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FBI wants Unabomber's DNA in poisoning cases

May 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It has been nearly three decades since cyanide-laced Tylenol killed seven people and set off a nationwide scare. The FBI agents still on the case are now asking for the DNA of Ted Kaczynski, also known as the "Unabomber."

Kaczynski, who pleaded guilty to setting 16 explosions that killed three people and injured 24, filed papers in federal court in Sacramento in an effort to preserve evidence that he says proves his innocence in another set of crimes.

Kaczynski has refused to give the FBI a sample of his DNA. The FBI confirmed that as part of a re-examination of the evidence in the Chicago-area Tylenol poisonings in 1982, agents are trying to get DNA samples from several people, including Kaczynski.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Portanova followed the Unabomber case closely.

"Anytime somebody is this sophisticated in the kind of murder rampage that he went on for as long as he did, any other sophisticated type of long-range murder like that, he should be a suspect," said Portanova.

Seven people died when they took cyanide-laced Tylenol from packages that had been tampered with.

Kaczynski filed a handwritten motion in U.S. district court in Sacramento asking that his personal belongings not be put up for auction.

He says the FBI wanted a sample of his DNA to compare it with DNA connected to the Tylenol cases and claims he never even possessed any potassium cyanide.

Reached by phone, Kaczynski's attorney, John Balazs, defended the motion: "He wants to make sure he has all available evidence to prove his innocence."

That would include items from his famous cabin to show there's no trace of cyanide and journals to show where he was during the Tylenol killings.

"I'm completely convinced that he's innocent. I don't believe he was in the Chicago area," said Balazs.

The judge never ruled on Kaczynski's motion so the online auction proceeded this week, including his notable hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses and his handwritten manifesto, with bids reaching five figures for those items so far.

The proceeds from the sale will go to Kaczynski's victims.

"There's no chance he's going to be able to stop the government from getting his DNA if they want it," said Portanova.

Balazs says that Kaczynski will comply with any order to give a DNA sample, but the FBI will have to go through the legal process first.

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