfully. If I could be used as a symbol for promoting revolutionary activity, that’s fine with me, because the main thing in my opinion, to me, the main thing is to get rid of the industrial system by whatever means may be necessary.

The First Bombings

David Kaczynski — Brother

DAVID: I struggle with this because I don’t know exactly what happened to Ted. I thought my brother was the best human being on earth; that he would change the world and do a great deal of good.

Linda Patrik — Sister-in-Law

LINDA: I didn’t like the guy. But Dave loved his brother all the way through, I think. And his mother, of course, loved Ted as well. But I didn’t. (Laughs) He may have been a nice person at some point in his life, but something happened and he became a… a killer.

DAVID: I’ve spent much of my life trying to understand that. I mean, why?

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: The Unabomber’s first bomb ended up at Northwestern University based on a return address. The return address on the package was to a professor in the technological institute. The bomb was found in a parking lot.

JOEL: It’s got a label on it, it’s got postage on it, it’s ready to be mailed. So why wasn’t it mailed? Why is it laying in this parking lot? We reconstructed it exactly how it was, and that’s when we found it wouldn’t fit through the door of the mailbox. So, the bomber probably built it, got to the mailbox and it wouldn’t fit. And then what do you do? Well, you drop it and you leave.

GREG: And it was retrieved by an officer from the, uh, Department of Security. It did partially detonate which caused minor injuries.

JOEL: No one recognizes this bomber. No one has seen this bomber’s work before. The bomber is clever, but he’s clearly not an expert bomb maker.

PETER: He’s making these clumsy bombs with wooden ends to them, using black powder as a propellant. He’s using this kind of very crude detonating system — match heads. They’re not all that sophisticated.

GREG: Bomb 2 was sent May 9th 1979, at Northwestern University as well. And this one was left on a table.

JOEL: The bomb is built in a cigar box. Um, it’s not terribly large. It’s simply left there for whoever is going to open it and someone eventually does. It’s got batteries and wires, and the explosive mixture is smokeless powder, the sort of propellant you would find in a firearm cartridge, and, in some cases, match heads, which have been meticulously cut off of matches to fill a tube or a container. So that tells us, again, that we’re dealing with someone who, at this point, is not terribly sophisticated in building bombs and delivering them. He’s figuring it out.

GREG: After bomb number two, he wrote, “I had hoped that the victim would be blinded or have his hands blown off, or be otherwise maimed. Well, live and learn. I wish I knew how to get a hold of some dynamite.”

JOEL: Most criminals aren’t able to operate in such a vacuum. People know what they’re doing, either because they boast about it, or because they have people around them, or… for whatever reason, they can’t keep their activities that secret. He was able to. He lived in the middle of nowhere.

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

JAMIE: Here in rural Montana, for someone to live off the grid and be reclusive, be a hermit, it didn’t raise any red flags to us because if you want to do something like that, then rural Montana is the perfect spot.

KACZYNSKI: It was not as secluded as I would have liked, but it’s a beautiful little piece of land. It was in the mountains, and so I bought it. And so it’s been part of my life for 25 years now.

Chris Waits — Neighbor

CHRIS: Ted was the kind of person that you, you could meet and you could know him for 25 years, like me, but never know any more real details about him than you did in the first few years.

On the shelves in his cabin he has self-help guides on wilderness living. He also has chemistry textbooks from which he learns how to make more powerful explosives.

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: All the neighbors got like junk cars sitting around and he’d just go and help himself to… whatever parts and pieces he needed to make his bombs. And it was like he didn’t even think he was doing anything wrong.

KACZYNSKI: If you use any kind of practical common sense at all, your chances of getting caught are practically zero. If there’s nobody there to see you. The only danger is if you talk to somebody else, and tell them what you’re doing and they don’t keep their mouth shut.

CHRIS: I have quite a large boneyard, uh, with everything that anybody could need to do pretty much everything. There’s hundreds and hundreds of feet of every kind of color and gauge of wire, and you’re not going to miss something like that. Did I suspect Ted of taking stuff? No.

JAMIE: I think it started when I was about five years old. I was terrified to sleep in my room. And I was hearing something in the middle of the night — footsteps, rummaging around. I would run into my parents’ room and say, There’s somebody out there. And they would just be like, “You’re dreaming.Go back to bed.”

JOEL: The third bomb is a package which is sent through the mail and it ends up on an airliner, on an American Airlines flight. This one is different in its design. And it is designed to function based on being triggered by an altimeter, an altimeter which is constructed from a barometer such as you might find in a, a home weather station. So, when the plane reaches a certain altitude, the device functions, (Sparking) can cause an explosion.

NEWSREPORTER: The FBI says an American Airline 727 with 80 persons aboard landed safely today at Washington’s Dulles International Airport after a small bomb exploded in a mail pouch in the cargo hold. American Flight 444 en route from Chicago landed without injury to any of the passengers or crew.

JOEL: It’s rather sophisticated in the sense that the builder has created an altimeter and, of course, where it was placed had the potential to cause mass casualties. So it’s, it’s incredibly serious.

GREG: (Reads) “The plan was to blow up airliner in flight. Unfortunately, plane not destroyed. Bomb too weak.”

JOEL: At this point, connections begin to be made. The US government recognizes that they’re dealing with a serial bomber.

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: He becomes known as the Unabomber: university and airline bomber. That’s what the FBI tags the project as, Unabomber, or Unabomb.


In his late 30s with no job and no income the unabomber still relies on his parents.

KACZYNSKI: My parents had a lot of… They were frugal people and they had a lot of money accumulated in savings and loan associations, and they were getting quite a bit of money from the interest. So from about 1980 to 1991 they used to send a yearly stipend to me and my brother.

PHILLIP: Ted’s mother would send him money. He would say, “I’ve got some chest pain and they say I should have some tests, but I don’t have the money,” and would, in a sense, scam her into sending money, which he would then use to make, uh, bombs.

PETER: Here’s a guy who is targeting victims that he has no personal relationship with. It’s unclear exactly what the pattern is.

His list of future victims is culled from local reference libraries.

KACZYNSKI: Remember that I was isolated there in Lincoln. I had this little dinky little library to go to. Once, in a great while, I’d go to Missoula and visit the university library there.

PHILLIP: The librarian, who he befriended, she was, unknowingly, giving him books which he used to target, uh, people for his bombs.

JOEL: And it was a pretty long list. He was going to start killing people as soon as the weather got better.


The unabomber’s next victim has been chosen.

KEVIN: We don’t know who’s on the list. You have to wonder, Am I next?

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: Some dots can be joined but they are few and a little bit fuzzy. You have a bomber who’s not terribly skilled at creating bombs and is clearly spending a great deal of time creating them based on the parts that he has to accumulate from various places or, in some cases, make himself. So, all of these things tell you something about the bomber, but is it, at this point, enough to lead to the bomber’s identity? No, it’s not.

CHRIS: I assumed that he might’ve been a GI that had had a real bad experience in Vietnam — coming home and just wanted to be off in the woods by himself. I saw him walking and uh… you know, he had a little knapsack, hiking down the road. So, I’ll stop and offer him a ride, and he was very cordial, and he said, “No, thank you.”

JOEL: This is a bomb that’s different from the others. This is in a hollowed-out book. A book called “Ice Brothers”, by Sloan Wilson. It is accompanied by a letter and the letter is intended to encourage him to want to read the book. So, the book has been hollowed out and turned into a box to contain an explosive device.

NEWSREADER: Bleeding heavily from cuts in his face, left hand and leg, Wood managed to walk next door for help.

INTERVIEWEE: There was blood all over his face, and he had...his hand was really bloody. He was shocked that somebody would do such a thing, but he didn’t-he had no idea who it was from or why.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: You talk to someone who’s been blown up, or who’s had a loved one blown up, and it’s awful. That doesn’t go away. The fear and the anguish and the trauma that gets burned into their beings by an attack like that does not dissipate.

NEWSREADER: Hospital officials say that surgery to remove bomb fragments from his leg was successful but Wood is expected to remain in intensive care for at least a few more days under police guard.

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: He wrote: “I feel better. I’m still plenty angry. I’m now able to strike back.”

JOEL: The task force is being asked to find solutions to all of this by catching this person before he can do anything else. The pressure was just incredible.

KEVIN: He’s mailing things. There are components that get found at the scene. Why haven’t the clues led to him yet?

JOEL: We have a lot of evidence to work with. We have bombs to work with, we have a handful of letters from the Unabomber. A number of them have Eugene O’Neill stamps attached to them. Is that a message? Does it have some meaning to the bomber? Or is that simply what the bomber got when he went to the postage machine? We don’t know. Is there significance to the fact that these devices use a great deal of wood in their construction? Does the bomber have some interest in wood or is it just happenstance? — We’re trying to figure this thing out.

KEVIN: We’re trying to figure out where the clues might lead, what people… in the investigative community already know. Uh, it’s very, it’s very frustrating.

JOEL: Criminals often operate in the areas in which they are most comfortable. The first devices are placed in Chicago. So, this is a person who is probably, if we’re guessing at this point, probably from the Chicago area.

Evergreen Park, Illinois 1952

DAVID: Our family had moved from a… inner-city neighborhood in Chicago out to a home in the suburbs. It was our first like single-family dwelling. You know my memories of growing up with my brother and my family were very, very positive, very warm memories. This one I think… I think is Dad, Ted and myself, taken, I believe, at one of our favorite hiking places, a state park called Starved Rock, where they had some lovely cliffs that we would climb. My father had really loved the nature. I think the love of nature, I think, came to both of us through Dad.

KACZYNSKI: One thing I found when living in the woods was that you get so that you don’t worry about the future, you don’t worry about dying, if things are good right now, you think, “Well if I die next week, so what?”Things are good right now.

DAVID: Our family valued intelligence, success in school. My brother had skipped a grade and then went through high school in three years. He was at Harvard University at the age of 16, and I remember one of my buddies telling another kid, “Hey, Dave’s brother’s really smart, he’s in Harvard. He’s like another Einstein. Well, maybe not another Einstein, but...” I said, “What do you mean, not another Einstein?”

Harvard University

With a genius IQ of 168 in 1958, Kaczynski wins a scholarship to Harvard at the age of just 16.

Roy Wright — Harvard Classmate

ROY: He was a bit on the shy side, but definitely not antisocial. Once he got to know you — not once you got to know him — once he got to know you, he could talk and talk. And we were talking about things that weren’t trivial, they weren’t bullshit, they were just, they were about what was right and wrong. And Ted was concerned, and was more savvy than I was, about corporate and, and governmental impact on the environment and on… and on us. And some of the ideas that he articulated later, I distinctly have memories of talking about.

KACZYNSKI: You can’t live as a free person as a member of a large-scale system. There is another way to live and you don’t have to live the way we do in this system. I’ve been anti-technology ever since 1962. My last year at Harvard was the year when I definitely decided I was against technology.

It was at this time that Ted Kaczynski began to show increasing signs of withdrawal.

ROY: One roommate said that, uh, if they went down to the dining hall and… saw him there and sat down with him, he’d just-they never saw anybody finish his food faster and without saying a word, would just leave. You know, so I felt hurt at first that, that he had just sort of ignored or, or obliterated our friendship, but I wasn’t alone. I mean, he was… he was not just shy, now he was really antisocial.

DAVID: Ted had come home from school. You know, I was getting a little more intellectual, reading more serious books, and I had some ideas and I couldn’t wait to tell my big brother about my ideas, but it seemed like, wow, he was very dismissive of my ideas. And he said, “You know, Dave, real smart people have a sadistic streak. Almost all of them do.” I was a little surprised by that, but the behavior he showed to me in putting down, dismissing my ideas was what he had encountered at Harvard when people were demeaning toward him when he expressed his philosophy of life.

Michigan University

He moved to the University of Michigan to earn a PhD in theoretical mathematics. By 1968 he is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

KACZYNSKI: Mathematics was just a game and I wasn’t satisfied spending my life playing a game. Second place, I wanted to get out of the system and out into the wilderness.

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick- Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP: When he resigned, his department chair said, “Gee, you know, I want you to stay.” And Ted Kaczynski wrote in his diary, “This fool thinks I want to remain at the university, when all I wanted was a job to save enough money so that I could buy a piece of land to live in the wild.”

Lincoln, Montana 1972

KACZYNSKI: So I went up to Montana and when I went through Lincoln there was a little sign saying ‘Real Estate’ outside. I said, “What do you have around here that’s really secluded?”

DAVID: “Wow, Ted, great! Go for it!” You know. ‘This is wonderful. You’re your own person, you know, you’re doing what-- You’re living in the way that you want to rather than in the way other people expect you to live.’

KACZYNSKI: You know, up above my cabin, there used to be old-growth trees, trees hundreds of years old, and there is… a guy who’s a neighbour of mine. Butch Gehring, and this guy is a… he’s a real bastard. He runs a sawmill and just spews this filthy pollution into the air. Not to mention the noise pollution from his engine. And the guy’s not only a logger and a sawmill operator, but he’s a particularly irresponsible one.

JAMIE: So back behind here is the road in which Ted would use to leave his cabin and walk or bicycle into town. And every time he would do that, he would pass my father Butch Gehring’s sawmill over here on the right. The sawmill is very loud and probably very disruptive. It’s almost like a very loud humming as a log would go through the saw, and so that was constant all day long while the mill was active. Ted probably would have been very irritated to hear that noise.

KACZYNSKI: My intention was to put him out of business once and for all.

JAMIE: He sanded the sawmill, putting sand into the engine so that it just goes through the entire, the entire unit and shuts it down, and they had to repair everything to be up and running again and it was a huge cost. My dad, well, there was nothing, really, he could do. He thought it could have been, you know, some kids playing a prank. I mean, he just didn’t know who, who did it.

CHRIS: There were those little times when I realized that there was a whole side to this person that I did not know. I just shudder to think how I had, uh, unknowingly, helped him do the things that he did that were so heinous. Ted was actually at his home cabin and some motorcycles went riding real loud, real fast, and he was livid, uh, furious.

KACZYNSKI: They would ride their motorcycles on a road that was supposed to be closed, that sort of thing, and they just didn’t give a damn. And after I figured I’d had just about as much as I could take of that, I picked a nice rainy day when no one would be around and I went over and took an axe to their cabin. I did them quite a bit of damage.

CHRIS: I mean, somebody was very angry. He didn’t break the door in to gain access, he chopped a hole right through the wall.

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: He went in and just destroyed their cabin and then took a poop in their tub and, and left.

KACZYNSKI: Normally when I did monkeywrenching, I made sure to do it far from home so that, you know, I wouldn’t be a suspect. So then about a week later, two sheriff’s deputies and a game warden came to my cabin and knocked on the door and they asked me “Ted, you cover quite a bit of the territory on foot around here, don’t you?” And I said “Yeah, I do.” And they said, “Have you ever seen anybody doing any damage to any buildings around here?” And I said “No.”

CHRIS: He took a risk, you know, looking back now, of being caught. The sheriff came and talked to me. He knew that I knew Ted and he said, “Well, do you think that that friend of yours, do you think he coulda done that?” And I said, “Oh, no.” I said, “He wouldn’t do… you know, he’s got his quirks. We all do.” And I believe I was instrumental in getting him removed as a suspect.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: The FBI prides itself on being able to solve big crimes, and a lot of the way they do that is you get tips. You get information coming’ in. It’s not so much you knocking’ on doors. You gotta know where to knock on doors, and they’re not getting the door-knock tips. It’s not coming to them. It’s driving ‘em nuts.

KACZYNSKI: The FBI is just incompetent. I mean you wouldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have believed it, before I saw my case from the inside, how incompetent these people are.

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: It’s not unusual when a serial killer’s apprehended that the police had already interviewed him once or even twice, all right? They… you know, they have an eye on a group of people. Ted Kaczynski never showed up on that kind of radar.

THERESA: Does your commitment to undermining the techno-industrial system come from a sense of duty, a sense of obligation, or is it more personal?

KACZYNSKI: A lot more personal.

Theresa Kintz — Lecturer in Sociology & Former Editor for the Earth First! Journal

THERESA: One of the things that’s very interesting about Kaczynski is the personal is political. Everything that he’s writing about and talking about in the abstract, is also… related to very concrete experiences that Kaczynski has had.

KACZYNSKI: I hate the system, not because of some abstract humanitarian principle, but because I hated living in the system. And I got out of it by getting into the mountains, but the system wouldn’t let me alone.

Inside his cabin he had an assortment of chemicals for bomb making and a handmade gun collection.

JAMIE: It is frightening, sometimes, you know, terrifying, to find out what he was doing.

WENDY: We had this logger that was learning to log with Belgian horses. So, they’re huge animals. And, um, when he brought the logs off the hill, it tore up the grass, and so, one day, Butch said, go seed that area up there. And Tessa (my daughter) was maybe three years old. And so, I was up there seeding. And the trees were about 3 feet high, so she was just a toddler and she would disappear into ‘em. And the hair on the back of my neck went up, and I thought it was a mountain lion, and so I told her, It’s time to leave. But it turned out it was Ted. He had a... a gun on her. And I asked the FBI after they figured out it was Ted, he had written in his journals. He had written something about… ‘it would be easy to take the little bitch out, but then the big bitch could get away.’ Or ‘if I shoot the big bitch, then the little bitch would be, um, left on the hill.’ But it’s too close to his home, and that’s, you know, he didn’t want to bring attention to himself. It’s probably the only thing that saved us.

Utah 1981

The Unabomber travels by bus to salt lake city

GREG: The next bomb was October 8th, 1981, and was found by a maintenance worker in the University of Utah, and was defused. So a bomb that is not detonated provides a substantial amount of evidence, a better idea of how it’s constructed.

Joel Moss — FBI Supervisory Special Agent, UNABOMBER Task Force

JOEL: The design is essentially a can of gasoline with a small pipe bomb inside of it. Apparently, the intent is that the pipe bomb will explode and create a large flame out of the gasoline. It doesn’t function that way, uh, because it’s recovered intact, but it’s very significant. Apparently, he’s branching out. He has come to Utah. He shows no sign of stopping, there’s no reason to think he will stop. And it’s sort of a race against time now, whether he can be caught before he does another bombing.

Lincoln, Montana 1982

WENDY: Ted was sly because we would think he was holed up in his cabin, but he was in Salt Lake. He would come back and stay in the woods until he got all scruffy again, and then we would see him. I think he planned a lot of that.

JOEL: So the device which is mailed to Vanderbilt University, which is not opened by its intended victim but by the victim’s assistant, is significant in, in a couple of ways. It’s mailed from Utah, so now we have another connection to Utah. It’s also another design in that it’s a pipe bomb, but the pipe in this case is a P-trap, a plumbing pipe that you’d find under a sink. So, it appears that the bomber is still experimenting with different designs.

NEWSREADER: Fischer was the intended victim of a bomb sent to Vanderbilt University by the Unabomber, but his secretary, Janet Smith, intercepted the package, opened it and was seriously injured when it exploded.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: Your usual serial killer is hunting for women, hunting for young boys, hunting for vulnerable people in dark alleys or lonely roads. It’s not someone hunting for… scientists. That stands out.

KACZYNSKI: THere are computer experts now that are quite seriously, in all seriousness, thinking of getting rid of the human race and replacing us with computers. They think that in 50 years from now we can download our brains into computers. And in this way attain immortality as machines. And I think a lot of people, other than activists, will be upset by that kind of thing.

NEWS CLIP: (Voice of FBI Spokesperson) Unfortunately, despite years of detailed investigative work and the extraordinary talents of the three law enforcement agencies represented on the Unabomb taskforce, we have no viable suspects.

JOEL: Pressure to solve the case is coming from all quarters. There’s political pressure; a lot of politicians weighing in, criticizing the task force for not having solved the case. You have all the victims and all their families who want to know why you haven’t solved this case yet. What haven’t we thought of? What investigative technique or program have we not undertaken?

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: He plans ahead carefully, he selects his targets. He is very forensically aware.

PAUL: The bomber is clever. You can leave fingerprints on any of the components, you can leave fingerprints on the inside of the tape. There’re simply lots of ways to have your fingerprints appear, and they don’t. There’re also lots of opportunities to leave hair behind. There’s no hair found in any of these devices, nothing’s stuck under a piece of tape.

KACZYNSKI: If you look at these minute traces they get at a crime scene it’s much less effective than they pretend. And add to that, the fact that the FBI lab’s incompetent.

NEWSREADER: Professor Diogenes Angelakos remembers he was in the faculty lounge of the electrical engineering building, when he saw a package sitting on the floor.

NEWS CLIP: “Professor: And it took all the flesh off these fingers and left just the bones in the upper part.”

GREG: (Reads) “Frustrating… that I can’t seem to make a lethal bomb.”

JOEL: The 1982 Corey Hall device contains a note. It’s a very short type-written sentence: Wu, W-U, “It works! I told you it would, R.V.” Now we have potentially a clue or potentially an intended red herring, but it has to be run out in either case. You try to find people named Wu. Do they know anybody who has initials named R.V.? And if they don’t, we still will try to find all the people in that area who have, uh, the name R.V.

KEVIN: You know, you could tell it was a guy who was intellectually enjoying this, and is not stupid. Because a lot of criminals are stupid, or at least ignorant, and they don’t do things like the Unabomber did. They don’t conduct their campaign of terror the way the Unabomber is conducting his campaign of terror.

Then suddenly his campaign of terror ends as abruptly as it began.

JOEL: It makes you ask where has this person gone? What’s happened now? So, the possibilities you have to consider are that he’s already some sort of criminal and perhaps he’s ended up in jail or prison. It’s just one more factor to add to the picture that you’re trying to build, the picture you’re trying to paint of this bomber.

CHRIS: I happened to be up doing some digging, getting some gravel, and I had-it was about five o’clock. I remember it vividly. I was going home. It was an explosion. And I thought… uh… the sound couldn’t carry from anybody mining on the other side of the divide. It was a mystery. It was a mystery that I, I never did solve.

Deep in the forest the unabomber’s been secretly testing a new explosive mix.

JOEL: Now the explosive mixture changes to ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. You have to go to some effort to create this. In 1985, the Unabomber reappears. and he reappears in a significant way. 85 is a very busy year. If it was possible to ratchet up the pressure further, it did. I think fear is a… is a good word for what the public is feeling. There doesn’t seem to be a clear pattern that allows people to say, Well, it won’t affect me. So, there are very few people in the United States who can say, “There’s absolutely no chance that I could ever encounter the Unabomber.”

Ep. 2 — Campaign of Terror (Part 2)

More Powerful Bombs

KEVIN: He’s smart because he was figuring out how to build the bombs better as time goes on. There’s an amazing, meticulous quality to the bombs. They were very cleverly done.

JOEL: The bomber has been moving, the targets have been different. Most cases don’t go on this length of time without some sort of solution.

KACZYNSKI: Up until the mid 80’s I thought the situation was hopeless, I thought there was nothing that could be done to stop the technological system from going the way it was. All my monkeywrenching activities were simply… It was simple anger and revenge, I’ll tell you frankly. To me, I felt that I was almost completely alone in this respect.

JOEL: So far, he hasn’t killed anyone. He’s clearly trying to.

GREG: The next package was sent May 15th, 1985. That was discovered at the University of California at Berkeley.

JOEL: He’s back to Berkeley. Is that significant? Why did this person feel comfortable coming back to this campus again?

NEWS CLIP: (John Hauser 1985 bomb victim) “Zap! You know, it exploded, and threw my hand over to the side. I could see my hand was really, really torn up very badly, then I noticed that I had this big gash out of my arm and blood was starting to… to bubble up out of there.”

JOEL: I responded to the crime scene, along with the other members of the San Francisco FBI office. It is, as with most bombings, a rather horrific scene. There is debris all over the room, there is blood.

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: He’s putting clues inside. He punches a little… stamps ‘FC’ into the bomb material or he puts it on the little plate.

JOEL: No one knows what it means. These are just two initials. There’s a great deal of speculation and investigation to try to figure out what this could mean. There are all kinds of ideas presented within the task force and outside the task force As to what ‘FC’ could stand for.

KEVIN: This is a guy who is really paying attention to his craft, the bits that he left in his bombs referring to the ‘FC’, and the wood references that he makes, Percy Wood, and the bits of wood used in his bomb. He was probably too vain, you know, thought he was too clever to avoid it, but they’re clues.

Gary Wright — Unabomber Survivor

GARY: ‘Does the Unabomber mean anything to you?’ No. ‘Do the initials FC mean anything to you?’ No. Only in terms of a DOS command, you know? Nothing there that I could think of.

JOEL: We pursued it as far as it could be pursued to see if it meant something, and it was another dead end.

The Journals

The Unabomber’s most intimate thoughts are recorded in a secret journal.

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: (Reads) “I’m no longer bothered by having crippled this guy. I laughed at the idea of having any compunction about crippling an airline pilot.”

JOEL: Thousands and thousands of pages — 22,000 pages — of hand-written material, entries about what he’d been doing on a particular day, to things he was eating, to his history, people he knew, jobs he’d had, to experiments about how to make bombs.

GREG: (Reads) “I think that, perhaps, I could now kill someone. I emphasize that my motivation is personal revenge. My ambition is to kill a scientist, big businessman, government official or the like.”

Sasha Reid PhD — Developmental Psychologist

SASHA: It’s the world that was inside his head. Nobody would have been able to see that.


JOEL: There were entries that were entirely just mathematical, just numerical entries. Pages and pages of numbers and it turned out a key within the writings allowed translation of these numerical documents. Those turned out to be direct confessions to all of the Unabomb crimes and how he felt about them. So, he had gone to great lengths to write them in a code, such that if anybody stumbled into the cabin, burglar or whomever, they wouldn’t be able to make anything out of it.

THERESA: You studied math, right? Why?

KACZYNSKI: I just got a kick out of it. I enjoyed it.

THERESA: Really? How interesting.

TED: Pure mathematics is useless from a practical point of view and that’s what I studied (laughs). I mean, a lot of people don’t understand what mathematicians really do, you know? They think they sit there adding up columns of figures or something like that. But that isn’t what it is. It’s more like puzzle solving.

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: Butch didn’t know he had a college degree. He knew he was smart. I mean, Ted would come up here and help him work on the house. And the math he could do in his head was phenomenal. You have to do a lot of math to know how to do the lumber. So, I always was impressed with Butch’s knowledge of math. He said Ted was so much faster than him that he knew he had to be an educated man.

David Kaczynski — Brother

DAVID: Sometimes he would tutor me in mathematics cause he was very, very gifted in mathematics. I’m remembering, one time he was… I was probably in fourth grade and he’s trying to show me how to do algebra and I’m thinking, I don’t really understand this. And my parents are saying, “You know, Teddy, I don’t think David really understands.” And Teddy says, “Yeah, yeah, he does. You understand, don’t you, Dave?” And I said, “Yeah, I think so.” (Laughs)

GREG: I think one of the reasons that he… gravitated towards math, it’s something he could do in isolation. It’s not a team project.

KACZYNSKI: So, this dumb guidance councellor in school said I should skip a grade and it was a disaster, because I was not accepted by the older kids, and this generated a great deal of resentment I remember and the relentless quality of these people, I wanted to revenge myself on them.

DAVID: There were parts of him that were a little different. He was a little um… Oh, what I… I, I don’t know how to describe it. Ted did not have many friends. There were periods of time when nobody ever came to the house to visit Ted.

PETER: His adolescence is now troubled. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily traumatic, uh, but it’s troubled. It’s the beginning.

Potential Early Trauma

DAVID: I actually asked mom, Mom, what’s wrong with Teddy? And, you know, mom’s saying, “What, what do you mean? There’s nothing wrong with Teddy. What are you talking about?” And I said, “Well, he doesn’t have any friends. I mean, why?” It was at that point that mom decided, uh, she needed to share something with me, so that I could hopefully understand my brother better. And this was a memory that had haunted her really all her life. As mom described it, he originally, you know, he was like a laughing, active baby. He had gotten sick. Like good parents, they took him to the hospital. He ended up being in the hospital for over a week as they tried to diagnose what the problem was — there were rashes on his body. Mom always faulted the hospital. They would have been there every day visiting him, but the hospital said no. It’s kind of like, we don’t want parents to be in the way. We’ve got our work to do, we have our little baby to cure, so keep your distance. They were only allowed to visit him two times a week, for two hours. After that, he was completely shut down. Like there was no smiling, there-- the eye contact was no longer there. She and our father tried for-- it took them a couple of weeks after Ted came home from the hospital to get him to the point where he would seem to trust a little bit and make some eye contact.


PETER: There is this theory that an infant that doesn’t bond with the mother, develops psychopathy as a defensive mechanism; that they feel no pain, they feel no trauma, but, of course, at the same time, they lose the sense of empathy, a moral compass.

DAVID: At the tail end of that conversation, she said, you know, “Ted may have felt abandoned as a little baby. Don’t ever abandon your brother, David, because that’s what he fears the most.” And of course, I’m thinking, well, I’ll never abandon Ted. Why would I abandon Ted? I love Ted. But, of course, those words echoed in my mind years and years later when we had to deal with Ted’s violence.

KACZYNSKI: People today are excessively afraid of pain and death. If the system does break down, with or without the help of revolutionaries, there’s going to be a lot of violence and what sort of dilemma does this pose for nonviolent radicals?

KEVIN: He’s clever, really meticulous, probably obsessive-compulsive, fastidious, and super-smart.

JOEL: There is an indication that the bomber has some familiarity with construction techniques and has access to machine tools. They’re getting better in that sense.

CHRIS: I was up on a job that I was working, so nobody was home, and the UPS driver come roarin’ up into the driveway and Ted was inside of an open-ended shed. And I have a little work bench in there with the drill press and, you know, files, different drill bits. There’s a vice. And here was Ted. He had nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. And I asked the UPS driver after, Well, what was he workin’ on? And he said, “Well, I didn’t see. He put his body right in front of the vice, whatever he was working on there.” And I said, “Well, what was his body language like?” He said, “Consternation”. (Laughs) You know, very serious face and “Chris isn’t home.”

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: I just think we should’ve been more observant. In this community, you… you help your neighbor, but you also give ‘em their space.

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

JAMIE: He was so reclusive and secretive that there’s just really no way we could’ve gone from the hermit in the cabin to the Unabomber. It’s just such a far stretch.

KACZYNSKI: I almost always succeeded in avoiding meeting people in the woods. I would keep off the trails and keep toward the.. Keep to the most isolated parts.

JAMIE: His clothing was ripped and tattered and still-- hair wild, eyes wild.

Wendy: Filthy dirty, just… the layers of dirt on his skin was like crusted.

KACZYNSKI: So, I have these old dirty, ragged clothes on… and I had a… I took a baseball cap and I put a neck cloth on it, so that I could take the neckcloth and button it over to the side. So it would cover the lower part of my face. So here I was walking down this trail, I had a bedroll slung over my shoulder, and I had a canteen hanging here and a bottle of cooking oil hanging here and I had a rifle slung in the crook of my arm, you know? And I’m striding down this trail. And all of a sudden, I meet ‘em coming in the opposite direction, a couple of kids that looked like college kids, you know, out on a field trip or something like that. And there I am with a rifle over my arm, my face covered, and so these kids wouldn’t think I was a bandit or something, you know, I pulled the thing down, so it would not cover my face anymore. And I said, “hi.” And they sort of looked at me and said, “hi.” (Laughs)

JAMIE: One thing that really sticks out, to me, in my memory, there was one day where I was walking up to our rock quarry, which I did frequently, and just taking a walk by myself. And I rounded a corner… there was Ted, and we almost just ran into each other, and it startled both of us. But at that point, I just remember being scared. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I knew something was wrong, something was out of place. Not a word was said, and I remember just… almost running back home and constantly looking over my shoulder to, to see if he was still there. I was truly fearful of him.

The FBI is still struggling to pin down the Unabombers location.

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: We begin trying to figure out ways to match up, now, these different geographic areas. So you have a series of bombs in Chicago, Utah, and now Northern California. Bombs are being placed and mailed from these locations, so the bomber has to be physically there. Are there data sets that you can acquire that you could begin filtering to look for somebody who follows this pattern? No one has seen the bomber, but we have behavioral experts who give us their assessments, and one of the things that is most likely is that the bomber is a, a white male, uh, between 35 and 45, who is at least comfortable on University campuses, perhaps works at a University campus. All these things taken together mean that you can begin to paint a picture of the person who is doing this.

Salt Lake City, Utah 1985

In November he travels by bus to Utah to mail his next bomb.

GREG: It did detonate. It caused injuries to the assistant, the grad assistant that opened the package, and some temporary hearing loss by both Professor McConnell and the assistant.

NEWS CLIP: (Voice of Nicklaus Suino) I remember specifically a sense of the package expanding in my hands.

JOEL: There’s got to be a reason that the bomber is choosing these people. Does he know them? Do they represent something to him? What is the connection that’s making him pick these people out of the universe of people that he could use for his devices?

Ann Arbor, Michigan 1985

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: I was in Ann Arbor, and that’s how I became involved in the case.I was doing a lot of investigation regarding Professor McConnell, trying to figure out-- basically, doing what we call a victimization, where you try to figure out who he might be in contact with or for what reasons somebody would send him a bomb, and what the connection was between McConnell and the previous victims, and we weren’t coming up with much.

JOEL: Doctor McConnell is a professor of psychology. That is a new element to the case. Why now? We have a very — what appears to be a clear connection to universities and the airline industry, but now a psychologist. What does that mean? It must mean something, but that’s left for us to figure out what.

Ann Arbor, Michigan 1962

GREG: Ted was accepted into Michigan when he graduated from Harvard. He got here in 1962. He stayed at Michigan until 1967, when he got his Ph.D. in mathematics. And for the first three years he was here, he lived in East Quad, right here. We know a lot about what Ted was thinking. He wrote, hand-wrote, a very voluminous journal. This is what he wrote: (reads) “During my years at Michigan, I occasionally began having dreams. Some psychologist would either be trying to convince me that I was “sick” or would be trying to control my mind. I would grow angrier, and finally, I would break out in physical violence. At the moment when I killed the psychologist, I experienced a great feeling of relief and liberation.

David Kaczynski — Brother

DAVID: It was pretty obvious that he had some psychological problems that were pretty serious. I think in some ways, you know, the family was, “Okay, well, let’s not talk about it. Let’s let things settle down and then we’ll recover normalcy (laughs). You know, it was significant enough that, you know, probably we should have sought help then.

GREG: According to his diary, those were not happy times for him. He apparently had issues with his social awkwardness and I think it was a turning point for him, in a lot of ways, in his thinking about his interaction with society.

KACZYNSKI: There was a certain point at which I reached a crisis and I just felt so desolate. I was so empty that I just got depressed and also desperate that I thought that no one cared about me.

GREG: He had difficulties with the opposite sex and ultimately, that manifested itself into some thoughts about actually killing people. He became that angry. I think maybe initially with himself, and ultimately with society, because he felt that uh… he was a victim to some extent.

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP: He writes he was at the library and there was a girl there that, uh, he chatted with and he had a desire to spend more time, to connect with her. And she seemed available.

GREG: He talks about trying to get up the nerve to call her. And ultimately, he never makes the call. He said something derogatory about the female and I think that says something about, you know, Ted’s maybe feeling of inadequacy.

Sasha Reid Ph.D. — Developmental Psychologist

SACHA: At the very end of his last year in Michigan, for about two weeks he had been having erotomanic fantasies about being a woman. Now, it’s not that Ted wanted to be a woman. There wasn’t any kind of gender dysphoria. Ted fantasized about being a woman because I think he couldn’t have relationships with women. He’d never had an experience with a woman. So, for whatever reason, he wanted a sex change.

GREG: So, he made an appointment to go see the University of Michigan psychologist at the health service and uh… he went to see them and at the last minute, decided he didn’t want to talk about having a sex change.

SACHA: He decided he couldn’t go through with it. He couldn’t talk about his erotomanic fetishes, he couldn’t talk about his desire for a sex change. He described feeling extreme violent anger towards the psychiatrist. Feelings of rage and shame and humiliation. And in 1966, this is where Ted begins to fantasize about killing.

GREG: (Reads) “And so, I said to myself, why not really kill that psychiatrist and anyone else whom I hate?”

“During my years at Michigan, I occasionally began having dreams. Some psychologist would either be trying to convince me that I was “sick” or would be trying to control my mind. I would grow angrier, and finally, I would break out in physical violence. At the moment when I killed the psychologist, I experienced a great feeling of relief and liberation.

SACHA: All of his anger bubbles to a point where it’s no longer contained. Just thinking about the homicides, writing in his diary, all of this provided him with a sense of relief, and also, sexual satisfaction. Ted describes leaving this appointment as a major turning point in his life. In fact, he said, “Like a phoenix, I burst from the ashes of my despair to glorious new hope.”

GREG: (Reads) “I will kill, but I will make at least some effort to avoid detection so that I can kill again.”

PHILLIP: He didn’t do it for a while after that, but that’s when he first thought of it, of actually killing human beings.

SACHA: It is typical. The majority of serial killers don’t start killing the second they get the inclination to. They wait, they think, they plan. Especially somebody like Ted who is so methodical, so thoughtful, so calculating. He-he wasn’t going to kill right away. And he didn’t express those thoughts to anybody. Not to family, not to friends. He wrote them in his diary, but that’s private. So how would you have been able to see whether or not Ted was going to be a homicidal offender?

DAVID: We didn’t know, of course, nobody knew what was waiting for Ted. It kind of looked like, “Wow, Ted is… Ted’s future is bright, it’s open, it’s beautiful.” I remember a picture of my brother in which he’s… he’s not quite looking at the camera, he’s looking off to the side, and I saw, “Wow, he’s looking into the future.” A future maybe only he can see, you know? This hopeful vision of a future that would be full of accomplishment and uh… good works. I think the first really awful crisis we experienced as brothers was when I got a job working in the same factory that my father worked at and I was, um, living at home, and Ted said he wanted to earn some money. He came back to work in the same factory.

KACZYNSKI: I would periodically leave for periods of a couple of weeks, to a few months, to get a job somewhere and earn some money to get by. The last time I had a job on just a… I spent a year, approximately a year in the Chicago area working.

DAVID: Something really surprised me. He asked one of the girls there to go out with him and she started going out with him. They had three or four dates and he came back seeming really happy. I mean, he even told me, burst into my room one day and said, “She kissed me.” And then, after a few dates, the girl said that she really didn’t-- wasn’t romantically interested, that maybe they could be friends, and Ted was extremely upset. He wrote these limericks that he-- you know, very unflattering, ugly sort of limericks about her and he posted them around the worksite. I confronted him. I said, Why are you doing this? And he said, “You don’t know what she did to me.” And I said… I basically threatened him that I would fire him, cause I had a small little job as a supervisor there. And sure enough, the next day, he came back and put another one of the limericks up. So, are you gonna fire me? And I said, Yeah, Ted, go home.

SACHA: After he had been fired from his brother’s factory, he ended up waiting in that woman’s car. He had contemplated mutilating her, but decided against it.

Theresa Kintz — Lecturer in Sociology & Former Editor for the Earth First! Journal

THERESA: There are a lot of elements of Kaczynski that are, that are hyper-masculine.

KACZYNSKI: There are women who write to me just because they.. There are women who just think that high profile prisoners are attractive and they want a personal relationship with them. And they send me pictures of themselves and tell me about their, you know, personal feelings and things like that.

WENDY: In my opinion, he hated women. He had no use for us. Butch was a bachelor, so his house was a little messy. So the first like two weeks or so I was just kinda cleaning up, and I was just dinking around — I was 23, wasn’t wearing many clothes. I turned around and there’s this nasty looking guy peeping through our plant window. And I’m like, “What the heck?” So, I run into the bathroom and I throw some clothes on. I’m like, “Why didn’t Butch teach me how to shoot a gun yet?” It was Ted, he wanted to know what day it was and what time it was and it… He was very polite, but it was like, this is really weird that you would, you know, wanna know what day it was and what time it was.

CHRIS: Ted had such an ideal situation with my place, because he could sit across in total hiding and peer out from behind a… a big gravel pile, and trees growing out of it, and he could sit and watch. He could sit and watch my wife, you know, jump into the hot tub with me. He watched. He would watch. I mean, that sounds like a silly thing, but it does change things. You feel violated that your privacy has been taken away from you and now you no longer trust, well, is he there or is he not there?

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: Just like Ted Kaczynski continually improved on his bombs, a sexual serial killer will continually improve on his rapes and abductions of women. And so, it’s an addiction. And definitely that repetitive pattern, we, we certainly see in Kaczynski’s bomb making. I think the bombs were his sex.

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: So, if you keep having enough of these devices sooner or later someone will get killed. They’re, they’re that good. It’s not just a worry, it’s a belief. They just haven’t had the right set of circumstances for anyone to die yet.

NEWSCASTER: 38-year-old Hugh Scrutton died when he spotted a paper bag by a dumpster at the back of his store. When he picked up the device it exploded. Debris was blown through the walls of the building. Shrapnel was strewn 150 yards into a back parking lot.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: Hugh Scrutton was a student at UC Berkeley at the time that Kaczynski was teaching there. And I think there’s a good chance Scrutton wound up on Kaczynski’s victim list because he’d caught his eye somehow.

KACZYNSKI: The good part about teaching was teaching the few students who were really interested in the subject and the bad part was teaching the rest (laughing).

KEVIN: He didn’t forget anything. Someone offended him some way or another, I would not doubt that they wound up on his victim list.

GREG: (Reads) “Excellent. Humane way to eliminate somebody. He probably never felt a thing.”

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP: He expressed pleasure because he had been able to increase the power of his bombs as he became, you know, smarter with each one. And so, it’s kind of chilling, and there is no tone of remorse. It is more pleasure in improving his skills at killing people.

JOEL: You’ve had four devices in 1985, one with a fatality. Everybody, of course, is expecting that the pace will pick up.

PHILLIP: In order to put the FBI off their track, he deliberately went to a men’s room in the bus station, picked up a number of pubic hairs and brought them back and inserted them in his next bomb, so that when the FBI did their analysis of the bombing, that they would find DNA strands that had nothing to do with him.

Missoula, Montana 1987

He travels from Missoula, Montana to Salt Lake City, Utah

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: February 20th, 1987, another bomb was found in the parking area of a computer store in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Gary Wright — Unabomber Survivor

GARY: I noticed there was this piece of wood sitting kind of next to the building, between the cars where I’d park. One of my employees saw him place the device in the parking lot. Um… didn’t know it was a device, obviously. She got busy, the office got busy, and it was just like, “Enh, it’s a piece of wood, whatever.” There were four nails sticking out of this piece of wood. And I was thinking to myself, That’s kind of odd. But it was only a second, you know? I just hesitated for a second. I reached down. I put my fingers on the end, on the bottom piece, and when I lifted it, it sounded almost like a fighter jet. Just a screech. And I thought, “Oh, God, I might not make it.” Everything went in slow motion and the only way I can describe it is like, um, if you think about The Matrix, when he’s dodging bullets and things like that. And I noticed these things that looked like needles, kind of, that were threaded through my shirt.

GREG: When you make a pipe bomb, the explosion will take the path of least resistance. And the pipe actually expands like a balloon to a point when then it, it bursts. And the pipe itself becomes shrapnel. And then if you surround it with additional shrapnel, it makes it extremely deadly.

GARY: You can see where the pieces of shrapnel tracked, directly along… along my face. You can see where it came into my chin, through the lower lip, under the upper lip. The piece of metal that embedded below my nose, had it been out a fraction of an inch, probably would have gone straight in the brain. The guy before me was killed with the same bomb, just in a different package. I was experiment 121.

In his coded bomb-making journal, each device is listed as a numbered experiment

GARY: I’m reading journal entries from what he calls experiments. “My device detonated, but the results, as far as we could find out, did not do enough to satisfy us.” This is a picture of my left leg. I mean, I’m looking at, you know, lots of different sizes of pieces, but, you know, you’ve got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. I mean, that’s one small section, so I’m gonna take a guess that there’s maybe fifty or so pieces of shrapnel on the one side of the leg.

Sasha Reid Ph.D. — Developmental Psychologist

SASHA: A bomb is so impersonal. Unless you’re physically there, you can’t actually see it. You can’t see the person suffer. You can’t see the pain.

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: Common question asked of all serial killers, well, you know, what did it feel like to kill someone? And, and most serial killers say the same thing — didn’t feel anything.

PAUL: As investigators, you cannot help but want to end this before it happens to the next person. And to give to the people who’ve been victimized some sense of… an answer to why this happened. Why was his store chosen? You know, he’s probably asking himself that. But we don’t have any good answers for them at this point.

GARY: The part that just becomes so weird is… why, and then why, and… and why again, right, um, would somebody try to kill you? Because it did come down to somebody tried to kill you and they’re a murderer, so why would they do that to you?

PAUL: What’s different about this is that for the first time in the case the bomber is seen. It’s huge. An employee inside the store notices some sort of movement through the window, they exchange looks for a couple of seconds perhaps. He finishes what he’s doing and walks away. Immediately, the task force, the authorities there set to work creating a sketch of what the… the person had seen.

GREG: He was wearing a hoodie, a hooded sweatshirt, and aviation sunglasses.

NEWSREADER: Now investigators were able to derive the first police sketches of the elusive killer. A mustached man, apparently in his late twenties.

PETER: So, everybody is speculating what he’s like, including, you know, law enforcement. It’s, of course, it’s a feeding frenzy for the media. Who is the Unabomber? Newsreader: This man is one of the most wanted criminals in America.

NEWSREADER: He’s a white man, five foot ten inches tall, with reddish blond hair, but no one knows his name.

KACZYNSKI: According to the witness’ description, the Unabomber had reddish blond hair, and this was massive. This description was massively publicized, according to which the Unabomber had reddish blond hair. It’s obviously inconvenient that my hair is brown instead of blond.

NEWSREADER: The FBI hopes that someone, in the northern California, San Francisco area the bomber is believed to live in, will recognize this man and turn him in.

Ep. 3 — Capture and Conviction (Part 1)

Sacramento, California 1993

It’s been 6 years since the Unabomber mailed his last bomb.

JOEL: In 1993, the Unabomber reappears. He’s been gone a long time, and he wants to make sure that everyone realizes he’s back.

NEWSREADER: And the FBI says that a letter bomb was mailed to the home of one this country’s foremost geneticists. He is in critical condition tonight in Northern California.

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: It’s a rather large shock. People had gotten used to the idea that the Unabomber would never be heard from again. And all of a sudden, he’s not just back, but he is back in a big way.

NEWSREADER: Dr. Epstein, a genetics researcher at the University of California San Francisco, has made advances in the study of Down’s Syndrome.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: And who could blame him? He lost his eardrums and fingers to this guy just because he was doing his job, trying to help humanity.

NEWSREADER: Investigators say they found no link between the attack and Epstein’s work.

KEVIN: As a reporter, I talked to Epstein, and Dr.Epstein, in particular, was mad till the day he died, and I don’t blame him one tiny bit.

KACZYNSKI: I think especially useful targets would be things like computer centers, or let’s say, for example, genetic engineering laboratories because these are sort of the cutting edge of the system’s progress. … Because I think a lot of people are threatened by things like genetic engineering or super-intelligent computers.

NEWSREADER: The letter bomb went off at 8:30 this morning at Yale’s computer science center. 38-year-old associate professor David Gelernter was opening his mail in his fifth-floor office when the letter bomb exploded.

JOEL: So now you have two devices, one goes to a geneticist, the other goes to a computer science professor at Yale University. The historical significance of the case is not lost on people. There’s been nothing like this in FBI history.

NEWSREADER: The two attacks this week have raised fears that a serial bomber blamed for a dozen explosions in the late ‘70s and ‘80s may be back at work.

JOEL: Overnight, the decision is made to reinvigorate the investigation by putting a lot of resources into it. They’re getting thousands of tips.

KEVIN: Nut cases, kinda nut cases, people you take somewhat seriously, and then ones who think, Wow, maybe you got a point. It’s exhausting.

JOEL: We’re taking in so much information, what if something gets past us? That was the fear we lived with all the time; that the answer has come to us and we’ve passed it by.

NEWSREADER: Local, state and federal continue to work around the clock to collect evidence from the scene of the blast.

With over 150 agents the unabomb case has become the largest and most expensive manhunt in FBI history.

NEWS CLIP: (FBI Agent:) I would imagine it would be a relatively quick determination from residue that we can tell what kind of explosive was involved.

JOEL: He’s now using a chlorate mixture that he’s created which no longer requires a pipe to contain it. So, it explodes on its own once it’s initiated.

KACZYNSKI: In my case, they had DNA results that were called the DQ alpha reading, and this was from postage stamps that were on Unabomb devices, and this supposedly would narrow it down to three percent of the population. In other words three percent of the population would have the same DQ alpha reading. You know, that doesn’t prove very much, three percent of the population, because there are millions of people who would fit into that. You know, one thing I’ve learned to my surprise is that all this stuff is a lot less effective than people think. I mean technology is useful, if it’s used intelligently, but if it’s used by people who are incompetent, then it’s not very effective.

NEWS CLIP: (FBI Director:) We have an announcement of a piece of evidence in the case which has never been made public before.

JOEL: The New York Times receives a letter from the Unabomber. Rather short — it’s a double spaced paragraph, not a lot of words — claiming credit for these bombings. Investigators at the time had high hopes that it would provide some clues. So, you have the typeface, what kind of typewriter wrote this? Where did the paper come from? Can you figure that out? Is the paper significant in some way? Where was it mailed? The type of stamps? Is there any DNA under the flap of the envelope? Are there any fingerprints on the paper or on the envelope? None of that, there’s none of that. There’s no good forensic evidence. What there is, on this letter, is indented writing. The sort of impressions which are created by writing on a surface with a piece of paper under that surface, so you’ve left no ink marks or pencil marks, but you’ve left an indentation. “Call Nathan R. Wednesday, 7pm.” This is taken by the investigators as a mistake that the Unabomber has made. Finally, he has made a mistake.

NEWS CLIP: (FBI Director:) If any members of the public know a Nathan R. or have any idea as to who that person might be and in what context, that information would be of critical importance for us.

KEVIN: We were looking for Nathan R.‘s everywhere. It was crazy.

PAUL: All the task force has to do is find every single one of them, and one of them will know who the Unabomber is. Because he’s going to receive a phone call, on Wednesday at 7pm. How hard can this be, right? Well, it’s tremendously hard. Um… there are a lot of people named Nathan R.

KEVIN: So, you go calling and, you know, you’ve chased down 15 different ways of getting to a Nathan R. Finally, you knock on the door and the guy says, you know, “Who are you? I don’t care. Get lost.” It’s… there’s a lot of that when you’re doing a story like this.

PAUL: Every Nathan R. that they could find, and there are thousands of them. We had them all interviewed to ask these questions. It didn’t lead to a solution.

KEVIN: There’s a sense that he’s fooling them. He’s eluding them. He’s toying with them and taunting them.

PAUL: The pressure that the task force is under is increased by these taunts.

Lincoln, Montana

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

JAMIE: Right over there was Ted’s 10 by 12 cabin. Again, very rustic, very simple, just wood cabin, no electricity, no running water, uh, with a green roof.

KACZYNSKI: Living in the woods, once you get adapted to that way of life, there’s almost no such thing as boredom. You can sit for a while, and just for hours, you can just sit and do nothing and be at peace.

JAMIE: It’s a bit haunting, every time I come back here. I’ve never felt peaceful. I mean, we’re surrounded by beautiful trees, and the birds are chirping, but I have never, I would never use that word to describe how I feel in this spot. Not… not peaceful.

In a coded journal he lists his bombs as “experiments” #243 failed to kill David Gelertner

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

Peter: You know, a lot of people that have perpetrated a single murder, uh, regret it for the rest of their life and will never kill again. What makes the serial killer so particularly fascinating is they’ve gone through the trauma of killing someone and are addicted to it and are ready to do it again and again and again.

KACZYNSKI: I mean, if you’re going to choose an enemy, the head of a corporation is a much bigger enemy than scientists who are developing geneting engineering and that sort of thing. And I think it’s important not to forget that it’s really the core of the system that we have to worry about most

GREG: The investigators are picking up that this is an anarchist who doesn’t like environmental decimation, doesn’t like people who shill for anti-environmentalist causes.

He targets a PR executive who has worked for oil company exxon

NEWSREADER: Investigators say it was a package sent through the mail about the size of a home video cassette. It killed 50-year-old Thomas Mosser, a senior advertising executive at one of the largest ad agencies in the world.

PAUL: He opens it in his kitchen, where his wife and young daughter had been standing next to him just moments before, uh, and he’s killed instantly by the very significant blast at this point.

NEWS CLIP: (U.S. Attorney:) We are all today determined to end the death and destruction that these random bombings have wrought.

JOEL: The pressure to solve it is immense. Desperate is perhaps a fair word at that point.

NEWSREADER: So far thousands of tips phoned into the San Francisco Unabomb Taskforce have led nowhere. And a one-million-dollar reward hasn’t helped either.

PAUL: The phones are ringing constantly. We are getting thousands of calls from the public.


3,000 miles away, the Unabomber’s brother suspects nothing.

David Kaczynski — Brother.

DAVID: We don’t watch TV much. The first time I ever heard the term “Unabomber” was in December of 1994, when the front page of our newspaper said that the Unabomber, whoever that was, had struck again and killed an advertising executive by the name of Thomas Mosser in New Jersey. But I’d never heard the term before.

LINDA: Ted came down here once, didn’t he?

DAVID: No. He never came here. No, I remember him once planning to come. He even told me he had a bus ticket and that he was going to arrive on a certain day, and then he decided not to come, and he said he had too much to do. And of course, I’m thinking, too much to do? I mean, come on, Ted (laughs). What do you have to do? And of course, at that time, I didn’t know how… what he meant.

KACZYNSKI: My brother’s attitudes radically changed when he married. After he got married, his wife completely converted him to a conventional middle-class point of view.

Linda Patrik — Sister-in-Law

LINDA: He and I had never met. I have still never met him. I have never, as far as I know, talked to him over the phone or anything like that. He didn’t like me. He didn’t want David to marry me. He was really furious, I guess, about the wedding and, of course, he didn’t come. And he wrote a letter that was very… very aggressive. Oh, it was really awful. I had never met the guy and nobody could understand why Ted was threatening to break connection with Dave. Every time David and his mother got together, they sat there for hours talking about Ted. His mother was very worried about it because Ted had cut relationships to his mother. So that’s how I began to pick up the sense that he was… unusual, and perhaps mentally… you know, different.

DAVID: Linda was the first one to tell me. Reading some of my brother’s letters, hearing family conversation, she says, “David, your brother’s mentally ill, you know that, don’t you?” And I said, “Wait a second, you don’t really understand him. He’s a genius, he’s different. He’s ba-blah-blah...” “David, look at this, people who are healthy in their minds don’t think like this.”

By now the Unabomber has cut all ties with his family

In his cabin he studies political and philosophical texts and discovers the french anarchist philosopher Jaczques Ellul.

KACZYNSKI: But, I had never heard of anyone who had come right out against the technological system as a whole until I read Ellul. So, I was enthusiastic about it when I read Ellul because I figured, fuck, this guy’s been saying things that I’d been wanting to say all along.

The Unabomber begins to type his own philosophical tract.

KACZYNSKI: Back about 1972, I wrote sort of a preliminary essay on the subject of technology, and that was one of the things that made me most hopeless because I assumed that the power of technology would just keep increasing and closing everything down.

David Skrbina Ph.D. Lead Collaborator: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski

SKRBINA: His basic argument is that technology is a system that we really cannot control. It’s causing harm to people and the environment. The stresses will increase on humans and on nature, and there’s no way to modify or to reform the system so as to avoid these negative outcomes. His conclusion is the system has to be brought to an end. We have to have a kind of revolution against the system, and to stop it before it can lead to these catastrophic outcomes.

In 1995 he has written a 35,000 word manifesto calling for revolution

KACZYNSKI: People don’t believe a revolution is possible and one of the most important things you can do is convince people that it is possible. If you work for the collapse of industrial civilization, you don’t really have to convince the majority of the population that you’re right. What you have to do is get a very large and very strongly committed minority.

PAUL: In 1995, the Unabomber sends another letter to the New York Times. It’s three pages of single spaced typewriting. It takes credit for the bombing of Thomas Mosser, and he is indicating that this will continue unless. There’s now a deal that’s being offered.

NEWSREADER: The bomber says he’ll desist from terrorist activities only if major publications print a manuscript advocating the destruction of the worldwide industrial system.

PAUL: He says the written document that he wants published will be coming forth shortly.

NEWSREADER: The so-called Unabomber has now spoken out and taunted the FBI, calling it a joke.

PAUL: In the letter he refers to the FBI as a joke. This is somewhat echoing sentiments that are coming from political and media and public circles. He apparently has jumped on that bandwagon as well.

NEWSREADER: The mysterious Unabomber is claiming to be part of a group, quote “The FBI has tried to portray these bombings as the work of an isolated nut. We won’t waste our time arguing about whether we are nuts, but we certainly are not isolated.”

PAUL: He claims to be a group called “FC” and he’s always very clear to make sure that his bombs contain FC somewhere in there where the FC will be found stamped onto a piece of metal, or etched onto a piece of metal, in other words, intended to survive.

FC stands for Freedom Club, a group the unabomber presents as eco-anarchists.

The Unabomber suggested that part of his motivation had to do with concerns about the environment to try to portray himself as, perhaps, some sort of environmental crusader. Around the same time, there were environmental groups which advocated radical solutions to their concerns. So, it was somewhat of a logical extension that he get the task force to consider that perhaps he was associated with groups like that.

Theresa Kintz — Lecturer in Sociology & Former Editor for the Earth First! Journal

THERESA: Because there was always this idea of FC and the Freedom Club, I think that the Feds believed that there were more people involved than Kaczynski himself. And so, they were really interested in letting me in there and letting us talk freely so that they could gauge whether or not Kaczynski was connected in any way to any of us in Earth First!

THERESA: Did you ever think of yourself as an ‘Earth Firster’?

KACZYNSKI: Not really. As a sort of a satellite, sympathizer’s too weak a word, but sort of… ‘Earth Firster Satellite’?

Earth First! has been an organization, from its beginning, that has been dedicated to action. Everything from, you know, tree sitting, and other types of monkeywrenching, and had been under suspicion of being tied to radical environmental terrorism.

KACZYNSKI: I didn’t want to subscribe to the earth first journal because I didn’t want to call attention to myself. If something happened to some logging equipment, I didn’t want them to know who to look for. But, I did pick up a copy of the journal and I saw a lot that I liked.

Eugene, Oregon

In the mid 1990’s Tim Lewis documented the underground eco-anarchist movement.

Tim Lewis — Anarchist Filmmaker

TIM: Yeah, the ‘90s was a trip. Soon had this slow progression of radicalism. And for me, I noticed it up at the mountains east of town, and the Earth Firsters were trying to protect this forest up there, which they did. And these Earth Firsters created a blockade to prevent loggers from coming in, and they won.

NEWSREADER: In the eyes of the forest service, this is destruction of government property, a federal offence, and some critics are even calling these protesters domestic terrorists.

FILM CLIP: (Man:) Don’t move your truck! Shut your truck off, man! (Woman:) There’s an old woman, she’s 80 years old! 80-years-old woman locked to the back of your truck and you’re gonna kill her. Man: He’s not turning it off! He knows someone’s locked under!

KACZYNSKI: I discovered Earth First! Like in the late ‘80s. I said, “hell, hey these people are saying very much the same things that I’ve been thinking all along.” So, I was not inspired by ‘Earth First!’ But I just happened to agree with them a great deal.

TIM: And then when Ted came along, or the Unabomber, and started, you know, killing people that were responsible for some of this kind of behavior that these kids didn’t like, I think they found somebody that they could respect a little bit and could understand why he was doing it.

FILM CLIP: Protestors: ♪ This land is my land ♪ ♪ This land is your land ♪

KACZYNSKI: I started to realize, hey, wait a minute, there’s some other people out there that are having a very dim view of technology too, and maybe, just maybe, it might eventually be possible to do something about this.

Newsreader: The FBI is investigating whether the Unabomber used this so-called ecological hitlist to select some of his recent victims.

The list published in 1990 in an underground newsletter is made up of 11 companies and organizations that the publisher of the paper apparently considered enemies of the environment.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: People in the anarchist community, they’re liking the philosophy that they’re seeing reflected in this. Killing innocent people walking down lonely roads, that’s one thing. Killing people with a political, philosophical bent, this had resonance.

NEWSREADER: 20 minutes after 2, the calm of this sunny day in downtown Sacramento is shattered...

JOEL: It’s a terrible, terrible bombing scene. It’s hard to describe, really, the effects that such a thing has on a, a person, but it was, it was really awful. Uh, I’ll reserve saying anymore for the sake of the victim and the victim’s families, but...

NEWSREADER: Gilbert Murray, the president of the California Forestry Association, is the third person to be killed by the Unabomber.

KEVIN: It’s the Unabomber. It’s creepy and it’s current and it’s from a killer who has not been caught for more than a decade.

NEWSREADERS: Another kind of terror — mailbombs. Officials are warning everyone to be on guard. The most wanted criminal in America is still the Unabomber.

KEVIN: You have to wonder, Am I next? Is he gonna send a, you know, a pipe bomb to the Chronicle because we’re reflecting technology and capitalism, and big business? I’m feeling every package. Every parcel that comes in, you check for wires, you check for a little bit of oil. You smell it. Has it got a little gunpowder smell to it? You press down on it. Has it got uneven lumps that could be the match-head igniters? Could be explosive loads. You’re very careful about packages like that.

KACZYNSKI: I think what has to be done is not try to persuade the majority of people that we’re right, so much as to increase tensions in society to the point where things start to break down, when people get uncomfortable enough so that they’re going to rebel. Now the question is, how do you increase those tensions?

KEVIN: The newsroom gets a letter from the Unabomber saying that he’s going to blow up an airliner in L.A. So, we take this thing into the editorial office, everyone looks at it. We’re wondering what this next step is. Do you print this stuff? Are you going to be uh… an ad paper for a killer? We call the FBI. They come over. They look at it. It’s pretty quickly determined that it’s the real thing.

NEWSCLIP: (Jim Freeman of the FBI:) Further examination has confirmed that this letter originates from the Unabomber subject.

KEVIN: So, do you take him seriously or do you blow it off? We decided to print.

JOEL: There was a suggestion by the postal service to simply not carry packages anymore. They weren’t willing to put them in airplanes. And that added tremendously to the already unbelievable amount of pressure on the task force to solve this case. You can’t have the mail in the United States come to a halt. It’s almost inconceivable.

NEWSREADER: Los Angeles International Airport is under full alert with security measures not seen since the Gulf War.

KEVIN: And it turns out the guy wasn’t serious. And so, after the 4th of July weekend comes and goes and no one’s killed, nothing blows up, the dogs get called off and it goes back to Unabomber normal.

JOEL: Everybody in the United States, it seems, and probably many other countries, is aware of and interested in the Unabomber and what comes next in this story.

Linda Patrik — Sister-in-Law

LINDA: In the summer of 1995, almost every day or every other day, there was a little article describing the Unabomber and what his interests were, and these different theories about what we should do. ‘We don’t want, you know, any kind of technology, We don’t want all of this. We have to go back to the natural way of life, you know, without machines and without phones and all of that.’ It was churning up in my head quite a bit. And I thought, gosh, that sounds like Dave’s brother.

David Kaczynski — Brother

DAVID: I look at her and she didn’t look quite happy, and I said, “Something wrong?”

LINDA: And, for a while, I was going to hold off, but then I did broach the topic.

DAVID: And she said, “David, I think it might be your brother.” And, you know, my immediate reaction was, (Sigh of relief) Oh, well, I know it’s not my brother, so thank goodness it’s… you know, thank goodness it’s just a worry you have, not something real.”

LINDA: David just couldn’t believe it. He just thought I was being stupid, I guess, or crazy or something.

DAVID: I mean, she really, it was more of an intuition, I thought, than anything. Nothing like evidence.

LINDA: He didn’t want to believe it. And I guess that’s the way family members might be, that they don’t want to believe that about their family member.

JOEL: These are type-written copies, typed on the same typewriter that’s been used on most of the other Unabomb communications. Which we have figured out, forensically, is a very old L.C. Smith Corona manual typewriter. He sends as many copies of the manifesto as can be banged out using carbon paper, on a manual typewriter. Five copies go out to various locations.

KEVIN: We get a copy of the Manifesto ourselves and I read this thing word for word. We realize the guy’s smart. He’s not a great writer, but he’s a very competent academic writer, and we now have the dilemma before us about whether we should print this manifesto or not. Do we want to piss off the author? Do we want to serve the greater good of journalism? Do we want to suppress it because it’s incentive stuff that can rile up anarchists into action? Or just be smart stuff that informs the public?

JOEL: The leadership of the task force was given the assignment by the FBI Director and the Attorney General, Director Freeh and Director Reno, to debate this question and come back with a recommendation.

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: Within the bureau there was a thought that, you know, are we capitulating to a bomber, a terrorist, by publishing his manifesto?

JOEL: I’ll call it a somewhat furious debate over this, and everybody was not on the same side initially. And the decision was made that we shouldn’t publish it. The meeting breaks up, one of us looked at everybody else and said, “That was the wrong decision, wasn’t it?” And everybody else in there said, “Yes, that was the wrong decision.” And the primary argument was, if it gets published, a document of that size, seen by enough people, it’s almost impossible that someone will not recognize the author. Either because of the way he writes, or because of his message.

KEVIN: We figure, “This is for the greater good.” You put out the clues and, as a newspaper, we are all about being for the greater good. So, in conjunction with the local FBI office, we printed the Manifesto.

NEWSREADER: It was behind the business pages, tucked in between the want ads, but it was all there today, all 35,000 words of the Unabomber’s message to America.

KEVIN: We print the thing and we get… zillions of responses at the time. I think that copy of the paper sold fairly well, which, you know, you don’t wanna make money on horror, but the fact that it sold well meant that a lot of people were reading it and that was good. You want people to pick, pick it over.

David Skrbina Ph.D. Lead Collaborator: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski

SKRBINA: I remember my first thought was that the Unabomber had won, at this point. When the whole thing was published, I thought, well, that’s it, he won. He defeated the federal government and the FBI because he got this thing published.

Theresa Kintz — Lecturer in Sociology & Former Editor for the Earth First! Journal

THERESA: This is the original copy of the Unabomber Manifesto. I kept it never knowing that I would meet the author. It’s huge, it’s an amazing document. Like the opening sentence, “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.”

SKRBINA: “They’ve destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world.”

THERESA: “Science marches on blindly without regard to the welfare of the human race.”

SKRBINA: “The system cannot be reformed in such a way as to reconcile freedom with technology. The only way out is to dispense with the industrial technological system altogether.”

PETER: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences.”

SKRBINA: “We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system.”

KACZYNSKI: Well, the problem of the revolutionary should be, it seems to me, is unequivocally, simply to get rid of the industrial system, and that’s the key point. That’s my take on the situation.

SKRBINA: You could take any aspect of the technological system and it’s hard to argue against any one aspect. You could say, what’s wrong with a phone? What’s wrong with an email? What’s wrong with a digital camera or something? But if you take someone like Kaczynski, he looks at the ensemble, the whole system and he says, well, look what the system is doing to us. It’s drawing people in, they’re getting addicted. Mental stress is increasing, mental illness is increasing, physical health is decreasing, environmental destruction is accelerating. This is a consequence of the whole technological system. It’s not any one technology. So, my cell phone isn’t destroying the-the global ecosystem. No, it’s not the cell phone, but it’s the whole network that goes to having and creating and using a cellphone on a mass basis. That’s what’s destroying the global ecosystem and that’s what’s causing human stress.

John Zerzan — Primitivist Author

ZERZAN: When friends of mine discovered that I hadn’t even read it yet, they go, “You’re gonna love it, read it! You’re an idiot. Come on.” And I did. Uh, there wasn’t anything I disagreed with, actually, and I still, uh, advocate it. I think it’s just an amazingly important document now more than ever.

KACZYNSKI: I think we have to build a strong and cohesive revolutionary movement so that when the right moment comes we will be prepared to do what we have to do.

THERESA: “In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.” He comes right out and says it.

NEWSREADER: The Justice Department hopes to use his own words to lead investigators to one of the most hunted men in the country.

NEWS CLIP: (James Fox:) I’m sure there will be a lot of people in the academic community that will read this and will say, Well, that sounds just like… and they’ll flash back to a student or a professor that they have worked with.

GREG: It did ultimately lead to… literally thousands of people that thought that they might know who the Unabomber was.


LINDA: This was getting to be about mid-October. David promised that when the Unabomber manifesto was published, that he would go out and get it. He promised that to me. But apparently there were only 6 copies being sold at this newspaper shop and they had already gone very quickly.

DAVID: The college library had the issue but somebody had taken the manifesto out of it so it wasn’t there. And I’m, I’m ready to throw up both of my hands and then she… and then she says, The internet! Now, I had hardly heard of the internet. We didn’t have it at home, but they had it at the college library. Linda’s sitting next to me, and, first of all, it’s kind of weird. Here I am on this new-fangled technology, trying to figure out if my brother is the anti-technology terrorist. You know, I felt almost, like, guilty about doing that.

LINDA: He was looking at the screen and I was looking at his cheek and his jaw dropped when he read the first few lines of the Unabomber manifesto.

DAVID: Linda kind of whispered, “David, what do you think? Do you think it could be Ted?” And I said, “I have to admit, some parts of it really do sound like him. If I had to, if I had to guess, maybe there’s one chance in a thousand he wrote it.” And I was expecting, well, maybe that would be reassuring to her. But she said, “David, one chance in a thousand? That’s not nothing.”

LINDA: I started to try and talk Dave into getting an expert in analyzing the comparison between Ted’s letters and the Unabomber manifesto. That perhaps there’s a pattern because it’s the same author. So, I suggested Susan Swanson, who I knew was a private investigator and had connections with this kind of thing.

Susan Swanson — Private Investigator

SUSAN: I’ve known Linda since we were toddlers. It was Linda who cracked the Unabomber case. She was the only one who suspected, just by reading his letters, that he might be violent. And I tried to look to see if there were any similarities and, after a while, there were times when I thought they really could’ve been written by the same person.

GREG: (Reads) “I’ve got to know that every last tie joining me to this stinking family has been cut forever.”

PETER: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences.”

SUSAN: I thought it was hard to tell the difference between the two. It kind of flowed, it had, you know, um… the same tone. So, I went to work researching the Unabomber case, taking into account other things Ted had that were in common with the Unabomber. Probably the biggest geographic link had to do with universities where bombs were found. There were two at the University of California, at Berkeley, and one at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We knew that Ted had gotten his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and we knew he had been a… assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

DAVID: We were looking at the timeline of the bombings and letters that we had received from Ted. My big hope was that we would… find that a letter was sent from Montana, on a day that, say, a bomb was sent from California. So, I was still hopeful that he might be ruled out.

SUSAN: And, what David knew was that Ted would sometimes hitch a ride to Helena, Montana. And from there, he would catch a Greyhound bus all the way to the San Francisco Bay area. I made some calls to the Greyhound bus line. They said there’s no way you could take the Greyhound bus from Helena, Montana to San Francisco, California, without going through Salt Lake City, Utah. And since Salt Lake City is one of the places where a bomb had gone off, that was very concerning.

DAVID: I’m actually thinking my brother could be the most wanted person in America, a serial murderer. The cost if we were wrong either way was so intense. If we did nothing and Ted was the Unabomber, he might strike again. Someone would be dead. We’d have to go through the rest of our lives understanding that somebody died because we had failed to act. That was intolerable. And then the other side of this was the realization, my God, if Ted is… if Ted is guilty and he’s killed three people, then he’s probably gonna get the death penalty. What would it be like for me to go through the rest of my life with my brother’s blood on my hands? The brother I’d sworn to never abandon. Man, that was unthinkable. It was like, I was sort of in this box, not at all of my own making and there was like no way to get out of it.

LINDA: For me, it was easy. There was a possibility uh… somewhat a pretty decent possibility that he was the Unabomber, so we had to do something.

SUSAN: So, David called me and he said, you know, that this was, this was bad news.

DAVID: I said, “Well, we think we need to stop the violence, so we’d like you to contact the FBI.” We thought everything’s gonna change, you know, everything’s gonna… well, two or three weeks go by, we don’t hear anything.

JOEL: We are deluged with information. People are mailing in writings from… their uncles, their brothers, their ex-boyfriends, saying, well, this person might be the Unabomber. And we’re trying to take it in and process it. There were thousands of people who got brief looks. There were 2,417 people who were designated formally as suspects. Ted Kaczynski was number 2,416.

DAVID: But at this point, my mother got sick. She was in the hospital in Chicago. I had to fly back there, and I found myself alone in her house. And, um, I realized she had saved a bunch of letters from my brother, and among her letters, I find a 23-page manuscript which was like… I guess you’d call it a proto-manifesto. It was the essence of the manifesto boiled down to 23 pages, written maybe several years earlier. And at that point, without hesitation, we contacted the FBI.

JOEL: A call came into the switchboard, at the San Francisco office, looking for someone from the Unabomb Task Force. It was from an agent and she’s read the document and she thinks it might be important. All she wanted is someone on the task force to look at the document before it just went into the… great pile of okay-this-has-been-handled-and-washed-out. So, I asked her to send it to me. She faxed it to me, I looked at it, uh, and I concluded that the writer of this 23-page document and the writer of the manifesto were the same person. This is a huge moment. The light is at the end of the tunnel. We are going to solve this case. We are convinced of it. But we don’t have enough evidence to arrest him. We can tie him very definitively to the manifesto, but it’s ties based on… linguistic analysis, essentially. That’s not enough to arrest him. We need to get into that cabin, we need to conduct a search of that cabin, and see what’s in there. That becomes the primary goal, is getting into the cabin by a search warrant. We send a handful of agents up there.

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

JAMIE: They approached my dad because Ted trusted him — I mean, as much as he probably trusted anybody — because he’d been his neighbor for 20-plus years.

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: They were like, “What do you know about your neighbor, Ted?” And Butch is like, He’s a hermit. (Laughs) And they go, “Well, we’re pretty sure he’s the Unabomber.” And Butch is like, “No, he’s not the Unabomber.” And he’s like, “Yeah, we, we’re pretty sure we got him. And so would you be willing to help us in his arrest?” And Butch is like, Well, what do you need?

JAMIE: Well, my dad was asked to video the terrain around Ted’s place. And he went out there and took his video camera, held it down by his hip and just walked the grounds so that the FBI could have a clear vision of what the terrain looked like around Ted’s cabin. My dad, Butch, was the eyes and the ears of the operation.

KEVIN: We start getting hints before April that the investigators are narrowing in; that the Manifesto has lit a fuse and that something’s going down. And so, we’re scratching everywhere we can. We get clues, some of the networks get clues. They’re trying to keep a tight lid on it, but it’s leaking out.

JOEL: The task force was contacted by CBS at the beginning of April. And CBS News indicated that they, essentially, had the story, and they were going to run with the story. We couldn’t afford for media trucks to be driving down that little dirt road and knock on his door… for a million reasons. So, okay, we had 24 hours to get in place. We flew a plane load of agents, the entire San Francisco SWAT team to surround the cabin, crawl into place during the night, and then all the other people we would need to knock on his door the next day.


WENDY: The day of the arrest, it was early, it’s kind of chilly, wind was blowing. The air was so… I mean, the tension was so thick you could just feel it.

GREG: We didn’t want to have a situation where we had a barricaded gunman. We knew Ted had at least one weapon, a rifle.

KACZYNSKI: Here’s exactly what happened. I was in my cabin about the middle of the day on April 3rd and I heard a voice up the hillside calling “is anybody home?” There were three guys walking down the hill toward my cabin. They certainly did not look like the kind of people that I would have thought FBI agents would have been. Two of them were old guys and one of ‘em was, you know, fat with a big paunch, you know? I always thought FBI agents would be youngish men in business suits with ties, and all that stuff and these guys were dressed like people who were doing a geological survey for mining purposes. They said, “we’re from the Nordic Drilling Company,” and then as I started to back off from the door to put my shoes on, this one guy sort of stepped toward me and he sort of had a funny look on his face.

Ep. 4 — Capture and Conviction (Part 2)

NEWSREADER: Federal officials say their most promising lead yet in the Unabomber case has them searching the home tonight of a man who lives south of the small town of Lincoln, Montana.

KACZYNSKI: And then suddenly he reached out and grabbed me and pulled me out of the cabin. One guy pulled out a gun and pointed it at me and then they put handcuffs on me. The three guys were the only three that I saw at first because there were a whole bunch of FBI agents around there that came swarming around after they took me.

Wendy Gehring — Neighbor

WENDY: Holy crap, there were like 78 agents on the hill, that you couldn’t even see, until after he was arrested. These men were like jumping up and down, they were all happy, slapping each other on the back, We got him! We got him!

David Kaczynski — Brother

DAVID: We were watching the evening news and they said they’d arrested a suspect in the Unabomber case and there was a local angle to the story. Oh my God. And there is my brother and he’s, gosh, he’s looking like a mountain man, all torn clothes, scraggly hair.

Linda Patrik — Sister-In-Law

LINDA: And we were so mad at the FBI because they had promised that our names would not be revealed, and that they would notify us ahead of time before the arrest was made.

NEWSREADER: The FBI has arrested a suspect in Montana after he was fingered by relatives.

DAVID: First of all, that word fingered bothered me. Um, doesn’t really encapsulate what we went through in terms of the process and the-the care and the grief that went into what we did.

NEWSREADER: Neighbors here said that since the 1970s, Kaczynski has been living a solitary life. A reclusive man some called the “Hermit on the Hill.”

Jamie Gehring — Neighbor

JAMIE: It was disbelief. It was absolute disbelief. It was so surreal. I never would have thought that my neighbor was sitting in that little cabin creating bombs and killing people while he lived a half a mile away from us.

NEWS CLIP: (Reporter 1:) Sir, are you the Unabomber? (Reporter 2:) Are you the Unabomber?

Peter Vronsky Ph.D. — Author of ‘Serial Killers’

PETER: When the Unabomber is arrested and identified, especially since he went for 17 years committing these crimes, wow, it’s-it’s of course it’s a feeding frenzy for the media.

DAVID: We ended up surrounded, kind of in a siege, you know.

NEWSREADER: Ted Kaczynski’s brother, David, who remains secluded in this Schenectady house...

LINDA: Some people said there were a hundred people out there and some of the children down the block came and marched and said, go away, go away, you shouldn’t be bothering these people. That was nice of them.

DAVID: Uh, they weren’t leaving with their cameras and their notebooks until we came out and talked to them. And I would have rather walked into fire than walked into those cameras at that moment, it was like the worst possible pain you could be feeling and then it’s all public. Here’s my mother, and she’s got to go through this now. As soon as we get out the door, all the lights come on and people are yelling at mom, are saying, “Mrs.Kaczynski, do you think your son’s the Unabomber?” And she answered, she said, “I don’t know, you people know more than I do,” I think is what she said.

Greg Stejskal — FBI Special agent (retired)

GREG: They attempted to interview Ted immediately after arresting him. And he refused to be interviewed basically.

KACZYNSKI: Well, they let me know what the investigation was about very soon after they… I mean, even before I was formally arrested, but they didn’t ask me any questions about the case. And of course, if he had asked me anything that was, you know, about the Unabomb case, I wouldn’t have answered it.

Kevin Fagan, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle

KEVIN: I get a call saying, “You gotta go to uh… gotta go to Montana.” You know, at the… at the time, there were no GPS capabilities, so we get a paper map, and we look at the squiggly black lines leading to this little 500-person nowhere, which is, you know, a hellacious drive over some mountains far away. And we get to the cabin and the FBI guys are still rousting the place and uh, tossing it like a… uh… like a bear in a garbage can. And they’re-they’re finding all kinds of clues. They’re finding the typewriter. They’re finding other writings. They’re finding bomb materials. It’s a gold mine.

GREG: There was notes about the construction of the bombs, the selection of the victims, a rough draft of the manifesto. Turned out there was a hoodie and a pair of aviation sunglasses in the cabin.

KACZYNSKI: I was told by the attorney who represented me in Montana that FBI agents were taking items of alleged evidence from the cabin and they were taking it and showing it to reporters, journalists and saying, “This is such and such a piece of evidence.” And this of course is a flagrant violation of the Justice Department’s own rules.

Joel Moss, FBI Supervisory Special Agent UNABOM Task Force

JOEL: There were three of us in there who were looking at things, and one of the three pulled out a box from under Mr.Kaczynski’s bed. It was just a cardboard box, and inside it was a plastic bag, and inside the plastic bag was a box wrapped entirely in aluminum foil. And in this cabin, which was extremely smoky, uh, there was a lot of soot, it was a dark place. All of a sudden, was this shiny, glowing cube, and at that moment, as in a cartoon, the light bulb lit over each person’s head, and the person that was holding it, set it down, and we backed away very quietly. And it turned out that was a bomb, it was completely ready to go, had the battery in it, everything else. It seemed apparent that as soon as the weather cleared Mr.Kaczynski was going to be headed out to deliver that into the mail-stream and on to its victim.

DAVID: The moment I found that out, I realized, thank God we did what we did. Thank God, we saved a life in the end. I did what I did with the heaviest heart I’ve ever had. When Ted was arrested and assigned a provisional attorney, um, the first thing he asked the attorney was, How did they ever find me? And the attorney said, “Well, um, it’s being reported that your brother turned you in.” And again, I heard this third hand but Ted had said, “No, that’s not possible, David loves me, he’d never do that.” I don’t know if it was at that point or at some point, he told his attorneys that he would never ever have anything to do with his family again. That as far as he was concerned, I was no brother.

KEVIN: Then we go for the perp walk. When Ted gets trotted out to go to the courthouse. So, deputies bring Ted out and he’s walking… like a ramrod. And I’m thinking, this is the only chance I’m gonna get to talk to this guy. So, I jump over the berm and I run over to him while the cops are pulling him off. So, I’m talking to the guy. Ted, did you do it? “Did you kill people? Are you really the Unabomber?” He’s looking straight ahead. And he turns, at one point, and says, “No”. “Are you responsible for these bombings?” But the interesting thing to me, for that, is he’s very much in control. This, this is who he is. He’s not a guy who explodes, loses it. He’s a tightly controlled guy, and he’s very smart.

NEWSREADER: The accused Unabomber was brought from his jail cell in Montana to an airfield in Sacramento, Sunday morning. He was sporting a bullet proof vest plus shackles and handcuffs.

DAVID: My biggest concern was I didn’t want my brother to get the death penalty. The only possible acceptable ending of this is for my brother to get a life sentence rather than a death sentence. I could not picture what it would be like for mom and me to be, you know, looking at the clock and you know, hands of the clock are going to midnight, and knowing that Ted’s being strapped into a gurney and executed. (Deep inhale) That was unthinkable.


NEWS CLIP: (Reporter:) Are you responsible for these bombings? Sir, Are you responsible for these bombings? Guys, let’s just let him through. Take the hold. Stay back.

Ted Kaczynski is charged with three counts of murder.

KEVIN: It’s instantly a circus trial. David, his brother, is positioning to try to get him out of the death penalty, and David doesn’t have a whole lot of say, but he’s forceful. And Ted is insisting that he’s not crazy.

KACZYNSKI: I didn’t want to be represented as a lunatic, which is what my attorneys were doing.

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP: A person can be found insane if they have a severe mental defect which causes them not to know the nature and quality of their act, or the wrongfulness of their act. But in his case, the evidence that he knew his act was wrong was extensive. And so, I think that the defense attorneys knew that they’d have a very hard time with insanity, but their goal was to convey to the jury his degree of mental illness, so that they would consider not executing him.

KACZYNSKI: If you look back to pictures that were taken when I was just being brought in by the FBI, you know, I had these old, dirty, ragged clothes… Well, that’s how I dressed in the woods, you know because there’s nobody to see me anyway.

PHILLIP: I learned that in the opening arguments for the defense, they planned to show one picture of Theodore Kaczynski as a professor, dressed very nicely, and the other was the picture when he’s scruffy and being taken out, as being captured. So how did this successful mathematician turn into this kind of primitive-looking person?

NEWSREADER: Meanwhile, the FBI’s explored the possibility of having a Montana National Guard helicopter hoist Kaczynski’s tiny shack onto a flatbed truck and then haul it out of the deep woods.

KACZYNSKI: I knew they were bringing the cabin down to Sacramento, but I didn’t know what for. This was my lawyer’s idea. They did it without my knowledge. And I only found out afterwards they intended to use it to portray me as mentally ill. ‘Anybody who would live this way is nuts.’

ZERZAN: Nothing made me think he was some madman. I wouldn’t have been interested in visiting with him if I thought he was some psychotic individual who had delusions or something like that. Ted Kaczynski and I started corresponding soon after his arrest in April ’96. Between the spring of ’97 and the beginning of 1998, I visited him three or four times. That was quite an experience just for me and of course, it wasn’t my ass on the line. We were friendly, yeah. Yeah, it was very comfortable. I mean, it was very informal. You know. “How you doin’, Ted?” I guess he just wanted somebody to talk to. I believe I was the only visitor he had. But I saw nothing whatsoever, nothing even slightly to suggest he was crazy.

NEWSREADER: The finding that Theodore Kaczynski is competent to stand trial came after he spent nearly 20 hours being examined by psychiatrist, Sally Johnson.

DAVID: And she diagnosed him as competent to stand trial, competent even to be sentenced to death, competent to defend himself, but having schizophrenia.

Sasha Reid PhD — Developmental Psychologist

SASHA: In prepping for the trial, the defense team was looking for mitigating evidence. These are any factors that could help the team try to convince the jury not to put Ted to death.

KACZYNSKI: The chief investigator on my defense team, she is said to have pioneered what is called “mitigation investigation.” In other words she goes around and interviews people who knew this person in the past and she gets all this background information on people and in some cases she’s able to use this to get people off the death penalty.

JOHN: But as things went on, matters got more and more tense. Because the main thing that he said over and over and over again was, “You can adopt any defense you like, except insanity defense, which would make a mockery of my work, the whole reason that I exist.”

LINDA: I was shocked by the defense team’s decision that when they go to trial, that they were going to use the information of him being three years at Harvard University in an experiment.

SACHA: So part of what the defense team found were fragmentary records of a psychological study that Ted had participated in during his undergrad days at Harvard. The study lasted over a period of 3 years and they met on a weekly basis. It’s never been heard in public.

RECORDING: (Researcher #1:) This is Monday evening, March 14, 1960.

DAVID: We have no idea what happened over the course of the 3-year period. This audio only gives us a very small glance into what really happened.

RECORDING: (Researcher #1:) Dyad number 12 is about to begin, between Mr.C and Mr. Kaczynski, Mr. Kaczynski’s codename is ‘LAWFUL’, L-A-W-F-U-L.

DAVID: I didn’t know about the experiments Ted was undergoing. He never talked about them to me. I don’t remember it being a conversation within our family until long after Ted’s arrest. My brother was subjected to research that by today’s standards would be considered completely unethical.

Cambridge, Massachusetts 1958

At the age of 16 Ted Kaczynski had won a scholarship to Harvard University.

Roy Wright — Harvard Classmate

ROY: He was one of the people that I really considered a best friend. I have just a wonderfully warm feeling about him, and I think I used the word lovable. We found common ground and I remember lots and lots of wonderful discussions and so I really valued our friendship. It was sad to see that he, as a result of some experiments, withdrew from the friendship. If I had known how evil — and I’ll use that word — those experiments were, I certainly would have done something.

RECORDING: (Researcher #1:) Please begin your discussion when you hear the buzzer sound, alright? (Researcher #2 [Mr. C.]:) Just give me a second. Do you think we ought to decide how we’re going to go about it or… (Kaczynski:) I suppose it’s supposed to be a spontaneous discussion (laughs)

SASHA: This experiment basically was an experiment run by Henry Murray, At the Harvard psych department. But when it comes to these interviews with Ted, the files are sealed. You can’t get access to them.

RECORDING: (Mr. C.:) I ought to warn you before I start this, that I was not… I do not have a very favorable impression of you as a result of reading your philosophy. But, let me just tick off a few preliminaries and then we’ll get into what I really didn’t like.

SASHA: What we do know for certain is that Henry Murray was looking into the effects of stress on human beings, specifically he was looking at interrogation strategies and techniques and how human beings are able to kind of be resilient to aggressive interrogative tactics.

Forrest Robbinson — Authorized biographer of Henry Murray

FORREST: It was very unpleasant. That was the point of the experiment. He wanted to understand the dark sides of human beings and the light sides of human beings.

RECORDING: (Mr. C.:) First, I mean, in spite of the fact that you’ve explained this subjective reality, I mean I think this is essentially an asinine point of view. (Kaczynski:) Yeah.

FORREST: Murray subjected them to harsh critiques of their ideas and he was very interested in seeing how they responded, how they performed when there was really a stressful situation.

ROY: Ted was told he was gonna be debating political philosophy with a fellow student. How tempting that would have been.

SASHA: It was not a debate. It was a full-on aggressive attack of Ted as a human being, as Ted as an intellect.

FORREST: You couldn’t do those experiments today. But you certainly could in 1958 to 1962. There was nothing at the time of an objection to what Harry was doing. It was simply taken for granted that that was how you had conducted research of that kind.

DAVID: Ted was deceived. He didn’t know that this person had a script and the person’s objective was to humiliate and traumatize him.

FORREST: The goals were not malicious or malign in any way. Why would they be? Why would this man who had been working in psychology for decades and who had produced some of the best psychologists in the United States at the time, why would he engage in malignant interrogation?

Colin A. Ross M.D. — Author of ‘The CIA Doctors’

COLIN: Henry Murray was a very high ranking academic, very successful career with well established expertise in interrogations. And he was very involved in developing interrogation techniques for the OSS, which is the Office of Strategic Services. The Second World War precursor of the CIA. So, interrogation, as we all know, is questioning somebody to try and find out, Did they commit a crime? Enhanced interrogation is when you add on all these mind control methods, drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, sensory isolation, good cop/bad cop techniques. Whatever you could dream up to try and get something out of somebody.

FORREST: Henry Murray was not an evil scientist. There are some plausible arguments to be made that he had some connections with the CIA. But he was very proud of his service to the country and took working with the CIA, if he did, as part of that responsibility, he was a responsible citizen. And the country needed good assessment of personnel. So, he could provide that better than anyone else could.

Glenn Carle — Former CIA Officer

GLENN: I was a career operations officer in the CIA, who became involved, for a time, in the interrogation of one of the top members, we believed, of Al-Qaeda. And thereby was involved for that time, in the enhanced interrogation program, which is torture and is mind-altering procedures. My experiences, tragically, are directly relevant to the experience Kaczynski went through because the methods used by the CIA were directly derived from — not just inspired by — what Murray was trying to do in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. And that is that you can break somebody down and you can alter their mind. The theory was, you will be psychologically broken down and dislocated so that you can then be reformed as a cooperative source.

RECORDING: (Mr. C.:) Go ahead. (Kaczynski:) Ah well, I mean, let me get some chance for some defense here. I mean, well you say… (Mr. C.:) If you’re defending yourself… if able...

FORREST: The idea that Harry Murray was the villain, a malignant character, and that Theodore Kaczynski was the victim, all of that is, is nonsense. It’s simply without foundation.

RECORDING: (Mr. C.:) Don’t interrupt me, please. On this, avoiding of society, or of this society is a bad thing, is that why you’re trying to grow that beard? (Kaczynski:) No. (Mr. C.:) I mean, are you conforming with the non-conformists? (Kaczynski:) NO, I’m not conforming with the non-conformists. If I were conforming with the non-conformists… I mean, really, this isn’t really a beard yet… (Mr. C.:) You’re darn right it’s not.

SASHA: Ted was a child when he was exposed to these experiments. He was 16, 17. So it is absolutely possible that the study had a profound impact on Ted’s neurobiological development.

FORREST: Thousands of students all over the United States performed very ably in these kinds of experiments without a problem. I do not believe that the testing at the Harvard Psychological Clinic did anything at all to transform Theodore Kaczynski.

RECORDING: (Kaczynski:) You haven’t really critized my views except that you’ve applied labels. You have not analyzed them in any way and attacked them logically. (Mr. C.:) Sure, well there isn’t too much to analyze, Mr. Kaczynski. It’s a lot of garbage.

SASHA: Ted had built his entire life and his entire sense of self and pride in himself on his intelligence, on his intellect, on his ability to think and critically reason and use logic. And this study, what it did is it slowly tore that away from him.

RECORDING: (Mr. C.:) You don’t seem to me to have the courage of your convictions. Where you do, then your convictions tend to be all wet, and I think you’ve taken your own shortcomings and attempted to compensate for them. (Kaczynski:) No, you’ve just been applying labels. (Researcher #1:) Thank you gentlemen, thank you very much.

DAVID: Ted had told his attorneys and they relayed it to me, they asked him, “Ted, why did you put up with this for three years? I mean, these people were just humiliating you, why did you put up with this?” And he basically said, well, I wanted to show that I could take it, that I couldn’t be broken. And the thought that occurred to me was, well, maybe sometimes it’s better to be broken than to be hardened.

ROY: He was rapidly withdrawing from... I mean, he was really becoming like might be called paranoid or whatever, but he was rejecting other people. And according to what I heard it was following the start of these psychology experiments.

Glenn Carle — Former CIA Officer

GLENN: It’s perverse. It’s sick. It doesn’t work. And it’s wrong in every conceivable way. But that’s what Kaczynski was subjected to.

Colin A. Ross M.D. — Author of ‘The CIA Doctors’

COLIN: Those experiments could have really fueled the fire. And really made him distrust the powers that be, the authorities and be hostile towards them. It’s not hard to imagine that when he’s being attacked and discredited and broken down, he’s gonna have to have some sort of counterattack psychologically. So, he’s going to have to become counter-rigid, counter-certain and counter-hostile, and then he just turns that into behavior in the world.

LINDA: We began to think about how this three-year experiment in which Ted was involved, that that might have triggered his schizophrenia.

DAVID: I think it would be a mistake to have this simple reductionistic formula and say, oh, you know, Kaczynski was made into the Unabomber at Harvard, that’s much too simplistic. But certainly, those studies were-were harmful to him.

Kazynski maintains the Harvard experiments had no damaging effect.

ZERZAN: What was revealed, I think, beyond question, was that his lawyers were death penalty liberals, I guess you would say, that anything goes to protect his life.


NEWSREADER: Kaczynski stopped the trial when he demanded to defend himself earlier this month… but Judge Burrell says the request may have been too late.

Before evidence can be presented in court, the trial is dramatically interrupted

ZERZAN: He called one time, and I said, “Ted, there’s something you gotta know. I think you’re the last person who doesn’t know this. It’s an insanity defense and nothing else, straight up.” And I’ll never forget what he said. He said, “Why, the lying bastards.” (Chuckles) You know, it was kind of amazing.

DAVID: If the Unabomber is schizophrenic, it kind of undercuts his whole mission. People say, “Oh, these are the deeds of a madman. You know, you’d have to be crazy to be so concerned about technology that you do what Kaczynski has done.” Ted wanted to fire his attorneys; he didn’t want anyone saying he was mentally ill.

PHILLIP: The judge said, “It’s too late in the trial. It would take too many months for new attorneys to get up to speed.” He said, “All right. Then I’ll represent myself. I don’t want these attorneys representing me.”

ZERZAN: And the judge simply said, “You-you don’t have the right to just throw all this out at this stage of the game. You just don’t. So, I’m ruling against it. You are stuck with them and you are stuck with their defense. Insanity.” And that night he tried to kill himself, he tried to hang himself.

NEWS CLIP: (Defence team lawyer:) This is not manipulation, this is not cunning, this is not an attempt of someone to escape legal process, this is a very heartfelt reaction on his part.

Dr. Phillip J. Resnick — Prosecution Forensic Psychiatrist

PHILLIP: You know, he felt that everything he had worked for, now, was going to be made out as mental illness; that he was not in control.

KACZYNSKI: The trouble was that my attorneys had put me in a position where either I had to let them go and represent me as a madman to the world, or else I had to accept a plea bargain.

NEWSREADER: In California, the trial of the Unabomber has come to an abrupt end just as opening statements were about to start. Ted Kaczynski pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for life in prison.

Gary Wright — Unabomber survivor

GARY: I got a call to say that I could go down and give the victim’s impact statement. As I’m reading my statement, I go through it. Ted Kaczynski had been sitting at the desk. He had a yellow legal pad takin’ lots of notes and there comes a point in the statement I say to him, “You know, Ted, I don’t hate you. I forgave you and I forgave you a long time ago.” And in that second, when I told him that I forgave him, his pencil dropped and he just looks at me, like, I’ve got these eyes staring right back at me and for me, it was the perfect transference. It’s like, “Nope, you own it. Now I’ve transferred it to you. You carry it. I’ve carried it a long time.” I mean, I think it shocked him because he wasn’t expecting any empathy from anybody.

ZERZAN: Well, on the day he was sentenced from the plea deal, I visited him one last time. And all of the, the lawyers were all gone, the hundreds of the international media, two blocks long of stuff, all gone. All over. And that was the last I saw him and uh… I said, “So what was that like? How did that feel?” And he said, “Well, it was the damnedest thing. They brought in all these people who were weeping and wailing, but the plea deal had already been arranged, already been agreed to. So, what is the point?” And I thought to myself, “Well, you killed their loved ones. Might be one reason.” It was a little bit chilling. Like, you don’t know why these people would want to come and express their grief or, you know? That didn’t seem to be part of it.

Ted Kaczynski is sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Florence, Colorado

Bob Hood — Warden Supermax Prison (Retired)

BOB: It’s an ultra secure prison. We have 122 prisons in the federal prison system but there’s only one Supermax. If you were going to design a person, to do Supermax time it’s Kaczynski, it’s Kaczynski. He has the ability to not need others. During my tenure there, he was a model inmate.

KACZYNSKI: What worries me is that I might, in a sense, adapt to this environment, in the sense that I’ll actually become comfortable here and not resent it anymore and I’m afraid that as the years go by, I might lose my memories of the mountains and the woods, and that’s what really worries me. I’ll tell you a good story, I was camping in my favorite spot. It was the best place there was in that country. While I was picking huckleberry’s I could hear ravens kicking up a big fuss and I was wondering what these ravens were making such a big fuss about. And all of a sudden, I heard this tremendous whooshing sound. I thought, my god, am I being buzzed by an airplane? And I looked up and there’s a golden eagle that goes diving past me, within like ten feet or so of my head with the four ravens chasing it. And the golden eagle, it landed next to some bushes further up the gulch, and it sort of put it’s back to the bushes, so it could face off the ravens that were harassing it. And I kept walking up the gulch, closer to the eagle, and finally it took off and it flew past me, it must’ve been within six feet of my head, it flew so close and these four ravens are still after it. I don’t get to see outside at all. My window just looks down on this concrete and steel recreation area.

THERESA: Don’t you think that’s going to drive you crazy?

KACZYNSKI: No, it won’t drive me crazy.... I’m not worried that they’re going to break my spirit and I don’t think they’ll ever convert me as far as attitudes and opinions are concerned.

BOB: He’s Ted Kaczynski. He controls the box. We control the prison. He controls the box.

KEVIN: Like most political terrorists, he wants to have a soapbox, for his, you know, for his cause. He knows that he has a conduit to the outside world where he can send his writings.

David Skrbina Ph.D. Lead Collaborator: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski

SKRBINA: He-he must spend hours a day writing. I would say he’s probably satisfied that he’s been able to communicate with people and get the ideas out, get books published.

KEVIN: He can be a voice for what he wants to get done.

Vale, Colorado 1988

NEWSREADER: An environmental group claimed responsibility for the blaze which caused an estimated $12 million in damage. The group says it was protesting an expansion of the resort that threatened wildlife.

Tim Lewis — Anarchist Filmmaker

TIM: I think the Unabomber to a lot of kids in the mid 90’s and late 90’s, yeah, I think Ted was an inspiration. And they were going out into about 10 to 15 western states, burnin’ shit down. They were ratcheting things up. It wasn’t just blockades anymore, and it just wasn’t peaceful non-violent protests.

KACZYNSKI: One reason why I think actions like the Vail arson are useful: An action like that tends to increase the sense that something is going on, the sense that there is a tension in society, and it gives the activists themselves a sense of purpose. It’s important.

TIM: They were ratcheting things up, it wasn’t just blockades anymore, and it wasn’t just peaceful non-violent protest.

THERESA: I think Kaczynski thinks of himself as a revolutionary in the sense that people feel very powerless against this, you know… in anarchist circles, often it’s called the “mega-machine”.

FILM CLIP: (Police:) Do not resist arrest.

You know, this whole industrial society. He was kind of a vanguard that wanted to demonstrate that you can fight back against the system.

Seattle, Washington 1999

FILM CLIP: Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Yeah! (Cheering)

KACZYNSKI: It seems to me that there are discontented groups that could be very useful if we could, so to speak, recruit them.

FILM CLIP: Get out of here! — Get the fuck out of here!

KACZYNSKI: Then when the right moment comes, they will be in a position to strike. The thing is that people will tend to be attracted to a movement not only on the basis of agreeing with its ideas, but if they see it as effective, having a clear-cut agenda, cohesive, purposeful and active.

Glenn Carle — Former CIA Officer

GLENN: He’s the latest in a long history of people who have struck out against society’s norms thinking that they knew the way to uh...solve them through violence.

KACZYNSKI: In certain quarters, there is a rejection of modernity, among muslim militants, and I’m wondering what extent it might be useful to our movement to carry on discussions with the Muslim militants and see whether there is sufficient common ground there for any sort of alliance.

THERESA: It’s dangerous for him to encourage others to try to follow that model and talk about, write about, advise, other activists to take human life. It’s not the way forward. There has to be a red line for activists. I think Kaczynski’s way was not the right way. I think his writing was the right way.

Bob Hood — Warden Supermax Prison (Retired)

BOB: If you put the doctor name on there you had it as part of a course at the college and you studied it, we wouldn’t be as shocked. I’d say he’s 90% there, and if you haven’t read it, you’re going to say, “Gosh this warden’s — he drank the water! Stockholm syndrome is kicking in! He’s getting too close! Kaczynski must have hypnotized him, or whatever.” No, writing is writing. Academic and criminal activity should be, could be separated here. It’s today… It’s today on paper. Hey, I get it.

SKRBINA: If we look at the problems that have progressed in the last say 20 years, since the manifesto came out, virtually all areas of concern have gotten worse. And the root cause of all these problems is advanced technology. All the evidence suggests that he was right, that the system is at the root cause of these problems, that we cannot control it, we cannot stop it and very quickly, we may even lose the ability to even undermine the system and then it will be too late.

BOB: I just can’t understand the leap of having to do it with violence and killing innocent people. If you go right to the part that says, “I might have to hurt people to get this word out because otherwise they might not print it,” that’s bent. There’s victims, there’s people that were harmed. And what do we want? If we want him to die, keep him where he is… he’ll probably die. Ted’s in a box. Most likely his next box will be underground.

NEWSREADER: In Sacramento today, a redwood was dedicated to the memory of Gill Murray, Kaczynski’s last victim. Prosecutors say that bomb was so devastating that Murray’s family was left with nothing to bury but his feet.

NEWS CLIP: [Unabomber survivor Diogenes Angelakos] You had a program to try to improve the world. How much improvement is it when you’re killing people off doing it?

[Unabomber survivor John Hauser] Every time I reach out to do something I’m reminded by the lack of dexterity in my hand. I mean, this will always be with me. There is no closure, my arm doesn’t suddenly come back on Monday when he’s sentenced.

GARY: There’s no such thing as closure. There’s different, there’s better, there’s all kinds of other words, but there’s no closure. Closure means it’s done. It’s never done. It’s not ever gonna be done. But I don’t believe in being a victim. I believe in being a survivor, and making a difference and fighting.

DAVID: Little by little, part of our healing began to come about through contacts with some of the victims. I think it was Linda’s idea, she says, you know, we should really write to those people and apologize and tell them, you know, no matter how much we’re trying to save Ted’s life, it doesn’t mean that we devalue their loved ones life.

GARY: He called one evening and he had to leave a message. So, it was like, “Ah, well, I’m David Kaczynski.” So really uncomfortable for him. But a little while later when he and I finally connected, I just said, “Hey, David. This-this isn’t your burden to carry. It’s going to get better. But you can’t carry this one. And so, I said, “if you ever need to talk, just feel free, 24/7, just call me.”

DAVID: And he’s become a dear, dear friend of ours, of many years standing.

GARY: I think it was kind of ironic but a lot bigger than me, that two guys could, you know, go through crap and then come together.

DAVID: And to me, that’s what gives me some hope, the idea that there is this, sort of this, this goodness in people that transcends… the anger, the violence, the... You know, the prejudice, the bad things we see from time to time. There is a core of humanity that’s just… [good].

♪ Man, now what has been done ♪ ♪ Man can’t stand himself ♪ ♪ Or where he’s told that he belong ♪ ♪ Man don’t understand ♪ ♪ Man blames everyone ♪ ♪ Everyone under the sun ♪ ♪ Tell me what has man become ♪