Letters from a serial killer: Chilling thoughts from the mind of the 'Unabomber'

Holly Bailey and Krystal Johnson

It has been almost 20 years since the “Unabomber” was arrested and Yahoo News is publishing a series of articles shedding unprecedented light from the mind of the genius, madman and murderer.

Theodore John Kaczynski terrified the US in 1978 and 1995 and railed against technology and led authorities on the nation's longest and costliest manhunt.

The Harvard-trained mathematician lived as a recluse in a Montana cabin and was caught in 1996 when his brother recognised his idiosyncratic writings and tipped off authorities.

Kaczynski laughs during an interview in a visiting room at the ADX Florence prison on Aug. 30, 1999. Photo: Stephen J. Dubner/Getty
Kaczynski as a young professor at University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. Photo: George M. Bergman, UC Berkeley

Kaczynski pleaded guilty two years later to avoid a trial and planned to offer an insanity defence which resulted in him avoiding the death penalty.

He now spends 23 hours a day in isolation serving eight life sentences without the possibility of parole in the country's toughest and most isolated prison.

On September 11, 2001, Kaczynski sat and listened to newscasters describe the dramatic events of 9/11 play out in stunned tone from inside his tiny prison cell.

The madman knew a thing or two about trying to bring down an airplane and came close to blowing up an American Airlines jet out of Chicago by mailing a bomb designed to explode inside the cargo hold in 1979.

But faulty wiring caused an in-flight fire instead, resulting in some damage but narrowly averting a larger disaster.

“Unfortunately, plane not destroyed,” Kaczynski wrote in a diary later seized by the FBI. “Bomb too weak.”

Wanda, Ted, Ted Sr. and David Kaczynski outside their family home in Evergreen Park, Ill., in 1952. Photo: David Kaczynski/Duke University
Kaczynski was a madman reminisced of when he tried to blow up a plane when the dramatic event played out on the radio inside his prison cell. Photo: Yahoo US

While hearing the tragedy unfold, Kaczynski distrusted the media and chose only to imagine the depths of the calamity and from that morning onwards he chose to never turn on the television again, which became a matter of principle.

And principles in Kaczynski life were always more important than normal human emotions, like curiosity, love for his family or pity for his victims.

Although he has rejected the assessment of a psychiatrist who diagnosed him as a schizophrenic and has denied most interview requests and faded from the public and media, he hasn't gone completely silent.

Photos of Kaczynski through the years. Photo: AP

The now 73-year-old has filled more than 90 boxes of archives at the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan Library in the US.

In them, reveal handwritten correspondence about his relationships, religion, essays to supporters and eccentrics of varying degrees of sanity along with predictions of what he believes is ruining the human race and a woman who fell in love with him.

Over the next week, a series of articles will be released of Kaczynski’s thoughts in letters dating back to April 1996, the first one is titled, "For the love of a brother".

Kaczynski is seven years older than his brother, David, who were once as close as only brothers can be.

Ted Kaczynski, left, with a parakeet and his younger brother, David Kaczynski, in 1952. Photo: David Kaczynski/Duke University
This home in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, Ill., photographed on April 3, 1996, is believed to be Kaczynski's boyhood residence. Photo: Sue Ogrocki/Reuters

Over thirty years ago, the Kaczynski brothers quit their jobs and retreated into the wilderness where they both lived off the land, with no electricity or running water.

But over time their paths diverged in dramatic ways when David returned to society and got married, unaware his brother was turning into a suspected killer.

Alone in his cabin and fuelled by what court psychiatrists say was severe mental illness, Kaczynski had become the Unabomber, terrorising the nation with deadly mail and package bombs.

“It’s like a shadow over my life, and I don’t know what to do with it,” David told Yahoo US.

“But maybe it’s time to turn the page.”

Kaczynski in front of his Montana cabin in 1972. Photo: David Kaczynsk/ Duke University

David told the FBI he believed his brother was the “Unabomber” and within hours reporters from all over the world were on his doorstep.

David tried to save Kaczynski from the death penalty while doing what he could to make up for his brother’s twisted crimes.

He personally apologised to all the victims through letters, phone calls and, in some cases, in-person meetings, even though his brother has never apologised or expressed remorse.

When David and his wife were given a $1 million reward by the Justice Department for the tip that led to his brother’s arrest after a 17-year manhunt, they gave almost all of it to the victims.

According to his diaries, Kaczynski spent years consumed with hatred of modern society, which shifted onto his brother after the arrest.

In jail, Kaczynski obsessively read every interview David gave to the media and from his view his brother abandoned their shared values by returning to mainstream society, and then sold him out to the FBI.

His last words to David came in two blistering letters, about six months after his arrest, laying out his theory of why his brother had betrayed him.

This is one of the first letters Kaczynski wrote to his brother. Photo: Yahoo US
Im the second page of the letter Kaczynski tells of how his brother led the FBI to his arrest. Photo: Yahoo US
This is the third part to one of Kaczynski's letters to his brother David. Photo: Yahoo US

“Of all the things you could conceivably have done to me, what you have done is by far the cruelest,” Ted wrote.

“You know me well enough to realise that above all I need physical freedom, silence and solitude, and that, to me, permanent imprisonment will be a fate far worse than death. … Why did you do it? To stop the Unabomber?

Hardly. The real reason you informed on me is that you hate me.”

In a second letter, Kaczynski cited David’s references to his brother’s mental illness.

In this letter, Kaczynski addressed the issue of David speaking with media about his convictions. Photo: Yahoo US
Kaczynski believed his brother, David, had

“Though you don’t admit it to yourself, you know deep inside that you were inflicting acute suffering on me by making the public statements that you did, and you were doing it because you hate me on account of your own feelings of inferiority and inadequacy relative to me.”

Since that day, he has not contacted David again.

David, at the advice of Kaczynski's attorneys, apologised to his brother to see if it would break the ice and lead to information that could help his defence.

“I do love you,” David wrote in an October 1996 letter.

“I’m so, so sorry for what I’ve done and for how it hurts you.”

While David knew he was right to have turned in his brother, he struggled with the decision and says he still does because he still loves his brother and wants to protect him.

This was one of the letters David sent to his brother Ted in response to the hatred he received from his brother. Photo: Yahoo US

But Kaczynski has rejected all overtures even from his mother, Wanda, who never stopped trying to connect with her son.

“Someone told me that the greatest tragedy in life is to love someone who cannot love you back and/or to have someone love you and you cannot love that person back,” she wrote in 2005.

“This is especially true for a parent who deeply loves a child who for some reason cannot love back. Well, for me, at age 88, the pain cannot long endure.”

Kaczynski did not respond. Wanda died in September 2011.