“Unabomber” Ted Kacynski Fights To Keep Property

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San Francisco—Convicted murderer and so-called “Unabomber” Ted Kacynski is back in the news, more than a decade after pleading guilty and being sentenced to a life term in a federal Supermax prison.

Kacynski has conducted a legal battle over the past five years in an attempt to block the public auction of some of his possessions, including his infamous gray hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, his diaries, some tools and weapons, and his so-called “manifesto” in which he railed against technological advances.

The items were seized by the FBI from the 13-x-13 Montana cabin where Kacynski had lived for years without electricity or running water. They have been held as evidence in San Francisco and Washington since the arrest. Now, unless Kacynski files and wins an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, the items will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to some of the bomber’s victims.

Four of the people who were injured or wounded by the mail bombs which Kacynski sent around the country over a two-decade period are now owed $15 million in court-ordered restitution. The auction proceeds would be applied toward this amount. One of the victims, Dr. Charles Epstein, lost his hearing in both ears and parts of three fingers after opening a piece of mail that contained a bomb. “Personally, I don’t think he has any rights to anything,” said Epstein. “I think he abrogated all of his rights by his behavior.”

Steve Hirsch, an attorney for the four victims, has expressed doubt that the Supreme Court would agree to an appeal. He believes that an auction will take place later this year. A private company would be contracted to conduct the auction.

Kacynski, who argues that his First Amendment rights are being violated by the confiscation of his personal property, has been fighting the auction in court battles for several years, although lower courts have always ruled in favor the victims and the restitution fund.

The bombings, which took place between 1978 and 1995, killed three people and wounded 23 others. The remainder of the victims have declined restitution. Kacynski was given the moniker “Unabomber” because some of his early targets were universities. Kacynksi himself was a tenure-track professor at Berkeley until he quit in 1969 and moved to his rural Montana shack.

 

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