- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2018

Will the D.B. Cooper mystery ever be solved?

A Michigan publishing company on Thursday claimed it has identified the mysterious skyjacker who disappeared in 1971 with $200,000 in cash.

But their findings clash with a documentary filmmaker who earlier this year a different suspect is the infamous D.B. Cooper.

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Principia Media put out a press release alleging Cooper was a former military paratrooper and intelligence operative Walter R. Reca. Principia said it worked with Mr. Reca’s best friend, Carl Laurin, in compiling the evidence.

The evidence is said to include witness testimony from an individual who spoke with Reca within an hour of his jump; documentation concerning how the $200,000 ransom was spent; confessions from Mr. Reca at two different times; and article of clothing Reca wore during the jump.

“Evidence, including almost-daily discussions over a 14-year period and 3+ hours of audio recordings featuring the skyjacker, was compiled by Reca’s best friend. It was then analyzed by a Certified Fraud Examiner and forensic linguist,” Principia said in a media release. “The audio recordings, created in 2008, include Reca discussing skyjacking details that were not known to the public prior to the FBI’s information release in 2015.”

Principia made the announcement to promote Mr. Laurin’s upcoming memoir, “D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, A Spy, My Best Friend.”

The news release did not say if Mr. Reca is still alive. An Oscada, Michigan resident with the same name died in 2014 at the age of 80, according to a records search.

In February, filmmaker Tom Colbert said Cooper is Robert W. Rackstraw, a 74-year-old CIA operative and former Army paratrooper living in the San Diego area. Mr. Colbert also accused the FBI of covering up Mr. Rackstraw’s identity as Cooper at the behest of the CIA.

An FBI spokeswoman told The Washington Times at that time, it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the allegations because the bureau is still receiving tips and evidence about the Cooper case.

Mr. Colbert said he discovered codes in five letters someone claiming to be Cooper mailed to the FBI in the 1970s. Those codes refer to three Army units connected to Jackstraw during his service in Vietnam, Mr. Colbert alleged.

“The only soldier that had these three units is Robert W. Rackstraw,” Mr. Colbert said. “That confirmed it for us.”

Mr. Rackstraw, through his attorney, Dennis Roberts, denied that he is the notorious criminal.

“He says he’s not D.B. Cooper and I don’t believe he is,” Mr. Roberts told The Washington Times in February. He also accused Mr. Colbert of “harassing” his client.

On the night before Thanksgiving 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper boarded a Seattle-bound flight from Oregon. He told a flight attended he had a bomb in his briefcase.

Cooper was paid a $200,000 ransom in exchange for the 36 passengers and parachutes. He jumped off the plane somewhere over the Pacific Northwest and disappeared. The FBI concluded he died while jumping out of the airplane.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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