From 1978 to 1995, Ted Kaczynski sent bombs through the mail to targeted victims, killing three people and injuring 23 others over the years spanning his attacks. Though he was named the “Unabomber” by FBI investigators (short for University and Airline Bomber) and called himself “Freedom Club” in letters sent to the press, law enforcement knew very little about who they were trying to pursue, despite him being the target of the largest and most expensive FBI investigation in U.S. history.
The FBI had little to show for their investigation until 1995, when Kaczynski sent copies of his anti-technology manifesto to various news outlets. An accompanying letter promised that if it was printed verbatim by a major newspaper he would stop his bombing campaign. The Department of Justice urged the media to print the document and on September 19th, 1995, the Washington Post and the New York Times published the manifesto. David Kaczynski and his wife recognized the ideas and writing style as being similar to David’s estranged brother Ted’s and alerted the FBI.
On April 3rd, 1996, the FBI executed a search warrant on Ted Kaczynski’s remote Montana cabin. They found explosives, bomb components, an original typed copy of the manifesto, and a fully constructed bomb that was ready to be mailed. Kaczynski was arrested and sentenced to eight life sentences without the possibility of parole. He is currently housed in the Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, the only federal supermax prison in the U.S.
In 2006, a court ordered that all the items seized in the 1996 arrest of Kaczynski, including the cabin itself, be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the victims of his bombing campaign. The auction raised $232,000 and Kaczynski’s cabin was obtained by the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
The cabin is currently displayed alongside the exhibit “Inside Today’s FBI,” which also includes artifacts from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Update as of October 2019:A representative for the Newseum said it will return the cabin to the FBI, which owns it, in early 2020. And the FBI said it will put the cabin on display at a museum called FBI Experience at its Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Know Before You Go
The FBI Experience is a self-guided tour at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Open to the public, the tour features interactive multimedia exhibits, content, and artifacts—including a number of items from notable cases on display for the very first time—that help illustrate the importance of the Bureau’s work to protect the nation.
Visitors to The FBI Experience will learn how the Bureau operates in the field, at Headquarters, and within communities across the country. They will also gain a rare look inside the organization’s investigative divisions, laboratory resources, professional occupations, and more. The rich experience tells the story of the FBI’s internal operations and history, as well as how its cooperation with local, state, federal, and international partners helps further its unique role in national security and law enforcement.