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My childhood was spent in endless exploration of a backyard held in common with the Unabomber—a serial killer obsessed with dismantling technological society.
Join me on this journey as I delve into childhood memories of Ted, share my father's integral role in the capture of Kaczynski, and search for what it means to grow up next to a murderer.
Advance Praise for
Madman in the Woods
A haunting account of the sixteen years when a young Jamie Gehring and her family lived closer than anyone to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, sharing their Montana land, their home, and their dinner table with a hermit with a penchant for murder―and Gehring’s investigative quest twenty-five years later to reclaim a piece of her childhood by answering the questions, why, how?
As a child in Lincoln, Montana, in the 1980s and ’90s, Jamie Gehring had no idea that Ted Kaczynski―the self-sustaining hermit in the adjacent cabin―was anything more than the neighbor who brought her painted rocks as a gift. Ted was simply Ted, and erratic behavior, surprise visits, and chilling events while she was riding horses or helping her dad at his sawmill were dismissed because he was “just the odd hermit.” He was, in fact, the Unabomber, for seventeen years mailing explosives to strangers, the longest-running domestic terrorist in American history.
As an adult with this knowledge, the innocence of her youth robbed, Gehring needed to reconcile her lived experience with the evil that hid in plain sight. In this book, through years of research probing Ted’s personal history, his writings, his secret coded crime journals, her own correspondence with him in his Supermax prison cell, plus interviews with others close to Kaczynski, Gehring unearths the complexity, mystery, and tragedy of her childhood with the madman in the woods. And she discovers a shocking revelation―she and her family were in Kaczynski’s crosshairs.
A work of intricately braided research, journalism, and personal memories, this book is a chilling response to the question: Do you really know your neighbor?
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