Unabomber Commits Suicide in Federal Prison
Ted Kaczynski died last Saturday after hanging himself from the ceiling of his prison cell. At the time of death, Kaczynski was 81 years old and suffering from late-stage cancer.
Also known as “Unabomber,” Kaczynski is famous for a decades-spanning bombing campaign during which he killed three people and injured 23 others (1975-1995). He was a child prodigy in mathematics who made it into Harvard at age 16 and became an assistant professor at California Berkeley by age 25. After just two years of teaching, however, he abandoned his career and moved into a cabin he built for himself in a remote area of Montana.
Kaczynski sought to live a simple, autonomous life without electricity or running water. As would later be described in his manifesto, Kaczynski believed the Industrial Revolution would bring ruin to mankind and opposed the technological advances of modern society.
Kaczynski’s crimes began with environmental vandalism targeting hunting camps, mining machinery, and logging sites, but took a darker turn in 1983 after he discovered that a road had been built through one of his favorite forested areas.
“You just can’t imagine how upset I was,” he said during an interview. “It was from that point on I decided that, rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system. Revenge.”
Kaczynski began mailing homemade bombs to individuals and institutions he believed were advancing the evils of modern technology, fueling a nationwide fear of opening mail and boarding airplanes. A total of 16 bombs were attributed to him, though the actual number remains unknown. Kaczynski’s targets included academics, business executives, and universities.
The FBI’s investigation, launched in 1979, spanned nearly 20 years and involved more than 150 investigators – making it the longest and most expensive manhunt in the agency’s history. Kaczynski earned his nickname “Unabomber” from the title of the investigation: UNABOM, an acronym for “University and Airline Bombing.”
The Unabomber eluded authorities for almost two decades before he was identified by family members who recognized his writing style in a 35,000-word manifesto published by the Washington Post in 1995. Kaczynski submitted his manifesto to the media anonymously, but promised to “permanently desist from terrorist activities” if it was published in full.
Kaczynski was finally apprehended on April 3rd, 1996 by a team of FBI agents at his Montana cabin. Investigators would later report that the contents of the cabin made it clear the bombs had been constructed there.
Kaczynski pleaded guilty to all charges in order to avoid the death penalty (reports confirm that he tried to hang himself using a pair of underwear while awaiting trial) and received four life sentences plus 30 years in prison without possibility of parole.
Kaczynski was held at ADX Florence, a maximum security prison in Colorado, for more than 20 years before being transferred to FMC Butner, a federal prison in North Carolina for male inmates with special health needs.