In 1996, the nation was stunned when the elusive Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was hauled away from a remote one-room cabin in the woods of Montana, handcuffed by the FBI, ending his anonymous 17-year reign of terror. Among those paying close attention as the dramatic scene unfolded was Ted’s younger brother, David. David was heartbroken ― and also happened to be the person who turned Ted in.
Reflecting on his brother’s high-profile arrest during an interview for “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, David described his conflicting emotions. As he explains in the above video, there was one thing he wished he could have said to Ted in those moments.
“My heart kind of wanted to come out of my chest,” David tells Oprah. “I felt, ‘Ted, you’re so alone in the world. The whole world looks at you as a monster. Regardless of what you’ve done, as much as we despise what you’ve done, we still love you. You’re a human being to us. You’re still my brother.’ But there was no way to say that to him.”
Ted, whose homemade bombs killed three people and injured 23 others, eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve eight life sentences. But before that, Ted learned the truth about who tipped off the FBI about his identity.
“I understand at the very first, he refused to believe it... Ted said, ‘No, David loves me. He wouldn’t do that,’” David says. “I think the attorney went out and got a copy of The New York Times.”
Upon seeing confirmation that David was the reason he’d finally gotten caught, Ted severed all ties with his sibling.
“Ted at that point decided he would never want anything to do with me again,” David says.
In the two decades since Ted’s arrest, David says the two haven’t spoken, though not for lack of trying on his own part.
“I’ve written him letters. I’ve offered to visit,” David says. “But there’s never been a response from Ted.”
Despite this distance between the brothers, David says he would still not refuse an invite to see Ted in prison, were it ever offered.
“I would go at the drop of a hat,” he says.
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