Autopsy: Kaczynski Had Cancer, Seemed 'Depressed'

Report lists the cause of Unabomber's death as suicide
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 4:56 PM CDT
Autopsy: Kaczynski Had Cancer, Seemed 'Depressed'
Theodore Kaczynski looks around as US marshals take him out of a federal courthouse to a waiting vehicle in June 1996 in Helena, Montana.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Ted Kaczynski, whose bombing rampage killed three people and injured 23 over 17 years, had rectal cancer and was reported to be depressed before he killed himself last year, an autopsy report shows. Known during his campaign as the Unabomber, Kaczynski was found unresponsive in a solitary room in a federal prison medical center in North Carolina prison in June 2023. Kaczynski, 81, had received the cancer diagnosis in March 2021, reports NBC News, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the autopsy report. Medical examiners put the cancer at stage 4 when he died, and the report says it had spread to his liver and both lungs.

Kaczynski also had a history of mental difficulties. An oncologist reported that he seemed depressed about a month before his death, the report says, after refusing treatments because of side effects and his poor prognosis. Kaczynski reportedly was then sent for psychiatric evaluation. The report adds that the inmate was on no prescription medications and "had no prior suicidal ideations or attempts." He had tried to kill himself in 1998, however, while awaiting trial. The cause of death was listed in the report as hanging, with a shoelace used as a ligature. Officials determined no foul play was involved in Kaczynski's death. He had pleaded guilty after his arrest in 1996, avoiding a death sentence, and began his sentence in the Supermax prison in Colorado.

One expert told NBC that although it's nearly impossible to prevent an inmate from killing himself, unless he's on suicide watch, it's nonetheless surprising that "a high-profile inmate coming out of maximum-security was able to obtain shoelaces in a hospital environment to kill themselves—especially him." The federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the case, and it's not clear whether Kaczynski was on suicide watch. (More Ted Kaczynski stories.)

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