Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 1213 words

HEADLINE: Fatal Package Bomb Mailed From S.F. FBI says killer may live in Northern California

BYLINE: Catherine Bowman, Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff


The innocuous-looking package bomb that killed an advertising executive in New Jersey was mailed from San Francisco 10 days ago, and the notorious UNABOM killer who sent it may very well live in a Northern California community, the FBI said yesterday.

Jim Freeman, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office, asked the public to ''examine the possibility that the UNABOM suspect does live in one of our communities.''

The FBI, which is working on the UNABOM case jointly with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Postal Service, urged anyone with information about the bomber to call the toll-free hotline, 1-800-701- BOMB. Anonymity will be granted, and informants will be given identification numbers. A $ 1 million reward has been offered.

UNABOM is the name given by federal agents to a mysterious bomber who has killed two men and injured 23 other people in a 16-year terror campaign that appears to be aimed at universities, airlines and computer-related enterprises. The most recent incident occurred Saturday when Thomas J. Mosser, the recently named general manager and executive vice president of Young & Rubicam in New York, was killed in his North Caldwell, N.J., home when he opened a package that has been identified as a bomb created by the UNABOM perpetrator.

The revelation that the Mosser bomb was mailed from San Francisco now means that of the 15 incidents attributed to the bomber, seven either were mailed from or exploded in Northern California. The bomber also mailed a letter to the New York Times from Sacramento last year at about the time two of his devices injured professors in Marin County and at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The small package that exploded in at Mosser's kitchen bore a postmark date of Saturday, December 3, and arrived at Mosser's home on Friday, December 9. He did not open the package until the next day. It had a San Francisco return address, but FBI agents said a cursory check indicates ''there is not a person by that name at that particular location.''


When the package was mailed is important because some investigators have speculated that the bomber has, of late, been choosing his victims from the pages of newspapers. Mosser's promotion to his new post was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal one day before the bomb was mailed.

Freeman said agents are still reconstructing fragments of the packaging.

An FBI press conference yesterday was the second in as many days to discuss the UNABOM case.

''I want the general public to be particularly alert,'' Freeman said, adding it is ''very pertinent'' that the UNABOM killer has been in Northern California, Utah and Illinois, perhaps for short periods.

''He certainly has a familiarity with the Bay Area and San Francisco. Whether or not he is a full- time resident, I don't know,'' Freeman said. ''He may even appear to be a very nice guy. (He) could easily be the person living next door.''

Packages carrying bombs through the mail bore postage stamps, indicating that the suspect probably affixed them himself to avoid contact with a postal clerk. Not all of the packages are alike, and the bomber has used different methods of detonation.

''There has been a progression in the sophistication of devices . . . and the destructiveness of the explosions,'' Freeman said.

Word Out on the Internet

The FBI also said it has been putting out the word about UNABOM on the Internet to reach as many people as possible and because of the possibility the bomber has been involved with the world of computers. The FBI has yet to identify a suspect.

FBI agents are warning the public to be alert to any suspicious packages -- those that are unexpected, bear an unfamiliar return address or no return address at all.

''To allay any widespread public concern, it should be noted that all mailed devices thus far have targeted specific individuals.''

Since the first bomb exploded on a university campus in Chicago in 1978, investigators have been stumped by the bomber. Freeman said eight of the bombs have been mailed to individuals, and seven others placed in areas where they would be disturbed and detonate.

Although Mosser's death apparently is a departure from other UNABOM incidents -- in that Mosser was in the advertising business -- clues can be found in the timing of recent events connected to both Mosser and Young & Rubicam, investigators noted.

Six of the bombings, including the December 1985 killing of Hugh Campbell Strutton in Sacramento, were connected to computers. Strutton owned a computer store, and the other victims, none of whom died, either were computer professors or worked in university computer science buildings.

Computer-Related Clients

In November, there were brief announcements in the New York Times that Young & Rubicam had picked up two computer-related firms as clients -- Massachusetts- based Digital Equipment Corp. and the Desktop Document Systems division of Xerox Corp., of Palo Alto. Three days after the Xerox Corp. announcement, the Wall Street Journal ran its story about Mosser's promotion to the top job at Young & Rubicam.

The computer link in the UNABOM case is being considered seriously by investigators, who have been pondering the meaning of the initials, ''FC,'' which have appeared on at least seven of the bomber's devices. The initials also appeared in the letter the bombmaker sent the New York Times.

Michael Reynolds, who spent a year researching the case for a Playboy magazine article said the federal UNABOM task force has run down 5,000 leads and amassed a list of 200 suspects, all to no avail. Disguised as videotape cassettes, manuscripts, books and even construction debris, the bombs were crafted from pieces virtually impossible to trace.

''This guy has taken a great deal of time and patience to construct (these bombs) from parts you normally would buy off the shelf,'' said Paul Snabel, ATF's top agent in San Francisco. ''He is building them from scratch. . . . He has a very fastidious nature. He's a very compulsive type.'' ------------------------------------------------------------------



1. MAY 25, 1978

University of Illinois

Chicago: 1 injury

2. MAY 9, 1979

Northwestern University

Evanston, Ill.: i injury


3. NOV. 15, 1979

American Airlines

Chicago: 12 injuries


4.JUNE 10, 1980

President, United Airlines

Chicago: 1 injury


5. OCT. 8, 1981

University of Utah

Salt Lake City.


6. MAY 5, 1982

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tenn.: 1 injury

on the parcel is Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.


7. JULY 2, 1982

University of California

Berkeley: 1 injury


8. MAY 8, 1985

Boeing Aircraft

Auburn, Wash.


9. MAY 15, 1985

University of California

Berkeley: 1i injury


10. NOV. 15, 1985

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich.:

2 injuries


11. DEC. 11, 1985

Rentech Co.

Sacramento: 1 death

12. FEB. 20, 1987

CAAM's Inc.

Salt Lake City: 1 INJURY


13. JUNE 22, 1993

UCSF geneticist

Tiburon: 1 INJURY


14. JUNE 24, 1993

Yale University

New Haven, Conn.: 1 injury


15. DEC. 10, 1994

Ad executive

North Caldwell, N.J.

1 death