Unabomber items bought by National Museum of Crime & Punishment
WASHINGTON (AP) — To most people, Theodore Kaczynski's bomb-making tools are meaningless relics from a life devoted to mayhem.
To Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, they're priceless.
For a mere $1,766 at an online government auction that ended Thursday, Vaccarello's museum was the winning bidder for Kaczynski's black and white passport photos, along with the wood saw and Hanson Model 1509 scale that the man known as the Unabomber used in his deadly attacks.
Carried out under court order by the U.S. Marshals Service and the General Services Administration, the auction was revenge of a sort for the victims and the families terrorized by Kaczynski's acts of violence that left three people dead and 23 injured from 1978 to 1995.
In all, collectors paid more than $200,000 for 58 items seized during the raid of Kaczynski's remote Montana cabin in 1996. The money goes to victims and their families.
In Washington, Vaccarello monitored the auction all day long.
"There is something strange about describing emotions of happiness and a criminal artifact in the same sentence," Vaccarello said. "I am happy that the funds raised are going to victims and I am happy that our museum can add some artifacts regarding Kaczynski. I think items like this belong in a museum, and a crime museum is the best fit."
She bid unsuccessfully for two of Kaczynski's typewriters, as the price doubled in five minutes to $3,600. The three pieces of Kaczynski paraphernalia that Vaccarello won will be welcome additions to the museum, which includes a crime lab, the filming studios for the show "America's Most Wanted" and hundreds of interactives and crime artifacts, like John Dillinger's death mask and Ted Bundy's VW Beetle, the car into which the serial killer lured his victims.
Now 69, Kaczynski pleaded guilty in 1998 and is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
"He wanted his stuff back, and this way he doesn't get it back. He also hasn't paid a cent in restitution," said Susan Mosser, whose advertising executive husband became one of Kaczynski's victims, killed by a parcel bomb in 1994.
Kaczynski's personal journals fetched $40,676; the iconic hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses depicted in police sketch artist renderings brought in $20,025, and his handwritten "manifesto" — a 35,000-word screed against modern technologies seeking to justify his crimes — sold for $20,053. Other items included $22,003 for the Smith Corona typewriter seized from the cabin and $17,780 for his autobiography.
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