Neighbors describe Kaczynski as a hermit People in his town say he was quiet but never aroused any suspicion

April 05, 1996|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

LINCOLN, Mont. -- Ted Kaczynski lived in a remote mountain cabin without a telephone, electricity or running water.

He occasionally rode into town on a hand-me-down bike to pick up his mail, supplies and a stack of books from the local library.

He was known for his eclectic and highbrow reading tastes. He didn't talk much. He didn't have any friends to speak of.

He shopped occasionally at the Grizzly True Value Home Center. Manager Anna Wood, 27, said he never "bought anything bombish -- ever."

In Lincoln, where the unusual is not that uncommon, he seldom raised an eyebrow.

"He had this hermit lifestyle, but he didn't really act weird," said Gene "Joe" Youderian. "We've got other ones around here that act a lot farther out than he ever was."

Mr. Kaczynski, who remained in jail late yesterday on suspicion that he is the Unabomber, abandoned what could have been a brilliant academic career before coming to Montana more than 20 years ago.

Before the FBI took Mr. Kaczynski into custody Wednesday, his behavior in Lincoln, population roughly 1,000, never aroused much attention.

"Nobody knows Ted much. He was an inoffensive person who came into town, got his groceries and mail and peddled back up to his place on the mountain," said Dan Rudnell, a former bank examiner who now is a highway construction worker and emergency medical technician with the volunteer fire department.

"I don't think Ted had any close friends. He had acquaintances. And if you wanted to talk out a subject with Ted, you had to initiate it."

Teresa Brown, a 21-year-old sales clerk at Garland's Town and Country Store in Lincoln, remembers a very quiet man who occasionally bought supplies such as a flashlight and batteries and was always polite.

Ms. Wood also remembers a quiet, polite man. Their conversation, as with almost everyone he encountered, was perfunctory.

"You'd ask him how's he doing. He's say, 'Good,' or 'It's beautiful weather today.' "

The hardware store manager had one other memory.

"He smelled musty not bad. He wasn't like, blow you right out the door bad where we had to take Lysol to the store when he came in, but he just smelled musty -- like a mushroom."

Relatively few people ever saw Mr. Kaczynski's cabin, a few miles from town, and fewer still ever got a look inside.

Mr. Rudnell saw the outside when he offered to give Mr. Kaczynski a used bike, and dropped it off at his one-room frame cabin.

He remembers an extensive garden outside, which other Lincoln residents said that Mr. Kaczynski relied on for much of his food.

Mr. Kaczynski never invited him inside. Mr. Rudnell never asked. was a nice day, a sunny day." Mr. Rudnell explained. "No reason to be indoors."

Mr. Youderian, 53, was invited inside in 1990, when he was working for the Census Bureau.

"It was what you'd call a hermit's bachelor pad," he said. "You could tell that this was someone who really didn't expect company."

Mr. Youderian said that the cabin wasn't dirty, but it was cluttered.

Inside were several trunks, a bunk bed, a wooden stove and "at least 50 or 60 books, some here and some there."

Mr. Youderian didn't find Mr. Kaczynski to be all that strange, and certainly not suspicious.

Some residents were intrigued by his reading habits. Many books he got through the town library were in foreign languages.

"He was a very avid reader, but he read really deep stuff," said Beverly Coleman, 52, a Lincoln native who worked as a volunteer at the library for three years. "He wanted classics He didn't want translations, he wanted the original versions. We got the idea that he probably spoke several different languages."

Mr. Kaczynski, who grew up near Chicago, was a freshman at Harvard in 1958. Classmates there remember him as shy.

"I don't know that anyone knew him well," said Pete Hart, who now runs a financial services firm. "He seemed a bit overwhelmed."

He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, where one classmate recalled him as a brilliant student.

"While most of us were just trying to learn how to arrange logical statements into coherent arguments, Ted was quietly solving open problems and creating new mathematics," said Joel Shapiro, now a professor at Michigan State.

Federal agents in Montana took Theodore J. Kaczynski into custody. They suspect the former professor is the Unabomber. The trail of bombings:

May 25, 1978: A bomb at Northwestern University, injures a security guard.

2 May 9, 1979: A bomb injures one person at Northwestern's Technological Institute.

3 Nov. 15, 1979: Twelve people suffered smoke inhalation when bomb exploded in plane's cargo hold during American Airlines flight, forcing an emergency landing at Dulles International Airport near Washington.

4 June 10, 1980: United Airlines president injured at home in Chicago area.

5 Oct. 8, 1981: Bomb is placed in a business classroom at University of Utah in Salt Lake City. No one injured.

6 May 5, 1982: One person injured at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; package addressed to a professor.

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