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Duane Weber is not DB Cooper

One of the most prolific posters in the original DropZone forum on the DB Cooper case, and otherwise consummate Cooper gadfly, is Jo Weber. Well known to most of the independent sleuths of the case, she claims her deceased husband, Duane Weber, gave a deathbed confession to the crime. He told her he was “Dan Cooper” and this led Jo on the road to spending the next two decades investigating the case.

While her story changes as needed, her primary introduction to the Cooper case came when she read Max Gunther’s book. She even claims to have contacted Gunther, convinced “Clara” (the woman who gave the story to Gunther) was an ex-girlfriend of Duane’s. She also contacted Ralph Himmelsbach, who either encouraged her or at least humored her enough for her to continue to claim Duane as Cooper. She was the catalyst to starting the Cooper thread on the DropZone forum, and posted nearly every day for seven years.

As interesting as her stories are, Duane Weber is not Dan Cooper. While he does roughly match the physical description, he’s not particularly reminiscent of the FBI sketch. Passenger Bill Mitchell, who sat in a row across from Cooper, didn’t believe Duane was Cooper because he had comically large ears, something Mitchell would have noticed and remembered. Duane could not be put anywhere near the Pacific Northwest at the time of the hijacking, and there’s no evidence he had any knowledge of the 727 or of the airline business in general.

The tie evidence also contraindicates Weber, since Weber never worked in any industry that used the spectrum of metallic particles found on Cooper’s tie. (Jo disputes this by saying Duane worked in dentistry and would have had some exposure to titanium and other metals, but this explanation is specious for a variety of reasons.) Finally, some of Duane’s DNA was submitted for testing to compare it with samples taken from Cooper’s tie. Those tests came up negative. The FBI spent considerable resources looking at Duane, and do not consider him a suspect.

I created a spreadsheet with all the Cooper suspects and all the clues in the case, giving points when a suspect matched the evidence and taking points away when they don’t. Pretty simple, somewhat subjective, but it really helps separate good candidates from bad. Duane Weber scores lower than every other suspect I’ve profiled. Duane Weber is not D.B. Cooper.

In all likelihood, Jo internalized the Gunther story and used it as a platform to build up her own stories about Duane. It appears as though she really did have significant contact with Max Gunther, and as such she could be an important source in helping clarify Gunther’s actual contact with Clara, what research he did, and other important details that would help us better solve the case. Unfortunately, she would have to drop her delusion that Duane is a viable Cooper suspect, which will likely never happen.

*The original draft of this post erroneously stated Duane was too short to be DB Cooper.


4 Responses

  1. Duane is to short? he is provably 6′ 1″ in an arrest photo.

  2. “Duane could not be put anywhere near the Pacific Northwest at the time of the hijacking, and he otherwise had no knowledge of the 727 or of the airline business in general.”

    you have no proof that your statement is correct. Just because he cannot be placed there does not mean he was not there. And you have no idea how much Duane knew about the 727..your article is pure tripe and speculation.

  3. Duane’s brother worked for Boeing and was active along with his best friend on aspects of the 727. That OLD friend received a call about 2 or 3 wks before the skyjacking….the caller did NOT give his name, but asked specific questions about the 727. In 2006 I had the opportunity to meet Duane’s brother & in the hall way of his home was a picture of himself & this old friend. That old friend had married the daughter of Duane’s mother’s best friend – she was only one month older than Duane.

    Stanley Gilliam. married a woman by the name of Barth who later became know as Ma Belle and they lived in the STUCKY house in Pullyallup, Wa. Stanley and Duane’s brother entered a venture in WA that did not go well…he business failed or for some reason did not succeed – one person told me it burned down.

    I have no proof of this – just a story told to me by Duane and by his sister before she died…but part of the proof was on the wall of Duane’s brother’s home…and John died before knew the importance of the connection..

    Duane’s own sister – tried to tell me somethings after she had her stroke and was going to have to live with her son….I wrote the notes down and it would be several yrs before I understood what she was trying to tell me.

    I will NEVER forget the day I met her…she had a stroke while my last husband & I were having dinner with Duane’s brother and his wife.
    My last husband had lung cancer and he underwent proton radiation in Loma Linda, Ca.

    John and I were supposed to have a private conversation in his office after dinner. He needed a special machine to be able to hear me clearly.

    As we were eating dinner a call comes in – his sister is in the hospital with a heart attack – so John and I never got to have that conversation.

    My husband and I followed them to the hospital and stayed in the car. John came out and told us she was going to be OK I asked if she might like to meet me…he thought that was a good idea.

    When I walked into her room – she said “You aren’t that woman” – she thought I was Duane’s wife of the day in 1971….she had a smile on her face when she realized I was NOT the woman she feared as she reached out for my hand…..(a woman Duane brought to her home in 1971 – a woman who drank a lot & was not someone she approved of).

    In 1971 she lived 13 miles from the town one of those letters supposedly sent by Cooper was mailed from. Pure co-incidence, but worth mentioning . The companion (not wife) of the days in 1971 – was someone who liked jokes & pranks – maybe she mailed a note from that town only 13 miles from Modesto – I do NOT know which of the supposed Cooper notes was mailed from that location..

    Just a little more trivia to fuel the Cooper Stories, but what I write you can bank on.

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