CHICAGO — The FBI has requested a DNA sample from Unabomber Ted Kaczynski as part of its investigation into the 1982 deaths of seven Chicago-area people who took cyanide-laced Tylenol, officials said Thursday.
Kaczynski, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to setting 16 explosions that killed three people and is serving a life sentence in prison, has declined to provide a DNA sample.
Chicago FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates said the FBI is seeking DNA from Kaczynski and "numerous individuals," although she wouldn't provide details about any of the others. She declined to say whether the agency would try to compel Kaczynski to give a sample, but in a motion filed in California court, Kaczynski said he was told the FBI would try to force his hand.
John Balasz, Kaczynski's attorney, said he thinks the FBI wants Kaczynski's DNA simply to rule him out as a suspect in the Tylenol case.
The federal government is currently auctioning off items seized from Kaczynski's home. He filed a court motion in California asking the court to order the government to keep certain items taken from his cabin in 1996, including journals that could prove his whereabouts in 1982 and evidence that could clear him in the Tylenol case.
In a response filed Monday, federal prosecutors said the courts lack the jurisdiction to enter such an order. They also noted that Kaczynski hasn't been indicted in connection with the Tylenol investigation "and no such federal prosecution is currently planned."
Kaczynski, who's in federal prison in Colorado, said in his motion that the officials who notified him of the FBI's request said the agency was prepared to get a court order to compel him to provide a DNA sample. Balasz said he has told the government they'll have to get a court order to get the DNA sample. The Tylenol case involved the use of potassium cyanide and resulted in a mass recall. Kaczynski said he has "never even possessed any potassium cyanide."
In a space of three days beginning Sept. 29, 1982, seven people who took cyanide-laced Tylenol died. The deaths triggered a scare and led to the adoption of tamperproof packaging for over-the-counter drugs.