Real People Stories

Drawing the Line

UPDATED 05/06/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/06/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

WHEN THE FBI ARRESTED UNA-bomber suspect Ted Kaczynski at his Lincoln, Mont., cabin earlier this month, they were, they believed, bringing to a close one of the agency's most difficult investigations ever. Unwittingly the FBI was also creating a hot commercial property. Since Kaczynski's arrest, for example, a shop called BK's in nearby Helena has been selling up to 40 Unabomber T-shirts a day—at $15.99 a pop—all imprinted with the familiar drawing of a hooded man in mirrored shades. Jeanne Boylan, for one, is annoyed, and not entirely because it's her sketch. "It makes me sick that vendors are...making money from an image that represents a serial killer," she says.

Over her 18-year career as a forensic artist, Boylan, 42, of Bend, Ore., has drawn more than 7,000 portraits of criminal suspects. She created her Unabomber likeness for the FBI in 1994 with the help of a woman who had glimpsed a man in a hooded sweatshirt at a Salt Lake City bomb site seven years earlier. Hoping to avoid going to court and wanting "to put a positive spin on something ghoulish," Boylan is phoning and writing to ask vendors who hawk T-shirts and other mementos that use her drawing to donate a share of their profits to the Klaas Foundation for Children, run by the father of 12-year-old Polly, kidnapped from her Petaluma, Calif., home and slain in 1993. (Boylan met Marc Klaas when she was asked to draw a portrait that turned out to be a dead ringer for Polly's killer.) "Even if sales amount to only a few hundred dollars, that's a few hundred dollars for a good cause," says Boylan, who has done sketches for various police departments and the FBI since 1978.

Though some vendors have ignored Boylan's request, others are eager to help. "This whole [Unabomber] thing has been a real boon to the economy around here," says Jack Ward, 55, who sells T-shirts out of AA Towing and Recovery Shop in Lincoln. "We should give something back."

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