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EPQ Puts Beth In Touch With FBI

EPQ student

Researching her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, has put a Sixth Former at St Paul’s in touch with the retired FBI Special Agent who helped bring the notorious terrorist to justice.  Kaczynski, a former academic who withdrew from modern society and technology, was responsible for three deaths and more than twenty casualties over two decades in the USA.

Beth’s EPQ focuses on the Unabomber’s 35,000 word manifesto (Industrial Society and its Future) and poses the question “did his ideology justify his crimes or did it lead to his arrest?”  As part of her research Beth attended a lecture by Professor Tim Grant, Professor in Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, and a friend of James Fitzgerald, the former FBI agent and profiler who had cracked the case.  Professor Grant offered to put Beth in touch with James Fitzgerald, who had used Forensic Linguistics (the scientific analysis of written and spoken language for investigative and evidentiary purposes) to track down the Unabomber.

Beth said:  “I thought it was amazing to be in touch with Professor Grant but then, through his introduction, to be able to speak to Agent Fitzgerald, who had written an autobiography including details of the Unabomber case, was just incredible.”  She started an email exchange with Fitzgerald and also conducted a Facetime interview with him.  They talked about how he had used Forensic Linguistics to identify the author of the manifesto in order to get the affidavit that led to Kaczynski’s arrest.

Agent Fitzgerald, who had worked with the Unabomber Task Force, gave Beth lots of guidance and she said:  “I was so surprised that he was happy to be interviewed by me, he had a big role in the case and was one of the key people responsible for identifying Kaczynski as the bomber.  Agent Fitzgerald was a lovely guy and he opened our conversation with ‘it is lovely to finally meet you’ when we Facetimed.”

Beth submitted her essay at the end of last year and will have until Easter to refine or amend it, although her EPQ Coordinator, Damien Sharp, said:  “The work that Beth has done is indistinguishable from an undergraduate piece and is an excellent example of why over half of our students attain an A or A*.”

Beth said:  “The EPQ has been stressful but just amazing.  I never thought I would get to interview someone from the FBI and we’ve kept in touch.  In fact Agent Fitzgerald even sent us a Christmas card.”

After her A-Levels in English Literature, History and Sociology, plus the EPQ, Beth hopes to study Sociology with Criminology at Lincoln University.  She said:  “The Extended Project has definitely helped me to prepare for university.  It’s helped me to understand the kind of academic work undertaken in Criminal Psychology, build the project management skills I’ll need and given me the confidence to try new things.”

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