The London Daily Express
By Kara Godfrey, January 8, 2018
The infamous hijacking story of D.B. Cooper, closed by the FBI in 2016, has remained a mystery for 46 years. But new evidence may soon pull the ripcord on the whodunit.
On November 24, 1971, the man gave a note to a flight attendant, stating he had a bomb in his briefcase. He then demanded $200,000 and four parachutes, as well as food for the crew. Once he got the cash, he released everyone on the flight apart from three pilots and one flight attendant.
The plane took off again, where Cooper then parachuted out the rear as it flew near Portland and vanished.
Despite a thorough investigation, all the officials knew was he called himself Dan Cooper whilst boarding the Portland, Oregon flight to Seattle, Washington. Many think he died after jumping into the Northwest forests, but no body or identity was uncovered.
But now a break – thanks to a tenacious crew of volunteer sleuths.
Seventeen days after the caper, a letter was allegedly sent by Cooper to four news publications, such as The New York Times and the Washington Post, stating: “I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be caught.” All four copies were snapped up by the FBI.
Now a court order, filed by renowned documentarian Thomas J. Colbert, has forced the Bureau to release one. His team of 40 private investigators, spearheaded by former FBI, studied the note and uncovered a series of odd number and alphabet letters at the bottom that appear to be part of a secret Army code.
After cracking it, they found three specialized military units of a Vietnam paratrooper named Robert W. Rackstraw Sr., now 74 and in San Diego, California. He was a suspect in the late 1970s and cleared, but Colbert said the FBI was outfoxed. The team has been on Rackstraw’s trail for seven years, documenting 22 fake identities used in five countries.
Colbert told the Oregonian that he doesn’t expect Rackstraw to be investigated again by the FBI because the agents would face “embarrassment and shame” for allowing a bunch of amateurs and retired law enforcement to solve it.
Dorwin Schreuder, a former FBI agent in charge who worked the case in the 1980s, told the SeattlePI: “The circumstances of those codes being what Tom says they are, that nobody but Rackstraw would know these Army units and figures, that’s pretty hard to argue against. He looks like our guy.”