In 2007, then Norjack case agent Larry Carr joined the DropZone forum as “ckret” and posted a profile of who he thought DB Cooper was based on the FBI files and investigation to that point. He challenged the forum members to find a candidate who fit his profile. Many of the Cooper sleuths on the current DB Cooper forum believe we don’t have any suspects who fit this profile. However, I believe “Dan Leclair,” as presented in Gunther’s book, is a good fit.
In italics is Larry Carr’s profile as it was posted in 2007 on the DZ forum. My responses, based on Gunther’s book, are in bold.
…who was DB Cooper?
-DB Cooper was not a drinker, he only had one drink and spilled a portion of that. If someone was a drinker, in a situation like this he would have had more than just one in the five hours he was on the plane.
Dan Leclair did drink socially, but there’s nothing in his background to suggest he abused alcohol. On top of this, Leclair actually becomes disillusioned with his new underclass companions, who were mostly bar hounds (p118). As for the hijacking itself, Leclair avoided drinking specifically for the purpose of avoiding inopportune trips to the lavatory.
-He was not a chain smoker, he was on the aircraft for five hours and only smoked 8 cigarettes. That would make him a smoker of less than a pack-a-day and this under normal conditions.
The book doesn’t mention Leclair’s smoking habits in any detail, if at all. Leclair is certainly not described as a chain smoker, which would have been an easy detail to add if Gunther was creating a character, rather than reporting on a real individual. As an author myself, I like having characters who smoke, since it gives them something to do during breaks in the story. Regardless, smoking was so common for men during this era that it would not have been seen as an important detail.
-He spoke in an intelligent manner and never lost his cool, he was always polite throughout the ordeal.
This is so close to the man written about in Gunther’s book that Carr could be summarizing the description from it. Leclair is described in the book as a college-educated sales executive, softly spoken and thoughtful. (p.26)
-He had brown eyes (Schaffner saw his eyes before he put on the glasses, he looked directly at her several times urging her to read the note)
I hesitate to make any claims about what Leclair looked like physically, since we have nothing more than Clara’s description to go by, and she never produced a photograph for analysis (for obvious reasons: she didn’t want the FBI going after her, or Leclair’s family). But Gunther relays a description of Leclair’s eyes as “piercing dark eyes that looked almost black” (p.24).
-He is 5’10 to 6’1 (Mucklow is 5’8 and spent 5 hours with Cooper, she would know if he was her height or taller. Have someone 5’8 stand next to someone 6 feet, the difference is obvious. Better yet, position yourself at a level of 5’8 and look at someone at a 6′ elevation. Now spend 5 hours with that person, you’ll know the difference. No one put Cooper under 5’10.
Same caveat here about Leclair’s physical description. Leclair is described as being around six feet tall.
-He had olive skin (no make-up, neither Mucklow, Schaffner or Hancock made comment on make-up which would have been very obvious. Again, do the math, put dark makeup on someone then sit next to them with your shoulders touching, you can see the make-up.)
Ditto the previous caveat, Leclair is described as having a complexion that turns to the color of “walnut wood” when tan (p 84). Leclair is a regular outdoorsmen, preferring long hikes through the woods of the northwest. He had also worked occasionally as an agricultural laborer in the year before the hijacking.
-He had dark hair, receding with sideburns (no wig, this would have been painfully obvious, if a man was wearing a wig with a receding hair line and side burns everyone would have noticed, especially Mucklow and Schaffner.)
Ditto the caveat, Leclair is described as looking a little like “Ben Gazzara” (p 59).
-He was med built (no one put him over 190 lbs, in fact most put him 180 or under. Find a man 6 foot 180 lbs, thats a med to thin build.)
Ditto, Leclair is described as having a long and lean build (p 24).
These are the facts on his physical make-up, if your suspect does not match these you may want to start looking at someone else.
DB Cooper had A.D.D, his attention to detail was poor. He got the big picture, but missed the brush strokes. He was also a “know-it-all.” The type of person who would learn a few facts and then become an expert on the subject. One of those people who has just enough knowledge to be dangerous.
This is another close match to Dan Leclair. At one point, Clara asked him how he got into Industrial Chemicals and his reply was “Oh, I read up on it.” (p 89). The profile of Leclair is as an ultra-handyman, as comfortable doing mechanical repairs as he was jet-setting across the country in a suit to make a major sale.
DB Cooper most likely served in the military and upon leaving used his technical training as a contractor in the airline industry, in and around Seattle. He rose to a mid-level management position but when he could rise no further or his project never got off the ground, he quit or was fired, “because no one understood him or were just to stupid to get it.”
Leclair did serve in the military, used the GI bill to get a college education, and got into business as a salesman, and did indeed work his way up to middle management. This isn’t a perfect match, but it’s close.
Soon thereafter he ran into big financial problems that had a set deadline for resolution. Just as always he developed the “big picture” for getting the money but the escape was very poorly planned.
Leclair’s financial problems were a product of his new life, and it’s obvious the grind of making a living under the table as a transient weighed heavily on him. The book describes over several chapters his elation at his new-found freedom from an unhappy life and marriage, balanced by his frustration with trying to make a life for himself on the run. As an intelligent man accustomed to a middle-class existence, struggling to get money for housing and meals must have been quite a shock.
And the escape? Leclair expected to walk out of the drop zone. He lived in the Portland area and was a regular hiker, so he would have been comfortable with a 15-20 mile walk. Given a full day to do it, such a hike was within his abilities. However, his injury upon landing prevented this and caused him to ask for help, which is how he met with Clara.