Handwriting Comparison DB Cooper, Robert W. Rackstraw, The Last Master Outlaw
By Michael Fitzgerald
Record columnist

Posted Jul. 23, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Legendary skyjacker D.B. Cooper is looking more and more like a man with Stockton ties, thanks to new evidence that puts our boy at the gate of the hijacked plane.

Following the broadcast of the History Channel documentary, “D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?” a Vancouver, British Columbia, newspaper dug out the photocopy of a letter it had received from someone claiming to be Cooper.

Hand-printed and mailed from Vancouver in the days after the hijacking, “Cooper” says he doesn’t look like the police sketch that ran in the paper.

“The composite drawing on page A3 as suspected by the FBI does not represent the truth,” the letter says.

It’s the theory of “D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?” that Cooper is a man named Robert W. Rackstraw. Rackstraw had parents in Valley Springs and a sister in Stockton.

According to the documentary, Rackstraw even landed in the San Joaquin County Jail under the nose of authorities who didn’t realize who he was.

Rackstraw, 72, now lives in San Diego. Long a free man, he denies being the infamous Cooper. He has threatened to sue his accusers.

The Vancouver note also says, “I enjoyed the Grey Cup game. Am leaving Vancouver. Thanks for your hospitality, D.B. Cooper.”

The Grey Cup is the Super Bowl of Canadian football.

Documentarian Tom Colbert hired a handwriting expert to compare the writing on the note with the ticket Cooper signed before boarding Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 from Portland that fateful day.

The expert found striking similarities between both documents: in the letter “D,” the “terminal stroke” extends well beyond the vertical line; the letters “oo” in which the second “o’ is smaller; and the even spacing of letters.

The expert’s conclusion: “There are indications they are written by one person”.

“Bingo!” said Colbert.

The analysis, however, is not conclusive because the Vancouver note is a photocopy. Photocopies can alter text.

Colbert believes Rackstraw mailed letters from four cities in the U.S. and Canada within days to confuse authorities as to his whereabouts. He did this, Colbert believes, with the help of a small, unregistered airplane.

Colbert mapped the route between cities. He deduces that Rackstraw began and ended his trip in this area.

“The logistics involved in the five-day, 1,200-mile postal round trip suggests a writer delivering envelopes by private air mail,” Colbert writes. “Chiefly considering letters no. 3 and no. 4 (580 miles apart) were both postmarked the same day.”

So did Rackstraw zoom off from the Stockton area in an airplane to mail letters and throw the FBI off the scent?

Colbert is determined to find out. “If we don’t hear from the FBI in 20 days, we’ll sue for Mr. Rackstraw’s files,” Colbert said.

Read the full article

— Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or michaelf@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog and on Twitter@Stocktonopolis.


  1. Robert W Rackstraw is not DB Cooper and the FBI knows it. Point of interest, some of the comments his commanding officer made are food for thought. It as been 40 plus years since Sigone fell. Do you really want to travel down that road again?

    • I would be interested to know if you feel the same way after reading the investigative book “The Last Master Outlaw”. FBI closed the case before receiving our 101 pieces of evidence that point to Robert W. Rackstraw.

  2. D.B. Cooper, the legendary skyjacker who parachuted from a jetliner with $200,000 in loot over Oregon in 1971 and vanished, came to Stockton afterwards, a new documentary says. It gets better. As authorities hunted the audacious Cooper, Rackstraw was in the Calaveras County jail, on trial for allegedly murdering his stepfather. He beat that rap.