Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 14, 2017; by Daniel DeMay
A fabric strap or flap, perhaps from the famed D.B. Cooper’s parachute, was reportedly found recently in the Pacific Northwest and handed over to the FBI as potential new evidence in the 46-year-old hijacking case.
The material was located on private property in an unreleased location. A Cooper investigator thinks it is also where the hijacker buried his remaining cash after jumping from a Boeing 727 with $200,000 in ransom money, according to reports in Fox News and posted at DBCooper.com.
Law enforcement trainer and author Tom Colbert and his wife, Dawna (who maintain the website), along with a “40-member cold case team,” found the cloth following a tip from a Washington couple that had studied county records and maps.
The mystery began on November 24, 1971, when a man calling himself Dan Cooper bought a one-way ticket on Northwest Orient Airlines from Portland, Oregon to Seattle. Once aboard the Boeing 727, he slipped a note to the flight attendant saying he had a bomb and that he wanted $200,000 and four parachutes, as well as a refueling truck at the ready when they landed in Seattle.
In Seattle, the man exchanged the passengers for the ransom money and the plane took off headed for Mexico. Somewhere over Southwest Washington, Cooper jumped out the rear stair door of the plane and was never heard from again.
The FBI officially stopped pursuing the case last year, but said it would review any physical evidence of the parachutes or the money that turned up. A public affairs officer for the Seattle FBI Division would not confirm the Colberts’ fabric was turned over, but did offer a response to SeattlePI’s request for comment.
“I can reassure your readers that the FBI’s Seattle Field Office will review any physical items possibly related to the parachute or money taken by the NORJAK hijacker. Based on that review, the FBI will take any appropriate action.”
Many investigators thought it unlikely that Cooper survived the jump, but the Colberts believe the real hijacker is alive and well, living in San Diego under his real name, Robert W. Rackstraw Sr.
Now 73, Rackstraw was a Vietnam war explosives expert, paratrooper and chopper pilot in the U.S. Army’s Air Cavalry. The four-time convicted felon was questioned by the FBI in 1979 and released.