Do you remember the story of the Unabomber, aka Ted Kaczynski?
This was the man who between 1978 and 1995, engaged in a nation-wide bombing campaign in the United States that ended up killing three people and injuring 23 others.
It has now been twenty years since that case came to light, and his brother who originally tipped off authorities, has written a book titled Every Last Tie: A story of the Unabomber and His Family.
David Kaczynski is the younger brother of the Unabomber, he spoke with Simi Sara about his new book, and why he wrote it now.
“I think a couple of things. One is that our mother passed away in 2011 and I retired from my job, and I began kind of looking backward a little bit more, back at the family and all that happened.”
He says it was also about casting light on mental illness.
“There’s also a lot in the news about people, often with serious mental illnesses, shooting up schools and other places. And I’ve been in contact with some of the families involved in those situations, and I just thought it would be good to humanize these situations, to understand the families that are involved, and to understand that mental illness is often a component in these kinds of tragedies.”
How did he discover it was his brother?
It was David’s wife who prodded him to read the 35,000 word manifesto of the Unabomber.
“She knew about Ted’s feelings about technology, we knew that he was mentally ill.”
He says it had never occurred to him that his brother could be violent.
“So we go through this process pursuing two questions,. One, ‘is he the Unabomber?’, secondly ‘what do we do about this?’ Of course was a heartbreaking dilemma knowing that if we did nothing some innocent person might die. If we turned Ted in, you know there’s still a death penalty in the United States, he could be executed.”
The decision to turn him in
David says in the end they knew they had to stop the violence,and it was just the beginning of massive change.
“On the day Ted was arrested it was kind of leaked to the world that he’d been turned in by his own brother. So the media surrounded us and it was—hard to see any future beyond that situation. It was the end of the world as we knew it.”
In the end Ted Kaczynski got life imprisonment, which his brother is grateful for.
David writes to him regularly, and their mother wrote to him every week while she was alive, but he’snever replied.
“We’ve never received a response. And in one way I think of it… he’s really in two prisons. One is the physical prison where he’ll be in for the rest of his life. But the other is thsi prison of mental illness, of delusion, of paranoia. I just will keep writing, maybe someday he’ll respond, maybe I’ll never get a letter from him.”
LISTEN to the full interview with the Unabomber’s brother here: