Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 The Times Mirror Company

Los Angeles Times

December 13, 1994, Tuesday, Home Edition

SECTION: Part A; Page 3; Column 4; Metro Desk

LENGTH: 879 words





The package bomb that killed a prominent New York advertising executive Saturday was mailed from a mailbox here a week earlier by an elusive serial bomber whose devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the FBI said Monday.

Frustrated investigators, who have been searching for the bomber for more than 16 years, said the killer now may be based in the San Francisco area and urged residents to consider whether he may be someone they know.

"He may even appear to be a very nice guy," said Jim R. Freeman, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's San Francisco office. "He might not stand out in a community. He could easily be the person living next door."

The FBI has offered a $1-million reward for the capture of the bomber and, for the first time in its history, has posted a notice on the Internet appealing for leads.

The bomber, believed to be a white male, has mailed or planted 15 explosive devices spanning the continent from UC Berkeley to Yale, killing two and injuring 23 since 1978. Many of the targets have been linked to universities, aviation and the computer industry, prompting the FBI to code-name the case "UNABOM."

The bomb that killed Thomas J. Mosser at his New Jersey home Saturday was the first to target a victim in the advertising business. The FBI said it was investigating whether Mosser or his firm, Young & Rubicam, Inc., were linked to any of the other victims.

"This certainly adds a new wrinkle to the equation, having an advertising executive join the ranks of college professors and researchers and computer industry executives," Freeman said.

FBI agents described the suspect as a loner with at least a high school education and a perfectionist who is meticulous in handcrafting his explosive devices.

Since he began his attacks, his bombs have become more compact and deadly. The one mailed to Mosser was about the size of a videocassette tape. "Over the period since 1978, they have become more sophisticated and more destructive," Freeman said.

Forensic experts have been able to link the bombs because of similarities in design, their painstaking construction and the initials "FC" found on some of the devices. In all, eight of the 15 bombs were sent through the mail; the other seven were placed at locations where they would be discovered and detonated.

The bomber began with four attacks in Illinois, targeting victims at universities and airlines. In 1981, he moved west, with bombings in Salt Lake City, Berkeley, Sacramento and Auburn, Wash. During the 1980s, he also mailed bombs to professors at universities in Nashville, Tenn., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

In 1987, a fair-skinned white man with a mustache was seen placing a bomb at a computer store in Salt Lake City. After the bomb exploded, injuring one person, the bomber stopped his attacks for six years.

But in June, 1993, a UC San Francisco geneticist was injured by a bomb mailed to his house in Tiburon. Two days later, a Yale University computer scientist was injured by a bomb sent to his office.

After those attacks, the bomber sent a letter to the New York Times, claiming the explosions were the work of an anarchist group calling itself "FC." But Freeman said Monday investigators believe they are searching for one man and have found no other indication of political motivation.

Federal agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service, formed a task force last year based in San Francisco and are using a computer system to analyze more than 1 million pieces of information collected in the case. More than 25 investigators had been working full time on the case, and the number of agents increased with the latest bombing.

Freeman said investigators believe the bomber is probably in the Bay Area because of the frequency of activity here: Seven of the 15 attacks either occurred in Northern California or resulted from packages mailed from the region. The bomber's letter to the newspaper was mailed from Sacramento.

By reconstructing the wrapping paper on the package that killed Mosser, investigators have found the return address written on the package and the date of the postmark, Dec. 3. Agents also have come up with the ZIP code in San Francisco where the package -- bearing postage stamps -- was mailed.

"We are conducting an intensive investigation here in the San Francisco area in an to attempt to determine exactly where that package may have been mailed," Freeman said.

The task force has established a hot line for tips on the bomber: (800) 701-BOMB. The FBI also has released a new composite sketch of the suspect based on the 1987 sighting. The picture was drawn by Jeanne Boylan, the Oregon police artist whose drawing of alleged kidnaper Richard Allen Davis was widely circulated in the search last year for murder victim Polly Klaas.

While appealing for help from the public, the FBI was reluctant to share much evidence in the case or offer a detailed personality profile of the suspect.

"I don't want to speculate," Freeman said at a news conference, "because I'm not just speaking to you in the media and to the general public, but I am also speaking probably to the UNABOM suspect."

Times staff writer Ronald J. Ostrow in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.

GRAPHIC: Photo, Sketch shows suspect wanted in string of U.S. mail bombings. He may be based in the Bay Area.