A federal appeals court in California recently announced that Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski's personal belongings can be sold on the Internet.
Normally, this kind of news would send Andy Kahan, the city of Houston's Crime Victim Advocate and the leading authority and opponent of what he calls "murderabilia," into a rage. But not this time. The reason: all profits will go toward paying the $15 million in restitution that Kaczynsky owes his victims
"This is the first time ever in the country that there's ever been a federal court judge ordering all personal material to be sold exclusively for victim restitution," Kahan tells Hair Balls. "It's about time."
Federal prosecutors are planning a public Internet sale of Kaczynski's personal letters and journals, as well as books and other items federal agents seized 13 years ago in Kaczynski's Montana cabin. Leftover bomb-makings will not be sold.
Kahan, who has been fighting the sale of famous criminal offenders' personal belongings for years, says he hopes this case will set a new and positive precedent and that this situation is the lone exception to his overall campaign.
"The reality is that in this macarbe underworld of a market that I coined 'murderabilia,'" says Kahan, "there's apparently thousands of dollars out there. In a utopian world, it would be nice if the stuff was burned .... Unfortunately it appears as though we cannot totally ban these types of tangible goods from being sold, so at the very least if they're going to be sold, then the money should go directly to his victims.
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Along with waging war against "murderabilia," Kahan also works hard on the issue of unpaid restitution.
Though Kahan says he is pleased to see the proceeds of the sale will be going to victims, he worries that "murderabilia" dealers will buy many of the items and turn them around on eBay for a greater profit.
"I'm sure the major dealers are frothing at the mouths," says Kahan. "I'll be monitoring it."
-- Chris Vogel