Unabomber News History

Copyright 1994 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.

The Plain Dealer

December 15, 1994 Thursday, FINAL / ALL


LENGTH: 585 words




He's a voracious reader, a high-school graduate in his 30s or 40s with at least some college. He plows through tomes on law enforcement, scientific subjects, psychology and history to find his victims - all men of accomplishment in various fields. He has a "blood lust" for fame and resents those who have achieved it, experts say.

He's been described as "a little squirrel" who "spends a lot of time in his workshop and spends a lot of time fantasizing while he's working," one investigator says. He patiently constructs and polishes components for his bombs much like a watchmaker crafting a less-lethal product.

And the man whose bombs have killed two people and injured 23 is a loner, FBI officials say.

Peter Smerick, a 24-year FBI veteran who helped put together a profile of the bomber before retiring two years ago, said the bomber is someone who enjoys working with his hands.

"I think you can use the analogy of putting together a ship out of toothpicks," Smerick said, referring to the bomber's lovingly constructed deadly missives.

Letter bombs, Smerick said, are traditionally a device for revenge, sent to settle a grudge with someone the bomber knows. But the Unabomber doesn't seem to know his victims personally.

"We can't seem to link together all these victims as having something in common that this one guy would have such a vengeance against - it just doesn't make a lot of sense," Smerick said.

Dr. Charles Bahn, a professor of forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who worked on the case of New York serial killer Joel Rifkin, said he believes the bomber has a blood lust for acclaim.

"The likeliest psychological theory is that this is a person who failed to get the recognition he feels he deserved," Bahn said. "There is something about the recognition (his victims have attained) that galls this person."

Many of the bomber's victims' names appeared in publications before the attacks, and the victims had achieved some sort of acclaim in their fields, officials said. Thomas Mosser, the Young & Rubicam advertising executive killed by the Unabomber's latest strike Saturday, had once been profiled in Fortune magazine.

"He seems to prey on people who got attention in the press, but he can't get it because he's not that kind of achiever," said an investigator. "This is the guy in the corner doing marginal work, who doesn't get the promotion but feels he should be recognized for his work before other people."

Bahn said the bomber showed evidence of being a patient man, waiting long periods between attacks, something some serial killers are unable to do.

Dr. Naftali Berrill, another forensic psychologist, who is based in New York City, said he believes the bomber is reveling in the attention being lavished on him in the media. "It seems that he feels his message and activities are worthy of attention, admiration, fear - whatever he's looking for - from the public," Berrill said.

The bomber, who investigators believe was spotted at one bombing scene in 1987, has written letters to the New York Times and has signed some of his devices with the letters "F.C.," which officials believe stands for an obscene phrase about computers. But in 16 years, he's never left any clue to his identity.

Officials said one of the biggest problems facing investigators is the bomber's unpredictability. "It sounds like he can just strike out aimlessly at people with noteworthy careers," said one official.