Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Times Publishing Company

St. Petersburg Times

April 26, 1995, Wednesday, City Edition


LENGTH: 636 words

HEADLINE: Letters from Unabomber give motives, taunt FBI SOURCE: Compiled from Times wires



Is he a tree-hugger or laid-off airline employee? Does he detest computers? Bear a bitter grudge against a college professor?

Is his motive revenge, or is he simply a twisted publicity hound?

For 17 years, a wily figure known as the Unabomber has been on the loose in America, spreading terror and death through carefully polished bombs concealed inside parcels sent through the U.S. mail.

His devices have injured 23 people and killed three others, including a lobbyist for timber companies who died in the latest attack at the California Forestry Association headquarters here Monday afternoon.

A psychological profile suggests the Unabomber has little more than a high school education. Yet he has stumped this nation's sharpest crime-fighters, leading them on a confounding chase without precedent in the annals of criminology.

But the Unabomber has finally broken his silence.

Tuesday, the FBI announced that authorities have obtained three letters from the Unabomber, postmarked April 20 from Oakland. At least two of the three arrived on the day of the bombing.

Jim Freeman, FBI special agent in charge of the San Francisco office, said that in the letters the bomber describes his own actions and motives for the first time since he surfaced in 1978.

"We are hopeful there will be something in the content of the letters that will cause the public to recognize this individual,"Freeman said.

The FBI, he said, is considering releasing details from the letters as early as today.

In one of the letters, to the New York Times, the writer says he has spent considerable time perfecting ever-deadlier devices, but that he would stop killing people if a newspaper or magazine with nationwide circulation published a lengthy article written by him.

The letter offered the most detailed explanation yet of what the bomber says are his motives. It also taunted the FBI.

"Clearly we are in a position to do a great deal of damage,"the single-spaced, typed letter to the Times, said. "And it doesn't appear that the FBI is going to catch us any time soon. The FBI is a joke."

A second letter went to David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor who was badly hurt by a mail bomb he opened in June 1993. Gelernter on Tuesday declined to discuss the contents of his letter.

Only once before has the bomber communicated, in a brief letter to the New York Times nearly two years ago. In that note, as in the one delivered on Monday, he described himself as an "anarchist"and said he was from a group called "FC."In both letters to the Times, the letter-writer used the first-person plural, though investigators who have spent years trying to break the case believe that the bomber is a single white man in his 40s.

Monday's explosion took the life of Gilbert Murray, 47, who was killed when he opened a shoebox-sized parcel that arrived through the mail. The powerful explosion badly damaged the association's office; bomb fragments were found 140 feet from the reception counter where Murray had been standing.

Authorities said the bomb, mailed in a rectangular wooden box with an Oakland postmark, was not addressed to Murray. Instead, it was mailed to Murray's predecessor, William Dennison, who resigned a year ago after serving as association president for 14 years.

The Unabomber has been blamed for 16 attacks over 17 years. Many of his attacks have had a Northern California connection.

Two years ago, the federal government formed a task force, assigning as many as 40 agents to work full-time to crack the Unabom case - so named because the attacker shows a preference for universities and airlines.- Information from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times is in this report.