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FBI composite sketch of the suspected Unabomber
FBI composite sketch of the Unabomber suspect.

The Unabomber Trial:

Complex Psychodrama Heads to Court

By Gayle Worland Staff
Monday, November 10, 1997

W hen the trial of Unabomber suspect Theodore J. Kaczynski gets underway with jury selection November 12, it will reopen a complex psychological drama surrounding the professor-turned-recluse and the bizarre chain of events leading to his arrest.

In a 10-count indictment, Kaczynski is charged with transporting and mailing explosive devices that killed two men and severely injured two others. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Kaczynski is not charged specifically with murder, but is accused of transporting and mailing bombs that killed two people and injured two others.

Kaczynski is also accused of the bombing death of a New Jersey advertising executive in a separate indictment. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A former mathematics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Kaczynski is suspected of being the "Unabomber," whose mail bombs killed three people and maimed 23 during an 18-year campaign of terror. The Unabomber associated many of his victims with technology and its ills, the primary subjects of his "manifesto" published in September 1995 by The Washington Post and the New York Times amid much controversy.

The elusive "Unabom," so named for his early targets at universities and airline companies, was the subject of a extensive 18-year manhunt by the FBI.

The drama of the mysterious Unabom case deepened in early 1996 when Kaczynski's younger brother David stumbled across documents in his mother's Chicago-area home that bore a resemblance to the published manifesto. David Kaczynski conducted his own investigation for several months before telling the FBI he suspected his sibling was the elusive Unabomber.

Since that time, experts have examined Kaczynski's family relationships and difficulty in relating to women and society in general. Kaczynski lived for years by himself in an isolated, 10-foot-by-12-foot Montana cabin without a telephone, electricity or running water, according to news reports. Neighbors said the bearded loner lived amidst stacks of books, appeared to bathe very rarely and fertilized his vegetable garden with his own feces.

The Harvard-trained mathematician received his doctorate at the University of Michigan in 1967 and produced half a dozen scholarly publications. He taught in the mathematics department at Berkeley as an assistant professor between 1967 and 1969, when he virtually disappeared from the academic world. Nearly a decade later, an anonymous terrorist began a spree of mail-bombs to targets at universities, in the airlines and in the business world.

Kaczynski has refused to be examined by the prosecution's psychiatrists. Nevertheless, his lawyers are expected to argue that he suffers from a "mental defect" such as paranoid schizophrenia, perhaps the only strategy that could keep Kaczynski from receiving the death penalty if he is found guilty.

© Copyright 1997 The Digital Ink Company

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