Infamously known the world over as the “Unabomber” who launched a 17-year-campaign of bombings that left three dead and 23 others injured, Ted Kaczynski was discovered deceased in his prison cell early Saturday morning, according to the Associated Press, with suicide reportedly the cause.
The outlet noted that the 81-year-old inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina was a late-stage cancer patient, and though emergency personnel performed CPR and initially succeeded in reviving Kaczynski, he was ultimately declared dead after he arrived at an area hospital.
Kaczynski had been moved to the specialized facility in North Carolina back in December of 2021 due to his cancer diagnosis, and it appeared likely that the remainder of his life sentence would be served there, rather than at the Florence, Colorado supermax prison where he had already spent a quarter of a century, as NBC News noted.
As is standard practice, an autopsy will be performed on Kaczynski, but no details about the timing of the procedure or of any release of further findings were immediately available.
In reporting on Kaczynski's suspected suicide, the New York Times observed that “the self-inflicted death of another high profile inmate, four years after the accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself at a Manhattan federal detention center, is certain to raise fresh questions about the quality of security, oversight and health care in the troubled, chronically understaffed federal prison system.”
The death of Kaczynski spurred for many Americans haunting memories of the troubling story of a Harvard-educated scholar who ultimately became a recluse in rural Montana and orchestrated a string of bombings over the course of years that sparked fear among millions.
Kaczynski's reign of terror ensnared a fairly diverse group of individuals that included academics, an advertising executive, a lobbyist, and a computer rental store owner, as the AP noted, with some of his targets losing their lives and others sustaining life-changing injuries.
Back in 1995, Kaczynski strong-armed the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish his 35,000-word manifesto in which he railed against what he saw as the evils of technology and modernity and lamented the harm he felt was being done to the environment.
The tone and tenor of the treatise, which Kaczynski had titled, “Industrial Society and Its Future” was recognized by the author's brother and his wife, who in turn informed the FBI of their suspicions.
That information helped the federal agency bring about the arrest of Kaczynski and a successful end to the longest, most expensive manhunt in the country's history.
In April of 1996, Kaczynski was found by authorities living in a ramshackle cabin near Lincoln, Montana that contained a diary rendered in code, explosive materials, two finished bombs, and a number of journals, as the AP noted.
After resisting his lawyers' suggestions that he mount an insanity defense in his subsequent trial, Kaczynski pleaded guilty to a series of charges including the mailing of an explosive device with the intent to kill or injure, transportation of an explosive device with the same intend, and use of a destructive device in the commission of a violent crime, as CBS News explained.
Journals kept by Kaczynski that were released at his trial indicated that his killing spree was motivated by “personal revenge,” with the notorious bomber stating, “I often had fantasies of killing the kind of people I hated – i.e., government officials, police, computer scientists, the rowdy type of college students who left their beer cans in the arboretum, etc., etc., etc.”
Though Kaczynski eventually became something of an oddly “iconic figure for both the far-right and far-left,” according to terrorism expert Daryl Johnson, and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk over the weekend signaled agreement with the bomber's suggestion that “the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” the brutality the “Unabomber” inflicted on his victims must never be overshadowed by the undeniably fascinating nature of his life story.