The FBI is seeking DNA from Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, who’s serving a life sentence for killing three people with homemade bombs, in connection with the 1982 Tylenol poisonings
Seven people in the Chicago area died, and thousands of bottles of the over-the-counter painkiller were withdrawn. The case was never solved.
Kaczynski made the disclosure in court papers in an effort to stop an auction of his belongings now in progress. It was confirmed today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“As part of our re-examination of the evidence developed in connection with the 1982 Tylenol poisonings, we have attempted to secure DNA samples from numerous individuals, including Ted Kaczynski,” the agency said today in a statement. “To date, Mr. Kaczynski has declined to voluntarily provide this sample.”
Kaczynski said in a handwritten court document that prison personnel told him the Chicago office of the FBI “wanted a sample of my DNA to compare with the partial DNA profiles connected with a 1982 event in which someone put potassium cyanide in Tylenol.”
“I have never even possessed any potassium cyanide,” wrote Kaczynski, 68, a former mathematics professor.
Kaczynski, who grew up in the Chicago area, said he refused to surrender a sample unless “the FBI would satisfy a certain condition that is not relevant here.”
Kacyzinski wrote that two prison officers approached him on April 27 and told him the FBI would seek a court order unless he voluntarily gave a DNA sample.
He cited the visit in his attempt to prevent the auctioning of his belongings, asking federal courts in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, to keep until his death some of the things seized from his Montana cabin when they arrested him in 1996.
He wants the government to keep all his journals, which “may provide evidence as to my whereabouts and activities in 1982,” for example.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Shelledy, who represented the government in the auction case, said in an e-mail, “We will not comment further on the investigation” Kaczynski mentioned.
In court papers responding to Kaczynski’s motion, Shelledy wrote, “Kaczynski has not been indicted” in the Tylenol case, and “no such federal prosecution is currently planned.”
Kaczynski wrote that some of the items the government is auctioning could “turn out to be important” in resolving whether he had anything to do with the poisonings.
DNA testing, he said, might cast suspicion on innocent people because 1 percent to 5 percent of Americans share partial profiles.
He also asked that everything he wrote in code be withheld from the sale, because that’s how he wrote when describing his illegal acts.
Neither court ruled on the auction, which started yesterday and will end June 2.
Kaczynski attended high school in Evergreen Park in suburban Chicago. He graduated from Harvard College, then got master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan.
Tracked and caught by the FBI, he pleaded guilty in 1998 in Sacramento, California, to 13 charges. They included allegations growing from four Sacramento-area explosions that left two men dead and accusations related to a third death, in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Case Still Open
The Tylenol case was being examined by grand juries in two Illinois counties in January 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing people familiar with the investigation. DNA was taken from one suspect after a court order, the Tribune said.
Johnson & Johnson, maker of the drug, was viewed as a “hero” for withdrawing 31 million bottles of Tylenol and offering replacements in tablet form, which was safer, according to the New York Times.
Bill Price, a J&J spokesman, declined to comment in an e-mail today.