Michigan publisher says he knows the real identity of famous hijacker D.B. Cooper

OSCALA, Mich. — D.B. Cooper, the infamous plane hijacker who stole more than $200,000 in a daring heist and eluded law enforcement for more than four decades, was actually a former paratrooper from Michigan who bragged about his feat to a friend.

That’s the revelation issued Thursday by a Michigan publisher that is releasing the memoir “D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, A Spy, My Best Friend,” Fox News says in a report.

According to Principa Media, Cooper’s real name is Walter R. Reca, a former military paratrooper and intelligence operative. An obituary from Oscada, Michigan, says Reca died in 2014 at age 80.

Reca’s friend, Carl Laurin, wrote the memoir along with Principa Media. Laurin says he compiled more than three hours of audio recordings and had almost daily discussions with Reca over a 14-year period. His evidence was analyzed by a certified fraud examiner and forensic linguist, Principa Media said in a press release.

The audio recordings, made in 2008, including details of the famous skyjacking that were not known to the public prior to an information release by the FBI in 2015.

Among the evidence Principa Media planned to reveal Thursday is:

  • Witness testimony from an individual who spoke with Reca within an hour of his jump
  • Documentation concerning how the $200,000 in stolen cash was spent
  • Confessions from Reca to two individuals at two different times
  • An article of clothing Reca wore during the jump

Cooper’s heist occurred on the night before Thanksgiving in 1971. A man calling himself Dan Cooper, wearing a black suit and tie, boarded a Boeing 727 bound for Seattle at an Oregon airport. The man told a flight attendant he had a bomb in his briefcase and gave her a note demanding ransom.

When the plane landed, the man released 36 passengers in exchange for $200,000 in cash and parachutes.

In one of the audio recordings provided to Fox News by the publishing company, Laurin is heard asking Reca about how he felt going through life knowing he was D.B. Cooper, and if he ever had second thoughts about the heist.

“Never even a second thought,” Reca says.

After the heist, Reca said he put the money in the bank, and that he had “family to take care of” before jobs “overseas” came up. The daredevil said he treated it as any bank heist.

“It was no (big) deal really, it was done,” Reca is heard saying. “It was done, and I lived through it.”

Principa Media says Reca became a high-level covert operative after the heist.

Reca survived the jump from the plane by using skills he learned as a member of the Michigan Parachute Team, the publisher said.

Many investigators have come forward with their theories for who the infamous hijacker may be.

Earlier this year, the leader of the private investigative team who has spent years trying to crack the D.B. Cooper hijacking case claimed he believes the mysterious criminal was a CIA operative whose identity has been covered up by federal agents.

Thomas Colbert, a documentary filmmaker who helped put together the 40-member team, said in January his team made the connection from work a code breaker uncovered in each of the five letters allegedly sent by Cooper.

Since last January, the FBI has released more than 3,000 documents to Colbert’s team investigating the hijacking. The FBI said in court papers that it has more than 71,000 documents that may be responsive to Colbert’s lawsuit.