Theodore Kaczynski, the “Unabomber,” who killed three people and injured 23 in a bombing spree from 1978 to 1995, died by suicide at a federal prison medical center in North Carolina on Saturday, the New York Times reports. Emergency workers were called to Kaczynski’s cell at 12:23 a.m. at the Federal Medical Center Butner, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital, officials said. He was 81. The circumstances of his suicide are unclear, and it is uncertain whether prison officials could have done more to ensure his safety. The self-inflicted death of another high-profile inmate, four years after accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself at a Manhattan federal detention center, raises more questions about the quality of security, oversight and health care in the troubled, understaffed federal prison system.
Epstein’s death prompted unfounded speculation that he had been murdered, even after Justice Department officials ruled it a suicide. The death of Kaczynski, a conspiracy theorist who wrote a long manifesto in a secluded wilderness cabin, probably will prompt similar speculation. Investigators determined that neglect and lax patrol practices, rather than foul play, gave Epstein an opportunity to end his life before facing trial on sex trafficking charges. The guards union blamed staffing shortages for lapses that left Epstein unattended for three hours. The Bureau of Prisons, which houses 160,000 inmates, has been struggling to retain and hire guards, along with medical and mental health professionals, who are able to find lower-stress, higher-paying jobs elsewhere. The suicide rate in federal lockups — between 300 and 400 per year — remains below that of local and state prisons,. Kaczynski, who had health problems, was moved to the North Carolina medical facility in 2021 after serving 25 years at the supermax prison in Florence, Col. A Harvard-educated mathematician, he had a goal to bring about the collapse of the modern social order through targeted assassinations.