When a former FBI leader declared a cold case team’s hijacking evidence against Robert W. Rackstraw to be “a tremendous circumstantial case,” alarm bells went off on HQ’s 7th floor. Senior execs for the Comey Administration canceled a 5-year alliance with the private sleuths, scrapped a 2016 meeting to accept their forensic materials (including DNA) and shipped off the unsolved case to a locked archive.

The dogged team, ironically led by retired special agents, then sued their former bureau in federal court and won access to all the 1971 Cooper file secrets. They soon learned how 3 partners helped the skyjacker escape, where the parachute was buried, and why the FBI shielded the mysterious Rackstraw for decades.

The stunning revelations in the investigation’s final two years unfold in these time-lined releases (Click on bullets for more evidentiary details):

*3/30/17 Release: After judge grants team access to Cooper file, FBI begins a massive whiteout of key case details (Samples of alleged obstruction of evidence on pgs. 2-3) 

*8/19/17 Release: Surprised FBI accepts team’s evidence from hijacker’s alleged chute burial site (on video) and names of his living crime-partners — then the feds go silent

*9/11/17 Release: Two senior FBI agents that led the 1980 Cooper-cash recovery along Columbia River see team’s evidence of it being a stunt; both call for a new investigation

*11/6/17 Release: After months of FBI silence on parachute lead, cold case organizer Thomas J. Colbert orders his D.C. lawyer to send a no-bones letter to bureau director

*11/19/17 Release: Official FBI “evidence” letter of Cooper’s getaway, held 46 years, is released by court; team suspects a sophisticated cover-up is at play (More on pgs. 5-7)

*1/4/18 Release: Two vets claim an Army-coded encryption in FBI’s taunting Cooper letter reveals the writer was from their secret Vietnam unit; he is Robert W. Rackstraw

*2/1/18 Release: Outside FBI HQ, case-closing Colbert reveals Rackstraw is now linked to 5 coded Cooper notes, along with CIA black ops — before and after hijack (pgs. 2-5)

*6/28/18 Release: In the court release of an unexpected 6th Army-coded Cooper letter, the FBI’s “ruled out” Rackstraw admits, in fact, to “hijacking one jet plane

*8/8/18 Release: Colbert releases formula behind all Rackstraw’s coded messages (Pgs. 2-3; more after map, below), where the Cooper cash went (real estate) and his lavish life

*9/4/19 Release: After Rackstraw’s July 9 passing, his released “death file” (with agent memos), transcripts and emails expose the FBI’s long cover-up of his Cooper identity


Court-released FBI records, along with supporting documents from retired military-intel commanders, collectively conclude the missing ’71 hijacker was Robert W. Rackstraw Sr. (R.I.P., 7/9/19).

After we closed our investigation at a 2018 news conference outside FBI Headquarters, the race was on for the story rights. As one senior WME agent put it to my manager, Michael B. London: “We know Tom solved it.”

Hollywood, however, went directly to Rackstraw. Sources tell us he was given a private jet-ride in for a confidential meet-and-greet with leading producers, studios and streamers. I fortunately was prepared for this end-run, thanks to our cold case team.

Rackstraw’s negotiations fizzled because: 1) he was the polar opposite of the folk hero many imagined; 2) our new case details and evidence have all been copyrighted, including the decryption of Army-coded Cooper messages and his CIA history; and 3) when he traded an FBI prison cell for years of flying black ops missions, fed officials warned the pilot he’d be re-incarcerated if he ever went public. It was the fear of that secret “John Doe indictment” that ultimately kept him from signing a Cooper rights deal.

Our surveillance team first heard his fear in 2013; that’s why we’re grateful to the hundreds of sources (including relatives) who helped us document Rackstraw’s breathtaking life narrative – featuring 22 fake identities, six careers, three families and multiple mistresses in five countries.

The team’s award-winning book, THE LAST MASTER OUTLAW, is now being produced by a premium streamer for a 5-part documentary series in 2022. And we couldn’t be more honored. TJC

FYI: To see our other story discoveries that have reached the big and small screens, please visit IndustryRandD.com; for those in development, see TJCConsulting.biz.


DB Cooper Postal Trail Map



If you believe it is all bogus:

How did Rackstraw’s encrypted name, initials and every one of his military training schools and units — including two units that were top secret until the 1980s — get into the six 1971-72 letters?

Are the conclusions from three neutral experts (former FBI and military brass) also bogus? Is the 1950 Army interpretive code book (link at bottom) that they all relied on a sham?

If so, how do you explain the related interpretive code, used by WWII Navajo “code-talkers,” that fooled Japanese soldiers throughout the war?

If you believe Rackstraw wrote the letter coding but IS NOT the fugitive:

In Letter #5, how did the typing writer know the three confidential pieces of Cooper case evidence (“I left no fingerprints… I wore a toupee… I wore putty make-up”)? Old FBI memos show only the Bureau, a few sworn-to-secrecy passengers and the hijacker himself had this knowledge in 1971.

Two world-renowned forensic document experts separately compared D.B. Cooper’s hand-printed Letter #2 to the handwritten signature on the “Dan Cooper” airline boarding pass. Why, years apart, did they both declare there “are indications they were written by one person”?

Finally, a college student who sat directly across from Cooper rejected hundreds of mugshots brought to him by federal agents. But when a career lawman from our team presented six black & white photos from that period to this witness in 2015, he pointed right at Rackstraw. Was it because of the nine points of match to the FBI’s “Sketch B” that this student in fact helped an artist create?

Coding History

Before algorithms, apps and Apple, there was interpretive code — unique masked messaging created by young soldiers sharing the sleepless nights, putrid smells and guttural screams of hell on earth.

“Project Left Bank” was one of the most classified and valuable intelligence-gathering operations in the Vietnam War (More details at the 7/2/18 Stockton Record article in “Latest News” section). Like other military units in history, its veterans developed a private code-speak that only their particular group of brothers in 1969-70 could understand. Along with pilots like Rackstraw, radioing in from above.

If you want to truly comprehend interpretive coding, put aside your computers and smart phones, stop talking to academia under 60 years of age and find a veteran who still remembers the real VR. Your bible for the mission is a 200-page code manual from 1950 (at link below), put together by the very brightest men and women in the U.S. Army. Once absorbed, you’ll be ready to climb into a fox hole or co-pilot seat with our forgotten warriors.