FBI released these sketches after a man named D.B. Cooper hijacked a plane flying from Portland to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971 and then parachuted out the back door with $200,000, never to be seen again.



The D.B. Cooper case refers to the hijacker of a Boeing 727 aircraft in Washington, on November 24, 1971. By using knowledge unique to the CIA, he escaped by parachute with roughly $200,000. A massive search failed to find any trace and the FBI continued to search for Cooper up until 2016.

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Now on the 46th anniversary of the hijacking, the FBI is releasing documents pertaining to the infamous case including a letter which may only deepen the mystery that surrounds one of America’s more notorious unsolved crimes.

The undated, typewritten letter is said to have been written by a person who claims to be the man with the bomb that hijacked a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland bound for Seattle that fateful November day. After releasing passengers and crew members, the man then ordered the pilots to fly to Mexico.  He then parachuted out the back door somewhere over Washington state’s wooded terrain en route to Mexico.




From the letter –

“I knew from the start that I wouldn’t be caught. I didn’t rob Northwest Orient because I thought it would be romantic, heroic or any of the other euphemisms that seem to attach themselves to situations of high risk. I’m no modern-day Robin Hood. Unfortunately (I) do have only 14 months to live.” 

A carbon copy of the letter was turned over to the FBI some three weeks after the hijacking by the Washington PostThe New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and the Seattle Times. Each publication was mailed a copy of the letter and each publication also published stories about the events and the letter itself. The letter was in an envelope with a greater Seattle area postmark.


The letter release from the FBI is being prompted by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by D.B. Cooper investigator and sleuth Tom Colbert.  Colbert works as a TV and Film producer in Los Angeles and believes the letter is legitimate.

Colbert states of the letter –


“We have no doubt it’s from Cooper and the reason is that he cites he left no fingerprints on the plane. The reason that’s critical is because it’s absolutely true.There were no prints found in the back of plane. They found 11 partial prints that’s all, sides, fingers, tips and palm. But no prints of value were found.”

The FBI finally decided to close the file on its D.B. Cooper investigation last year.  Investigators were never able to identify the hijacker or completely rule out the possibility of him being killed in what many would term a treacherous jump.  Throughout the course of the investigation, some 800 people were considered as suspects at one point or another.

The FBI was also never able to verify the authenticity of the letter mailed to the four news publications.  There were also four other letters in addition to the one currently being released.  The FBI was not able to verify the authenticity of those either. The biggest break in the case happened in 1980 when a young boy walking along the Columbia River in Washington State.  The boy found a bundle $20.00 bills with serial numbers that matched the ransom money.

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The letter states –

“My life has been one of hate, turmoil, hunger and more hate; this seemed to be the fastest and most profitable way to gain a few fast grains of peace of mind. I don’t blame people for hating me for what I’ve done nor do I blame anybody for wanting me to be caught and punished, though this can never happen.”

Fox News reports of the letters

The person wrote that he wouldn’t get caught because he wasn’t a “boasting” man, left no fingerprints, wore a toupee and “wore putty make-up.”

“They could add or subtract from the composite a hundred times and not come up with an accurate description,” the letter said, adding, “and we both know it.”

The person also wrote that he was “not holed up in some obsure (sic) backwoods town” and was not a “psycho-pathic killer.”

“As a matter of fact I’ve never even received a speeding ticket,” the person wrote.

FBI agents in the field apprised FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover of their investigation into the letter, according to other documents the FBI turned over to Colbert along with the letter.

“Efforts were made by (Washington Field Office) to preserve the letter and envelope for latent fingerprints,” read one of the documents, an FBI memo. “However, both were handled by an unknown number of individuals at ‘The Washington Post’ prior to being obtained by WFO.”

“As a matter of fact I’ve never even received a speeding ticket.”

– Letter related to D.B. Cooper hijacking case

The memo also said that agents couldn’t figure out the significance of the typed number “717171684” opposite the name “Wash Post” in the bottom left corner of the letter.

In another memo, agents in Seattle requested that the FBI lab determine if the paper on which the letter was written could conceivably be from government stock, “noting that it resembles the carbon copy of the airtel material used by the Field Offices.”

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Since January 2017 the FBI has released more than 3,000 documents to Colbert.  The FBI states they have some 71,000 documents in their possession concerning the case. Colbert has formed a volunteer team of some 40 former law enforcement officials to investigate the case. Colbert believes the individual named Robert Rackstraw is D.B. Cooper.  Rackstraw flew helicopters during the Vietnam War and is now 73 years old and living in the San Diego area.

Back in March Rackstraw sent the judge presiding over Colbert’s FOIA lawsuit a lengthy 9-page letter rambling that he was not D. B. Cooper and accused Colbert of ruining his life. The judge took the letter to be a motion to intervene in the case and promptly rejected Rackstraw’s motion.



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