unabombers

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Ted Kaczynski aka the Unabomber’s cabin in Lincoln, Montana.

Inside, investigators found bomb components, journals describing Kaczynski’s bomb making experiments, countless bottles and cans, some labeled with the names of chemicals, the original manuscript for his manifesto and one bomb ready for mailing. Kaczynski shunned electricity, he used an old potbelly stove and only had a cut out spot in the middle of his cabin as a toilet.

The first picture was taken in 1972. Kaczynski sent the first letter bomb in 1978, and was arrested 16 years later on 3 April, 1996. At that time, the FBI only had the linguistic analysis of the manifesto compared to Kaczynski’s earlier writings, but as soon as they entered the cabin, it became clear to them, that they had found the Unabomber.

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A letter from Ted Kaczynski to his brother David.


Dave —

Of all the things you could conceivably have done to me, what you have done is by far the cruelest. You know it, and you knew it before you did it, even though, with your usual talent for self-deception, you never permitted yourself to be conscious of it. You know me well enough to realize that above all I need physical freedom, silence, and solitude, and that, to me, permanent imprisonment will be a fate far worse than death. That would be the case even if I were imprisoned under the best of conditions. But you know very well that in prisons there is a high risk of homosexual rape and of abuse by other prisoners, or even by guards; and that even without that prisons are noisy and crowded; and you are certainly aware that I can’t endure noise and crowding.

The FBI assured you that conditions in federal prisons were fine and that I would be happier in prison, but it is not conceivable that you could have believed this except by a particular egregious act of self-deception. You know me, and you knew that the FBI had very strong ulterior motives for giving such assurances. As a matter of fact, I was living rather happily prior to my arrest, and prison will be torture for me.

You tried to get the FBI to arrest me under conditions that wouldn’t involve risk of my being killed, and you urged the government not to seek the death penalty for me. But, as already noted, you knew well that permanent imprisonment would be for me far worse than death, so your effort to “save” me from death can only have been an attempt to salve your conscience by inflicting on me a punishment that in our society is conventionally regarded as less severe than death.

It is interesting that you asked the FBI to promise not to reveal your identity as the informant, and you were very upset when that promise was broken. Evidently you were ashamed of what you were doing. Why did you do it? To stop the unabomber? Hardly. You knew that the unabomber had promised to stop bombing if his manifesto were published, and you knew that the promise would be kept if I were the unabomber, since I am strict about keeping promises. Furthermore, if I were the unabomber you could have effectively stopped the bombings by warning me that you would tip off the FBI if I didn’t desist.

The real reason why you informed on me is that you hate me. You say you love me, and you probably do. But you have deep, unresolved and uncontrolled conflicts concerning me, and your loving me does not prevent you from hating me at the same time. This hatred has repeatedly revealed itself in your behavior toward me over the years. And what you hate me for is your own gnawing sense of inferiority, Your suspicion that I was the unabomber at last gave you opportunity to get a crushing revenge on big brother for being smarter and more capable than you are, while maintaining the illusion that your motives were “moral”.

Of course, you will not accept the truth about your own motives. I know from long experience that it is useless to reason with you where your emotions are involved, because you will resort to any sort of rationalization, no matter how far-fetched, to avoid facing up to difficult truths. You wear a kind of veil over your motives to keep yourself from being conscious of them, and it is this veil that enables you to live with yourself. But some day the veil will fall away and you will see yourself as you really are. And on that day you will go to hell, because, for you, seeing yourself as you really are will truly be hell.

Ted


Read more here: http://news.yahoo.com/for-the-love-of-a-brother-001635118.html

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In July 1999, McVeigh was moved to federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind., and though prison rules blocked him from exchanging letters with Kaczynski, they kept up their friendship. Through a journalist at the Buffalo News, McVeigh sent Kaczynski a copy of “Into the Wild,” writer Jon Krakauer’s account of a young man’s hike into the Alaskan wilderness. (Kaczynski, who is particular about his books, liked it.) Meanwhile, the Unabomber asked his pen pals to send McVeigh magazines and articles, including a subscription to Green Anarchy magazine.

Read more here: http://news.yahoo.com/the-unabomber-s-not-so-lonely-prison-life-210559693.html

Manchester's Riotous Yuletide Knees Up

Manchester’s Riotous Yuletide Knees Up

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I suspect everyone’s celebrated Baby Christ’s birthday with befitting verve, merriment and customary excess (and rightly so). However, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say there’s only so much ‘Carols from Kings’, one hour soap specials and costume dramas one can stomach in any one 24 hour period. So why not hoy Downton Abbey on mute, drag your Mam off the settee and have a bop around in the…

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Killing Types

I was talking to Meowgre about this last week - it’s crazy that I’ve been writing this blog for two years now and have never touched on one of my favourite subjects: serial killers. I think that’s because I don’t really talk to people about serial killers (what is there to say anyway?), it’s more just an interest I pursue in private.

Not to brag, but I know way more about serial killers than most people. Not in terms of understanding them from a psychological standpoint or anything like that, more just that I know a lot of kooky details about Ted Bundy, and have devoted many, many hours of my life to reading about famous serial killers on Wikipedia. (Just gonna clarify this so if something bad happens tabloids won’t be able to print salacious articles alleging that I was obsessed with murder and death and dying: I don’t think serial killers are cool. I just find them interesting, which may seem perverse but is obviously pretty common because serial killers crop up all the time in successful movies, books, and TV shows, so if I’m a freak then the rest of society is too.)

^^ Including some of my favourite death themed and death themed adjacent songs in this post

One thing I find really interesting is that we like to imagine serial killers as being clever and/or slick (see: Hannibal, The Silence of the LambsDexter, Badlands (which is criminally underrated btw), The Fall, etc.). We always think about someone like Bundy who was duplicitous, resourceful, charismatic, cunning, and eluded police for years. When you read law enforcement’s write-ups of him they seem to feel mingled disgust and awe.

This is from Bundy’s WIkipedia page:

Other significant obstacles for law enforcement were Bundy’s generic, essentially anonymous physical features, and a curious chameleon-like ability to change his appearance almost at will. Early on, police complained of the futility of showing his photograph to witnesses; he looked different in virtually every photo ever taken of him. In person, “… his expression would so change his whole appearance that there were moments that you weren’t even sure you were looking at the same person,” said Stewart Hanson, Jr., the judge in the DaRonch trial. “He [was] really a changeling." 

Obviously that sounds like folklore horseshit, but who knows. His Wikipedia page reads better than most thrillers. 

Aside from the looming myth of Bundy as some kind of manipulative genius, I guess we like to imagine that serial killers are smart because you don’t want to think that some dumb-dumb could cut it as a successful predator. According to the Serial Killer Information Centre (a project of Radford University), IQ info from 202 serial killers revealed a mean IQ score of 95.1 (and a median of 89.0). 68% of all IQ test takers achieve a score of 85 - 114, so serial killers are pretty average brains-wise. 

^^ This is also from the SKIC

The SKIC notes that IQ scores in the world of murderers can be fraught as extreme scores at either end of the spectrum are likely to attract attention. Achieving a score below 70 can be quite a coup for a killer as it indicates very low intelligence, and may mean that a court may show (/may be obliged to show) a bit of leniency. For example, US serial killer Simon Pirela has an IQ score of 57 and was initially sentenced to death for his crimes in two of the four murder cases brought against him. In both of these cases the death sentence was over-turned because of a Supreme Court Ruling which says that it is unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded people. 

The SKIC has all kinds of interesting statistics. For instance, did you know that America has been home to more serial killers than pretty much every other country in the world combined? And did you know that more than 92% of serial killers are men?  

There are a few different categories for people with a penchant for murder, and they all sound pretty similar. I’ve put together a helpful and brightly coloured table to differentiate between four key categories for multiple murder.

There is one category which closes relates to all of those above with the only clear difference being the motivation. 

Ted Kaczynski, more commonly referred to as the Unabomber, is a Neo-Luddite who mailed homemade bombs to universities, airlines and other people similarly involved with technology, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. (FYI Kaczynski has an IQ of 165. Incidentally, this score is only 11 points higher than the score Sharon Stone claims to have achieved.) He seems like the type of guy who perfectly fits the definition of a terrorist: ″a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims”. The Unabomber was very clearly motivated by political aims, he had a 50 page anarcho-primitivist manifesto which he negotiated to have published in The Washington Post and The New York Times in 1995 (under the proviso that he cut out the terrorism). 

Wikipedia categorises him as a serial murderer (which redirects to the page for serial killers and since kill and murder are close to synonyms in common parlance it’s probably safe to assume the terms are interchangeable).To qualify as a serial killer you need to rack up three kills with a cooling off period between each murder. The SKIC has a more relaxed door policy so they define a serial killer as anyone who has killed more than two people with a cooling off period between the murderers. The FBI also goes with the two or more criterion.

I’m not sure why I really care about this: serial killer sounds much worse than terrorist so it’s not like Kaczynski got off easy in the court of public opinion or anything, I just think if we’re categorising our killers, Wikipedia should at least have the decency to get it right. I will concede that technically he does qualify as a serial killer, but the category of terrorist better reflects his crimes. The FBI call him a domestic terrorist, a fact no one bothered to mention until the fifth paragraph, but you best believe they crammed ‘serial murderer’ into the first sentence. Dare I edit the page? 

Welcome to a mini-episode of Truly Terrible Detective. As per Meowgre’s request this one is titled Truly Terrible Detective III: Detecting Again. Tagline: just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Um yeah so I said I wanted to:

  1. Remember the name of an American serial killer who was really well profiled by an FBI profiler. Based on the nature of the crimes the profiler correctly surmised that the killer had a stutter 
  2. Figure out how an FBI profiler could possibly infer such specific personal stuff just by looking at the crimes the person had committed

Don’t mean to brag, but I done did it. The serial killer in question was Robert Hansen AKA the Butcher Baker (everything I’m gonna write about him is via Wikipedia. You should just read their article if you want a more detailed account as I’m just summarising here). He was a very shy, skinny young boy with acne and a stutter. He was horribly bullied and the cute girls in school didn’t like him. Wikipedia doesn’t have a citation for this, but apparently: because he was “shunned by the attractive girls in school, he grew up hating them and nursing fantasies of cruel revenge.” As he grew up, Hansen became an adept hunter. Like many serial killers, Hansen was also a thief and an arsonist. From 1971 to 1983 he murdered at least 17 women ranging in ages from 16 to 41.

Hansen’s typical move was to abduct women (usually sex workers) and take them to his cabin near Anchorage, Alaska. There he would rape them and then set them loose so he could hunt them in the woods. Of his confessed murders, many of the bodies have not been found. 

By 1982, three bodies had been found in shallow graves in the woods and the Alaska state troopers called in the FBI to assist in putting together a criminal profile. According to Wikipedia, FBI agents put together a profile for a person with the following characteristics:

  • Experienced hunter
  • Low self-esteem
  • History of being rejected by women
  • Would keep ‘souvenirs’ from his murders
  • A stutter

There’s a book called Mindhunter (which is being adapted into a series for Netflix by David Fincher so I hope you’re ready for some gritty drama with a muted colour palette) which is an account of some of the goings-on of the FBI’s serial crime unit. John Douglas (one of the authors of Mindhunter) was a unit chief with the FBI and was actually one of the first criminal profilers. He devotes a chapter to Hansen, and the way he describes what happened is actually kind of different from Wikipedia’s version of events. Wikipedia makes it sound like the FBI turned up and pulled the profile out of thin air just based on looking at the crimes, whereas Douglas says that when he and his boys rolled into Anchorage, Hansen was already a suspect. So what they were doing was comparing what they knew about Hansen to what they knew about the crimes and seeing how things matched up and if he was a likely suspect. So the profile they put together did include the bullet points above and, yes, some of that would have been speculation (such as the self-esteem problems, the history of rejection, and the souvenir keeping), but the rest (such as saying he had a stutter) were based on the fact that they knew Hansen and it was completely fucking obvious he had a stutter and acne scarring. Anyway, Douglas describes his profile and process as follows:

[Hansen] was short and slight, heavily pockmarked, and spoke with a severe stutter. I surmised he had had severe skin problems as a teenager and, between that and the speech impediment, was probably teased or shunned by his peers, particularly girls. So his self-esteem would have been low… And, psychologically speaking, abusing prostitutes is a pretty standard way of getting back at women in general.

I also made much of the fact that Hansen was known as a proficient hunter… I don’t mean to imply that most hunters are inadequate types, but in my experience, if you have an inadequate type to being with, one of the ways he might try to compensate is by hunting or playing around with guns or knives… I was betting that Hansen’s speech problem disappeared when he felt most dominant and in control.

So I think we can call that another case closed: it is not possible for an FBI profiler, no matter how gifted, to look at a crime scene or a string of murders and miraculously determine that the killer has a speech impediment.