The Unabomber – When Words Speak Louder Than Actions

From 1978 to 1995 the bodies piled up. Sometimes there was one victim, and other times there was a group. The casualties spanned America, from Connecticut to California. And everyone knew that there was one source: a man the public had named “the Unabomber.” In all, sixteen bombs, (injuring 23 people and killing 3), were crafted and delivered. Most of them contained primitive homemade parts, and an inscription of “FC” on the inside.

FBI reproduction of a bomb sent by Kaczynski

For nearly two decades, the FBI searched high and low for this nightmare of a man without success. All they could agree upon, it seemed, was that the suspect valued a “theme of nature,” in his crimes. This was apparent because the unabomber often included bits of tree branches, bark, and wood in his devices. Perhaps even more strangely, the unabomber also chose the targets Percy Wood, Professor Leroy Wood Bearson and Thomas Mosser.

It wasn’t until a 35,000 word essay showed up on the doorstep of several prominent news outlets, that the ghost of a suspect finally became identifiable. Printed in it’s entirety, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” was a scathing indictment of technology and modern society.  The author argued that most people spent their time engaged in useless pursuits which he called “surrogate activities,” wherein people strove toward artificial goals. He bemoaned the loss of “wide nature” and decried those he labeled “leftists” in all their various forms.

The infamous Unabomber sketch by Jeanne Boylan

And, when a woman named Linda Kaczynski read it in the newspaper, she rushed to find her husband David. The essay, it seemed to her, sounded almost exactly like David’s older brother, Ted Kaczynski.

After much prodding and comparison to prior letters and writings of Ted’s, David reluctantly contacted an attorney. David’s lawyer made contact with the FBI – many of whom did not believe the unabomber and David Kaczynski’s brother were one and the same – and eventually law enforcement descended on Ted’s remote cabin in the woods.

Once there, authorities found ample evidence proving that Ted Kaczynski was, indeed, the infamous unabomber.

So, in the end, it wasn’t the actions of posting and sending bombs through the mail that tripped Ted up. It wasn’t fingerprints, fibers, or other forensic evidence. It wasn’t an eye witness, or bizarre and suspicious behaviors reported by others. It wasn’t a masterful criminal profile by an illustrious expert (though some have tried to take credit!). It was Ted Kaczynski’s own words – his “manifesto” – that caused him to be apprehended. For Ted had always been this way: intimately in touch with the needs of greater society, yet completely out of touch with the individual humans that surrounded him.

As for his justification for the wrongs he committed, Ted’s ideals trumped everything: all the damage, all the carnage, all the death. And his deep fears about technology and disconnection from the natural world fueled a rage that had likely always been more destructive than forces of industry he railed against. After all, Ted was estranged from everyone he knew: his family, friends, and anyone else who once may have loved him… In that perilous vacuum, he alone created a vortex of fear and that paralyzed a nation every time an unknown package showed up. He alone fed off that fear and relished it, savoring his “superiority.”

Perhaps ironically, Ted Kaczynski is alone with his thoughts once again, spending his life confined within the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.



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