Authorities taking a new look at Unabomber Published manifesto suggests a serial killer, not a political terrorist

November 06, 1995|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Seven weeks after a manuscript by the serial bomber known as the Unabomber was published, investigators say they have been deluged with thousands of leads from the public, but are no closer to solving the baffling 17-year-long string of bombings.

But the authorities are revising important assumptions about the background and motives of the criminal whose 16 bombs have killed three people and injured 22 others.

Interviews with investigators and academics who are closely following the case suggest that the 35,000-word manuscript is the work of a man whose profile more closely fits that of a serial killer than a domestic terrorist with a political agenda.

While there is little consensus about the bomber's education, some investigators say the manuscript has led them to raise serious questions about their initial assumption that the bomber studied mathematics or computer science or history of science.

Some investigators and academics now suspect that the elusive bomber may have intellectual roots in the less-exact world of the social sciences, like sociology or anthropology. Some experts said the manuscript contained little original thinking.

More ominously, the threatening circumstances surrounding the manuscript, the growing strength of his bombs and a pattern of erratic behavior this year, including a false threat in June to blow up a plane, led some criminal profilers on the case to alter their initial view that the bomber was a terrorist with a political agenda. Instead, they now regard him as a serial killer who acts to satisfy an inner psychological need.

For that reason, some investigators fear he will find a reason to kill again, despite his pledge to cease his campaign of violence if the New York Times or the Washington Post published his manifesto. The newspapers jointly financed the publication of the manuscript by the Post on Sept. 19.

"This guy is a serial killer," said John Douglas, who until his recent retirement headed the FBI's serial crime unit.

Mr. Douglas said the Unabomber's demands to publish the manuscript indicated a desire for "manipulation, domination and control," which he said were traits typical of serial offenders.

"He's not going to go away," said Mr. Douglas, who was a co-author of the book "Mind Hunter," about his career in the FBI's behavioral science unit.

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