Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by martin walkerdine, Jan 7, 2008.
I think for sure he was LD Cooper , the picture is spot on and it fits nicely.
Do you think that the FBI had a few suspects and they are all dead, so they closed it? There was another show i think on history a few years ago, that suggested he might have fallen in the Columbia and some ship snagged his shoot lines, and dragged a drowned DB out to sea. Have to go find their theory. It explained the money being upstream too.
I only taped the first part, and can't find part 2. So did they rule out Robert Wesley Rackstraw? He looked promising- had the looks moreso than Dan Briggs and had the military training to jump and had a grudge (motive). I think LD Cooper's niece intially sounded credible until she went off about FBI involvement, and then she sounded whacko. I think Floyd McCoy was a copycat.
I thought the show indicated they collected some cigarette butts off the plane?
Other things that are working for me for Rackstraw are that he took on the persona of a baron ( perhaps to later explain his loot?), he was a criminal after the time, didn't have an alibi for the hijacking, was in the Corvalis area just prior, and faked his death at one point. Oh, and he had an uncle last name was Cooper according to his sister.
Did Rackstraw have any knowledge of Boeing or Northwest Airlines, or that particular airplane and the landing steps???
What would have been the harm in asking the other stewardess Florence Shaeffer to do a visual identification of Rackstraw?
The money was delivered in a duffle-type bag, which pissed DB off, since he requested a knapsack. As far as the multiple parachutes- hubby explained it. He was psyching them out to think he might force a hostage to jump, so that they wouldn't tamper with/cut the strings of the parachute he would use to jump.
they kind of discredited the baron theory as being Rackstraw. Not completely, but enough. The cigarette butts only yielded partial profiles of multiple people and not good profile according to the FBI at the end of the story. The FBI investigator said in effect, Rackstraw had been eliminated as a suspect a long time ago, but said he could not give details. The shows part two was terrible. The one researcher confronts Rackstraw in a camera gotcha 60 mins moment outside his business yelling questions like are you DB Cooper? It was frankly stupid. Not sure why it took this turn. I would think after all that research they would offer him a chance to sit down off camera first and perhaps discuss the hijacking. They claimed they had called him saying they were just doing a story on how it was to be accused, then they go to this scene of the researcher yelling through a fence then following him around the place of business until he drives off. It was kind of a reality tv moment, that made me think fake. Then the ex fbi agent and the journalist interview the father of the boy who found the money, and he came off genuine. This show was a whole lot of nothing. I wonder if the FBI did a favor to their former colleague and announced the case closing as part of this show - trying to give this mess some kind of credibility. Rackstraw in the parking lot "interview" was asked about Northwest, and he did respond, he has never been on a Northwest plane. The FBI was suppose to have collected hundreds of fingerprints. I am assuming since he was never charged, his finger prints aren't there. Also with a partial DNA you might be able to eliminate a suspect even if you cannot match one. So all in all, History Channel gets an F on this show. I smell a book coming.
We did manage to find Part 2 online on the History Channel website. I agree it was alot of hype. The original investigators were amateur- it was tacky to confront him in a parking lot. I thought they implied they went to Iraq to interview Rackstraw? It's a shame that the FBI is closing the case because this criminal got away with hijacking a plane, theft, and terrorizing the passengers and crew of the flight, plus wasted resources in jet fuel and looking for him.
I still think Rackstraw is a strong possibility- of course he's going to lie and say he's never flown on NorthWest, he still thinks they can come after him and prosecute him. His old photos from the 70's- clean shaven (couldn't find them to post them) looks very strongly like the composites drawn by the sketch artists based on eyewitness accounts. I don't hold much weight that the stewardess Tina or the passenger in the row couldn't identify him after 40 years. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. She should have been shown his pictures back in the '70's.
The impression I got about the 8 cigarette butts is that the evidence collection was contaminated because they didn't know about DNA back then, so multiple people's DNA would confuse the issue- not that Rackstraw's wasn't there- although he could have worn gloves?- but that the FBI doesn't have a provable case to prosecute other than the fact that Rackstraw fits the profile very closely- has the skill set- pilot in the military with parachute training. (His own army commander thought he could have done it) I wonder why they didn't test the tie or tie-clip for DNA?
The show also mentioned a transsexual possibility male-female(can't remember the name), but that person didn't leap out as filling the bill.
Since the FBI has closed the case, shouldn't they clear Rackstraw's name by disclosing what the exculpatory evidence for him was???
One other point about the chutes- his military commander explained that he was trained to bury his chute, which explains why it wasn't found, and the commander said Rackstraw was trained to jump in stormy conditions, so he believed Rackstraw/DB would have survived the jump.
I agree. If they can clear him, you would think he would go along with showing us why. One thing I thought about. What if he was hired by CIA at some point. Or maybe he had worked with CIA in Vietnam so they helped him get a reduced sentence from California. He is the perfect candidate for CIA. Ends up working in Iran for a bit for american company. Maybe what they have to clear him is classified. I have to admit, a check case and explosives case in Cali back then hardly ranks the US taxpayer paying for two FBI agents following him from Paris to NYC. It's a little unclear about the explosives he had and why he had them. So maybe he was a CIA that got in a little trouble, but perhaps they can account for his time when DB was hijacking, but can't tell us why. It would be a little nixonian for CIA to call FBI and say, you really don't want to go there, but it happens. I am not sure what is going on here, but they usually do not close a case unless its clear the suspect is dead. I am not sure they closed it or just kind of took all the agents off of it. If I lived in Oregon and were hiking in the drop zone, I still would be searching the trees.LOL. I kind of think he died up there.
Rackstraw, DB or not, was an interesting guy. He had the smarts, the skill set and that swashbuckling attitude one would need to pull it off. There appears, however, to be no evidence. The stewardess didn't think it was him and that is a little stronger than just not recognizing him. 45 years is a long time so you never know.
One thing that struck me was how familiar DB appeared to be with airline procedures and that particular aircraft. He seemed awfully confident of his ability to open that stairway hatch quickly. It's is one thing to have a technical manual and something else again execute quickly the first time. I'd like to bet he had done it before.
I do hope we get a deathbed confession or he leaves some information and a piece of currency as proof. I think we all would like to know the whole story.
There was a little bit of evidence- 8 cigarette butts left behind, but apparently the DNA was contaminated in the evidence collection- multiple sources, so it isn't prosecutable. There was also a tie and tieclip left behind. Don't know if those were tested. To me, the fact that there was contamination isn't exculpatory for Rackstraw, only that they don't have a strong enough case for prosecution.
Hi guys - glad you watched the Hist Channel production. Several points: the dna partial profile from three donors the FBI has, according to SA Carr, comes from epithelial (neck) cells swabbed from the tie clasp, not the cigarette butts Cooper left behind. The butts collected at Reno "have been lost". Nobody apparently knows where they are. I have mixed feelings about the FBI closing this case. I think part of this is being driven by the large number of people tying the FBI up with false claims - like Marla, Weber, Blevins, and the like. It seems to be symptomatic of the kind of society we live in today. But back to Rackstraw. Was deWinter the same person as Rackstraw as the program claimed? I dont think they proved their case there. They really failed to nail Rackstraw down in the last months leading up to the hijacking at Portland and they left a lot of key questions unanswered along the way, like was Rackstraw deWinter? But Im glad to see people are still interested in Cooper here at Websleuths! Keep up the good work.
One of the frustrating aspects of this case is that while a number of FBI agents have spoken to many journalist and others who have subsequently written about the case. There has been no official release of information from the case file ( which I am under the impression would be contrary to agency policy). What this means is that if someone writes in their article, blog etc that a particular agent disclosed some "new" information we can not verify if it is true.
There have been reports or disclosures, attributed to FBI sources that appear contradictory. Two that come to mind involve the existence (or lack of ) DNA and fingerprints) and the issue of the location of the aircraft at the time of the jump.
There is the suggestion that at least some DNA was recovered from the Cigarette butts before they were "lost" and some epidermal DNA was recovered from he clip on tie. It seems that DB would have touched enough surfaces that some fingerprints could have been obtained. Partial DNA or a partial print might not be solid slam dunk forensic proof but it would be very strong evidence eliminating suspects but we don't know what they have.
If the pilot kept the plane on the designated flight route for low flying aircraft, the probable drop zone would have been the relatively flat country of fields and pastureland north of Vancouver. The dead body of an unsuccessful parachutist would have been found rather quickly and there would be little likelihood of a bundle of cash drifting upstream to Tena bar. If the pilot drifted five or six miles east, the drop zone would have been forested rugged country which would have been a more dangerous landing and make recovery of the body more difficult. The drop zone would pretty much have to be to the east to explain the money drifting to where it was found.
It is my gut feeling that the flight did stick pretty much to the flight path and there is enough biological evidence to eliminate most suspects. This would mean that DB did survive and he is not among the major suspects.
Carr was at Dropzone for more than a year and answered most of the issues you bring up. Carr was interested to know how experts today would judge the drop. The key question was 'could DB have jumped after 8:11' placing him further south of Ariel. Most people thought there was a 1-3 minute gap was possible - some thought perhaps even 5 mins based on all the data available. Tom Kaye decided that Nicholson and others were wrong because "a lot of smart guys looked at this and smart guys dont make mistakes", basically. Tom explains his view on his website. Carr's work on Dropzone is about as official as you are ever going to get, until the FBI decides to make its evidence public ...
I understand this seems extremely far fetched, but here is a new idea I have had to the D.B. Cooper case.
So the story goes, a man boards an airplane. No one seems to notice him at all, except for a couple of stewardesses.
He sits down, smokes some cigarettes, talks to the stewardess and tells her he has a bomb and he will set it off if he doesn't get money, parachutes, etc.
The stewardesses remain calm, and try to keep him calm and happy.
He gets the money he asked for, he jumps out of the plane with the money bag tied around him and a parachute on his body.
After doing some digging, here is what I am considering.
The easiest answer, the most simple explanation, is usually the right answer. Things are NOT usually extremely complex. Sometimes they are. But most of the time they aren't.
How can a man simply disappear without a trace? How can a parachute simply disappear without a trace too?
Okay, what do we know? We know that whoever did this crime knew about airplanes, because he supposedly told the crew to drop down to a lower altitude. He knew that he would get what he wanted. He knew to ask for a parachute. Supposedly, he knew something about jumping from a plane, but not a lot about it, because he jumped in the dark, when it was extremely cold, with a suit on that would not keep him warm in the cold weather, and he didn't check the parachute to ensure it was safe.
So he knows lots, but doesn't know basic knowledge?
And who saw D.B. Cooper? No one else on the plane seemed to even know he was THERE. Doesn't that seem a little odd?
It does to me.
I say again, what if there was not a D.B. Cooper?
What if D.B. Cooper was the two stewardesses and the pilot/co-pilot?
Here is my thought. If these 4 people got together? They say there is a man on board, he has a bomb and he is going to kill everyone, if he doesn't get this much cash and 4 parachutes?
4 parachutes.... Let's consider that. 4 parachutes = 4 people = the pilot, the co-pilot, and 2 stewardesses. Perhaps they were considering all jumping. But..... Who gets the cash? And maybe they all decided that conditions were too bad to jump and survive. So instead they need to figure out something....
They cannot land with that cash on the plane. It's going to be searched. So.... What else can they do?
They can tie the bag of cash to one of the parachutes, and can deploy the chute on the plane. They can place it next to the door (the bottom stairs they dropped midflight) and she can go to the front, they drop the stairs, and that chute flies out of that plane. They can close it, and make sure it is out of the plane.
What they might have figured is, they could go look for it. They would know the basic place to find it. And they may have made sure it was in a remote area so no one would happen upon it.
But money was found in the water, so.... How? Perhaps the wind took it further than expected, and it lands in the water.
So that is perhaps why we cannot find this man, D.B. Cooper. The guy who did something similar, who got caught would just be a copycat if this is the case.
I am wondering.... Is it possible? That the man D.B. Cooper was never found simply because he was never even there? They could have taken cigarettes from an ashtray from someone who was on that plane and put them there to make it look like someone was there. They could have brought a tie with them and said this was HIS. But it might have been planted just so that it looked like someone was there. Also, what happened to the bomb, if there really was one on the plane? It wasn't found, right?
So are we suggesting D.B. Cooper was insane enough to grab a bomb and jump out of the plane with it, knowing there was a probable chance that during the drop, he would drop it or blow himself up? So I am thinking there was NOT a bomb at all. There was NOT a man claiming to be Dan Cooper at all. There was no one except a couple of stewardesses, a couple of pilots, and a group of passengers who had no idea what was happening, but were later told there was someone sitting in a seat, threatening to blow everyone up, and no one remembered that seat was empty.
This is brilliant. You should write a book.
Another thing: The two stewardesses both had the same description. Usually two different people give similar descriptions but not identical ones. People have different points of view. But this seems almost rehearsed