Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Denver Publishing Company

Denver Rocky Mountain News

May 1, 1995, Monday


LENGTH: 367 words

HEADLINE: Search for the Unabomber 'a roller coaster of a case'

BYLINE: Seth Rosenfeld; San Francisco Examiner; Scripps Howard News Service


Each time the bomber officially called the Unabomber strikes, he ignites a burning combination of fear, frustration and hope in the pit of Bill Foley's belly.

Fear that another unsuspecting victim has been maimed or killed. Frustration that law enforcement resources have so far failed to stop the bomber. Hope that this time, amid the carnage, the elusive killer left the critical clue.

''It's sort of a sickening feeling,'' said Foley, who for 13 years has investigated two attacks at University of California-Berkeley in the 1980s and has worked with the Unabomber task force on some of the 14 others.

Foley and other law enforcement officials have had their share of ups and downs in what the FBI calls the most intensive and protracted search in U.S. history.

Their worst fears were realized again last week with the Unabomber's latest attack in 17 years: a mail bomb that killed a Sacramento timber industry lobbyist, bringing the totals to 16 bombings, three dead, 23 hurt.

But investigators' hopes were lifted after the blast by a rush of promising leads. The Unabomber sent two letters that described - for the first time - his avowed political motives: that society turn from science and technology, that corporations cease putting a commercial spin on reality, that people organize into smaller, autonomous communities.

Citizens, prompted by outrage or a $ 1 million reward, last week made more than 2,500 calls to the Unabom hot line.

''It's a roller coaster of a case,'' said Jim Freeman, special agent in charge of the San Francisco FBI office. ''You've got this absolute roller coaster of emotion that this really might be the guy, and then other information starts coming in and throws cold water on that.''

One problem has been that nearly every bomb has exploded, making the trail murkier. A cautious recipient could both protect himself and help investigators, he said, but in last Monday's blast, timber association office workers actually joked that the parcel was a bomb before it was opened.

Still, Freeman and Foley are confident. The investigation has linked all the bombings to a single suspect, Freeman said, affirming the probe's focus.