Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 411 words

HEADLINE: Targeting of Lobbyist Baffles Investigators

BYLINE: Pamela Burdman, Chronicle Staff Writer


It took federal agents only hours yesterday to confirm what they had feared: The bomb that killed a Sacramento lobbyist yesterday was the deadly work of the Unabomber, a mysterious killer who has eluded investigators for 17 years.

The Sacramento bombing was the 16th known UNABOM incident and the eighth with a link to Northern California. Forestry Association President Gil Murray became the third victim killed by a lethal device. Twenty-two others have been injured.

The UNABOM name came because the bomber's early targets were universities and airlines. But like the December 9 death of New Jersey advertising executive Thomas J. Mosser, yesterday's bombing seems to shred investigators' earlier theories about the killer's motives.

''I've been scratching my head for the last couple hours since I heard about it,'' said Louis Bertram, a former FBI agent who started the first UNABOM task force in Salt Lake City eight years ago.

''We have looked everywhere from universities to computer stores to airlines,'' he said. ''This victim was a lobbyist. If it is the Unabomber, I'm sure a motive has occurred in his mind. But I just don't see it.''

Investigators say they can quickly identify the perpetrator's work because of the attacker's habit of using homemade screws, polished wood and intricate wiring.

Because yesterday's target was a timber industry lobby group, investigators may re-examine earlier theories that the bomber has a fascination with trees or wood.

But agents were reluctant to give too much weight to that theory: ''I'm sure everybody's straining to make a connection of some kind,'' said John Brugger of the U.S. Postal Inspector's office in Washington, D.C.

Among the few links investigators have established is a connection to Northern California.

In July 1993, University of California at San Francisco genetics professor Charles Epstein and Yale University computer science theorist David Gelernter were both injured by bombs that listed California State University, Sacramento, return addresses.

In December, after Mosser was killed by a package bomb mailed in San Francisco, the FBI announced that a 30-agent federal task force was concentrating its investigation in Northern California because about half of the bombings had links to the area.

They also posted a $ 1 million reward for information leading to the UNABOM killer and urged anyone with clues to call 1-800-701- BOMB.