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Why David Kaczynski Began to Suspect That His Brother Was the Unabomber

Season 5 Episode 508
Aired on 05/16/2015 | CC tv-14
In 1995, a most wanted fugitive known only as the Unabomber wrote a manifesto outlining his plan for a worldwide revolution against technology. He demanded that major media outlets print his 35,000-word essay verbatim. In turn, he promised to end his bombing campaign, which had killed three people and plagued investigators for more than a decade. The manifesto was published by The Washington Post on September 19, 1995. Seven months later, authorities solved the case and arrested a former math prodigy named Ted Kaczynski.

The tip that led investigators to the remote Montana cabin where Ted Kaczynski was hiding came from an unlikely source: the suspect's younger brother, David Kaczynski. Now, almost 20 years later, David tells Oprah how he began to suspect his brother was the Unabomber. "It actually began with my wife, Linda. ... She knew that Ted had this kind of phobia about technology. She knew he was estranged from the family," he says. "But I had never seen Ted violent. I couldn't believe that he was capable of it."

Linda urged David to read the Unabomber's manifesto, and he agreed, if only to allay her fears. "I thought I'd read that thing; I'd tell her it's not Ted. And instead, as I began to read it, I realized that the voice there was so much like Ted's," David says. "There was a particular phrase where he had called modern philosophers 'coolheaded logicians,' and I had recalled a similar phrase in a letter he had once sent me."

At that point, David told Linda there was a 50-50 chance that his brother was a notorious fugitive. Watch as David tells Oprah why he made the difficult decision to contact the FBI.

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