THE TRUTH behind one of the greatest true crime mysteries of the last century may have finally been resolved.
The story of D.B. Cooper is one that has left true crime enthusiasts stumped since the 1970s.
On Wednesday, November 24th, 1971, an unidentified man hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the northwest United States, somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.
Eyewitnesses would later describe him as being in his mid-forties, between 5 ft 10 in and 6 ft 0 in tall, wearing a black lightweight raincoat, loafers, a dark suit, white shirt, black tie, and a mother of pearl tie pin.
Just after take-off, he handed a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner printed in neat, all-capital letters and written in felt-tip pen.
Though the precise wording is unclear (because the man later reclaimed it), the gist was simple: inside his briefcase was a bomb he would detonate unless his demands were met.
He wanted $2,000,000 (or $1,210,000 today) in “negotiable American currency” along with four parachutes and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft.
Upon arrival in Seattle, the plane was refuelled before the plane’s 36 passengers were let go. The Boeing 727 then returned to the air with the man and four others on board.
The remaining pilot, co-pilot, engineer and another flight attendant were ushered into the cockpit before the hijacker made his escape, activating the aft airstair before parachuting off into the night.
Despite an extensive manhunt and FBI investigation, the man was never located or identified.
All the authorities knew was that he had purchased his ticket for the flight using the alias Dan Cooper. An alias that was later miscommunicated to the news media as D.B. Cooper.
It remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in the history of commercial aviation and, until recently, remained an active FBI investigation.
No one knows if the man survived his escape, though the ransom money was never recovered.
But that could all be about to change.
According to a report from CBS News, the identity of D.B. Cooper may have finally been uncovered.
It’s all thanks to a TV producer by the name of Tom Colbert, a Vietnam veteran called Rick Sherwood and some 40 amateur investigators who have all reached the same conclusion.
They now believe that Cooper is actually a man by the name of Robert Rackstraw.
Like Sherwood, Rackstraw is a Vietnam vet who has the necessary training to orchestrate the parachute jump at the heart of the story.
More importantly, Colbert and Sherwood believe they have identified Rackstraw as the likely perpetrator based on a code uncovered in several letters supposedly sent by D.B. Cooper to the media in the wake of the hijacking.
Using his background as a former codebreaker, Sherwood was able to deduce that not only is Rackstraw the apparent criminal mastermind behind the audacious raid, but has spent some of the years since sending coded messages to the press, gloating over his achievements.
The pair are now convinced Sherwood is the man behind the crime, even if some have suggested that their theory only serves to reveal who wrote the letters rather than committed the rime.
In any case, they have warned Sherwood that he should be “extremely nervous”.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.