WASHINGTON — Three language and human behavior experts privately examined a selection of Theodore J. Kaczynski's letters last December and, much to his family's anguish, concluded that there was a 60% to 80% chance he was the author of the Unabomber's infamous published manifesto.
Clinton R. Van Zandt, a behavioral science specialist who until last year was the FBI's chief hostage negotiator, said Monday that he conducted an intensive analysis of a number of letters submitted to him by a private investigator working for the Kaczynski family.
He was not told at the time who the writer was and the letters were retyped from the original handwriting. But the similarities were clear, he said in an interview.
"I saw phraseology, certain themes and sentence structures similar enough to make the analysis," he said. "I felt there was a 60-plus percent probability that the letters and the manifesto were written by the same author." He said two other experts he consulted for a second opinion increased the odds to 80%.
According to Tony Bisceglie, a Washington attorney who has assisted the Kaczynski family, the family had hoped postmarks on Theodore Kaczynski's letters to them would show that he had remained in Montana and could not have been in places where the Unabomber had been seen or from which he had sent bombs. But they found otherwise.
"We could not find a postmark that would rule out the possibility that Ted had left the state," Bisceglie said in a news conference.
The accounts by Van Zandt and Bisceglie provide a look at the agonizing process that David Kaczynski, the suspect's younger brother, and his wife, Linda Patrik, went through from the time of their first inklings last year that Theodore Kaczynski might be linked to the 17-year string of mail-bomb attacks until the FBI raided his one-room shack last week.
Their research proved to be the precursor of the exhaustive investigative effort now underway in cities across the nation by authorities trying to pin down evidence that Theodore Kaczynski could have--and did--commit the attacks.
Separately, a source close to the investigation denied reports that federal agents searching Theodore Kaczynski's Montana cabin have found pieces of paper with names of Unabomber victims written on them. The agents have found papers with names, the source said, but the names do not include those of victims, and law enforcement officials are not sure of the significance, if any, of the names they have found, the source said.
At the Justice Department, prosecutors from eight U.S. attorney's offices, including San Francisco and Sacramento, met top department officials to coordinate the rapidly developing probe.
Justice Department officials denied reports that the group had recommended that a trial in the case be held in Sacramento, which was the site of the Unabomber's most recent attack. The sources did not rule out the possibility that Sacramento might be chosen as the trial site but said no recommendation had been made.
Theodore Kaczynski remains jailed in Helena, Mont., where the local sheriff told reporters he has been reading history books and jogging in an exercise yard. He has been charged only with possession of an unregistered explosive device. In Montana, federal officials said they expect to complete the search of his small cabin by the end of this week.
Several witnesses have told federal agents that they saw Kaczynski in Sacramento around the times of Unabomber attacks there. Agents have also combed through registration files of low-rent hotels and motels near the bus stations in Salt Lake City, where the Unabomber was seen by a witness in 1987 before a bomb attack.
Investigators suspect that Kaczynski may have traveled by bus from his home outside Lincoln, Mont., to a number of cities in which attacks occurred or from which mail bombs were sent.
Federal agents also believe that Kaczynski may have used aliases in his travels. Kwang Lee, manager of the Alta Motel Lodge in Salt Lake City, said that agents asked him about the aliases Dombek, Manny, Teszewski, Touminen and Konrad. "I browsed through my records but could not find any of these names," he said.
In Northern California, hotel operators also reported recent visits from agents seeking registration information and mentioning a series of aliases. Kimberly Choi, manager of the Jefferson Inn in downtown Oakland, said she would have to check hotel records for the list of aliases she was given. "He could have stayed here and maybe he didn't stay here," she said.
As agents finish searching Kaczynski's cabin, where he has lived for most of the last 20 years, the investigation elsewhere is attempting to fill gaps in the "time line" of his movements since 1978 and the known activities of the Unabomber since the attacks began in that year.