DBCooper.com documents the relentless investigation surrounding Robert W. Rackstraw Sr. — an honored Vietnam pilot, explosives expert, paratrooper, four-time felon and a former suspect in the hijacking.
For seven years (2011-18), a cold case team led by retired FBI agents tracked his trail through five countries, where he utilized 22 fake identities while engaging in six careers and raising three families. The Special Forces-trained veteran escaped not once, but three times by plane and once by river. More than 100 pieces of recovered evidence — from letter trails, DNA, cracked Army-coded messages, to testimony from his women and former crime partners — all of it firmly pointing back at the mysterious Rackstraw.
But just days before the team’s long-scheduled delivery of its evidentiary materials to the FBI (April 2016), Seattle Division agents canceled the rendezvous, closed the Cooper investigation and shipped off the case file to a Washington, D.C. archive. They claimed that, after almost five decades, the FBI now feared such “a circumstantial case.”
The sleuths, however, learned something else was at play: Weeks prior to this rejection, History Channel had quietly negotiated for these agents to appear on camera for a Cooper documentary featuring this very same hunt. And when it finally aired (July 2016), the team’s strongest 18 pieces of evidence on Rackstraw had been inexplicably edited out of the two-night program.
As a former team G-man put it, “This door slam was politics, pure and simple.” (More on the cut-out evidentiary items is documented in a 2016 suit filed against the FBI; see “Case Evidence” menu at the top.)
Two more years of eyewitness interviews, judge orders and research digging would reveal our G-men to be absolutely correct. Through our website updates (See “Smoking Gun” news releases on homepage), media stories, the courts, and the team’s award-winning narrative, The Last Master Outlaw, the public has learned the truth about Rackstraw and his secret double-life with the CIA.
The cold case team was assembled by former law enforcement trainer, true-crime producer and author Thomas J. Colbert and his partner-wife, Dawna — an inspiring character from one of his earliest stories.
MOVIE MAKERS, TRUE-CRIME READERS & “COOPERITES”: 2019 UPDATE
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 fully 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 black ops work, fed officials warned the contractor 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 (including relatives) who helped us document Rackstraw’s breathtaking life narrative. Now with three national book awards for true crime, THE LAST MASTER OUTLAW holds the ripcord to one of the world’s greatest adventures never told. And we couldn’t be more honored. TJC
FYI: For more true stories in development, see TJCConsulting.biz