Quotes From James Fitzgerald's Books About The Unabomber Give A Fascinating Look Inside The Case
Serial killers may be entertaining fodder for television, but for the real people charged with hunting them down, it's a serious undertaking. Discovery miniseries Manhunt: Unabomber dramatizes how the FBI's Jim Fitzgerald worked for years to find the man behind the Unabomber alias, and quotes from Jim Fitzgerald's books about the Unabomber (titled A Journey to the Center of the Mind, available on Amazon), show how hard the FBI profiler worked to ultimately catch Ted Kaczynski and stop his 17-year reign of domestic terrorism. (Kaczynski is currently serving a life sentence in prison after pleading guilty to 16 bombings that killed three people and injured dozens, according to The New Yorker.)
Outside of his book, Fitzgerald has also talked about the challenges of the Unabomber case, like his support of publishing the Unabomber manifesto in The Washington Post and New York Times. "A few bosses were against it," Fitzgerald said to Newsweek. "We didn’t want to cede to the demands of a terrorist. I said, we may run that risk, but there's so much in the way of idiosyncratic language features, someone will recognize it — a teacher, a professor, a friend, a family member." Ultimately, Fitzgerald's suspicions were right, because Kaczynski's brother, David Kaczynski, did ultimately recognize his brother's ideals and reported him to the FBI. So Fitzgerald has many interesting insights into the Unabomber case — here's the ones he's written about.
His Early Interest In Language
"I also found intriguing ... the fact there was spoken and written language assessed in the Lindbergh kidnapping case. Along with other investigative clues, this evidence eventually helped identify the kidnapper/killer. This taught me very early on that language evidence could be as important as any other types of forensic clues in an investigation. I put this timbe of evidence to the test in the Unabom case decades later. I also now use the random letters from the Lindbergh case, as well as the writings of the Unabomber, along with other cases, when I'm teaching forensic linguistics ... the are invaluable."
A Coincidental Artistic Connection
"After I left the BPD, Rich Viola, knowing of my newly found interest in art, was nice enough to give me ... an illustrated coffee-table style book of the late nineteenth century French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. In it, ... [was painting] "At the Circus, Horse and Monkey Dressage." ... Years later, coincidentally, I linked this particular painting to Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. ... I was able to put together the one last missing piece of the Unabomber puzzle."
The Origins Of The Unabom Case
"One of the numerous cases John [Douglas, FBI profiler] presented to us was an investigation he had been working on for the last decade and a half. That would be the Unabom case. He had prepared a few different offender profiles over the years as additional bombings were being undertaken by this serial killer and new evidence surfaces. ... I found this cast particularly fascinating, especially as the Unabomber was now directly communicating for the first time via mailed letters with the outside world..."
The Unabomber's Writing Style
"In his varied writings, the Unabomber always used plural pronouns when referring to his alleged group/organization. The earlier profiles by John Douglas strongly suggested this was a false-flag. It was believed the Unabomber was one person and one person only."
Visiting The Unabomber's Cabin For The First Time
"Ted wasn't home at the moment. In fact, he would never go home again ... In many ways, Ted and I were alike in that regard. I had left my home about a year prior to this mountainside visit. He had left his just three days before .... You see, Ted's cabin door closing behind him, and its opening for me those few days later, represented different, yet at the same time, drastic and dramatic life-altering changes for both of us."
The First Time He Saw Ted Kaczynski
"Interestingly, I never saw Ted during those few weeks I spent in Montana. Out paths simply didn't cross then. We were both very busy doing other things and adapting to out new environments. We'd finally meet, face-to-face, in a courtroom in Sacramento, CA, about 15 months later. Undoubtedly, Ted remembers that fateful day as well as me."
Fitzgerald's Chosen Method Of Catching The Unabomber
"It slowly came to me at this juncture that any break in this seventeen-year-old investigation would not be derived from traditional sources of evidence — not from any trace evidence found on the various documents or his devices, anyway. This guy was too clever in that regard in his employment of various forensic counter-measures. That was very clear at this point in time. No, it would have to be the words themselves which would lead up to him. I was convinced of it now more than ever.
What Linguistics Explained About The Unabomber
"The gist of [professor Dr. Shuy's] linguistic analysis of the Manifesto, as it relates to its author, was as follows: He was raised in the Chicago, IL, area. He may have lived at or near the US-Canada border ... He was a reader of the Chicago Tribune newspaper through the early 1960s. He is 40 to 60 years of age. He is a native English speaker. He is probably white..."
How Fitzgerald Studied The Unabomber's Letters
"I was analyzing it not necessarily from a reading comprehension perspective .... but more like a professional photographer would 'read' a photo. I was staring at the letter in a strictly linear sense, almost measuring it with my eyes in some odd fashion ... It's as if something besides the actual words and purported meaning within it held a clue to its provenance, its origins, to the every rationality of the author itself."
One Particularly Important Clue
"Most of us state or write that expression as 'You can't have your cake and eat it too.' Right? I mean, that's how I've always said it. ... But for some reason, [the Unabomber] did it backwards. He got it wrong."
"...Near the bottom, '...we will be sacrificing some of the materialistic benefits of technology, but there just isn't any other way. We can't eat our cake and have it too. Signed, 'Theodore J. Kaczynski, Chicago, IL.' ... Again, it's not how everyone else says it. But it's the way FC, the Unabomber says it, or more accurately, writes it."
A Theory About The Unabomber's Identity
"Some people ... believed that the San Francisco area 'Zodiac Killer' of the late '60s and early '70s had later morphed into the Unabomber. That's quite a morph, by the way, from an up-close and personal stabber and shooter to a long-distance bomber. But the earlier killer did like writing letters to the media. He used code in them, too. However, these were about the only things the two had in common. ... Other related projects ... involved various theories that the Unabomber was ex-military and/or ex-law enforcement."
Why The Unabomber Chose His Targets
"Each of the Unabomber's bombing victims ... were what I referred to as "representational targets." Kaczynski didn't know these individuals personally, he had never met them, nor could he ever be associated with them in any way. ... The named targets and their real or perceived actions, writings, and/or purported beliefs were enough for Kaczynski to identify them through his research and readings and decide they were the 'kind of person' who should suffer."
How He Feels About Working On The Case
"At the time of this book going to publication, Kaczynski remains at [supermax prison] ADX Florence. ... Nonetheless, I certainly don't feel sorry for Kaczynski. He's right where he should be ... I'm proud to have assisted in my own little way in taking this killer, this serial offender, this Unabomber, off the streets and out of society once and for all. If only it could have been sooner... for everyone's sake."
Manhunt: Unabomber is a pulse-pounding retelling of the long search for Tedd Kaczynski, but Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald's A Journey to the Center of the Mind series is the perfect way to find out more details about how the hunt for the Unabomber really happened, from the firsthand experience of one of the FBI profilers who was directly involved in the case.