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Transcript: Capturing the Unabomber


On April 3, 1996, Kaczynski was captured shortly after opening his door.

“One of the agents who was there pulled Kaczynski out, and it was a struggle,” said Terry Turchie, FBI Agent in Charge, UNABOM Task Force. “He was handcuffed and he was walked away from his cabin, and that was the last time he saw it. Then the feeling, the feeling was just incredible, and I was standing next to a number of other people in the command post, the rear command post, and all of us, we looked at each other, and we almost couldn’t talk. We were so overcome with the idea that we now have safely got this person in our custody.”

But Kaczynski left a hidden surprise back at the cabin.

“We found a live bomb under Theodore Kaczynski’s bed.”

“When I first laid eyes on Theodore Kaczynski, I had severely mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was almost timid. And yet he was very, very calm. So there was that image combined with, however, the disheveled look, the scraggly beard, the matted down hair that was going in 20 different directions. The eyes—his eyes were unlike any eyes I had ever seen before. And even looking into those eyes, it was almost as if they were without emotion.

The very next morning, we walked down to the cabin. I was with another agent, Pat Webb. Pat was an explosives agent. So we opened the door, just a bit, to the cabin. And as we opened the door, we were both pretty much overcome as we looked across the cabin at the shelves that were built on the other side of the door. We could see coffee cans and bottles and jars, and they all had labels on them and they were very meticulously done. And we could see that some were labeled with the name of certain chemicals. One of the things we saw was a hooded sweatshirt, you know, that was hanging up there. The cabin smelled as if you might start to think if you really think about this: This is a person who lived in this cabin, had a cutaway spot in the floor to go to the bathroom in if he needed to, and had built fires in the cabin—there was an old potbelly stove in there. So the smell of smoke was in everything. Pat Webb turns to me and he has tears in his eyes, and one running down his cheek, and he said, ‘This is it. We found the Unabomber. At long last, this is over.’ ”

Kaczynski pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He had killed three people, injured 23 more. The FBI/press cooperation had worked.

“I think all of us breathed a sigh of relief,” said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times. “This was an example, and there are many, of where the press and the government can work together for the common good.”

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