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Finding Dan LeClair

It does us no good to confirm the Gunther text without finding out who Dan Cooper was, where he was from, and what happened to him after the hijacking. It may seem an impossible undertaking as we are given very few clues about the real Dan LeClair, and any or all of these clues may be purposefully false or misleading. Here’s a rundown of what Gunther tells us about LeClair: He was born French-Canadian, later moved to Detroit, then to Newark, he enlisted in the Army during WWII and became a paratrooper, he went to college on the GI Bill, he went into sales for an industrial chemical company and later worked his way up to an executive position, he started a family and had two children, he left his family sometime before the hijacking and permanently left the grid using a stolen identity.

The only clue we can be nearly 100% sure of is that Dan LeClair was a white collar worker in industrial chemical field. According to Alan Stone at the 2011 Cooper Symposium (Smith, p150) there were only four places in the United States where Cooper could have picked up those titanium particles. Employment records from five decades ago are probably scarce to nonexistent. However, family photo albums from company picnics, surviving employees and other records are probably available. Publicity would be our most important ally; people need to know we’re looking for these sources. The Cooper case has a good following, but the latest research needs enough media attention to produce leads. Cooper would be easy to spot, his swarthy complexion and above average height should make him stand out in any photos.

If Dan LeClair really did have children like Clara claims in the Gunther book, they would be in their 60’s or 70’s now and still quite capable of identifying our suspect. We might even be provided some details of his life that we didn’t get from Clara. There would be family photos and other documentation to possibly prove the story. The greatest treasure would be to finally photo-match the tie. This would be quite easy, despite how common his style of tie tack was, because Cooper put the tie tack on backwards.

There are other records to check as well. We have WWII enlistments and WWII casualty records, as well as about 20% of the service records from the war (the rest were destroyed in a fire). Military historians might be able to place LeClair in a certain military unit based on the clues given in the Gunther text. We can compare those records with Census data. The 1940 Census has been available since 2012 and all the records are digitized and available for searching. There are about 400 men born between 1915 and 1939 who were born in Canada and lived in Newark in 1940. If LeClair was really from NYC, the number increases to over 3000. It’s a big list and would take a lot of work to vet all the details, but if any of the information from the Gunther book is true, a few names will stick as possible suspects.

If LeClair was not born in Canada, finding his true identity may prove particularly difficult. Being Canadian by birth reduces the number of people who could be LeClair by a factor of ten. If the French-Canadian lead turns out to be a misrepresentation by Gunther or Clara, only through the leads from the chemical companies will we be able to find viable Cooper suspects. Though I do hold out some hope that, sometime in the future, all records from that era become searchable by electronic means. Death in Absentia records, obituaries, military service records, etc. Unfortunately, this digitization is decades away from completion.


6 Responses

  1. The titanium particle could have come from the white paint on the tie clip. It is talked about in Geoffrey Greys book. Titanium was common in white paint. And tom Kaye found white paint chips on the tie.

    • According to Tom, Grey jumped the gun before the investigation was done. Kaye specifically addresses the possible origins for the Ti on his website.


      “Working upstream in the production process, the titanium sponge plants used sodium, chlorine and magnesium of which sodium and chlorine were prevalent on the tie. This sparked an extensive investigation into the companies involved and the production processes. Original samples of titanium sponge from the 1970’s were obtained [2] for comparison. Titanium sponge particles have a distinctive appearance and the second sampling of the tie should have been thorough enough to produce sponge samples, but no identifiable sponge particles were found.”

      It’s not just the titanium either, there are other metallic particles which indicate the machining of anti-corrosive metal parts.

  2. Regarding Cooper as the Canadian LeClair, I grew up in a Connecticut city that had many people from the French-speaking parts of Canada, and while this is just a generalization there are a couple things about Cooper that are at odds with what I noticed from people of this ethnic group. His accentless speech is one, as most of the Canada-born people I knew had accents even if their English was flawless. Another issue is Cooper’s swarthy coloration. Again, this is a generalization, but the Canadians I knew tended to be quite pale and light-haired, similar to Scandinavians or Germans.


    • Sure, the copper-tone French-Canadian gentleman skyjacker is an oddly specific statistical outlier to be looking for. However, if the Gunther text is to be believed, LeClair moved into the US at a young age, making an accent much less likely. This leaves us with his complexion; which I admit doesn’t fit the stereotypical French Canadian. However, there are few perfect stereotypes. Everyone has something atypical that separates them from their ethnically-similar neighbors.

  3. Forget the book….I have several personal letters from the author & we spoke many times on the phone…This is Jo Weber – if you want to know about Max Gunther – pick up the phone & call me. I have the letters he wrote to me & before our last phone conversation he had me have on hand sticky notes & page markers….he walked me thru the only parts he obtained from the mystery caller…..a woman who told him the story….

    Max made a trip to CA & on that trip he went by the home of Weber’s still living & former lady of the day. He contacted me before he went to CA – asking for her address & contact information. He claimed he was going out to talk to producers about making a book out of one of his other books – but I felt he was going for cancer treatment….I assumed this as he contacted me when he returned & set up out last phone call.

    Max was NOT long in CA. & when he got home – he CALLED me and told me we would be having ONE last conversation and what to have on hand…

    Call me and I will walk you thru the multiple sticky notes in the book…very little of the book was true…Leclair was a name chose by Max – she never gave Max a name…back in those days we did not have caller ID…..she would call him & he wrote the book base 6 conversation with a woman who had obviously par taken of a little too much Alcohol….I have MAX’s book with markers & stickies that note the only truths in his book. SHE did give him a first name and it was NOT used in the book. Max made up LeClair’s history.

    When the ex called Max she thought WEBER had already deceased as the last time Weber saw the ex was 1977. Told her he would only be alive for maybe 5 yrs – but, he changed his life & married a woman who made sure he lived a good life until 1995.. I am the one who put him on the plane out of Atlanta to CA – if he loved me he had to wash that woman out of his hair….when he arrived back in Atlanta, Ga….he told me that it was over – he knew that when he waved at her from the window of the plane coming back to GA….he chose me…and a few months later we were married IN a CHURCH in COLORADO.

    Duane never looked back and he had only one more contact with the ex-wife (it was a common law marriage). When “Claire” was talking to MAX she ” thought” her beloved had died – and she would not know he was still alive until he called her 5 yrs before he died….to say the final GOOD-BY!

    She thought he was already dead when she was talking to MAX and shocked when he contacted her several yrs later….She told him about the book & she did it because she thought he was already dead….When I found her she related this to me….Both ex-wife and stepdaughter are now deceased.

    The step daughter answered the phone in one of my last calls to them and she told me she had hoped she would be able to talk to me…the things she told me NO ONE ever believed – she poured her heart out to me….her mother was usually there and this time Llaan was alone.
    She herself died a few months later of an Overdose. The things she told me – were heart breaking – she loved Duane (“John” as she knew him) and he was the only father figure she had ever had. She told me about her 1st child born out of Wed Lock and about her mother and Duane taking the baby to someone in N.Carolina…She was still a child herself and the father was a married man….she had only one request that one of the names she chose would be part of the legal name they would give him…and THEY did honor that! Both Duane & MJ and the father and his wife.

    Duane’s life and the lives around him – NO one will ever be able to untangle all of this – NOT ever.

    Back to Max – if you wish to contact me by phone I will walk you thru Max’s book as he walked me thru it….very little of the story was true…with only 6 phone calls…she was “coy” as Max told me…she liked to tease. I have often wonder if Max did not make a generous Donation that allowed her to spend her last month in a decent nursing home….I would call her every 3 months, but would not allow her to have my phone number or address as I had remarried and her calls where ALWAYS in the middle of the night. My new husband would never have tolerated that and I owed him respect.

    The last time I spoke to her she BEGGED for my address as she had something she felt I should have…but I refused to do so. When I called her the next time – a nurse answered the phone….she had died 2 hours earlier.

    THIS is why DUANE went to the library in 1990 and obtained the book and why I saw the book in the travel trailer we owned….he was afraid she had disclosed something…..and he was on a kidney machine and needed to know if the book had revealed anything that would give away his identity. Duane & the ex had met Max, but not as Duane & MJ. – they shared a kinky life style. Max had tried to figure out where met this woman – and this is when Max told me some private things about his own life and marriage…

    Now you do with this what you want – it is the truth so help me GOD!
    You can read a 99% fiction book and claim it is true – WELL, it was not.
    I have the proof and letter from Max…and the memories of our phone calls and what was discussed.

    • If you have actual correspondence with Max, I would love to read them and I would be happy to pay for the cost of getting photocopies shipped to me. You have my email, contact me.

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