D.B. Cooper’s Identity Revealed By Decoded Message, Investigators Say

Published June 29, 2018
Updated July 9, 2018

“Let’s just say we closed the case and this is icing on the cake I didn’t expect, it truly is."

Robert Rackstraw

Wikimedia CommonsFBI sketch of D.B. Cooper compared to 1970 Army ID picture of Robert Rackstraw.

Tom Colbert, a film producer and longtime expert sleuth into the case of D.B Cooper’s disappearance, claims that he has once and for all confirmed Cooper’s mysterious identity. Cooper, a pseudonym, skyjacked a commercial flight from Portland to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971 and scored a $200,000 ransom before parachuting from the plane, never to be seen again.

Colbert, along with a team of cold-case private investigators, said that a newly decoded message contained a confession by Colbert’s number one suspect: Vietnam veteran Robert Rackstraw. Rackstraw has been a person of interest but has denied the accusations on several occasions.

Colbert used the Freedom of Information Act to request and receive a document from the F.B.I. Dated March 28, 1972, the two-paragraph typed up letter is an unpublished note addressed to the “Portland Oregonian Newspaper.”

“No one even knew about this letter,” Colbert told the Daily News. When he received it, he noticed it was typed just like another D.B. Cooper letter mailed to four major publications detailing his reasons for hijacking the plane. In it, he stated that he knew he wouldn’t be caught.

Colbert sent the letter to colleague Rick Sherwood, a codebreaker and former member of the U.S. Army Security Agency – the army’s signals intelligence service.

“He said, ‘Tom, you’re not going to believe it, but his confession is here,’” Colbert said.

DB Cooper New Letter

The Daily AstorianThe newly revealed D.B. Cooper letter.

The letter was allegedly sent from the Bahamas from Cooper to “let you know I am not dead but really alive.” It stated, “I like your articles about me but you can stop them now. D.B. Cooper is not real,” along with other odd phrases like, “I want out of the system and saw a way through good ole Unk.”

Sherwood, who was familiar with the writing style from other letters he had deciphered from Cooper, explained how he used a copyrighted process to decode the hidden message through phrases and words that were repeated throughout the letter.

The letter’s last sentence states, “And please tell the lackey cops D.B. Cooper is not my real name.” According to Sherwood, the coded message is, “I am 1st LT Robert Rackstraw.” Sherwood wouldn’t say how he arrived at that conclusion.

The decoding process took a couple weeks.

“I read it two or three times and said, ‘This is Rackstraw, this is what he does,’” said Sherwood. “He was taunting like he normally does and I thought his name was going to be in it and sure enough the numbers added up perfectly.”

Rackstraw’s name was previously cleared by authorities after an investigation and the FBI closed the case without resolution in 2016.

Public interest hasn’t died out, and neither has the suspicion that Rackstraw is the man behind the legend.

“Let’s just say we closed the case and this is icing on the cake I didn’t expect, it truly is,” Colbert said. “We not only had his initials and units in the other letters, but we now have him saying, ‘I am Cooper.’ Rackstraw is a narcissistic sociopath who never thought he would be caught.”


Next read about another revealing D.B. Cooper letter that was uncovered. Then read about the physical evidence that supposedly cracked the D.B. Cooper case.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.
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