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Former FBI agents recall investigating the ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski’s’ Utah crimes

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jun 11, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Ever since the Unabomber died in federal prison Saturday, memories of his terror have resurfaced across the country.

Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski killed three Americans and injured over twenty more. He bombed Salt Lake City twice and shipped another from Provo.

“There was a certain frantic posture about that case,” described Kenneth Crook, former FBI special agent.

Crook remembers following leads in Salt Lake City.

“My thought process was so pervasive about finding this guy that it was obsessive for three years,” he said.

READ: Report: 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski believed to have died by suicide

Four years into the Unabomber’s deadly anti-tech campaign, he left a bomb in October 1981 in a hallway at the University of Utah. That building, Milton Bennion Hall, was torn down six years ago and replaced with an economics building.

Of his sixteen bombs, this was the only one of two that was safely defused without injury.

“We were interviewing everybody, I mean, it was tough,” said Crook. “It really was tough. It was awful.”

A year later in 1982, a bomb with the listed return address of a BYU computer associate professor was mailed from downtown Provo to the head of the computer science department at Vanderbilt University. His secretary was injured when she opened the package.

“We tried to map every thing, every lead and it just didn’t lead us anywhere,” said Crook.

READ: 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski found dead in federal prison

In February 1987, Kaczynski left a bomb in the parking lot of a computer repair store at 270 East 900 South. The bomb severely injured the man who picked it up, but a witness finally saw the Unabomber which led to the most famous composite sketch of all time.

“I was a brand new agent. I hadn’t even been in the division for three full months,” said Rick Rasmussen, another former special agent. “I had just graduated from Quantico.”

Rasmussen and a Salt Lake City police officer were assigned night surveillance in front of the store in case he returned to admire the scene of the crime.

“I think we sat there for four or five nights bored to tears cause he never came back,” he said. “By the second day it was pretty clear that this was the Unabomber.”

Kaczynski wouldn’t be caught for another nine years. Rasmussen remembers the relief.

Now that the Unabomber is officially gone, the nation can close the chapter.

“It’s always tragic when any human dies,” said Rasmussen. “Guys like this, maybe a little less tragic.”