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 & COOPER-CASE FANS: 2019 Update
Court-released FBI records and four retired military commanders (with damning documents) have collectively concluded the missing 1971 hijacker was Robert W. Rackstraw Sr.
Hollywood buys it, too. In fact, after our mike-drop at the 2018 news announcement at 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.”
Tinseltown, however, went directly to Rackstraw. Sources tell us he was given a private jet-ride in for a confidential meet-and-greet with select talent reps, leading producers, studios and streamers. Fortunately, my wife and I were fully prepared for this end-run – thanks to our cold case team.
All of Rackstraw’s hush-hush 2018 negotiations fizzled because: 1) he was the polar opposite of the folk hero many imagined; 2) our new case details and evidence have been copyrighted – including his getaway with the help of crime partners, the parachute recovery, Rackstraw’s decrypted Army-coded Cooper letters and his deep CIA history; and finally, 3) when he traded an FBI prison cell for years of black ops work, authorities warned the contractor he’d be re-incarcerated if he ever went public. (His concern about this “secret indictment” is noted in the 8/8/18 CBS News-WBBM story.)
Time caught up with Rackstraw; his memory of the jump became, ironically, cloudy. During a private 2013 approach and sit-down in his hometown, the cordial suspect twice admitted (on surveillance tape): “The problem is, I don’t remember a lot of it.”
We believe that’s why, with release of our team’s acclaimed 2016 book, “Bob” was one of the first orders on Amazon. His posted review: “Full of unsubstantiated accusations and innuendos by writers trying to sensationalize with consistently negative comments about their target with nothing but unearned credits given to themselves. Wish they would go after Hillary and Obama in the same ruthless manner.”
Dawna and I are so grateful to the hundreds who helped us document this daredevil’s full life narrative in five countries – our 21st discovery for the big and small screens. But there is no race to make history here; we’re looking for the right partner that respects our team’s efforts and (tongue firmly in cheek) won’t take us for a ride. TJC