Theodore J. Kaczynski, the so-called Unabomber, who attacked academics, businessmen, and random civilians with improvised explosive devices from 1978 to 1995, killing three people and wounding 23 with the stated goal of undermining modern social order — a violent spree which ended after what is often described as the longest and most expensive manhunt in American history – died Saturday at the federal prison medical center in Butner, NC He was 81 years old.
A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Kaczynski was found unconscious in his cell early in the morning. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Mr. Kaczynski traces a unique path in American life: a lonely boy genius to a Harvard-educated pure math star to a rural recluse to a notorious assassin to an imprisoned extremist.
In the public eye, he mixes a rare mix of violent styles: the periodic targeting of deranged serial killers and the ideological bigotry of terrorists.
After he was arrested by some 40 FBI agents, the ideological details were less a matter of debate than the question of whether his crimes should be dignified with rational motives to begin with.
Victims railed against commentators who took seriously the 35,000 word manifesto Mr Kaczynski wrote to justify his actions and evangelize the ideas he says inspired them.
Psychologists involved in the trial saw his writings as evidence of schizophrenia. His lawyers try to plead for insanity – and when Mr. Kaczynski rebelled and attempted to represent himself in court, risking execution for doing so, which his lawyers said was further evidence of insanity.
For years before the manifesto was published, Mr. Kaczynski (pronounced kah-ZIN-skee) had no reputation other than as a reveler in violence, selecting victims at random, known only by a mysterious sounding nickname that originated with the FBI. investigation against him: “the Unabomber”. It was widely publicized that some of his victims lost their fingers opening bomb packages. Via mail, among the unconscious routines of daily life, triggers a nervous breakdown in many Americans.
After his arrest in April 1996, Mr. Kaczynski appears. He had scored 167 on an IQ test as a boy and entered Harvard at the age of 16. In graduate school, at the University of Michigan, he worked in a field of mathematics so esoteric that his dissertation committee members estimated only 10 or 12 people. in the country understand it. At 25 years old, he is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Then he dropped out — not just from Berkeley, but from civilization. Beginning in 1971 and continuing until his arrest, he lived in a hut he built himself in rural Montana. He left running water, read by homemade candlelight, stopped filing federal tax returns and lived off rabbits.
The full obituary will appear soon.