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Unabomber Ted Kaczynski Dies at 81

Ted Kaczynski — a convicted terrorist known as the “Unabomber” — enrolled in Harvard College at the age of 16.
Ted Kaczynski — a convicted terrorist known as the “Unabomber” — enrolled in Harvard College at the age of 16. By Courtesy of "Every Last Tie" by David Kaczynski
By Claire Yuan, Crimson Staff Writer

Ted Kaczynski ’62, a convicted terrorist known as the “Unabomber,” was found dead in his prison cell at the age of 81 on Saturday.

Kaczynski — who, over the course of nearly two decades, engaged in attacks on civilians across the U.S. with homemade bombs — was found unresponsive in his cell at a federal prison medical center in Butner, North Carolina, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Though no official cause of death was given, the New York Times reported that Kaczynski died by suicide.

From 1978 to 1995, Kaczynski killed three people and injured 23 others with his homemade bombs. Isolated in a shack in Montana, Kaczynski disappeared from the world to create increasingly complex explosive devices that were either hand-delivered or mailed to randomly chosen victims.

Kaczynski’s bombing spree terrorized and terrified the public as the FBI struggled to track him down in one of the longest and most costly manhunts in American history.

A mathematics prodigy who enrolled in Harvard College at the age of 16, Kaczynski received a graduate degree from the University of Michigan before becoming an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967.

But two years later, Kaczynski suddenly resigned from his post and retreated into the wilderness. Then, he began launching the attacks.

Using difficult-to-trace scrap materials to construct his bombs, Kaczynski initially targeted universities and airlines. He thus earned the “Unabomber” moniker — shortened from the FBI’s code for university and airline bombing.

In a violent manifesto published in 1995 by the Washington Post and the New York Times — as advised by federal authorities, since Kaczynski threatened to continue the bombings if the manifesto was not published — Kaczynski called for the end of the modern industrial society.

It was this manifesto that led his brother, David Kaczynski, to suspect the identity of the bomber and reach out to the authorities.

One year after the publication of his 35,000-word manifesto, Kaczynski was captured by the FBI. He served a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a super-maximum-security prison in Colorado before being transferred to a medical center due to declining health.

In 2012, for the Harvard College Class of 1962’s 50th reunion, Kaczynski — while serving his time in prison — submitted an update that was printed in the alumni reunion book. He had listed his occupation as “prisoner” and his “eight life sentences” as awards.

The Harvard Alumni Association later issued an apology for publishing his entry in the class report. Kaczynski is also no longer listed in the online Harvard alumni database directory.

—Staff writer Claire Yuan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.

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