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Crime News Serial Killers

Why Did Unabomber Ted Kaczynski Cut His Brother David Out Of His Life?

David Kaczynski once thought that his brother Ted Kaczynski could have been the next Albert Einstein. 

By Gina Tron
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Ted Kacyznski kept his distance from people, both literally and figuratively. His knack for solitude led him to live alone in a tiny, rural Montana shack where he spent much of his time plotting bomb attacks against people he either hated or whom he felt were corrupting society. His anger and bizarre behavior knew no bounds as he even cut ties with his own relatives, including his younger brother David who ultimately assisted in Ted’s arrest.

Born a little over six years after his older brother, David recalls looking up to Ted in the new Netflix docu-series “Unabomber - In His Own Words." He even felt that, with Ted's IQ of 167, he could be the next Albert Einstein.

While Ted was home while on break from his studies at Harvard, David tried to discuss some of his philosophies with his older brother, he said — but felt as if Ted dismissed his ideas, saying “real smart people have a sadistic streak,” according to the docu-series.

Ted did prove his intelligence with a Harvard degree, followed up with a master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He then went on to become the youngest assistant professor of mathematics in the history of University of California, Berkeley. However, he abruptly left that job in 1969 to begin living as a hermit. His sadistic bombing campaign did not start until nine years later.

While living in the woods, Ted would sometimes briefly leave his cabin to work odd jobs, including a short return to Lombard, Illinois in the late 1970s where he grew up. It was during this time that David and Ted suffered the first major rift in their relationship, one that David described as a “crisis” between them in the docu-series.

This "crisis" happened while Ted was working at Cushion-Pak in 1978 (the same year the bombings began), a local rubber foam factory near the Kacyznski family home, USA Today reported. It was where Ted and David’s father worked, and where David was currently working as a supervisor. Ted asked a co-worker out, they had a few dates and Ted excitedly told his brother that they had kissed, according to the docu-series. But soon enough, she rejected him and said she didn’t want to see him anymore in a non-professional way. She said she wanted to be friends instead.

“Ted was extremely upset,” David reflected in “Unabomber - In His Own Words.” ”He wrote these limericks [..] these very unflattering, ugly sort of limericks about her and he posted them around the work site.”

David threatened to fire him if he didn’t stop harassing the woman. Ted responded by showing up to work the next day and posting another one of the limericks up, David recounted.

As a result, David did indeed fire him.

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That crisis did not entirely destroy the siblings’ relationship however.

Their relationship remained strong for many years, in which they wrote to each other regularly. They were both interested in nature and living life off the grid, Elizabeth Trojian, one of the filmmakers behind the docu-series, told Oxygen.com. 

David wanted Ted to be proud of him, Lis Wiehl wrote in her upcoming book "Hunting The Unabomber." David, like his older brother, bought some land and built his own cabin at one point in his life in an attempt “to get some kind of admiration from Ted for something he had done himself, emulating his brother,” FBI Agent Kathy Puckett speculates to Wiehl.

Both lived off the grid, according to Trojian. 

David last visited his brother in Montana in 1986, according to Lis Wiehl’s upcoming book "Hunting The Unabomber." 

Soon after, David became engaged to a woman named Linda Patrik, a woman whom Ted did not like.

The book and docu-series showed that Ted became irate after David sent him a letter to announce his engagement. Ted tried to get his brother to cancel the wedding, and ultimately “cut off all ties” with his brother when David refused to cut off the impending nuptials. 

“David had the temerity to get married to Linda,” Puckett noted in Wiehl's book. “Ted was absolutely disgusted that his brother would do that. Ted had never met Linda, but he didn’t like the fact that his brother had succumbed. He even wrote a letter to David talking about how they were both virgins, intimating that by getting married, David was breaking that bond.” 

At this point, Ted was at least 44 years old. He also wrote a scathing letter tearing Patrik apart, according to the docu-series.

Trojian told Oxygen.com that "David was the only one he thought he could count on, who was similar, so while it doesn't make sense to mentally healthy people, for Ted I could see that he could feel abandoned or betrayed [by the engagement.]" 

David and Patrik married in a Buddhist ceremony despite Ted’s protests and obviously, Ted declined his invitation to the wedding.

Ted said in an interview included in the docu-series that he felt that his brother's attitudes changed "radically" when he married and that Parik "completely converted him to a conventional middle class point of view."

Likely to Ted’s horror, it was actually Linda Patrik who initiated the events that led to his arrest. She shared her concerns with David that the 35,000 word manifesto “Industrial Society and Its Future” that the FBI received from the Unabomber in in 1995 — which was published after much debate a year later — could be authored by Ted.

Wiehl notes in her book that Patrik was on sabbatical in Paris in 1995 when she came across excerpts of the Unabomber’s manifesto in a newspaper. “The words seemed familiar, like she’d read them somewhere before,” Wiehl wrote about Patrik's thinking.

Although she had never met her brother-in-law, she had read letters that he had sent to David and she was aware of his obsessions and interests.

When Patrik brought up the possibility to her husband, David didn’t want to believe it could be true, according to “Hunting The Unabomber.” He thought back to how kindhearted his sibling was to animals growing up.

“There is just no way,” he said, according to the book. However, his wife made him promise that he would read the entire manifesto. He did — and was horrified to recognize the tone. Additionally the manifesto’s phrase “cool-head logicians”' rang even more alarms as it was something he’d heard his brother say, according to “Hunting The Unabomber.” David then sifted through some of Ted's writings in their mother’s attic and found an essay Ted had written in 1971 on the same subject.

David and Patrik then spent the next few weeks debating whether or not Ted could be the Unabomber. Eventually they contacted a lawyer who gave the FBI a sample of Ted’s writings to submit to the FBI for analysis.

After the FBI determined the writing to be a match, David was reluctant to talk and even when he did, he was emotional and routinely defended his brother, Wiehl noted. Before there was irrefutable proof that Ted was in fact the Unabomber, David would intermittently express doubt that he could be.

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When the search of Ted’s cabin during his 1996 arrest led to the discovery of yet another bomb, despite his promise to halt the bombings if his manifesto was published, David felt much more relieved about turning his brother in to authorities.

“The moment I found that out, I realized, thank God we did what we did, Thank God,” he said in the docu-series. “We saved a life and in the end i did what i did with the heaviest heart I ever had.”

When Ted found out his brother helped turn him in, David said he heard through a third-person party that his brother said that he’d never have anything to do with his family again and “that as far as he was concerned I was no brother,” he said in the new docu-series.

David went on to apologize to the survivors of his brother’s bombing attacks. He went on to not only become lifelong friends with one of those victims, but he became close friends with one of the FBI agents who investigated Ted.

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“Hunting The Unabomber” notes that David had “kept virtually everything his brother had given him. The truth was that David had idolized his older brother; it was extremely difficult for him to live with the fact that they were estranged."

Trojian told Oxygen.com that, "David loves his brother."

Reporter Jill Sederstrom contributed to this report.