A documentary filmmaker claims he has solved the D.B Cooper hijacking case.
Tom Colbert, whose 40-member investigative team has spent years probing the 1971 hijacking, alleged that Cooper is a CIA operative whose identity has been covered up by the FBI.
He also claims that Cooper is Robert W. Rackstraw, a 74-year-old former Army paratrooper who is living in the San Diego area.
“Our criminal investigation is finished,” Mr. Colbert said at a Tuesday morning press conference in front of the FBI headquarters in D.C.
Mr. Rackstraw could not be reached for comment. But Dennis Roberts, an attorney who represents Mr. Rackstraw, denied the allegation that his client is the notorious criminal.
“He says he’s not D.B. Cooper and I don’t believe he is,” Mr. Roberts said, accusing Mr. Colbert of “harassing” his client.
D.B., or Dan Cooper, hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 in November 1971. He jumped off the plane somewhere over the Pacific Northwest after collecting $200,000 in ransom. He disappeared and the FBI concluded he died while jumping out of the airplane.
In 2016, the agency closed the investigation.
Over the years various suspects have emerged but there has never been conclusive evidence linking anyone to the crime.
Now Mr. Colbert claims he has conclusive evidence linking Mr. Rackstraw to Cooper. Mr. Colbert claims he has discovered codes in five letters someone claiming to be Cooper mailed to the FBI. He alleges that the code refers to three Army units connected to Rackstraw during his service in Vietnam. Mr. Rackstraw is the only person connected to all three units, Mr. Colbert alleged.
“The only solider that had these three units is Robert W. Rackstraw,” Mr. Colbert said. “That confirmed it for us.”
Among the codes inserted at the bottom of the letters, include the initials SWS, which stands for Special Warfare School, according to Mr. Colbert. In another letter, Cooper claims to be CIA and includes the letters RWR. That stands for Robert W. Rackstraw, Mr. Colbert said.
Mr. Colbert alleged that Mr. Rackstraw worked for the CIA and the agency pressured the FBI to look the other way, enabling Mr. Rackstraw to avoid capture. There are 17 examples linking Mr. Rackstraw to the CIA — including evidence he was in Iran during the 1978 fall of the Shah and played a role in the Iran-Contra affair — Mr. Colbert alleged.
An FBI spokeswoman said it was “inappropriate” to comment about Mr. Colbert’s allegations.
“The FBI continues to receive tips from members of the public, but none to date have resulted in a definitive identification of the hijacker,” FBI spokeswoman Ayn S. Dietrich-Williams said. “The tips have conveyed plausible theories, descriptive information about individuals potentially matching the hijacker, and anecdotes—to include accounts of sudden, unexplained wealth. In order to solve a case, the FBI must prove culpability beyond a reasonable doubt, and, unfortunately, none of the well-meaning tips or applications of new investigative technology have yielded the necessary proof.”
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