Unabomber News History

Copyright 1993 Southam Inc.

The Gazette (Montreal)

June 30, 1993, Wednesday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 795 words

HEADLINE: Police hunt fussy, nerdy suspect in series of letter bombs




He is quiet, fussy, and awkward with women, obsessed with making lists and cleaning house.

And, authorities say, he is consumed with a rage that he vents by building and sending bombs to unsuspecting victims.

Federal agents say a nerdy serial bomber who was last heard from six years ago has returned with a vengeance, having rigged the explosives that blew up in the faces of two college professors on opposite coasts last week.

And though FBI agents have assembled what they believe to be an accurate psychological profile of the culprit, he still remains elusive, 15 years after he first lashed out.

"It's a strange case - I'll let it go at that," said Bob Long, an FBI agent in Chicago.

Last Tuesday, Charles Epstein, a geneticist at the University of California-San Francisco, lost several fingers when a package-bomb he received in the mail exploded at his home.

Two days later, a bomb blew up in the office of Yale University computer scientist David Gelernter, sending molten shards of metal into his abdomen, face, chest and hands.

Since 1978, the bomber has killed one person and wounded more than 20 others in a bloody spree that has crisscrossed the country. While investigators have linked the incidents through telltale signs found in the bomb debris, the case has baffled them with its apparent lack of motive.

The bomber targets people linked to academia, aviation and computers and centers his attacks mostly on Chicago, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Beyond that, the blasts seem to have no common thread.

The first bomb, concealed in a wooden box, wounded a campus police officer at Northwestern University in Chicago. A year later, a graduate student there was badly burned when he picked up a bomb disguised as a cigar box.

As the terror campaign continued, the bombs grew more sophisticated and more dangerous.

In November 1979, a bomb exploded in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet en route from Chicago to Washington, sending smoke pouring into the cabin and forcing an emergency landing at Dulles Airport in suburban Virginia.

Authorities found that the bomb had been rigged to go off when the plane reached 6,500 feet.

In July 1982, 63-year-old Diogenes Angelakos, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California-Berkeley, saw what looked vaguely like a gasoline tank sitting in a lunchroom.

"I reached over for the handle, and as soon as I lifted it I knew something was wrong," Angelakos recalled.

"It was too quick for me to let go. Just as I tried to lift it up, it went off." The blast mangled Angelakos' right hand.

But that was not Angelakos's last brush with the phantom bomber. Three years later, just two floors below where Angelakos had been hurt, John Hauser, a 26-year-old air force captain and graduate student, opened a package bomb left in a university computer room.

The explosion blew off much of Hauser's right hand and damaged one eye. Angelakos heard the blast and rushed to help.

The injuries ended Hauser's dream of becoming an astronaut.

A few months later, 38-year-old Campbell Scrutton found a package outside the back door of his computer store in Sacramento, Calif. When he touched it, a bomb inside exploded, spraying shrapnel hundreds of feet. He died half an hour later.

FBI agents thought they had a break in the case in 1987, when a witness in Salt Lake City saw a man plant a device an hour before it exploded, wounding a computer store employee.

The suspect was described as in his late 20s, 5-feet-10 to 6 feet tall, with blond or sun-bleached hair and a reddish complexion.

Agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Postal Service established a task force, dubbed "Unabom," for university bomber. A $ 50,000 reward was offered. A hotline was set up to receive tips.

But the trail grew cold. Six years went by without a new explosion. and authorities wondered if the murderous spree had ended.

Then, last week, bomb experts examined debris from the New Haven and San Francisco explosions and made a nightmarish discovery - both bombs were made from the same store-bought materials used in the previous bombings and came in packages bearing markings from Sacramento.

The serial bomber was back.

Investigators are in a bind. To nab the phantom bomber, they must understand his motivations. Their psychological profiles indicate that he is angry at some person or group and is seeking revenge.

"The question is not whether this is a revenge killing so much as against which group," Levin said. "If we don't understand that, we will not bring this person to justice."

Others hope something else happens.

"We hoped he had blown himself up," Angelakos said.