D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?! (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

Take the Money and Jump

[dramatic music]
[officer 1] Here he is.
[officer 2] Stay low, guys.
[officer 1]
Target is at the place of business now.
- [police dispatch] Copy.
- [officer 2] This could go south quickly.
[officer 1]
He's getting out of the car.
Blue ball cap. Tan short-sleeve shirt.
Blue jeans, white sneakers.
Bob, why won't you just come out
and say that you are not D.B. Cooper?
[seagulls squawking]
[airplane engines whirring]
[reporter 1] On Thanksgiving eve, 1971,
a Northwest flight was commandeered
[reporter 2]
The FBI couldn't crack the case
[reporter 3] Cooper became a legend
after hijacking a plane
and parachuting out of it
with $200,000 cash.
the daredevil thief called D.B. Cooper.
[man] D.B. Cooper
- D.B. Cooper
- D.B. Cooper
- D.B. Cooper
- D.B. Cooper
The most clever and certainly
the most audacious airplane hijacker
of all time.
[Gray] It's incredible to think
we've just passed the 50th anniversary
of the D.B. Cooper case,
and it's still
the only unsolved skyjacking
in the history of our time.
[man 1]
What he accomplished was truly amazing.
He got away with it,
he stuck it to the man,
and he didn't hurt any civilians doing it.
That is why he is the legend
that he's become today.
[man] We have eyewitnesses
that have you in Oregon
at the time of the hijacking.
Were you there?
[Colbert] My team has no doubt
we have found D.B. Cooper.
We have over a hundred pieces of evidence.
We're dealing with a man who has
multiple identities, and is a con artist.
I'm here because I want the truth out.
If it hurts, it hurts.
This case is a marathon.
It's a sacrifice, it's a gauntlet.
It forces you to question your own sanity.
It forces you to truly believe
in the impossible.
Bottom line is, I don't do theories,
I don't do folklore, I don't do legends.
I do facts.
[phone line rings]
[Rackstraw] Hello?
A team of cold case investigators
are convinced that you are
the infamous D.B. Cooper.
[Rackstraw] Infamous or famous?
I thought it was famous.
[reporter] Okay.
[dramatic music playing]
[men and women vocalizing rhythmically]
- [music stops]
- [airplane signal dings]
[men and women vocalizing rhythmically]
- [music stops]
- [traffic rushing]
[Colbert] This ten-year journey is
the longest I've been on a case.
I just want to share
a question I always get,
and that is, "Why?"
Why am I tackling, and my wife too,
why we tackled a 50-year-old case?
It's affected my family members.
I watched my wife and I have frustration.
I watched my children grow up.
And we spent a lot of our own money
through the whole thing.
But everyone agreed in our family
to stick with it,
because they all believed
we had the truth.
[suspenseful music]
[Gray] What Cooper was able
to pull off was really, really difficult,
and he orchestrated it perfectly.
Especially when you consider this was
the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
One of the busiest travel days
of the year.
Fifty years ago, I was a sophomore
at University of Oregon.
I had called my parents
and said, "I got this 37-minute flight
from Portland to Seattle."
The sun was out, but it was cloudy.
Walked up the back steps,
sat in the back on the left.
And I didn't notice anybody around me
until we took off.
I noticed the guy sitting next to me
had sunglasses on.
And I thought, "That's kind of different."
"Who does he think he is?"
[Gray] The flight from Portland to Seattle
is a puddle jump.
There's barely even time to have a drink
on the plane.
After the plane takes off
this strange-looking man
passes a note to the stewardess.
I just ignored him.
Then he said,
"I want you to read the note."
It was printed,
"Miss, I have a bomb in my briefcase."
"I want you to sit beside me."
This is the beginning
of the extraordinary drama of D.B. Cooper.
[indistinct radio chatter]
I can remember her talking,
and then she'd get up and go to the phone.
But had no clue what was going on.
[Gray] He asks for $200,000
in American currency and four parachutes.
It's one thing to ask for money,
but parachutes?
Why does this man want parachutes?
[Colbert] He was very smart.
He didn't order one or two.
He ordered four.
He thought they were gonna
dummy up a parachute on him,
so he'd die.
But if he's ordering four,
"He's taking a hostage.
We can't dummy him up."
Very smart, brilliant.
[sign chimes]
The pilot comes on and says,
"We have engine trouble,
and we're going to run out the fuel."
"Everybody can move up
to the front of the plane."
During that incident,
I didn't know what's going on.
We're still flying, so there was nothing
to worry about.
Cooper did not want the jet
to land in Seattle until all the stuff
was properly staged at the airport,
so the jet had to circle around.
[thunder crashes]
It's now getting dark.
This is turning
into a dark and stormy night.
And once the hijacker knows
that his demands have been met,
$200,000 in cash,
about $1,000,000 in today's currency,
and the parachutes he wants
waiting for him
the plane comes down
for a landing in Seattle.
Snipers are watching the plane.
Cooper asks the stewardess
to shut the windows.
The plane goes dark.
One stewardess comes out,
a detective hands her the big money bag.
She then goes out for the parachutes,
and all the passengers come off.
We're a mile away from the terminal,
so a bus comes and we get on a bus
and ride back to the airport.
[news anchor] Thirty-six passengers got
off the jetliner in Seattle last night,
left aboard, four crew members
and the hijacker.
And there's probably a hundred
news people out there.
FBI agents there who are
interviewing everybody.
Said, "Yeah, you were hijacked."
And so that's the first I'd heard of it.
[man] The crew kept us ignorant
of what was taking place,
I guess to avoid a panic.
And so we really didn't know
what was taking place.
We cruised around
for two and a half hours up there.
Nobody knew anything was happening.
- [reporter] When did you find out?
- After we landed.
When they brought the money aboard.
[news anchor]
The hijacker, dressed in a business suit,
demanding $200,000
and carrying a plain briefcase
which he told the crew held explosives.
[Schaffner] I saw a big battery
with six dynamite sticks
wrapped around the battery.
And he said to me, "All I have to do
is attach this wire to this gadget here,
and we'll all be dead."
[distant siren wailing]
[Mitchell] I got home,
and it started catching up to me.
The fact that, yeah,
you know, I was sitting next to a bomb.
[ominous music playing]
In the fall of 1971,
when this hijacking took place,
the experience of airline travel
was vastly different than it is now.
Walking into an airport back then
was like walking into a supermarket.
[jovial swing music]
- Hi.
- Hi.
- Destination?
- Let's just say, "Where the action is."
[Burrough] I love when people ask
about airport security back in the 1970s,
because the answer,
at least in my memory, was,
"What airport security?"
I don't remember any at all.
[upbeat pop music playing]
You didn't need metal detectors.
You didn't have to take off your shoes.
You didn't have dogs smelling you.
[Burrough] Certainly nobody searched you,
or wanded you, or anything like that.
Ah, ah, ah ♪
You just walked in, put down 20 bucks,
and got a flight to Dallas.
That was pretty much it.
And that is what Cooper did.
He went and bought a ticket that day.
It was very, very casual.
Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo ♪
Ah, ah, ah ♪
[Gray] Remember, this was the beginning
of the boom of mass air travel.
[upbeat music playing]
[Gray] They wanted to make
the experience a fun, good time.
What kind of flying is that?
A champagne flight.
[Gray] But unfortunately, at the time,
the stewardesses became fetishized.
[sultry music playing]
[announcer] When a Braniff International
hostess meets you on the airplane
she'll be dressed like this.
[Rymsza-Pawlowska] In the early '70s,
flight attendants have a really hard time.
They're sexually harassed constantly.
They're not paid as much
as the men that they work with.
They have an impossible schedule.
They're held to really rigorous
and unfair standards about their looks.
She's not just pretty. She's pretty smart.
[Rymsza-Pawlowska] When D.B. Cooper
passed the stewardess the note,
he was probably the, like, tenth person
that day to pass her a note.
[Gray] At that time,
being a stewardess is difficult,
and it quickly evolved
into the realm of the dangerous.
Guerrilla hijack teams struck
four airlines almost simultaneously.
One ticket agent in Houston, Texas,
is dead, another agent is wounded.
[news anchor] Aerial piracy is not exactly
a new phenomenon.
I was in the CIA.
We would get these reports of hijackings.
And maybe there'd be a report every month.
And then it just kept growing
and it kept growing and it kept growing.
[news anchor]
Fifteen Japanese radical students
armed with samurai swords,
pistols, and homemade bombs,
hijacked a Japan Airlines jetliner.
[Mendez] And, of course, those hijackings,
they all had a political goal.
They were punishing a country,
they were punishing a group.
They were making themselves bigger
and badder than they actually were.
What made you think he had a gun?
He confronted me
with something hard in my back.
He said, "We're going to Havana, Cuba.
Take me to the cockpit."
[Burrough] There were only two reasons
that you hijacked a plane.
You either did it to threaten
to kill people and get money,
or you wanted to get someplace,
typically Cuba.
The Cuban ones were
almost all young radicals
who needed to get out of town.
What did it turn out to be?
It turned out to be a metal comb
with a pen on top wrapped with a sweater.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Gray] One of the things about crime,
like any art form, it evolves.
And so with hijackings,
the art form evolved,
and the greatest artist
of them all was D.B. Cooper.
[news anchor] With the full ransom,
collected from Seattle banks,
and four parachutes aboard,
the plane headed for Reno.
[Gray] Cooper looks into the money bag,
he's happy.
And he has instructions.
He's asking to fly at 250 miles an hour,
which is slow for a jet,
with the flaps down, at minimum height.
Even the pilots didn't know
the aircraft was capable
of flying that slow and that low.
And he said, "It can be done, do it."
[Gray] They head south over this area
called "the dark divide."
Tina Mucklow was alone with him
sitting in the last row.
He was not nervous.
He seemed rather nice, and
other than he wanted
certain things to be done.
[Ulis] At that point, Cooper sent
Tina Mucklow to the cockpit
and told her not to come out.
He was in the back all by himself.
Around 8:12, there was a popping sensation
in the ears of the pilots.
The pressure in the cabin has changed.
The aft stairs have gone down.
I told the air traffic controllers
that our friend just took leave of us.
[indistinct radio chatter]
To truly appreciate what Cooper did
close your eyes and take a step,
and imagine walking down those aft stairs.
[wind gusting]
It's late at night, there's a lot of rain.
You're hearing the engines
of this jet in your ear.
Imagine looking out
in the middle of the darkness
and then walking down
another step and another step
and just looking out,
asking yourself the question
"When's the time to jump?"
[birds tweeting]
Well, he either got away
or else he sure made a big hole
in the ground out there.
And if he made a hole in the ground,
he's gonna be hard to find.
By "hole in the ground,"
you mean slammed into a mountainside?
Right. It's possible
that if his chute didn't open,
he's taking somewhat of a chance,
I'm sure.
And if his chute didn't open, why,
he's going to probably be
pretty hard to find.
Suppose his chute did open,
you think he landed safely
and just made a clean getaway?
Well, at this point, he doesn't appear
to be hung up in any trees.
At least this is what we're looking for
from the air.
And so if he did bail out there
and did make a successful landing,
it's possible that he has succeeded
in hiding his parachute
and did get away.
[reporter] Hundreds of troops
combed the woods near Woodland,
and east to the town of Ariel,
but nobody knew where he bailed out,
where he landed, or even if he survived.
[Mendez] The main problem
that the FBI faced initially
is they didn't know
exactly where that plane was
when he exited the plane.
There were all these variables.
What about the wind?
"Maybe the wind had you
a little off-course."
So the terrain that they're searching
would be rather huge.
Right at this point,
probably a slim chance
of actually finding him in this area.
But at least we may develop information
that'll give us leads on where to go next.
[reporter] It was from these steps,
the rear of the 727,
that the FBI believes the skyjacker
used his parachute
to bail out somewhere
between Seattle and Portland.
Earlier, it was felt that he perhaps
bailed out somewhere nearer to Reno,
but all search efforts in this area
now have been discontinued.
On Thanksgiving Day,
people all around the world
got wind of the story.
The man had disappeared.
The case went from being
a truly phenomenal act of air piracy
into an American folk legend.
[jazz playing]
When he got on a plane last night,
he was just another passenger.
But today, after hijacking
a Northwest Airlines jet,
ransoming the passengers in Seattle,
then making a getaway by parachute
somewhere between there and Reno,
the description on one wire service:
master criminal.
Man, don't you know what that is?
That's Jesse James come back.
It was a hundred years ago.
Just think it over.
They kill Lincoln a hundred years ago,
and Kennedy, it's all going back.
- [reporter] Do you think he's a hero?
- Oh, sure.
[reporter] Why?
'Cause the guy, evidently, really took
a lot of time to plan the whole thing out.
And I respect a man
who takes his time to do a job well done.
He's one of the slickest cats
to ever walk on the face of the Earth.
[Gray] The riches in the case,
the details that you just can't make up,
started with the hijacker's alias.
D.B. Cooper was not the hijacker.
[Ulis] In Portland, he gave the name
Dan Cooper to the ticket agent.
So D.B. Cooper really is Dan Cooper.
What happened, though,
is there's an enormous amount
of media attention focused
on this thing,
and somebody made a mistake.
[Colbert] The authorities
were going down some log they had,
and a reporter overheard it
as "D.B. Cooper."
Dan Cooper became D.B. Cooper
because of a couple of sloppy reporters.
Everybody pretty quickly realized
within a day or so, that,
"No, it's not D.B. Cooper,
it's Dan Cooper."
But, frankly, D.B. Cooper is
a more bad-ass name than Dan Cooper,
so D.B. Cooper stuck.
[Gray] Thus begins
the D.B. Cooper branding, you know,
because every folk hero
needs a good brand.
D.B. Cooper. Oh.
"Oh, D.B. Who is that?"
And so D.B. Cooper the skyjacker
dropped out of the air,
and he landed on Earth as a hero.
In the Pacific Northwest,
you might even say
he was a kind of a god.
[man] The man's beat the system,
so to speak.
I just think that any time
that a fella's got this much nerve,
and is successful this far,
that everybody's rooting for him.
[news anchor]
People wrote songs, sold T-shirts,
all in honor of the first and only man
to get away with hijacking a US plane.
I do think that D.B. Cooper will live on,
because they never have found him.
This case is so American.
You have the underdog hero
sticking it to the man.
Cooper resurrected this cultural anthem,
almost going back
to the heroes like Billy the Kid.
And all the famous bandits
and bank robbers.
George "Machine Gun" Kelly,
"Baby Face" Nelson,
and John Dillinger.
We prize the outlaw.
We are fascinated
with those who break the rules
because 95% of us don't.
[Ulis] Everybody wants to know
who D.B. Cooper was.
And as time has gone by,
it's become this ever-larger mystery.
The evidence suggests that Cooper
must have had military experience
to be able to plan
and successfully execute such a crime.
[Robert Stack] When we return,
we'll reveal an important new clue
to the identity of D.B. Cooper.
[man] At this point, so many people
have played the role of D.B. Cooper.
There's a lot of different reasons why
D.B. Cooper has remained so prevalent
in so many different types
of popular culture.
You know, like Amelia Earhart,
we know so little
about what actually happened.
[Heubusch] The Western world
has to have an answer to every question.
And it's really frustrating to them
when a story doesn't have an ending.
Doesn't have to be a happy ending,
but it needs a period
at the end of the sentence.
The D.B. Cooper case is a prime example
of a sentence
that's been left uncompleted.
[Ulis] At this point, there have been
something north of a thousand suspects
that the FBI has looked at.
And some of those suspects
have actually been really compelling.
Richard Floyd McCoy
was an outstanding suspect.
He was in Vietnam.
He was an expert parachutist.
[Smith] McCoy skyjacked another 727
and jumped out
five or six months after D.B. Cooper.
But there's one very big problem.
All the witnesses that saw D.B. Cooper
looked at Richard Floyd McCoy
and said, "He ain't the guy."
Duane Weber had a deathbed confession
and looked like the second sketch.
And he was living a double life.
One as a charming insurance salesman,
the other as a career criminal.
He was arrested, I think, 16 times,
but there's absolutely no proof
that he had any parachute training.
And he was a criminal
that had a hard time staying out of jail.
And then there is Barb Dayton.
She confessed to being D.B. Cooper.
She had the first sex change operation
in Washington state.
She used to be Bobby.
And Bobby was a tough guy, a brawler.
And Barb was a librarian and sweet.
It was the ultimate disguise.
As a man, Bob Dayton
was a guy with a grudge.
Merchant Marine, he could jump
out of airplanes.
But the problem is,
there's absolutely no concrete evidence
that ties Barb Dayton
in with the D.B. Cooper case whatsoever.
[Gray] Some people thought
it was Ken Christiansen.
He worked for Northwest Orient Airlines.
[Ulis] Other people thought
it was Sheridan Peterson.
Peterson worked at Boeing.
But for a bunch of technical reasons,
both of them have been ruled out.
Even though we still don't know
who Cooper was,
to me, what's remarkable is actually
how much people identify with Cooper
50 years later.
[waitress] We're in Vancouver, Washington,
at Victor-23.
This is a D.B. Cooper-themed bar.
We've got our pilsner Schaffner here,
our Flight 305 amber here,
our Skyjacker IPA, our Headless Hijacker,
and our Jet Fuel IPA.
And also why people still look
to embed him into film and culture.
[intense music playing]
You'd better be ready.
The far more interesting story
than just some guy who jumped
out of a plane and disappeared,
is the fascination with it.
Check out this map.
He pinpointed D.B.'s landing.
That's crazy.
With respect to D.B. Cooper
over the last 50 years,
arguably, we are no closer
to knowing who D.B. Cooper was.
Oh, look at you.
Should I call the FBI
and tell 'em I found D.B. Cooper?
Everybody wants to solve a mystery
that's been unsolved
by some of the brightest minds
and the best agencies in the country.
[Kleinsmith] After 50 years,
the Cooper case is almost a holy grail
of cold cases to solve.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Tom Colbert.
I'm the person, with my wife,
Dawna Kay, at the machine in the corner.
We're the ones
that brought the case forward.
We received the tip.
[Colbert] For me, the whole thing
started when a friend of mine
named Rich Kashanksi called me.
I've known Rich for 25 years.
I drop everything when Rich calls.
I was in the middle of another project
and I said, "Rich, what's up?"
I was in Vegas.
I was shooting a series of infomercials.
And a friend of a friend
told me they knew some gambler
who knew who D.B. Cooper was.
I rolled my eyes, and he said,
"No, Tom, you need to listen."
"I have a guy on camera."
I told him, "This guy seems credible
and he's willing
to have lie detector tests."
"It's the only way
that you're gonna believe me,
and I'm much willing to do that."
I realized if this tip checked out,
we would be solving
one of the most high-profile cases
in cold-case history.
What I found on Ron Carlson's tape
was a game-changer.
["Born to Move"
by Creedence Clearwater Revival playing]
Every day I'm gonna strut that stuff ♪
When the music's loud
I can't get enough ♪
The story started with Ron Carlson
running drugs up and down the coast
with his fast car.
People shufflin' up and down again ♪
Unhappy faces ain't gonna get you in ♪
I'm here to tell a story
that I truly believe is factual
and it concerns D.B. Cooper.
I did not meet D.B. Cooper
until 1978.
And I met him
quite frankly,
he was my cocaine supplier.
A guy, name of Dick Briggs.
[mysterious music playing]
Almost from the time we met
he was telling us
that he was, in fact, D.B. Cooper.
And he kept saying,
"You don't believe me, do you?
And we ended up being at a party in 1980.
And he says, "I'm gonna tell you something
that will prove to you who I am."
He said, "That couple over there."
We said, "Yeah?"
He says, "They and their son"
They were a hippie-looking couple.
"are the ones
that are going to find my money."
[Colbert] Dick Briggs says,
"On that north shore, in three days,
they're gonna find some of my money."
Meaning Cooper's money.
And that's when I knew, "Whoa."
The money was found here,
just a few yards from the shoreline
of the Columbia river.
I was gonna build a fire,
and I had some wood in my arm.
I got ready to set it down,
and my son ran up and said, "Wait, Daddy."
So he raked a place in the sand there,
and there it was.
It kind of tumbled up on the top.
A child has led the FBI
to the start of a trail
it hopes will help them solve
the eight-and-a-half-year-old mystery
of skyjacker D.B. Cooper.
A few days after that party,
all of a sudden this news alert come by.
And it said that they had found,
I believe it was like $6,000
of D.B. Cooper's money.
And when they showed
the people who found the money,
it was that same couple
that was at the party.
[Kaye] In my years of knowing
Brian Ingram and his family,
I've seen nothing that would indicate
they had any nefarious connection
to the money.
So I believe Brian Ingram
is an innocent bystander,
along with his family, in the Cooper case.
[reporter] Though these are the first
pieces of this complex puzzle
to surface in all these years,
they are not falling into place easily.
Suddenly, 40 years later, we have a guy
who claims, basically, that Dick Briggs
planted the money on the beach,
showing that it was set up,
and that Cooper could be alive.
And that's when I turned to my wife
and I said, "I think we got a wild one."
Dick Briggs was perfectly capable
of doing what it took
to hijack this airplane.
According to him,
he'd been a Special Forces soldier
during the Vietnam War.
I mean, he was an accomplished
He was familiar with the area.
I'm sure he'd planned it out.
I mean, he had the physical
and mental abilities.
Very, very intelligent man.
But he was kind of out of control.
[Colbert] One of his buddies from college
told me that Dick lost his temper a lot.
He felt he was bipolar.
He would get angry after a few beers
and throw trash cans
through windows at bars.
[Robert] A lot of people feared him.
He was a weightlifter,
bench-pressed 425 pounds.
You know, they called him Bugsy
because he was a little squirrelly.
[Hunt] The first time I met Dick Briggs,
my husband offers him a cocktail.
Dick does a straight shot of bourbon
and immediately proceeds to eat the glass.
Blood is dripping down his face.
He's chewing the glass.
[Carlson] According to his family,
Dick Briggs did lots of parlor tricks.
He could take a woman's hat pin,
stick it all the way through his forearm,
pull it out, draw no blood.
One time, we'd gone up to a little town
that, every year,
held an annual D.B. Cooper festival.
All he'd keep saying is, "I just want
to tell these people who I am."
And "They're here for me."
He had that kind of ego
that was necessary to be D.B. Cooper.
I think D.B. is, like,
the coolest guy in America.
[music stops]
- [Colbert] Is it on?
- [man] Yeah.
- Let me get focused.
- [Colbert] Perfect.
When I realized
Dick Briggs could be Cooper,
I started to document the investigation,
so that I could eventually
sell it as a documentary.
When Rich brought me
this drug trafficker, Ron Carlson,
I did due diligence to make sure
he's telling the truth about Dick Briggs.
We interviewed Ron Carlson three times,
once under a lie detector.
Okay, I'm gonna turn the chair.
[Colbert] We had FBI agent
Jack Trimarco do the test.
I went to polygraph school
at the Department of Defense
Polygraph Institute
at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
Jack Trimarco is the best of the best
when it comes to polygraph.
He has administered over 3,500 polygraphs.
I'll ask you to lean forward in the chair
and put your arms out in front
like you're gonna dive into a pool.
That's it.
This'll go around your midsection.
Anything that's going on
that's physiological,
that's an anomaly, is gonna come through
loud and clear to me.
Meaning how the body changes
for those few precious seconds
when a person knows
that they're telling a lie.
The test is about to begin.
Did Dick Briggs ever tell you
that he was D.B. Cooper?
For the question,
"Were you told by Dick Briggs
that he was D.B. Cooper?"
he did very well on that issue.
Have you ever lied to an authority figure?
After the lie detector test, I told Rich,
"I think he's telling the truth."
So then we started doing the research
to see if Dick Briggs was D.B. Cooper.
[man] D.B. Cooper was
a Walter Mitty kind of man.
Ever since boyhood,
he had bolstered his self-confidence
by fantasizing wild adventures
in which he, of course, was the hero.
[mysterious music playing]
[Colbert] One day, we found out
that Dick Briggs died mysteriously.
His friends think he was murdered.
It was a one-car accident
in the middle of nowhere in Portland.
Before this, he talked about Vietnam.
But that's where his story
had a real problem.
I spent eight months on that thread.
I actually believed he was Cooper.
But then I find out he's never been
to Vietnam, can't parachute.
He was a part-time weekend warrior
for the Air Force,
so he didn't have to go to Vietnam.
Right at that point,
I'm looking at this man and thinking,
"I got the wrong guy."
[news anchor]
Here are the facts as we know them.
Cooper was a tall, dark man.
Dick Briggs was a short, stocky,
just gigantic, muscular man.
Briggs wasn't the guy.
He was just some braggart
saying, "I'm D.B. Cooper," you know?
We were thinking, "Hey, this is over."
Ron Carlson felt terrible,
'cause for 40 years,
he was told this man was Cooper.
Didn't even look like him,
but he believed him
because he had the money found.
You know, the twists and turns
of this whole thing has, uh,
changed my opinion
about almost everything.
So, I guess nothing will surprise me.
All who look for Cooper experience
something called the Cooper curse.
We don't know who he is or was,
where he came from or where he went.
This case is booby-trapped.
Just as you get close to really thinking
you know who the hijacker is,
something comes along the way
and shows you that it's wrong.
This one is not solved,
and we're still after D.B. Cooper.
[reporter] We may never know
what happened to D.B. Cooper or who he is,
but the allure
of the unsolved mystery endures.
[Gray] When I started the case,
I thought I could solve it too.
I thought I could solve this case.
[distant police siren]
At the time, I was working as a reporter
and writer in southern Manhattan.
I was covering crime.
One of the things I love
about being an investigative reporter
is taking on the hard cases.
You know, the stuff that is just
impossible to solve.
And when I first got a tip
about D.B. Cooper,
I knew that he was mine.
I had to go after him.
I wrote a book about the case,
my first book.
I thought, "If I solve the case, oh,
the Pulitzer Prizes and all the rewards
that would come in."
Random House Audio presents
Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper
by Geoffrey Gray.
This is Geoffrey Gray.
It took me over four years,
and I'm here to tell you
the curse is real.
[Gray's voice] Over the decades,
some suspects disappeared,
some suspects faked their own deaths.
One man nearly died
in a custom-built submarine,
scanning the bottom of a lake
for the hijacker's ransom.
One renowned reporter attempted suicide
after his suspect
was proven to be a fraud.
Only a steady program
of electroshock treatment
jolted him back into coherency.
[Gray] I started to see
that the Cooper case
was not about Cooper himself,
but about the people chasing Cooper.
People like Tom Colbert
and others, and people like me.
Can't help but admire this guy.
[Gray] Psychologically, this case
takes you into the dark divide.
This is a case that questions
who you are and what you believe,
what you want to believe,
and what really happened.
The only one more famous
in the world than D.B. Cooper
is the person who finds him.
I came to a point
where I had four suspects,
and I actually thought
that they were all D.B. Cooper.
I pulled myself back, and I was like,
"Why have I gone to this point
where I believe that four people
are the same guy?"
That's the thing, you know,
it's gold fever, in a way.
You so want to prove
that your suspect is the one
that your belief systems
take over your logic.
Four people can't be him,
and some things just can't be true.
Okay, we're back here.
Wait a minute,
we got the train again.
Hang on. Sorry.
When we finally figured out
Dick Briggs was not D.B. Cooper,
I said, "Could he have had a partner?"
Tom's tenacity is amazing.
I mean, he just won't give up.
You know, when he sees a dead end,
I'm going, "Okay, that's it,"
he just keeps on going.
[Colbert] I make a decision.
I'm going to call
the police department in Portland,
and I'm gonna find some old narcs.
And so I call and I said, "You got a narc
that remembers a guy named Dick Briggs?"
And sure enough, a week later,
I get an 80-some-odd-year-old guy
who's still alive.
They give me a half-dozen to a dozen
neighborhood friends of Dick Briggs.
I started peeling them back,
going one by one,
and hearing stories about him.
And the last guy I decide to call
is the one that scares me
by the name of Pudgy Hunt.
I've watched too many cowboy movies
with a guy named Pudgy,
pulls out a sawed-off shotgun.
Why do they call you Pudgy?
[Pudgy] When I was nine months old,
I weighed 36 pounds, I believe.
Tell us about Briggs' friend.
[Pudgy] One time, Dick Briggs
introduced a friend of his.
And this guy pulled out some clippings
from the local newspapers
talking about him being a Green Beret
and a medal winner in the service.
[Colbert] That's when I found out
Dick Briggs' partner
was a guy named Robert Rackstraw.
And that changed everything.
[Kashanski] We compared a picture
of Rackstraw at that age
with the police drawing of D.B. Cooper.
And Rackstraw's picture
was almost identical.
[reporter] You have parachute training,
as you mentioned yourself.
Your background suggests
that you could have been D.B. Cooper.
Could have been. Could have been.
This man has the skill set.
At that point, I knew we had D.B. Cooper.
And I said, "Thank you, Jesus."
With Rackstraw, I believe
we have cracked a 50-year-old case.
I mean, there's a lot
of little God miracles going on here,
where I'm whacked on the head,
"Oh my God, how did I find that?"
Are you willing to state
one way or the other
whether or not you're D.B. Cooper?
With a story like that,
should it be fiction
or should it be fact?
Primarily up to the American people
someday how that comes out.
Once my team began researching Rackstraw,
they started to find out what he was doing
when he wasn't jumping from a plane.
He had all these fake identities,
multiple criminal titles.
The guy is off the scale.
You won't believe how crazy it gets.
Are you D.B. Cooper?
I can't talk about things like that.
I can't talk about
any of that sort of thing.
[dramatic music playing]
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