The Daily Roundup of Lesser Known Stories.
The Humorous, the Cool, and the Just Plain Stupid.
Special Edition: D.B. Cooper Mystery Solved?
Friday, May 18th: Where In The World Is D.B. Cooper?
November 24; Thanksgiving Eve, 1971: A middle aged man identifying himself as Dan Cooper purchases a plane ticket at Portland Airport to Seattle Washington, and sets off the largest man hunt in history.
Many have debated if it would be appropriate to attach “most successful heist” to this event also, as no one seems to be able to agree on if Cooper survived jumping from a Boeing 727 jet mid-flight and vanished completely; and if he did exactly how he did it. Many have speculated he had to have had extensive training and prep to pull off such an operation.
D.B. Cooper for almost 50 years has inspired conspiracy theorists, treasure and bounty hunters, and even just those with imagination. The mystery may be coming to a close though with recent findings by private investigators and a now well known death bed confession from a man in Michigan many believe was Cooper.
The only hard evidence ever found of Cooper was a small deposit of $20 bills found near the Colombia River in 1980 by Brain Ingram.
FBI technicians confirmed that the money was indeed a portion of the ransom—two packets of 100 twenty-dollar bills each, and a third packet of 90, all arranged in the same order as when given to Cooper
Last year (2017), even bigger evidence suggesting Cooper survived his heist emerged within an already old document unseen by the public, yet already a part of the myth and the legend. Most have heard tell of the letters supposedly written by Cooper and sent to newspaper posts along the west coast. Four were known of by the public and had been published in the newspapers but the FBI intercepted the one that was destined for the Washington Post, a vital clue hiding in plain sight at the bottom.
Some may have already spotted the oddity. Here is a closer look though, along with the bit that clued code breakers in to what they were looking at.
These simple codes may have blown the case wide open for private investigator Tom Colbert. Colbert along with his wife – Dawna – has been leading a forty member cold-case team investigating the nearly fifty year-old case of Coopers hijacking, the only unsolved air hijacking in U.S. History.
Colbert’s investigation led him eventually to the man most know as the one who claimed he was D.B. on his deathbed in Michigan a few years ago. That man’s name was Robert Rackstraw.
Rackstraw served in the Army during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and was connected to all three special ops agencies specified by the now thought to be signal to “Cooper’s” unit, the 371st special troops battalion.
Former FBI Special Agent Schreuder wrote in an email shared with SeattlePI:
“No one, yes I admit it, no one has come up with a more complete explanation and thorough documentation of this matter than you and your team. While I may not have done it in the same way, you seem to have gotten very near the finish line, while I and my colleagues did not. Congratulations.”
The FBI officially stopped its active investigation into Cooper in 2016, but has stated it will continue to receive physical evidence related to the case. Many have accused the FBI of performing a total cover up, and Rackstraw’s story and extensive military background gives the theory even more credence.
“I think the coding thing is remarkable, but I’m a hard skeptic,” Schreuder told SeattlePI. “”The circumstances of those codes being what Tom says they are, that he says nobody but him would know these units and these figures, if it’s true that’s pretty hard to argue against. Rackstraw might be his guy.”
With Rackstraw’s passing, we may never know for sure if he was D.B. Cooper, or if Cooper even survived… or as some like to think, if the event ever even happened.
Special Thank You to the SeattlePI for their great reporting through the years on this topic, especially Author Daniel DeMay, for covering these recent findings.
Extra Special Thank You to Tom and Dawna Colbert and their team for, maybe, finally shedding light on a case many thought would never be solved.
For more from Colbert’s team check out both:
The Last Master Outlaw: How He Outfoxed the FBI Six Times–but Not a Cold Case Team (Thomas J. Colbert & Tom Szollosi)
and The 2016 History Channel documentary, D.B. Cooper: Case Closed