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DB Cooper Notes: February

  • Obviously, the big story in the Cooper world is still the McCrone Labs Analysis of the particles pulled from Cooper’s tie. I’ve been getting emails and have been following leads. The recent focus has been on manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest, especially Tektronix, which did some electronics work for Boeing.
  • Tektronix has a nearly complete employee yearbook from 1959 to about 1971, it has pictures of nearly every employee, about 18,000 total people. I failed to get a copy, but it wouldn’t take too long to go through every picture. This is exactly the sort of thing that can solve this case. The tie should be easy to photo-match, we know what the tie clip looks like and we know there’s some kind of tie tack on it too.
  • Whether the evidence collected will ever reach the threshold necessary to prove any suspect is Cooper is an open question. It appears that most of the guys at the Cooper Forum want either a bill from the ransom, or the parachute before they’ll even consider someone a suspect. This is an unattainable evidentiary standard. The money, even if Cooper got away with some of it, would be gone now, laundered and spent. If Cooper survived, the parachute was either buried or destroyed, and in either case it can’t be linked to an individual. In my mind, absent DNA, the only way to really connect someone with the hijacking would be a photo of them wearing the tie. From there, other circumstantial evidence should appear.
  • The “Gunther Hypothesis” got a good discussion on the Cooper Forum, and it took a bruising. No criticisms were raised that I wasn’t expecting, but even if we found out who Gunther was writing about, it wouldn’t persuade anyone the individual was DB Cooper. Again, there is an unobtainable evidentiary threshold to reach.
  • There’s still plenty of actual investigation left in the Cooper case, especially concerning the Tena Bar money find. I’m hopeful some of it gets done, but it’s unlikely since the funding isn’t there.
  • Was clicking around the NamUs database, looking at the stories behind several dozen unidentified bodies in the PacNW. The running theory among those that believe Cooper died in the jump is that Cooper was a transient, and the number of unclaimed bodies belonging to transients is impressive. These were people dead to the world before they actually died. Had Cooper been one of these people, it’s believable no one would have missed him over the Thanksgiving weekend. However, it’s hard to believe Cooper was such a transient. The tie tells a story, and even if the tie was some thrift store purchase, Cooper’s behavior during the hijacking speak to someone well socialized, possibly well-educated and certainly intelligent and familiar with aviation. It’s very unlikely he was some random hobo.
  • I’ve spent over two years on this case, and it’s probably time to move on to the next project. I’ll be following the case for the rest of my life, but I’m now looking at other topics to write about. I think I’ll be sticking to true crime but let this serve as a warning to those now following my blog because I’ve been focused on DB Cooper: I’m moving away from the Cooper case.
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Skyjacker

January DB Cooper Notes

  • Sales of the book have been pretty good, thank you all. However, no one has reviewed the book on Amazon.com yet, and that tends to be a really big deal when it comes to how Amazon cross-promotes products. If you’ve read the book, please give it an honest review on Amazon.com. Print Copy Here, Kindle Edition Here.
  • I purchased an NB6 container along with an old military reserve container. Playing around with the equipment, it looks like it would be an easy matter to store some of the money in the reserve container and secure everything with paracord. The Reserve container then could be easily clipped to the main harness. There’s room for about 130,000 dollars in the reserve container (not including the parachute). I’ll have to get a parachute to see how much money could be carried with the reserve parachute.
  • Geoffrey Gray recently released some of the FBI files he had which included interviews with 305 passengers. Of interest for me was Nancy House who reported seeing Cooper with a burlap or canvas bag about the size of the attache case.
  • Shutter at the DB Cooper Forum has run several flight path simulations which have shown that the FBI map is, while not perfect, pretty close. One of the controversies of the map are the timestamps, which are not spaced at regular intervals. If the timestamps are close, and the generally accepted time of 8:13pm for the jump is also close, Cooper landed around Battleground and no farther south than Orchards.
  • Important show on the Travel Channel (tonight). Tom Kaye has some new stuff, and the teaser trailer had Geoffrey Gray on it talking about some of the passenger interviews he has from the FBI files. I’ll be updating this post during and after.

Update

Kaye’s findings that Dan Cooper worked in CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) production is interesting. Anyone who has read my book will know that I make my case on Kaye’s earlier findings regarding titanium particles found on the tie. I await to hear Kaye’s interpretation. My suspect worked a sales job in Industrial Chemicals. As such, we would expect him to be exposed to a wide range of particles like the ones listed on Kaye’s website.

 

First, Do No Harm. A Rogue One Review

Here’s something a little different, I know it’s not DB Cooper but after two years I think I’ve covered the case pretty well, it’s time to move on. The Review contains spoilers, but spoilers won’t ruin the movie for you, I promise.

With any new Star Wars movie, the first question that needs to be asked is “did it do harm to the Original?” Did the filmmakers, for reasons of convenience or avarice or ignorance, harm in some way the memory of what made Star Wars the most beloved fictional franchise in history? To quickly answer this question in regard to Rogue One: No. Not only does Rogue One do no harm, it even fixes some issues with A New Hope. This is quite an accomplishment considering the movie ends minutes before the start of A New Hope. Rogue One is a good standalone sci-fi movie, which is an accomplishment for any Star Wars film, and more importantly, a worthy flag bearer in the growing Star Wars canon.

It will forever be difficult to make a new Star Wars movie because the filmmakers have to strike a balance between originality and mimicry. Make the movie too reminiscent of the Original Trilogy and it will be accused of plagiarizing and manipulating nostalgia for the sin of greed. If the movie is too original and fails to connect to what has come before, then audiences will accuse the film of infidelity. Over time. I believe this will become a larger problem, especially as audiences change over time with shifting technological culture. Thanks to the prequels, the bar is very low right now, and the folks at Disney have cleared it by miles.

Rogue One opens… somewhere. I’m not actually sure, as we visit so many planets in a short period of time. Regardless, the Empire has come for an engineer, Galen Erso. In the course of kidnapping Erso, Imperial agents kill Galen’s wife, and a young girl, Galen’s daughter, escapes. We shoot ahead about a decade and meet the daughter again, who is now serving a prison sentence for crimes we hear about, but never actually see.

The Daughter, Jyn Erso, is rescued by the Rebels. Based on her reaction. she was rescued against her will. The rebels need Jyn, I think, because Galen Erso is rumored to have sent a defecting cargo pilot with a message to warn the Rebellion about an Imperial superweapon. I’m not even sure how the Rebels know they need Jyn Erso or where to go to rescue her, since she’s living under an assumed name. This part of the film is painfully convoluted and reeks of poor writing or failed reshoots or corporate suits interfering with the movie. I’m not 100% certain what happened, but the end result is a mess. Even the witty dialogue and pumped up action doesn’t save this part of the film from being boring. In fact, the entire movie struggles to get its main cast into a position for the big ending. There are a lot of questions about these scenes, now that I have time to think about them.

What makes everything worse about these scenes is the movie is constantly throwing references for the diehard fans. Characters from the original trilogy get glorious cameos throughout, most of which work fine, especially in the third act. But…. This forty-five minutes of the movie, from Jyn’s jailbreak to the roundtable at Yavin Base, all I can remember is the bright green light from the emergency exit sign (which is, distractingly close to the screen at my theatre) and the sound of the family behind me assaulting their bags of popcorn.

Eventually, the film finds its mojo and the audience is treated to seeing the rebel base on Yavin IV. Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, our new cast of characters, the disparate members of the Rebel Alliance, they all get crammed into a roundtable discussion about the Death Star and the future of their resistance movement. It sounds like an awful scene, now that I write it down, but it worked. We see a Rebellion on the verge of collapse before it has really started. We understand the stakes, which are even bigger than losing a planet or two to the Death Star. We see the desperation and despair. Our main characters become the catalyst for the entire Rebellion through their resolve.

Here the Big Dumb Ending starts. And it is glorious. The story comes together, the characters begin to shine, we start to connect emotionally to the people and the story, the action was exciting and reasonable, no cartoon physics or poor effects. The movie even fixed some of the nitpicker objections sourpusses like to bring up to belittle the Original Trilogy.

Rogue One has wonderful cinematography, a serious tone that captures the uncertainty created by the modern war against terrorism, wonderful performances by a vast cast of characters, including some from A New Hope (Seriously). It suffers from some combination of poor writing or poor editing in post-production. It’s far from perfect, but for half the movie I forgot about that stupid Exit sign and I have no idea if those hogs behind me stopped eating or if I was just that absorbed in the story. That’s just about the highest praise I can give a film.

Print Edition Now Available: Finding DB Cooper

finding-cooper

Available now at Amazon.com

And Createspace

Cooper Book Update

I have been busy the last few weeks formatting and editing the print edition of Finding DB Cooper. It should be ready to go by early November. I have lowered the price of the Kindle version. Once the print book is published, the current Kindle version will be replaced with the second edition, which includes about 40% more material. According to the Kindle Publishing dashboard, it can take a day or two for the new price to publish.

Georger on the Confusion over the Flight Path

(1) Two witnesses (Snowmman post) say Scott informed RH at RH’s retirement party (?) that 305 overflew Woodland just before Cooper bailed. (2) Likewise, the NWA-FBI Search map (black and white map) uses Woodland as the north-west plot mark which begins the primary search area. (3) The searches near Ariel beginning after 11/24/71 are just south of Woodland ?

Admittedly, Scott is supposedly telling RH that they overflew Woodland, years after 1971! However, the first NWA-FBI Search map uses Woodland as the nor-west cornerstone of the first search area south of Woodland, with searches beginning right after 11-24-71; that is documented.

I may have the rest confused. That would not be a surprise, frankly. Somewhere, is a post or an article or something which we all read that describes people in a helicopter looking for lights on the roads, campfire, or anything else unusual … and I thought this was on the evening of 11/24/71 ? I recall that in this article or post the comment is made that due to the fog, the search was useless so they turned around eventually and came back to PDX. This sounds like a “search” as opposed to the idea of “trying to chase 305 down” which was preposterous on it’s face! If I recall this article or post or whatever it was correctly, they searched not only near Woodland, they searched a route meaning they searched in several areas? But, I cannot find that document in my files or anywhere at DZ … so maybe I dreamed this! ??? Maybe somebody else recalls the article Im referring to ?

It strikes me as a little odd that Scott would wait until 1980 to convey (to RH) his crucial info about “we flew over Woodland!” when in fact NWA identified Woodland almost immediately as evidenced by the fact (Solderlind) uses Woodland as the cornerstone of the first NWA-FBI Search map! Maybe Scott gave his info to NWA first in 1971 and only thought to tell RH (who was not the lead agent in the case) until1980? Who knows. The fact is, Woodland sit in a prominent position almost as the pivot-point for the first actual searches that were conducted, in 1971.

And of course the corollary to all of this is the fact that Woodland “is” west of V23. And Tina Bar and the relevant part of the Columbia River Basin one might surmise might have been involved in a deposit on Tina Bar, sits south of Woodland.

I think it is a safe assumption that the first estimate of Cooper’s drop zone came fairly quickly (from NWA) the evening of 11/24/71 perhaps only minutes after the crew’s report of oscillations and no further contact with Cooper in the back. Somebody at NWA used Woodland in their equation, in any event, in time to be searching near there the next day, at the very least?

Snowmman doubted for a time that RH was even on a helicopter, or that anyone in their right minds would try to intercept 305 much less chase it down when 305 was already at least 60 miles south of PDX at the very time any helo is leaving PDX! It would make a helluva lot more sense to go north and search the area people were identifying as the area Cooper likely bailed in, near Woodland. Like Snowmman, I dont buy the idea that Scott didn’t have a good idea of where they were around the time they thought Cooper bailed, near Woodland. And I think Scott conveyed his info to NWA very quickly; he didn’t wait until 1980! ;)

I’m not saying RH and his pilots did not try a run south to look for 305, but it was futile on it’s face, and I am very suspicious to know the total amount of time that helo was in the air because that amount of time may exceed any southern run they made, or could have made, and still returned back to PDX to be logged in at Time = ???. The total time may indeed include time for being elsewhere? And was there more than one trip logged? More than one helo – were two in the air?

But, we know Woodland figured heavily in the first flight path map NWA generated, because it is there in black and white for searches beginning the next day. That can’t be denied.

I know there is a document, article or post, that describes people searching at night in a helo north of Portland. The post is specific and describes searchers looking for traffic lights on roads, any suspicious lights or activity, campfires, any sign of activity or anything suspicious etc, and they could not continue because of the adverse conditions so they came back to PDX. I thought they went north and were searching in the Woodland area. ? I thought this involved FBI agents and Himmelsbach? This was posted somewhere by somebody since 2008 ? :-

Big List of FBI agents Associated with Norjak

Atlas asked me for contacts at the FBI, and I gave them this list. I also included the contact information for about half of these folks.

Did I miss anyone?
***************

Norjak Case Agents (All Norjak Case Agents are Seattle-based.):

1. Curtis Eng, 2010-present
2. Larry Carr, 2007-2009
3. Eric Mueller, 2004, defended FBI in law suit by Galen Cook
4. Ralph Hope, 1995-2001
5. Ron Nichols, 1977- 1990(?) Norjak case agent when money was found in 1980
6. Charlie Farrell, 1971-1977, original Norjak case agent

Principal Norjak Agents, Seattle FO, the Office of Origin:

1. J. Earl Milnes, team leader at Sea-Tac on Nov. 24, 1971
2. Tom Manning, team leader for ground search, November, 1971
3. John Detlor, squad leader, Norjak; also wrote “History of FBI.”
4. George Grotz, rookie agent on ground search, April 1972
5. Gary Tallis, spotter on helos for two weeks. Nov 1971
6. Sid Rubin, Sea-Tac perimeter security night of skyjacking
7. Bob Sale, joined FBI in 1970s, part of org. crime task force, friend of Farrell
8. Ron Glasser, Nichols’ assistant and best friend, 1980-1990 circa.
9. Bob Fuhriman, special agent, still follows the case – at Gray’s book signing, 2011
10. John Steele, special agent, 1971
11. Jeremy Blauser, joined Norjak in 2008, then disappeared,

Portland FO:

1. Julie Mattson, SAC, 1971, first on scene at PDX, took command.
2. Ralph Himmelsbach, skyjacking specialist, 1971-1980, team leader on money find, 1980; also presented govt case in Grand Jury hearing, 1976.
3. Dorwin Schroeder, skyjacking specialist, 1980-1995, PIO for money find in 1980
4. Mike McPheters, skyjacking specialist in Miami and Portland, on money find dig

Other FOs:

1. Russ Calame, SAC, Salt Lake City, 1972, collared McCoy, 1972.
2. Nick O’Hara, team leader in Virginia Beach shoot out with McCoy, 1974.
3. Lee Dormuth, special agent in San Diego, 1971, brother in law of Tina Mucklow, flew to Reno, Nov. 24, 1971.
4. Mary Jane Fryar, team leader, San Francisco FO, swabbed Sheridan Peterson, 2002
5. Nicole Devereaux, special agent, San Francisco, investigated Peterson, 2002
6. Red Campbell, Las Vegas FO, team leader for evidence retrieval, Reno, 1971
7. John Norris, Reno FO, supervising agent, evidence retrieval in Reno, 1971
8. Jack Ricks, special agent, part of four-man squad on board 305 for evidence retrieval.
9. Alf Stousland, special agent, fourth member of on-board team for evidence retrieval. Note: Campbell, Norris, Ricks and Stousland were all interviewed by Bernie Rhodes multiple times and were found to be “victims of some strange post-hypnotic suggestion.”

Other principals:

1. Ayn Dietrich-Williams, PIO, Seattle, 2010-present
2. Robbie Burroughs, PIO Seattle, 2007-2009
3. Fred Gutt, acting PIO Seattle, 2009-present
4. “Jake” and “Jimmy” interviewed Sailshaw, 2012.

58 November Hijacking

Tidbits From the Cooper Forum:

My name is Andy Downs and my father was the Captain killed on the 58 November flight. I first want to thank whoever posted this info. It means a great deal to me and my family.

My dad’s flight did make nation news. If you go to the VIDEO Tab on the http://58November.com site you will see Walter Cronkite Reporting on the event.

However DB Cooper took the spotlight quick and pushed coverage of my dad’s case way down.

I am posting a link to a private url I have set up in the site IMGUR See: https://imgur.com/a/t3vU3

On this private link you will be able to see what the FBI policies were and how they should handle a hijacked plane

In this link the first document you read is the recent letter I received from the FAA. The claim to have no records of my dad;s hijacking at all. This is odd since FAA personal were involved in the depositions and testimony as witness in both Federal Court trials that took place.

My dad’s case has been erased from the Government archive records….you can read the letter, but it basically states the hijacking did not take place. Since part of the FAA’s mandate is to track these events, and as strange as it is, it fits a pattern of what I have had to endure in trying gather the records

After the FAA denial read the files and see the actual crime scene photos…..
Keep in mind the judge that heard the case against the FBI, Judge L. Clure Morton was in fact a former FBI agent. Outside of ruling for the FBI, he placed all the files in court be placed “Under Seal”

It has taken a great deal of effort over the last 6 years to get these documents,’I look forward to your response

This second memo shows how ALL FBI were supposed to handle any hijacked plane.

It is important to note that up until 9/11 all Captains in the US had the protections if the need be to protect their crews and passengers..

It is also interesting that whenever these rules were followed, not a singe injury or death took place from 1970 thru 9/11 when the FBI or others decided to get tough in lieu of reading.

These are pages directly from the FBI handbook at this time.
https://imgur.com/a/9j85z

More on the 58 November Hijacking here.

LD Cooper is still Not DB Cooper

*I did a shorter profile of LD Cooper based on what I could learn about him from the popular press. More information is now available to us since Marla Cooper published a “raw” and “unedited” version of her book about her uncle’s possible connection to the DB Cooper hijacking. She did this to coincide with the History Channel’s documentary on the case.*

The story of LD Cooper exploded on the media like a fireworks show and disappeared just as quickly. Media fawned over Marla Cooper, a photogenic forty-something, when she announced that her uncle Lynn Doyle Cooper was the real DB Cooper. Rumors persisted that her story was so convincing the FBI might even close the book on Dan Cooper. LD was the “most promising” suspect ever in the case. Details were difficult to come by until recently when Marla published a book about her uncle’s connections to Norjak.

Lynn Doyle Cooper was a surveyor in Washington state who served in the Korean War. His brother once worked for Boeing and might have picked up knowledge about the 727 there. Marla claimed the two conspired to commit the hijacking, using handheld radios to meet up after LD jumped out of N467US. Marla further remembers seeing her two uncles on Thanksgiving Day in 1971. The two arrived in a car; LD was badly hurt and covered in blood. Marla stated her two uncles later went to the home of a fourth brother who took the two in. One of Marla’s cousins later confirmed LD was badly hurt. In the days and weeks after the hijacking, her uncles scoured the woods searching for the lost money, but never found a single twenty. The Radio ended up in the junk drawer, and the whole episode was lost to time. At least until Marla’s father talked about the events just before he died, rekindling the whole affair.

Marla brought her story to the attention to the FBI and SA Curtis Eng. This is where the story gets interesting. Eng is infamous for being an unemotive and impatient statue when dealing with people and their crazy DB Cooper theories. Something about Marla’s story caught his attention. When Marla talked about how her uncle had lost the money in the jump, Eng got very excited. Apparently Eng was sick of hearing stories about genius Cooper suspects planting money on Tena Bar to fool those meatheads at the FBI. So Eng pursued the matter, giving Marla an extensive polygraph exam, which she passed. The FBI later tested DNA and looked for LD’s fingerprints to check against the evidence collected from the airplane at Reno. The DNA produced no match, the fingerprint analysis came up with nothing, and no physical link was ever made between LD and Norjak.

Taken at face value, the story is interesting but it’s no more compelling than any of the other stories about Cooper suspects from people like Jo Weber. The forty-year-old memories of a then eight-year-old girl about her uncle being hurt on Thanksgiving day ain’t exactly what I’d call… promising… It’s actually pretty thin. We can take all of Marla’s memories as Gospel truth, and it still doesn’t warrant the investment Eng made. Other than Marla’s recollections of the night she saw her uncle LD badly injured, she makes zero connections to Norjak.

Why isn’t LD Cooper DB Cooper? First, LD Cooper’s military record did not include any parachute training that we know of, and LD Cooper otherwise had no experience parachuting or skydiving. Marla suggests LD’s military records are incomplete, or fabricated. Regardless, no one can put LD in a parachute harness.

Some of LD’s DNA was tested against the tie, and no match was found (from Marla’s book, it sounds like they tested LD’s daughter and mother; having the mother tested would allow them to look only at LD’s DNA). At least one fingerprint of LD’s was tested against the samples taken from the aircraft, again to no success.

And of course, LD did not work with titanium. Nor did his brother, who Marla claims loaned the tie to LD. Marla even produced a photograph of her uncle wearing a skinny black tie with a tie tack that looks like the tie tack from DB Cooper’s tie. But, the tie tack looks like it was inserted from the right (opposite of DB Cooper) and the photo is from 1964. The tie was available in 1964, but according to Marla her uncles were all blue collar guys who didn’t wear ties very often. Funerals and weddings, basically. None of them would have been wearing the tie often enough (or any tie often enough) to put the density of particles Kaye found on DB Cooper’s tie.

Once again, for the story to work the tie must have been purchased at a thrift store, sometime very soon before the hijacking. Just like all the other suspects. There are more problems. The Cooper brothers were all hard-drinking men, borderline alcoholics. I doubt, based on Marla’s description of their behavior, that any of them could hijack an aircraft and not drink. DB Cooper ordered one drink, and spilled about half of it. One drink, over six hours. Not the behavior one would expect from a heavy drinker.

Eng is quoted by Marla as saying LD had “the background for this hijacking.” Which is odd, since LD didn’t have any first-hand knowledge of aviation. It’s possible his brother Dewey, who worked at Boeing on the 727s, might have known about the rear-stairs being a good skydiving platform, or about the indent-flap settings. But overall, the stuff DB Cooper knew about the 727 exceeded what we’d expect LD Cooper to know.

Marla is adamant about her recollections, but they are the recollections of an eight-year-old girl. I’m sure her uncle LD was hurt at some point (my guess would be a DUI-related car accident) and at some point was being driven around by her other uncle. I wouldn’t be shocked if they did search for Cooper and his money. But nothing about her story matches the description of DB Cooper as an “executive type” patiently waiting for hours to jump out of an airplane, sipping a single order of bourbon.