Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Globe Newspaper Company

The Boston Globe

May 9, 1995, Tuesday, City Edition


LENGTH: 553 words

HEADLINE: FBI links Unabomber to letter at Beverly lab; Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

BYLINE: By Matt Bai, Globe Staff


A threatening letter received by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist in Beverly was sent by the man known as the Unabomber on the same day that his latest bomb killed a timber industry lobbyist in Sacramento, Calif., the FBI said yesterday.

The letter sent to Richard J. Roberts, a Massachusetts geneticist, was one of four mailed April 20 in Oakland, the FBI said.

That same day, a package sent by the Unabomber exploded and killed Gilbert Murray, president of the American Forestry Association in California.

The Boston Herald reported today that Phillip A. Sharp, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology geneticist who shared the Nobel Prize with Roberts, also received a letter from the Unabomber. Reached at his Newton home last night, Sharp, 51, would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Dubbed "Unabomber" by authorities, the man who has managed to elude investigators since his first attack in 1978 has killed three people and injured 23 others. Another geneticist, Dr. Charles Epstein of the University of California at San Francisco, was injured by a bomb sent to his home June 22, 1993.

Roberts, 51, who works at New England Biolabs in Beverly, has referred all questions about the letter to the FBI and obtained an unlisted phone number.

The lights in Roberts' rustic Wenham home were turned out last night, and a utility vehicle blocked the long gravel driveway. A man who answered the door told a reporter, "Leave now, or I shall call the police."

A native of Derby, England, Roberts shared a 1993 Nobel Prize with Sharp for their pioneering work in biotechnology. They independently discovered that individual genes, the building blocks of hereditary material, can be spread over separate segments of DNA.

Roberts is the third of the four recipients of the April 20 letters to be identified. The Globe reported Sunday he had received the letter and the FBI was probing a possible link to the Unabomber.

FBI spokesman Jim Freeman would not disclose contents of the letter. He said the FBI determined it had been written by the Unabomber because he mentioned Roberts in another letter to The New York Times.

In that letter, the Unabomber lashed out at scientists and said he would stop the bombings if The Times or Newsweek or Time magazines printed his manifesto. Only Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione has agreed to publish such a piece.

The Times published the letter, with some sections deleted at the request of the FBI.

In another letter sent the same day, the Unabomber taunted a previous victim, computer scientist David Gelernter of Yale, who was seriously injured in 1993.

"People with advanced degrees aren't as smart as they think they are," that letter began. "If you'd had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn't have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source."

Authorities have described the Unabomber as a man in his 40s. Even though he referred to himself as "we" in his letter to The Times, the FBI believes he works alone.

In the wake of the Sacramento killing, FBI officials said it appeared the Unabomber was jealous of the attention created by the Oklahoma City bombing and he seemed to be unraveling.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, AP PHOTO / Richard J. Roberts is seen in this Oct. 11, 1993, file photo. A letter received at the Beverly lab where the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist works was sent by the Unabomber, the FBI confirmed yesterday.