Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ted Kaczynski: The Unabomber

Working the West

The package was mailed early in May 1982 from the Campus Post Office, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and addressed to Professor Patrick C. Fischer, Pennsylvania State University. The fact that Fischer hadn't taught at Penn State for two years indicated the Unabomber was working from stale data, as he often did. The package was forwarded to Fischer's new base — Vanderbilt University.

When it arrived, the professor was teaching in Puerto Rico, so secretary Janet Smith opened it. It exploded with a ferocity that seriously injured her face and arms. Bleeding and cut with shrapnel, she was rushed to Vanderbilt Hospital.

She will never understand the bad luck that allowed the parcel to reach her desk.

It had been mailed using cancelled — and insufficient — postage. The Unabomber expected it would be returned to its alleged sender — Electrical Engineering Professor LeRoy Wood Bearnson at Brigham Young University.

Bearnson, of course, knew nothing of the parcel. And it had originally been sent to the wrong address. Ms Smith only opened it because her boss was lecturing in Puerto Rico. Again, the name Wood appeared, as did a metal fragment with the letters FC.

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Two months later, the Unabomber struck again — this time at Berkley, California.

On July 2nd 1982, Engineering professor Diogenes J. Angelakos entered a faculty lounge used by mathematics and computer science personnel in Cory Hall. There, he noticed a strange-looking piece of equipment.

At first, he believed it must be some type of measuring device — one prominent feature was a gauge of some sort. The apparatus incorporated a metal container, and featured a carrying handle resembling a handsaw grip.

When he lifted the handle, a pipe bomb placed inside the metal can exploded. Almost instantly metal shrapnel — and the sheer force of the blast - caused serious damage to Angelakos' face, hand and arm. Flesh was torn from his fingers, and tendons were decimated.

That the container of gasoline itself had not ignited into a devastating fireball was incredibly fortunate. Later, Professor Angelakos explained why: "The idiot filled the tank to the top...and didn't leave enough air for the gasoline to explode."

Again, the Unabomber had signed his handiwork with amateurism. And perhaps more; a fragment of paper had survived the blast. On it, the Unabomber had typed " - it works! I told you it would. RV."

Although the message made no sense to investigators at the time, it turned out the Unabomber had attempted to implicate previous Berkeley colleagues, Hung Hsi Wu and Robert Vaught.

For almost three years, the bombings stopped. But then, the Unabomber returned to haunt Professor Diogenes Angelakos.

On May 15th 1985, Air Force Captain and Berkeley grad Student John Hauser entered a computer lab in Cory Hall at Berkeley. There, he noticed an out of place three ring binder near a computer. When he opened the binder's cover it exploded.

It was the Unabomber's most effective work of terrorism yet. Hauser was seriously injured. Four fingers were destroyed; he suffered partial loss of vision in his left eye, and suffered severe medial nerve damage. Blood was spurting out of an artery in his arm and he screamed for help.

One who came running to his aid was Professor Diogenes Angelakos, the Unabomber's last victim. Quickly, he fashioned a tourniquet out of his tie as someone called 911.

In one brief moment, John Hauser's dream of becoming an astronaut was wiped out. He later told Time, "I could see a large divot was taken out of the inside of my forearm...it was just destroyed...all of my fingers were missing two sections..."

Inspectors concluded that, during his three- year hiatus, the Unabomber had been honing his lethal skills. Now, he'd graduated to deadlier explosives, including the potent mix of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. For shrapnel, he packed this latest pipe bomb with tacks, bits of lead and nails. And again, the signature was stamped into an end seal of the pipe — FC.

No closer to their quarry than they were seven years earlier, investigators were increasingly apprehensive — unless they stopped the Unabomber quickly, fatalities were inevitable.

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An eagle-eyed mailroom clerk working for Boeing in Auburn, Washington noticed something strange on June 13th 1985.

A parcel addressed simply to Boeing's fabrication division showed up five weeks after it had been posted in Oakland Ca. Because no specific department or person was noted, the clerk considered it suspicious enough to alert the bomb squad.

X-rays determined the package contained explosives. Investigation proved the return address — Weiburg Tool and Supply, Oakland — a fiction.

The device provided technicians from the King County Bomb Squad with first clear look at the Unabomber's "new & improved" creations. After dismantling and cataloging each component — Including an FC logo — the bomb was destroyed.

It was the Unabomber's final assault on the airline industry, and his last aborted attack.

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