The infamous hijacking occurred in 1971 when a mysterious man, who at the time went by the name Dan Cooper, boarded Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 to travel from Portland to Seattle.
During the trip, Cooper called over one of the flight attendants and asked them to write out a note declaring that he had a bomb in his briefcase and that the plane was being hijacked. When the aircraft stopped at Tacoma International Airport, he allowed the passengers to leave in exchange for four parachutes and the sum of $200,000 in cash.
After the plane had taken off again, Cooper strapped the bag of money to himself, put on one of the parachutes and jumped out somewhere between Seattle and Reno. No trace of him was ever found. Now though, a team of around 40 former FBI agents, forensic scientists and private investigators believe that they may have finally discovered Cooper’s real identity.
Investigators have got their hands on a set of new documents that they believe has confirmed the identity of DB Cooper, one of the great antiheroes of modern history.
The 40-strong team of former FBI agents, forensic scientists, and private investigators claim to have found a secret code within a letter written by the parachuting bandit, revealing his true identity as a 74-year-old Vietnam veteran currently living in San Diego. The new discovery keeps in line with their previous work outlined in the book The Last Master Outlaw.
Here’s how the story goes: On Thanksgiving eve, November 24, 1971, a Northwest Airlines flight set off from Portland bound for Seattle. Shortly after taking off, a smartly dressed man lit a cigarette and ordered a bourbon with soda. According to the FBI’s story, he approached one of the flight attendants and informed her that he was armed with a bomb, then stated his demands of $200,000, four parachutes, and a fuel truck on standby in Seattle.
Just before 6pm, the aircraft touched down at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. The man received their side of the deal, a knapsack of banknotes, and some parachutes, so he ordered all the frenzied passengers off the plane while it refueled, before telling the remaining crew to head towards Mexico City. Once the plane was back at its desired altitude, the man parachuted out and was never seen again.
The countless officials and civilian investigations have generated an ever-mounting list of potential suspects, however, this latest breakthrough claims to be the closest guess yet.
Seattle Pi reports that the investigation team has obtained five typed letters, alleged sent by DB Cooper to newspapers in the days following the hijacking, that have recently been released by the FBI through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The fifth letter starts by saying: “I knew from the start I wouldn’t get caught.”
Most crucially, there’s a series of numbers at the bottom of the letter. Tom Colbert, TV producer and lead investigator, said one of the team’s code-breakers noticed the sequence and found corresponding code in an LA Times newspaper archive. This code, the investigators claim, relates three Army units served in by a man they have suspected for numerous years, Robert Rackstraw, a 74-year-old Vietnam vet first pegged as a suspect in 1978.
Rackstraw stringently denies these allegations, although independent experts believe the team might be onto something.
“I think the coding thing is remarkable, but I’m a hard skeptic,” Dorwin Schreuder, a former FBI agent who worked on the case in the early 1980s, told Seattle Pi. “The circumstances of those codes being what Tom says they are, that he says nobody but him would know these units and these figures, if it’s true that’s pretty hard to argue against.”
It’s certainly not “case closed” just yet, but the investigators remain confident they have got their man.
Source : IFL Science