The Unabomber's Infamous Fellow Inmates On 'Bombers Row'

The man who gained notoriety as the Unabomber was apprehended in 1996 after a federal manhunt that took nearly 20 years (per FBI). After the bureau received a lengthy manifesto from the terrorist in 1995, justice department officials agreed to allow for its publication. Soon after The Washington Post printed what is now known as "The Unabomber Manifesto," the FBI began receiving tips as to this evasive criminal's identity. 

One tip was from David Kaczynski, a man who believed that his estranged brother might be behind the bombings. After providing material written by his brother, the feds were able to determine that David's brother, Ted Kaczynski, indeed matched the profile of the Unabomber as outlined in the manifesto. The evidence was enough to secure a warrant, leading agents to a remote cabin in the Montana wilderness. After a thorough search, authorities found bomb-making materials, thousands of journal pages detailing bomb experiments, and one more white-hot item that would help cement the case against him — a completed bomb, which the FBI claimed was "ready for mailing."

Throughout their lengthy investigation into Ted Kaczynski, the federal government was able to build an air-tight case against the man whose crimes had plagued the bureau for almost two decades. Perhaps knowing that there was no alternative, Kaczynski took a plea deal, landing him in a solitary prison cell inside the ADX supermax prison in Colorado (per Biography). During his time there, Kaczynski has gotten to know several other infamous figures whose fates have seemed to become intertwined.

He was familiar with Timothy McVeigh

Ted Kaczynski hadn't been incarcerated inside the "Alcatraz of the Rockies" for very long before he became acquainted with Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was the mastermind behind the tragic Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995 and was serving time at the ADX supermax. In several letters he penned to people on the outside, Kaczynski was very complementing of his prison neighbor, whom he could visit whenever they were allowed outdoors. Though confined to their individual cages, the inmates were free to converse and get to know each other through the fencing. Of McVeigh, Kaczynski stated (via Yahoo News) that he was "very intelligent ... friendly and considerate of others."

Whatever personal connection Kaczynski and McVeigh might have been developing came to a halt in 1999 when McVeigh was remanded to a different detention center. He was sent to live out the rest of his days sitting on death row at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Yahoo News explains that federal regulations expressly prohibited the two prisoners from writing letters to one another, but they corresponded in different ways. In one incident, McVeigh was able to get a reporter to mail Kaczynski a copy of the Jon Krakauer book "Into the Wild." Perhaps wanting to return the favor, Kaczynski asked the people he corresponded with to send his former prison mate magazine subscriptions.

McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, by lethal injection (per CNN).

Kaczynski is also friendly with a World Trade Center bomber

But Timothy McVeigh wasn't the only supermax prisoner that Ted Kaczynski was getting to know. In some of the letters he has sent from his prison cell, Kaczynski has detailed becoming familiar with Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000 (per the Associated Press). Yousef was also tried and convicted of the bombing of a passenger plane leaving the Philippines in 1994. He was sentenced to life plus 240 years and ordered to serve his time in solitary confinement.

Yahoo News reports that Kaczynski held conversations with Yousef in the same way that he did with McVeigh, out in the yard during their daily recreation time. In letters sent from prison, Kaczynski remarked that Yousef had an interest in astrology, Kaczynski remarking that Yousef and a pen pal shared the same birthday. Per Yahoo News, this prompted Kaczynski to write, "I mentioned this to Ramzi, and he wants me to tell you that since your birthday is the same as his, you and he must have similar personalities." 

Like with McVeigh, Kaczynski seemed to speak very highly of Yousef in his letters to pen pals. Yousef is still incarcerated at the ADX supermax today, and based on the severity of his sentence, he won't be expecting a release for the rest of his life.

Also on Bombers Row is a former New York City gang member

Though no known correspondence from Ted Kaczynski mentions him, a convicted racketeer and founder of the New York City chapter of the Latin Kings, Luis Felipe, is housed in the same unit. Felipe was found guilty of ordering the murders of multiple people from his prison cell in Attica. After being found guilty, a judge sentenced him to life in federal prison plus 45 years. It was further ordered that Felipe serve his time in solitary confinement (per FindLaw).

The Cuban-born prisoner was convicted in a federal court in 1996 after a three-week trial (per The New York Times). Known among his many followers as "King Blood," a group of them broke out in chants of "Amor de Rey" — Spanish for "Love of the king" — as the convicted gang leader was led from the courtroom in handcuffs by federal marshals. 

Do Kaczynski and the former Latin Kings leader speak during recreation time? It's not known for sure. Perhaps Felipe will one day get a mention in one of Kaczynski's letters to his various pen pals.

McVeigh's co-conspirator is also serving life at the ADX supermax prison

Along with Timothy McVeigh, the other villain in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was sentenced to serve a hefty sentence at the ADX supermax prison. Terry Nichols was found guilty by a jury in 2004, almost a decade after the explosions at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building killed more than 150 innocent lives. Though prosecutors were vying for the death penalty, the jury was deadlocked on this harsh form of punishment. On the federal charges, Nichols was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison (per NBC News). Britannica tells us that he was given 161 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

CNN reports that Nichols has made waves while being held in the Colorado prison. In 2009, he filed a lawsuit against the facility, claiming that his diet violated his religious beliefs. In the suit, he demanded that he be served "100% whole-grain foods, fresh raw vegetables and fruit, a wheat bran supplement, and digestive bacteria and enzymes." A year later, Nichols went on a hunger strike to protest. The lawsuit was thrown out of court by a judge.

As recently as 2015, Nichols filed a motion in court for the return of his confiscated firearms. He argued that these be returned to his ex-wife so that she could sell them and use the money to support his family. In 2016, a court ruled that the firearms be destroyed and the value of the guns applied to the more than $14 million Nichols owed in court-ordered restitution for his crimes (per CNN).

The Colorado ADX supermax holds other criminals who once made headlines

As far as high-profile criminals go, Ted Kaczynski is in good company while being confined in Colorado. Aside from Timothy McVeigh, Ramzi Yousef, and the others mentioned earlier, there are plenty of familiar names on a lengthy list of convicts held there.

One of the 911 conspirators, Zacarias Moussaoui (above), is serving a life sentence without parole for his part in the World Trade Center attack (via Federal Bureau of Prisons). Additionally, several other Al-Qaeda operatives are serving hard time there, including Khalfan Khamis Mohamed and Richard Colvin Reid. Mohamed was responsible for the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, while Reid is the notorious "shoe bomber" who tried to blow up an airline with explosives tucked into his sneakers.

Several convicted organized crime bosses are also spending life there, including James Marcello, the former head of a mob unit in Chicago. The infamous Joaquin Archival "El Chapo" Guzman Lopera is also spending the rest of his days there, stemming from convictions that range from racketeering to murder. The ADX is also home to some of America's double-crossing spies — serving a life sentence is Robert Philip Hanssen, a former FBI counter-intelligence agent who was found guilty of sending federal secrets to Russia in the 1990s.

Time will perhaps tell whether or not Kaczynski gets to know any of these fellow inmates.