Bomb found at cabin reportedly is a match Design comparison links device to one used by Unabomber

April 09, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- One of two live bombs found at Theodore J. Kaczynski's Montana cabin was virtually identical to an explosive device used in one of the Unabomber's fatal attacks, federal law-enforcement officials said yesterday.

They said the bomb matched one used in one of the Unabomber's two most recent killings, in 1994 and 1995, but did not specify which.

The discovery of the first live bomb on Friday at Mr. Kaczynski's cabin had been made known shortly after it was found, but the discovery of a second live bomb over the weekend -- and the results of a design comparison between the two devices and known Unabomber bombs -- had been closely held among investigators working on the case and was revealed only yesterday.

One official described the similarities between one of the bombs found in the cabin and one used in a fatal attack as striking, akin to two cars of the same make and model. "It was as if once he found the right design, he stuck with it," the official said.

Mr. Kaczynski has not been charged in any of the Unabomber attacks and is being held on a charge of possessing an explosive device. But investigators say they are certain they will be able soon to charge him in the 17-year string of 16 bombings that killed three and wounded 23.

The information about the second bomb in the cabin came to light as a lawyer for Mr. Kaczynski's family provided new details about the man who the authorities believe is the Unabomber.

The lawyer, Anthony P. Bisceg-lie, said Mr. Kaczynski had been estranged from his family and had not seen his younger brother or mother in six years.

The Unabomber's attacks began in 1978. The first deadly attack killed Hugh C. Scrutton, a computer store owner in Sacramento, Calif., in 1985. The second killed Thomas Mosser, an advertising executive, at his New Jersey home in 1994. A third killed Gilbert Murray, a forestry association official, in Sacramento in 1995.

In addition to similarities in bomb design and construction features, the officials said that other areas of investigation linked Mr. Kaczynski to the Unabomber crimes, including a preliminary analysis that matched bomb fragments found at crime scenes with evidence taken from Mr. Kaczynski's cabin. That comparison has focused on studying microscopic marks left by cutting tools such as wood-carving knives and wire cutters found in the cabin.

The evidence suggests, the officials said, that federal prosecutors may soon be able to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Kaczynski with the two most recent fatal Unabomber attacks, which are potentially subject to the federal death penalty, which took effect in August 1994.

Top Justice Department officials yesterday convened a meeting of federal prosecutors representing jurisdictions in which the serial terrorist's crimes took place, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Utah. Government lawyers said the meeting was an organizational session to discuss a structure for managing a prosecution and eliminating turf battles among federal prosecutors in nine states.

As prosecutors met at the Justice Department's headquarters to consider how they will approach the case, the lawyer who acted as the intermediary between the Kaczynski family and the FBI held a news conference in Washington to discuss the case. Mr. Bisceglie described how David Kaczynski, the suspect's brother, first contacted him through a private investigator in Chicago.

The investigator, Susan Swanson, was a childhood friend of David Kaczynski's wife, Linda Patrik. Ms. Swanson's initial inquiry into Theodore Kaczynski -- aimed at what the family hoped would rule him out as a suspect -- included a consultation with Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI behavioral profiler. But Mr. Van Zandt concluded that Mr. Kaczynski might be involved.

Ms. Swanson, an investigator at the Investigative Group Inc., turned for help to Mr. Bisceglie, with whom she had attended Antioch law school. "I determined also that there was a significant possibility that Ted and the Unabomber were one and the same," Mr. Bisceglie said.

Along with similarities between where the Unabomber was thought to have been and where he knew his brother to have been, what raised David Kaczynski's suspicions and later aroused the interest of federal authorities was the similarity between the Unabomber's anti-technology manifesto and Theodore Kaczynski's letters to family members and other writings.

Mr. Bisceglie said that David Kaczynski read the manifesto in October 1995 after its publication in the Washington Post, which was jointly financed by the New York Times. Mr. Bisceglie said he did not know whether David Kaczynski read the first version of the manuscript that was printed by the Post in September or a version published by other news organizations.

"David wanted very much to believe that Ted was not involved," Mr. Bisceglie said. "He would still like to believe that, but I think he believes his brother was involved."

From his first veiled contact in January with an FBI agent he had known, the lawyer became an emissary for the Kaczynski family.

"I spent roughly three months with my office door locked," he said, "and we did everything we could to keep a lid on this" to try to protect Theodore Kaczynski's privacy if investigators were able to eliminate him as a suspect.

The lawyer said that the Kaczynski family was not aware that Theodore Kaczynski had experimented with explosives as a child. Mr. Bisceglie said Theodore Kaczynski's family had sent him money over the years, amounting to "hundreds of dollars" in gifts. But he denied reports that David Kaczynski had bought airline tickets for his brother.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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