I Don't Want To Live Long: Ted Kaczynski

I Would Rather Get The Death Penalty Than Spend The Rest Of My Life In Prison Ted Kaczynski talks about life in jail, his appeal plans and his brother David, who still struggles over the decision to turn in the Unabomber

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In 1982 Ted broke off communication with his parents. Given his brand of terrorism, the breakup's "proximate cause," as he puts it, was ironic: he was annoyed by the packages of food and reading material his mother mailed him.

For several years, David was Ted's only link to the family and seemingly the only person in a position to mediate his growing anger. Today David will not say when he began to suspect that Ted was mentally ill, only that "clearly he has had very serious mental and emotional problems."

In September 1989, David wrote Ted to say he was leaving the desert. Linda Patrik had divorced, and after she visited him in Texas, David decided to move with her to Schenectady, N.Y., where she taught philosophy at Union College.

Ted's response had the tone of a scorned lover, or a deposed guru. "If you don't irritate or disgust me in one way," he wrote, "then you do so in another... And now, to top off my disgust, you're going to leave the desert and shack up with this woman who's been keeping you on a string for the past 20 years." He continued, "I can pretty well guess who the dominant member of that couple is going to be. It's just disgusting. Let me know your neck size--I'd like to get you a dog collar next Christmas."

He added that he wanted nothing more to do with David, ever, then signed off with a typically manipulative flourish: "But remember--you still have my love and loyalty, and if you're ever in serious need of my help, you can call on me."

It is tempting to interpret Ted's anger as a reaction not specifically against Linda--he had never met her--but against his acolyte's attainment of something he had spent his life without: a woman.

The following summer, David and Linda were married in a Buddhist ceremony in their backyard. Ted did not attend. Two months later, David's father became ill with late-stage lung cancer. David returned to Chicago; driving home from the hospital after a radiation treatment, father and son had a long, cleansing talk. That night Theodore R. Kaczynski gave David his gold watch; the next day he shot himself.

Ted did not attend his father's funeral either. By this point, Linda Patrik, having read Ted's letters to David, recognized that her brother-in-law was trouble. According to the Journal of Family Life, a small Albany, N.Y., publication, Linda forbade David ever to let Ted into their house; she went so far as to warn her father in Chicago that if for some reason Ted were to come to his door, he was to be turned away. She took some of his letters to a psychiatrist, who judged Ted to be paranoid and possibly dangerous. She and David inquired about having him institutionalized, but were told that would be impossible unless Ted were to volunteer. Or unless he had committed acts of violence.

He had done so, of course, and would continue. But David had no inkling--and, as Ted's still reverent little brother, no desire to have an inkling--that Ted might be the Unabomber. It was Linda who first raised the possibility. In September 1995, when the Washington Post and the New York Times published the Unabomber's "manifesto," she cajoled David into reading it. After negotiating with the FBI and deliberating with Linda (one keenly senses she herself might have turned Ted in, had David refused), David told the authorities where they would find his brother.

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