CORONADO, Calif. – A group of documentary filmmakers say the man responsible for the infamous D.B. Cooper hijacking in 1971 is a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran who lives in Coronado.
They say his name is Robert W. Rackstraw, and he has a yacht named "Poverty Sucks" docked in Coronado.
Filmmaker Tom Colbert and his team held a news conference Thursday in front of FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., to share their evidence. They claimed that the FBI won't reopen the investigation because agents are embarrassed that they were unable to solve the crime decades ago.
Rackstraw's name has surfaced before as a suspect, and but he has never admitted responsibility for the hijacking.
"They say that I’m him," the 73-year-old told the San Jose Mercury News last year. "If you want to believe it, believe it." Last summer, the FBI formally closed its investigation into the hijacking.
Rackstraw is a former Army paratrooper, one of the many reasons Colbert's team has long focused on him. In the 1971 letter, the hijacker says he used face putty to disguise himself, which could explain why Rackstraw, who was in his 20s at the time, could have resembled the middle-aged hijacker depicted in the famous artist's sketch of Cooper.
The documentarians have been looking at the case for years, combing over mountains of paperwork connected to the case. They argue that Rackstraw hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in November 1971 and forced it to land in Seattle, claiming he had a bomb. He released all the passengers after authorities gave him $200,000. The plane took off again, and the hijacker forced the crew into the cockpit and when the plane was at about 10,000 feet, he opened the door and bailed out. Weeks later, he sent letters to several newspapers, challenging the FBI and CIA to try to catch him.
The filmmakers contacted one of Rackstraw's former Vietnam War comrades who deciphered some cryptic codes that were written at the bottom of the letters. They believe the codes point to Rackstraw's initials, the Army's Special Warfare School where he attended and one of his military units.
Despite this newly revealed evidence, Robert Rackstraw has denied that he is Cooper. The filmmakers even offered him $20,000 to talk about his life story, but he declined.