Shortly after the FBI officially closed the case of D.B. Cooper, the mysterious figure who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in 1971 and made off with $200,000 in ransom money, the agency was sued by a team of cold-case investigators to hand over all its files. The team, led by TV and film executive Thomas Colbert, was made up of 40 FBI agents, criminologists, journalists, and attorneys who believed that the real identity of Cooper was 72-year-old San Diego resident Robert Rackstraw.
Rackstraw’s name had been previously tossed around as a possible suspect in the case in a History Channel special on Cooper, but there had never been definitive evidence by law enforcement to make an arrest.
Now, Colbert and company believe they have made the connection that Rackstraw is indeed the notorious skyjacker.
One of the pieces of evidence Colbert’s team received in the lawsuit was a previously unreleased letter addressed to The Portland Oregonian newspaper, which read as follows.
“This letter is too (sic) let you know I am not dead but really alive and just back from the Bahamas, so your silly troopers up there can stop looking for me. That is just how dumb this government is. I like your articles about me but you can stop them now. D.B. Cooper is not real,” it reads.
“I want out of the system and saw a way through good ole Unk,” he writes. “Now it is Uncle’s turn to weep and pay one of it’s own some cash for a change. (And please tell the lackey cops D.B. Cooper is not my real name).”
Colbert quickly noticed similarities between that letter and another Cooper letter, so at that point he called in codebreaker Rick Sherwood, a former Army Security Agency member, to take a look.
And what he found was a full confession, allegedly. Sherwood says he decoded four words and phrases the author of the note repeatedly used: “D.B. Cooper is not real,” “Uncle” or “Unk,” “the system,” and “lackey cops.”
“D.B. Cooper” and “lackey cops” appeared in the same sentence, “as did “Unk” and “the system,” suggesting to Sherwood that the coded messages could be contained in those sentences.
He decoded “through good ole Unk” to mean “by skyjacking a jet plane,” using a system of letters and numbers. “And please tell the lackey cops” was decoded to mean “I am 1st LT Robert Rackstraw,” according to Colbert.
Now 74 and still living in the San Diego area, Rackstraw reportedly could not be reached for comment — but Colbert is confident they got their guy. “He was trying to prove that he was smarter than anyone else,” he said. “But he couldn’t fight 1500 years of brainpower on our team. We beat him. I didn’t expect it, but it’s the icing.”
You’d think the real icing would be if Rackstraw were to be tried in court and convicted of his alleged crime, but after having been previously cleared by the FBI it seems unlikely that will happen. In the meantime, the satisfaction of — allegedly! — uncovering Cooper’s identity will have to do.
(Via NY Daily News)