Theodore "Ted" Kaczynski, the former Harvard graduate and University of California mathematics professor suspected of being America's deadly "Unabomber", was yesterday indicted on a first formal charge by federal prosecutors in Montana.
According to FBI officials, the man they believe carried out an 18-year campaign of letter-bombings across the country, was being indicted in the courthouse at the state capital of Helena on a single count of possessing a bomb. The device was apparently discovered by investigators as they searched Mr Kaczynski's remote cabin near the small town of Lincoln on Wednesday afternoon.
The charge means that Mr Kaczynski, detained when he tried to prevent the search, can continue to be held in custody while further evidence is amassed at the cabin - evidence the FBI hopes will conclusively identify him as the Unabomber, responsible for killing three people and wounding 23 others in 16 separate attacks, the first of them in May, 1978.
Although long years of failure have taught the authorities to be cautious, they finally believe they have caught their man. The examination of the cabin where Kaczynski lived a hermit's existence without electricity or running water could take several days - not least because of fears of booby traps. But the FBI has reportedly already found chemicals and bomb diagrams, as well as the partially prepared bomb.
Kaczynski was not formally arrested when he was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, grim-faced and bearded, his hair dishevelled and dressed in a torn black shirt and black jeans gashed at the knees.
For several weeks, federal agents had kept his ramshackle home under surveillance. The decisive break in the case seems to have come from tips from family members, especially David Kaczynski, who noticed similarities between some of his brother Theodore's earlier writings and published material from the Unabomber.
The manhunt which may now have climaxed has been the longest and most expensive in the FBI's history, led by a permanent 40-man task-force based in San Francisco. Over the years of the investigation, 200 people were briefly detained before being released.
But Mr Kaczynski is by far the strongest suspect so far unearthed. Apart from the physical evidence reportedly discovered at his cabin, he fits the identikit profileperfectly. Just as the FBI's psychological portrait of their quarry suggested, he is a white male, well-educated, meticulous and deeply antisocial.
Mr Kaczynski lived as a recluse in remote Montana for at least a decade, hardly known by his neighbours, who considered him a quiet and harmless eccentric. The Unabomber's attacks have taken place all over the country. The last two, both of which were fatal, occurred in New Jersey in December 1994, and in California in April 1995.Reuse content