Copyright © 1999 Seattle Times Company
Unabomber Suspect Matches FBI Profile in Most Respects
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Investigators chased the Unabomber armed with a psychological profile: The killer was lonely, white, meticulous, highly intelligent and a voracious reader.
The suspect, Theodore John Kaczynski, a 53-year-old recluse, is an eerie match in most respects but departs from the profile in some areas.
Most notably, the former Berkeley math professor dramatically contradicts the popular notion of a serial killer as a failure in life thirsting for power and vicarious recognition.
"We know he was a smashing success professionally. He graduates from Harvard at the age of 20, gets his Ph.D. in Michigan and then gets a job in the mathematics department at Berkeley," said Michael Rustigan, a criminologist at San Francisco State University who assisted in crafting the investigative profile used by the Unabom Task Force.
"This is absolutely the premier mathematics department in the nation, and he gets a job there as an assistant professor. He has one of the most brilliant careers in the country before him, and then he quits after two years. What happened? That's the question. What happened?
"This kind of success is truly an exception for serial killers," Rustigan said.
Kaczynski was charged Thursday with possessing bomb components at his remote mountain cabin in Montana and was held without bail. The charge made no mention of the Unabomber's 18-year string of attacks, which killed three people and injured 23, but authorities said they were still putting together their case.
The FBI released its Unabomber psychological profile in 1993. The killer would be bright, probably a white man, highly educated and no longer young, with a passion for exactitude and a macabre sense of humor.
Kaczynski's age, race, temperament, educational attainments and isolation all are consistent with the study, updated as investigators chased new leads.
Acquaintances said Kaczynski lived like a hermit, grew some of his own food and shunned modern conveniences, traits that matched the profile. His cabin lacks electricity and plumbing.
"He is a social isolate, and this goes well back in his life. We learn this from his Harvard classmates, that he didn't form relationships, that he was sullen, that he kept to himself and even stayed in his room for days," Rustigan said.
But the Unabomber also was described as meticulous and neat - a description apparently inconsistent with the long-haired Kaczynski's shaggy appearance at the time of his arrest, although notebooks seized at his home contained meticulous writing.
The Unabomber also was believed to be "a prolific reader on law enforcement, technical and scientific subjects, history and psychology," but it was not clear whether books on these subjects were found in his cabin.
Federal investigators believed that the Unabomber had ties to both the Chicago area and northern California.
Kaczynski's ties to California appear to be limited to the two-year stint at Berkeley. He did grow up mostly in suburban Chicago. After leaving Berkeley in 1969, he moved to Utah and took menial jobs during the 1970s.
In the early 1980s, he moved to Montana and built a small shack near the tiny town of Lincoln, where he was arrested.
Few professors who were at Berkeley in the late 1960s recall Kaczynski.
John Addison, chairman of the mathematics department when Kaczynski taught there, told the San Jose Mercury News that several professors believed he "left and didn't go into math again because he wanted to pursue social causes."