Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 596 words

HEADLINE: FBI Says Man in Video Too Old to Be Unabomber

BYLINE: Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer


A furtive man with aviator sunglasses and a thin mustache, captured on police videotape at the scene of a Unabomber attack in Sacramento, is not the UNABOM suspect, federal officials said yesterday after a flurry of Unabomber activity this week.

After studying the videotape extensively, Sacramento police said the man they videotaped is about 15 years older than the Unabomber is believed to be.

"While it is true that at one time we were attempting to identify this individual as part of the UNABOM investigation," said FBI spokesman George Grotz in San Francisco, "that identification is not a priority at this time, and we do not believe the individual in that photo to be the Unabomber."

The videotaping occurred after the April 24 mail-bomb killing of timber lobbyist Gilbert Murray in Sacramento. Police noticed a man who suddenly hurried away when he realized a camera was training on him.

''This guy caught our attention because he obviously didn't want to be photographed,'' Sacramento Police Lieutenant Joe Enloe said. ''Was he cutting work? Cheating on his wife? . . . We don't know.''

When they looked at the tape later on, police saw a man with aviator-style sunglasses and a thin mustache. Both characteristics bore a resemblance to a composite sketch of the Unabomber, drawn from information given by a witness in Salt Lake City in 1987. She briefly encountered the Unabomber in a parking lot, while he was planting what turned out to be one of his devices.

The Unabomber has been responsible for three deaths and 23 injuries over the past 17 years. His latest action began June 27, when The Chronicle received a letter from the Unabomber, threatening to blow up an airliner flying out of Los Angeles International Airport. Federal aviation and postal officials immediately increased security at all California airports and within the mail system, tying up air travel and slowing down the mail.

The next day, the New York Times got a letter from the Unabomber, saying the threat was ''a prank.''

Until June 1993, the Unabomber's crimes perplexed everyone because he had never publicly explained his actions. Since then, he has written to The Chronicle, the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as Penthouse magazine and University of California at Berkeley psychologist Tom Tyler, in a profusion of letters, accompanied, sometimes, by a 35,000- word manifesto explaining his political and social philosophy.

Tyler, who was the latest to receive a letter from the Unabomber, sent back a response to the elusive suspect, in the form of a letter that The Chronicle published on July 4. The professor also gave a copy of the Unabomber's lengthy manifesto to The Chronicle.

Chronicle editors said they are evaluating the manifesto and discussing what further steps may be appropriate. The Unabomber has demanded that the Times or the Post publish the document, estimated to take up seven full newspaper pages, by the end of September. Executives of those two papers have said they are considering their options.

Meanwhile, federal officials stressed that their hunt for the Unabomber is still focused on the Bay Area and Sacramento. Earlier this week, postal officials had said the search was moving away from Sacramento and focusing more on San Francisco and Berkeley.

''We prefer to say the investigation has not specifically focused on any city, individual or group,'' Grotz said. ''We're still looking at the greater San Francisco Bay Area. And Sacramento is still viable.''