'Close the chapter': Son of Unabomber victim feels 'closure' after convicted terrorist's death

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, June 12, 2023
Son of Unabomber victim feels 'closure' after terrorist's death
Novato resident Jonathan Epstein says the death of Ted Kaczynski means closure for his family.

NOVATO, Calif. -- Ted Kaczynski, the convicted terrorist known as the Unabomber has died in Federal prison, he was 81.

For almost two decades, the Unabomber terrorized Northern California and the country by sending more than a dozen bombs through the mail to University professors and Airline execs.

Three people were killed and dozens of others were injured.

Novato resident Jonathan Epstein says the death of Ted Kaczynski means closure for his family.

RELATED: 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski found dead in federal prison cell at 81

"My first reaction was 'Finally we can close that chapter on this part of our life.' I was glad to hear the news," Epstein said.

His father, UCSF Geneticist Dr. Charles Epstein, was one of the Unabomber's targets in 1993 when a package was delivered to the family's Tiburon home.

"I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, when I got a call from my aunt who said my father opened a mail bomb," Epstein said.

Dr. Epstein was severely injured and lost several fingers in the blast.

Jonathan says there was no reason for the attack, because his father's research was focused on understanding Down's Syndrome.

MORE: Robert Hanssen, notorious FBI agent caught spying for Moscow, dies in prison

"The irony of him being targeted is that he was not involved in genetic engineering or some of the things people feared about the time," he said.

Kaczynski was serving eight life sentences after pleading guilty to mailing bombs to people from 1978 to 1995.

Three people were killed and 23 others were wounded.

Kaczynski, who lived as a recluse in a sparse cabin in Montana, explained his motivation for the killings as being rooted in hatred of the modern world and technology.

In 1995, he sent a 35,000 word essay to the FBI explaining his motives, which became known as the "Unabomber Manifesto."

MORE: New details of Jeffrey Epstein's death, frantic aftermath revealed

"They called him the Unabomber because initially his targets were universities," said former ABC7 News reporter Laura Anthony.

Anthony covered the Unabomber's trial in Sacramento. She recalls Kaczynski's appearance and demeanor in court was far from images of the accused terrorist many remember after his capture.

"Unlike other defendants I've seen in court he'd look at the gallery, he'd look at us sitting there and then nod and smile it's almost like we were going to have coffee with him that day," said Anthony.

Jonathan Epstein says for him, the legacy of the Unabomber is over.

MORE: Elizabeth Holmes in prison custody to begin 11-year sentence for notorious blood-testing hoax

"Kaczynski was clearly a disturbed man, a very bright guy who went the wrong way, mentally it speaks to the danger of untreated mental illness.

My hope is this is the last interview I do on Ted Kaczynski," said Epstein.

Charles Epstein died in 2011. His son says his father did not want to be remembered as a Unabomber victim, but, instead, by his contribution to science.