Criminal Minds Wiki

The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. ... Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term 'oversocialized' to describe such people.
Ted Kaczynski

Dr. Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski, a.k.a. "The Unabomber", is an American "wound collector"-type serial bomber, homegrown terrorist, and school bomber responsible for a series of mail-bombings, taking the lives of three people.


Kaczynski was born May 22, 1942. He was the son of second-generation Polish-Americans Theodore and Wanda Kaczynski. He was a child prodigy, excelling at mathematics at an early age. When he studied at Evergreen Park Central School, he was allowed to skip sixth grade and advance to seventh when it was determined that he had an IQ of 167. Being with older children, Kaczynski frequently felt like he didn't fit in and was frequently bullied. He also had a fear of people and buildings. In high school, Kaczynski became obsessed with mathematics, preferring solving equations rather than socializing. At the age of 16, he was accepted into Harvard University, graduating in 1962. He then enrolled into the University of Michigan, earning a PhD in mathematics. At one point, he taught undergraduate courses in geometry and calculus at the University of California at Berkeley. Many students noticed that he was uncomfortable in a teaching environment, frequently stuttering and mumbling in class. In 1969, he resigned for no obvious reason. In 1971, he moved back with his parents in Lombard, Illinois before moving to a small remote cabin he built himself outside Lombard, Montana. Funding himself with odd jobs and financial support from his family, Kaczynski studied survival skills such as edible plant identification, tracking, and primitive construction. Over time, he grew to realize that this way of life was not possible due to modern urbanization.

The FBI's forensic sketch of Kaczynski.

The final straw was when he found that one of his favorite wild spots had been covered with a road. At this point, he decided to take revenge on the system and began a series of mail bombings which lasted for almost 20 years. They came to the FBI's attention in 1978. They later named the case UNABOM (University Airline Bomber), a nickname the media eventually found out about and changed to "the Unabomber". John Douglas and the Behavior Science Unit profiled the offender as being of above-average intelligence and with connections to academia. The theory was refined to the offender being a neo-Luddite holding an academic degree in hard sciences. The FBI countered this theory with one based on the physical evidence from the bombs, which led them to believe the offender was a blue-collar airplane mechanic. He also wrote a 50+-page manifesto titled Industrial Society and Its Future and sent it to the media, demanding that it be published in some major news journal, promising to end his campaign if his demand was met. It was eventually published as a pamphlet by the New York Times and Washington Post in September 1995. A week later, Kaczynski's brother, David, informed the authorities about his brother's behavior. His lifestyle combined with a linguistic analysis granted the authorities a search warrant for his cabin. Inside, they found several bomb making components, 40,000 handwritten manifesto pages, and one live bomb. After being arrested, Kaczynski was briefly considered a suspect for being the Zodiac Killer, but the theory was dismissed as he had been living in Illinois during most of the killings. He is currently serving life in prison with no possibility of parole at a supermax prison in Colorado, where he still writes essays. In 2010, a corrected version of his manifesto and some of his essays were published in a book.


Early in the investigation, the FBI made an inaccurate profile of the Unabomber, in which he was profiled as a male, aged approximately between 18 and 22, who was a college student with some education in physics or engineering. He was also profiled as most likely living an upper-middle-class lifestyle. However, this profile was wrong, as Kaczynski had an education in mathematics, was aged in his 40s, and was financially broke, but was also smarter than anyone in the investigation. Another inaccurate profile said that the Unabomber possibly lived in Chicago, was in his 20s, lived with his mother, had a white collar job, and took very good care of his car. He would also be very precise and clean. Again, Kaczynski didn't fit this profile, as he didn't have a job, lived alone in a self-made shed, and didn't even have a car; he delivered his bombs on a bicycle. When arrested, Kaczynski was covered in soot.

After reading Kaczynksi's manifesto, FBI behavioral psychologist Kathleen Puckett said that the Unabomber was very narcissistic and convinced of his superiority, especially in his intellect. From the manifesto, Puckett realized that the Unabomber had an unhappy childhood. The grievances that he had were projected onto the "technological society", but the problems were personal.

Against his will, Kacyznski's lawyers pleaded the insanity defense. After being interviewed and interrogated for 22 hours through a week, he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, saying that while the schizophrenia was in remission, he was still mentally ill. Psychologist Xavier Amador said of Kaczynski:

"His brain was tricking him into believing he was somebody vitally important to the course of history."

During a hearing, when Kaczynski heard about the insanity defense, he was apparently outraged. His body shook and he slammed a pencil hard on the table, then muttered to his defense lawyer(s): "Is that what you have been telling them?"

Modus Operandi

FBI reconstruction of one of Kaczynski's bombs.

Kaczynski's bombs were handmade pipe bombs and always contained handcrafted parts of wood. Also, bits of wood or barch were often included in the constructions. In order to throw off the authorities, Kaczynski often left false clues and red herrings in the bombs, such as a carved-in "FC", disguising with a novel and using Eugene O'Neill $1 stamps for the mail bombs. The bombs were commonly sent to people at universities, airline companies, and computer stores. In his last two bomb attacks, Kacyznski increased his bombs' lethality by adding razor blades for shrapnel.

Known Victims

Some of Kaczynski's victims.

  • May 25, 1978, Evanston, Illinois: The Northwestern University bombing:
    • Professor Buckley Crist (attempted; sent a bomb to him, but it injured Terry Marker instead)
    • Terry Marker (injured in the left hand)
  • 1979:
    • May 9, Evanston, Illinois: John Harris (injured)
    • November 5, unspecified location mid-flight: The attempted American Airlines Flight 444 bombing:
      • Twelve unnamed passengers (suffered smoke inhalation; all survived)
      • All six unnamed crew members (attempted)
      • Sixty other unnamed passengers (attempted)
  • June 10, 1980, Lake Forest, Illinois: Percy Wood (injured)
  • October 8, 1981, Salt Lake City, Utah: No victims, the bomb was defused
  • 1982:
    • May 5, Nashville, Tennessee: Janet Smith (severely injured)
    • July 2, Berkeley, California: Diogenes Angekalos (severely injured in the face and right hand)
  • 1985:
    • May 15, Berkeley, California: John Hauser (injured; partially blinded in one eye and lost four of his fingers)
    • June 13, Auburn, Washington: No victims, the bomb was defused
    • November 15, Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan bombing:
      • Professor James V. McConnell (injured; suffered temporary hearing loss)
      • Nicklaus Suino (injured)
    • December 11, Sacramento, California: Hugh Scrutton, 38
  • February 20, 1987, Salt Lake City, Utah: Gary Wright (severely injured)
  • 1993:
    • June 22, Tiburon, California: Charles Joseph Epstein (severely injured; suffered abdominal injuries and temporary hearing loss, and lost three of his fingers)
    • June 24, New Haven, Connecticut: David Gelerneter (severely injured and blinded in one eye)
  • December 10, 1994, North Caldwell, New Jersey: Thomas J. Mosser, 50
  • April 24, 1995, Sacramento, California: Gilbert Brent Murray, 46

On Criminal Minds

  • Intro: Kaczynski's mugshot is among the mugshots shown during the show's intro.
  • Season One
  • Season Two
    • "Empty Planet" - Kaczynski was referenced again. He may have also been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Kenneth Roberts - Both are serial bombers who were anti-technology activist that wrote a manifesto and demanded that it be published. Also, they both only directly intended to kill some of their victims and targeted universities or members of their staffs during some bombings.
  • Season Four
    • "Amplification" - Kaczynski was also mentioned along with the Amerithrax killer as examples of homegrown terrorists who target locations that have personal significance to them.
  • Season Five
    • "100" - Kaczynski was referenced again.
  • Season Eight
    • "The Silencer" - Kaczynski was then mentioned when it was mentioned that Alex Blake, then a new member for the BAU, had made a name for herself and her career when she helped solve the Unabomber case.
    • "The Good Earth" - Kaczynski was mentioned again when Rossi remarks that a victim, who lived very rustically in a cabin in the woods and had a lot of books about the environment and the dangers of technology, lived a lot like him.
  • Season Ten
    • "A Thousand Suns" - Kaczynski was prominently mentioned when the BAU briefly compared him to Hayman Vasher, the prominent unsub of the episode. Vasher seems to also have been inspired by Kaczynski - Both were homegrown terrorists who were math geniuses who were also socially awkward, moved away from civilization to live simple lives in remote cabins in the wilderness, and upheld anarchist views that motivated them to commit their killings, which were meant as attacks to society as a whole. Also, much like Kaczynski, Vasher had a conflict with a woman he previously dated, who called off the relationship because of his social awkwardness. The only primary differences between them were their views on technology (as briefly noted by Garcia), the weapons they used to carry out their attacks (Kaczynski used pipe bombs, while Vasher planned to use passenger jets), and the outcomes of their conflicts with their ex-girlfriends (Vasher killed his ex-girlfriend, while Kaczynski simply harassed his). Vasher's attacks on passenger jets also seems to be a reference to Kaczynski's attempted bombing of American Airlines Flight 444.
  • Season Eleven
    • "Tribute" - While not directly mentioned, Kaczynski's mugshot was seen on the cover of the book America's Deadliest Killers, which was read by the episode's unsub, Michael Lee Peterson.
  • Season Fifteen

On Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior