This post has been updated with news of the Unabomber letter reaching yet another journalist. The addendum is at the bottom.
A letter came in the mail yesterday afternoon in an envelope marked U.S. PENITENTIARY MAX. It was addressed to me from federal inmate No. 04475-046, Theodore John Kaczynski.
You know, the Unabomber.
Those of you following this blog will note that I received a similar letter, purportedly from Kaczynski, just last month.
The envelope I received Monday was almost identical to the one I got in April, with a return address from the federal Supermax, where Kaczynski is serving multiple life terms for the serial bombings that killed three people and injured many more. The envelopes were virtually identical but for the postmarks, and the addresses of the addressee.
The first letter was postmarked in Santa Barbara, California, about 1,000 miles from where Kaczynski resides and addressed to The Oregonian, where I wrote about humans living way out on the fringes of society for much of my twenty-year tenure at the newspaper.
The second letter was postmarked in Denver, Colorado, about 110 miles from where Kaczynski resides. This time, the prison-issue envelope was sent to my home address (as I had instructed Kaczynski to do).
In this second missive, Kaczynski suggests I've been the victim of a hoax and that I ought to watch where my letters are coming from.
Um, yeah, Ted.
I’ve included photos of the two letters at the bottom of this post, and I'm hoping a handwriting analyst will look them over and compare them to the known samples of Kaczynski's handwriting readily available on the Internet. Kaczynski is one prolific writing machine.
In the first missive, someone purporting to be Kaczynski writes that he’s offering one journalist (among several who had written to him over the years) a one time opportunity to interview him. Specifically, according to the letter, he wanted to rebut the suggestion he was mentally ill.
I wrote back to him, and you can read about that weird exchange here.
I personally think the second letter is authentic and that the first note was part of a hoax perpetrated by someone trying to get back at Kaczynski, perhaps an unhappy inmate at the federal prison complex in Lompoc, California, about 50 miles from Santa Barbara.
There’s another possibility that’s so outrageous that I just have to mention it: What if both letters are authentic and Kaczynski (as evidenced in the recent letter below) is just trying to hawk his books.
If so, Ted, stand in line.
The letter above was postmarked from Santa Barbara, California, a photocopied form letter made to look as if Theodore Kaczynski had scratched it out on prison-issue notepaper. The letter came inside an envelope that appeared to come from the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
The note above appears to be an authentic note from Kaczynski, and the signature looks much more similar to the serial bomber's authentic correspondence on the Internet. Any handwriting analysts looking in?
ADDENDUM: A TWEET TO A LUDDITE
New Yorker magazine staffer Lawrence Wright recently received the same form letter I did from Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber.
The letter, which Kaczynski claims was not sent by him, announced that he was looking to choose a journalist to tell his story. And all any of us had to do was acknowledge that he wasn’t crazy. Which would be impossible from this side of the prison bars.
Wright cleverly tweeted his response to the infamous Luddite: “The Unabomber reached out. Thanks, Ted, you’re not nuts at all.”
Mashable carried a story about Wright's Sunday tweet.
And Wright Tweeted again: “After consideration I agree with my critics that my response to the Unabomber was unnecessarily snarky. His mental illness is sadly evident.”