12/25/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
Have you seen this man? He may have a package for you. A cross between a drearily obsessed undergrad and some improbable villain from Batman, the Unabomber has killed three people and wounded 23-since 1978, most of them involved in science or computers. Yet even Michael Jackson would have to admire the man's gift for winning fame without losing his privacy. Today there's a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture and a 90-member full-time federal task force on his trail. But there are still just two things known about him for certain. His bombs have become more powerful. His demands have become more outlandish.
And 1995 was his most audacious year yet. In April one of his meticulously constructed mail bombs killed a forestry lobbyist in California. Two months later he caused chaos in air travel when he issued a public threat to blow up an airliner flying out of Los Angeles. Then, in a move that gave new meaning to the phrase "publish or perish," he promised to suspend his killing spree if a respected news publication would print his 35,000-word attack on technology as a threat to nature and human freedom. At the urging of Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI director Louis Freeh, The Washington Post agreed, with The New York Times pitching in to share the cost.
With that, the Unabomber may at last have indulged in overkill. Though he has just one word to explain his motivations—"anger"—it took him 56 single-spaced typewritten pages to explain his theories. The only people sure to have read his "manifesto" were experts and professors contacted by the FBI to analyze its ideas, syntax and vocabulary.
For now, all leads have led to dead ends, and the Unabomber himself has retreated back into silence. Eventually such obsessive criminals become "much more paranoid, much more delusional," says John Douglas, former head of the FBI's serial crime unit. "They feel no one is listening to them." That's why authorities worry that the Unabomber will strike again. In an undiscovered workshop somewhere, there's a madman still determined to make himself heard.