January 8th, 2018
Rod Ardehali/Mailonline & James Wilkinson
Dogged independent investigators examining documents reportedly sent by D.B. Cooper believe a secret coded message may finally have confirmed the true identity of the infamous airplane daredevil.
A nine-digit number typed at the bottom of a hijacker letter could only have come from one person: a maverick Vietnam veteran and four-time felon named Robert W. Rackstraw Sr., former FBI agents claim.
The veteran, now 74, may have included the coded message to signal to his co-conspirators that he survived the November 24, 1971 leap from a Boeing 727 over Southwest Washington State.
Thomas J. Colbert, the organizer of a 40-member cold case team, said a Vietnam-era code-breaker working for him noticed the sequence and found a corresponding version in an archived newspaper.
Combined, the codes refer to three covert military units, two of them top secret at the time, which Rackstraw had ties to during the war.
While a former commander of Rackstraw told Colbert that he would have learned some basic encryption codes before being pulled from the secret units, he couldn’t qualify for top-security clearances.
A former FBI agent who worked the case in the 1980s said the codes are significant.
‘I’m a hard skeptic, but I think this is remarkable,’ said Dorwin Schreuder, speaking to the SeattlePI. ‘The circumstances of those codes being what Tom says they are, that nobody but [Rackstraw] would know these units and these figures, that’s pretty hard to argue against. Rackstraw might be our guy.’
The theory supports what Colbert has argued for seven years – that the heist was carried out by the former soldier, now living in San Diego, California. A soldier that the Bureau interviewed in 1978 but had cleared.
In November, Colbert obtained his most recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) package, which pointed towards Rackstraw but revealed nothing definitive. Now the letter, which was sent 17 days after the hijacking, appears to contain secret information that was not released into the public domain until 13 years later.
If that’s the case, all this might reveal not only that Cooper lived to tell the tale of his extraordinary heist, but that the FBI covered it up to hide their embarrassment at his escape, Colbert previously told DailyMail.com.