by Bruce A. Smith
The passenger who sat nearest DB Cooper was a twenty-year old college student named Bill Mitchell. As Cooper sat in the middle seat of Row 18 on the starboard side of the aircraft, Mitchell sat across the aisle in the comparable seat.
Last week Bill spoke with the Mountain News, and it is his first appearance ever in a public forum.
However in 2013, Mitchell gave a detailed account of his hijacking experience to the Washington State Historical Museum research team, and they have provided public access to an audio tape of their interview with Bill.
But at this point, Mitchell is the only person aboard DB Cooper’s Flight 305 who is talking directly to journalists. In recent years, flight attendants Tina Mucklow and Florence Schaffner have refused to speak publicly about the hijacking, and Ms. Mucklow hasn’t spoken in public for nearly 40 years for reasons that are unknown.
In short, Mitchell says that the doesn’t remember much about Cooper, but he does recollect being surprised by the cute stewardesses paying so much attention to an old man who looked “geeky,” had “bad hair,” and a distinctive fold of skin under chin that Bill calls a “turkey gobble.”
Why aren’t they paying any attention to me? he wondered.
Mitchell also says that Cooper had a smaller build than he. Bill stands 6’2,” and weighed 225 pounds in 1971. This comports with the recollections of the flight attendants, who put Cooper at six-feet tall and about 170-180 pounds. They also pegged Cooper to be in his mid-40s.
Bill has been reclusive since the hijacking and never gave any interviews to media. However, researchers have been seeking him with growing intensity, and in the past few years he has granted a handful of interviews to persistent investigators, such as Galen Cook.
However, those who speak with Mitchell protect his privacy fiercely, and neither Galen nor the staff at the Washington State Historical Museum would share Bill’s contact information, nor pass on any requests from me.
Nevertheless, I knew that Bill lived in the Puget Sound area, so I tried independently to contact him. However, after calling a dozen Bill Mitchells I gave up.
However, in September 2104, a fellow Cooper sleuth and friend, Vicki Wilson, made contact with Bill in an effort to find out if her father, Mel Wilson, was in fact DB Cooper.
Vicki’s father has been missing since September 1971, and her request apparently softened Bill’s resolve. In late summer he spoke with Vicki and reviewed her materials, but his analysis was inconclusive.
When I heard that outcome I emailed Vicki and asked if she would intercede with Bill on my behalf. She agreed, and kindly passed on my contact information. One day in December Bill called me. Here is the gist of our phone call.
December 1. 2014
I spoke with Flight 305 passenger Bill Mitchell, today, and I found him to be a charming fellow with a delightful sense of humor. But first I had to receive his phone call:
“Hi. This is Bill Mitchell, DB Cooper’s best friend,” he announced on my message machine. “I thought you might like to talk about something that happened 43 years ago.”
He left his phone number.
So Vicki’s intercession has been successful. It felt sweet because she and I had spent a solid day looking for Bill during the 2013 Cooper Symposium, and had spent a Sunday evening in an Auburn Starbucks seeking anyone who knew the reclusive passenger from Flight 305. Vicki, of course, was mostly concerned about her missing dad, but I just wanted to meet the guy who had sat –almost next to – DB Cooper
“Be nice to him,” Vicki entreated me when she sent me an email confirming that she had told Bill about me.
I promised I would be a perfect gentleman, and I trust I was. Here’s what we talked about:
“43 years was a LONG time ago,” he said.
I agreed, and told Bill that I was as interested in hearing of his experiences in the Norjak saga past and present as I was to learn about his “best friend.”
We rambled across a range of topics, starting with what he remembered from 1971.
“I didn’t agree to the first sketch,” he said “When Vicki showed me a picture of her father the only thing I could tell her was that DB Cooper had that ‘jugular’ thing, and so did her father.
“You mean the ‘turkey gobble’ fold of skin under his chin?”
“Yeah. I remembered that; not sure it was any help to her.”
“I also remember being upset that Tina was paying SO much attention to that older guy.”
I laughed and commiserated with Bill. “Yeah, Bill, I still have a crush on Tina, too.”
“Really?” Bill laughed as well. “Have you ever met her? I’d like to meet her someday. I think it would be interesting to talk with her, to hear what she went through that day.”
Bill and I talked a bit about Tina and my escapades with the Mucklow clan. Then he launched into a description of his many emotions and feelings about the guy in Row 18, seat E.
“DB Cooper was romanticized. All my friends and me, we, um, looked at him as ‘beating the man’ – y’know. But he had six sticks of dynamite and was sitting next to me!…I wasn’t, like angry, but more like puzzled. But you have to remember; when people called him a hero he also had a bomb and was threatening to blow me up.
“When I went home that night and was just sitting around watching the TV, my dad said, ‘The way they’re building this guy up – there’s going to be a million copy cats.’ And there was – not a million – but a lot.”
I asked Bill about the FBI and his experiences participating in their investigation.
“You could tell that the veteran FBI agents had the holiday weekend off, because when I got off the plane all the agents I talked to were the young guys.”
I asked Bill if he remembered the names of any agents.
“Nah, not really. It was 43 years, ago, remember!”
Bill continued and told me he went back to college after the Thanksgiving weekend. At school, he saw FBI agents two-three times per week for a year and a half, reviewing at least 10 pictures per visit. Surprisingly, Bill was a little anxious about the visits.
“You have to remember, in Eugene, even then it was hippie-dippie ville, and I was, um, a sophomore and not in a fraternity yet, but in the dorm, and there was um, a lot of drugs around. I told the FBI that I didn’t do any drugs, but I was concerned that some of my friends, or guys in the dorms, might get into trouble with the agents coming around so much. So, I asked the FBI about that, and they said, ’We don’t worry too much about that.’”
As Bill reflected, he mentioned that most of the agents he dealt with in Norjak were based in Eugene. He vaguely remembered Ralph Himmelsbach, the agent who went on to fame as an author about DB Cooper, but Bill acknowledged that he didn’t have any direct dealings with him. When I mentioned the actual Norjak case agent Charlie Farrell, or his Seattle colleagues Special Agents John Detlor and Sid Rubin, Bill had no recollection of them whatsoever.
“But all of the agents I met were impressive,” he reassured me.
Bill discussed the events at Sea-Tac in detail, especially his dealings with the FBI, who recommended that Bill discuss the case with caution and prudence.
“You’re one of the prime witnesses they reminded me,” Bill said.
Bill added that he wasn’t particularly frightened, but wished to be wise. Hence, he decided not to talk with media and maintained a low public profile.
“The FBI said, ‘Look, we don’t know who this guy is or where he is, but he threatened to blow you up along with the plane, so use good judgment in deciding who to talk with.’…They recommended that I not talk to the news reporters, so I didn’t.”
Bill said that a lot of media has called him through the years, but he has refused them all.
Besides protecting himself and his privacy, Bill was further discouraged from talking to the media by the widespread inaccuracies they were reporting.
“It was a long time before I read a newspaper article that I felt was true to what I knew…I was amazed that so many stories got the facts wrong – that was one of the reasons I wasn’t too eager to talk to journalists.”
Bill added that he figured Tina Mucklow went through the same kind of treatment.
“I’d love to talk with Tina and see what she went through.”
When Bill landed at Sea-Tac he was tired and eager to connect with his father, who would take him home for a good meal.
“It was supposed to be a 37-minute flight, but it took three and a half hours. Plus it was dark and rainy when we landed – and way out on the tarmac – you could hardly see the terminal.
“I had been moved up to first class by the flight attendant who looked like she was in charge, and she also looked stressed. I moved up, but I really didn’t want to. I was happy to just stay in back and sleep. I moved up, but I forgot my coat. Instead of going back the flight attendant got my coat for me.”
Bill said that he remembers seeing a bag come aboard, which he later learned was the money, and he saw the parachutes.
“But I still didn’t think that we were being hijacked.”
Later, as he descended the stairs to the tarmac he heard someone call out and an FBI agent answered, “Yes, you’ve been hijacked.”
“That was the first I knew of it,” Bill said.
He had more to tell me:
“We started walking towards the terminal, which was a long ways away. Then a bus came and we got on. Then the FBI started calling names from a list, and they called my name first, ‘Bill Mitchell.’ I said, ‘Here,” and then they called ‘Dan Cooper’ and there was nothing. No one answered. So, we realized that was the skyjacker.
“Then I realized that the FBI had three and a half hours to investigate me. I wondered if they had been suspecting me since they had called my name first. I had paid for my ticket in cash, I was a 20-year old college student from Eugene….did they think I was the hijacker?”
At this point I asked Bill about some of the notables of Cooper World.
“Do you remember Galen Cook? I think he’s interviewed you several times.”
“The guy from, um, Alaska?”
“Vaguely. I do remember a book that was on sale at the exhibit in Tacoma. I didn’t recognize it when I saw it.
“Skyjack? ‘The Hunt for DB Cooper,’ by Geoffrey Gray?”
“Maybe. My name was in it, but I don’t remember talking to anyone about it.”
“You didn’t talk with Geoffrey?”
“I might have, but I don’t remember. But, somehow my name got in that book. But I do remember Jo Weber. She called me several years ago. She’s a wacko. She sent me all these pictures of Duane (Weber, her husband.) Now, remember that Duane’s ears are HUGE, and I would have made fun of them – so what I told Jo was: ‘I know for a fact that I would have remembered those huge ears.”
Another interesting piece from Bill was his account of being filmed by a British TV show called “Greatest Crimes.” Boeing refused to allow them to film aboard one of their 727s, so they shot inside a 727 that is parked in the backyard of an aviation aficionado in Portland.
“It was weird!” Bill said with a laugh.
Bill also enjoyed recounting his getaway from Sea-Tac.
“All the passengers were sitting in the VIP lounge at Northwest and the FBI was asking us what we remembered about the guy in the back of the plane. I was just sitting there and being quiet. When they got to me I said, ‘Well, I was sitting next to the guy,’ and then they all got in my face!”
At the same time, Bill’s father was waiting for him in the parking lot at Sea-Tac.
“I called him from Portland just before I got on the plane and told him it was just a 37 minute flight, so I’d see him soon. But it took three and a half hours!”
Bill said his Dad waited at first in his car and heard about the hijacking on the radio. Then he moved inside the terminal to the Northwest counter, where the waiting families were becoming agitated.
“They brought all the families into a room and told them, ‘Yes, it was a hijacking.’”
Bill’s Mom was home cooking “her baby boy’s favorite dinner,” and was watching the TV. She saw the news coverage, especially the fire boats in Elliott Bay waiting to retrieve wreckage in case the plane exploded over the water.
“She was going nuts,” Bill said.
At one point, Bill’s Dad went back into the public area and was standing next to a fellow wearing NWO mechanics clothes. When the individual’s walkie-talkie started crackling, he reached inside and revealed that he had a machine gun slung over his shoulder.
“It was kind of crazy,” Bill shared, “But my Dad is an ex-Marine, so he wasn’t too fazed by anything.”
As the “guy who sat next to Cooper,” the FBI kept him longer than any other passenger. As a result, a scrum of 200 reporters waited for him to exit.
“My Dad was waiting for me, just outside of them, so I told the FBI I had to leave that way. The recommended that I chew on a ham sandwich, take a bite as I leave the room and keep chewing as I walked past the reporters. They pushed me out the door and the light bulbs flashed and everybody started shouting. It was just like in the movies. But a State trooper barged ahead and cleared a path for me. I kept walking right through them, and after we got past the first line of reporters it lightened up, and I just walked over to my Dad. We just walked out of the terminal and went home.”
Mom had a turkey dinner waiting for Bill, and life returned to near-normalcy.
“I went back to college after the weekend – Sunday or Monday – and I told my circle of friends. But really, everyone in Eugene knew about it. But I didn’t talk about it publically….I turned down all the media requests.”
Ironically, Bill did write an essay about his experiences – but in Italian!
“I had an assignment in Italian class, to write a story in Italian, so I wrote about the hijacking. When my teacher read it she pulled me aside and said, ‘Is this for real?’”
Later, after the Richard McCoy hijacking, Bill got a surprise call from two Newsweek reporters. They had obtained a photograph on McCoy immediately after the skyjacking and located Bill through a family friend. They showed the photo to Bill who told them the likeness didn’t match his recall of Cooper.”
However, the next day two FBI agents showed up with a picture of McCoy and were really miffed that two Newsweek reporters had preceded them.
“So who tipped off Newsweek?” Bill asked me.
I asked Bill if he ever tries to figure out DB Cooper’s identity or fate.
“Well sure. I mean, I worked for Boeing for 35 years, so we talked about it a lot. But most of FBI agents I’ve talked with told me they figure Cooper died in the jump. But everything was so well planned….”
The first sketch developed of DB Cooper by the FBI, known as “Composite A” (above) depended heavily upon the recollections of the flight attendents. However, Bill Mitchell says that he disagreed with that rendition. As a result, he was asked to develop a second sketch, which is now known as “Composite B.”
Composite B, above, developed in 1972
Bruce A. Smith
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Nice work, Bruce. Funny, that your nemesis, a weirdo named Robert Blevins, could never locate Bill Mitchell. I located him easily and spent an afternoon with him. This guy Blevins couldn’t investigate a pimple on a poddle’s bare ass.. You have some skills that Mr. Blevins and Jo Weber are highly envious of. As for Mitchell, I can verify a few things. Composite B, according to FBI records (which I’ve reviewed in Seattle) show a more complete and detailed facial profile of the hijacker. There is a reason why the FBI returned to Mitchell for follow-up interviews. They didn’t do this with the stews. Composite B is considered the most accurate version by the FBI and other experts. I can also tell you this: Mitchell looked at a few pics when we were together and both Duane Weber and KC are not on Mitchell’s list. Mitchell is very studious and has an eye for detail. Mitchell was not under threat during the hijacking, thus his perceptions and recollections carry greater weight than those who knew the hijacking was taking place and were under direct threat. I’ll talk with Mitchell again later and try to get him to meet with you. I found Bill to be a very nice gentleman. He told me that Jo Weber was a wacko, and to this, I fully concur.
ps… I noticed that the DZ stinker, Robert Blevins, still tries to be your “instructor” in all matters concerning writing, investigating, editing, publishing, etc. A guy named Georger once told me that Blevins was the Walter Mitty of the DB Cooper saga. And Georger always hits the nail on the head.
Harsh words, Galen. Whew.
Galen is referring to a couple of Cooper sleuths above; specifically Jo Weber and Robert Blevins, both of whom post voluminously at the DZ chat room on DB Cooper. His references are drawn in part from posts made at that web site.
Mr Blevins advocates for Kenny Christiansen as DB Cooper, and Ms. Weber campaigns for her deceased husband, Duane, who supposedly confessed on his deathbed.
However, after reading the above MN story, apparently, Ms. Weber contacted Mr Mitchell a day or so ago and caused a stink about Bill’s comments that she was a “wacko” and that her deceased husband had ears too big to be DB Cooper.
As a result, Mr. Mitchell called me today, Monday, December 8, and said that he wants no further contact with me or any other Cooper investigator. He said that he wants to avoid all possibilities of having to deal with any more occurrences as transpired with Ms. Weber.
As for Duane Weber, despite his supposed confession in 1995 as recounted by Jo, the FBI ruled-out Duane as a suspect in 2005. Nevertheless, Jo persists passionately in championing his cause.
Do you have to be reminded of the people that you are dealing with? Come on, guy. Robert M. Blevins — at the very bottom of the cellar; and Jo Weber — in the dungeon. Neither of them have anything to offer, but to chastise you, because they couldn’t get off a bunt with the Cooper story. And Blevins thinks that you are “jealous and fearful” of him. Have it your way, Bruce. You got 40,000 hits with the Tina Mucklow pics. You could have another 40,000 with the Mitchell pics (and Mitchell posed for the camera with me). Sure beats Blevins with his shit-hole book, yes, the one that Skipp Porteous got published for free, then ran as far away from Blevins as he could possibly get. Skipp HATES Blevins and will not meet with him. Even Blevins himself will admit the two have never met. -And Jo……everybody knows what her problem is. Tosaw, Nuttal, Carr, and others told me that Jo Weber was “insane.” Her past record (which I keep in my legal files) will verify why this is. Two losers beating you up, Bruce. Not good. No wonder Georger exited the DZ. Nothing new there but the same two losers posting and trying to keep the attention of a hundred entertained (LMFAO) viewers. Come on buddy, grow a pair.
Blevins and Weber are the laughing stock of everyone who still follows this story.
Clearly, things are lively in the Cooper World.
Editor’s note: Galen offered to send me a photo of him and Bill Mitchell taken when they talked together a few years ago. Since Bill expressly asked me for no further involvement in the Cooper research world, I declined Galen’s offer.
ahhh, Georger nails it, over at the alternate site run by Shutter. Georger’s assessment of how Jo serves as sabateur to anything that doesn’t fit her agenda is spot on. Classic Jo. I have dozens of e-mails and dozens of other strange telephone calls from Jo (some at 3:00am), where she calls screaming at me and talking her usual unintelluctual jibberish. Maybe I’ll post them on the Internet (actual recordings). Jo’s past is VERY checkered. Tosaw explained to me once that people like Jo have very screwed up backgrounds and they need something to give them validity to their lives. Jo is very mean to Bruce and doesn’t want Bruce to get the upper-hand on a story that doesn’t support her. This kind of behavior is typical of a mean, old, out-to-pasture lady who has little left to live for. Blevin’s psychology isn’t as cold-blooded as Jo’s, but it is equally effed up.
Bruce, guess who sent me an e-mail today? None other than my old friend Skipp Porteous. He’s fully amused by the D.B. Cooper controversy and further states that he wants nothing to do whatsoever by his fully-discredited co-author, Robert Blevins. He informs me that in his many years in the investigative business, getting involved with Blevins was his “worst” decision ever. His second worst decision was trying to force the KC fable on the public. He also told me that he no longer communicates with Blevins and he will “never, ever, meet with ‘him’ in person.” Guess that kind of sums up the Porteous/Blevins team, doesn’t it. Happy New Year!!
Okay. Now if Skipp would only contact me and tell me what’s going on with Kenny Christiansen, Blevins and all the canard, I’d be happy. So far, I only get bupkas from him, or worse – misleading deceptions.
Skipp’s not doing that on purpose to off you, Bruce. He knows that you are a journalist and he reads your stuff. He also told me that if Blevins could investigate, write, and publish 10% as well as you, he would have kept Blevins around as a partner. Skipp wants out of this pissing match. He told me this: “you guys engaged Blevins and fed his ego, now deal with it.” And now you know why Skipp will never meet his ex co-author. Blevins is 100% bs. And EVERYONE knows it.
I’d love to hear this from Skipp directly, even if it’s off-the-record and confidential.
I gave him your e-mail, Bruce. You may hear from him,….or not. He tells me that Robert Blevins just locks himself in his little computer room in Auburn, WA and investigates the Cooper case on the internet. He’s too afraid to even go out in the field. But the internet impowers him to act boldly. Georger got it correct years ago……”the small wizard of Cooper, blasting away on his megaphone from behind a very large curtain.”
well, Bruce, old Blevins reads this site too, as do many others. Blevins has never been able to prove that he corresponds with Skipp Porteous…………who happens to hate Blevins with a passion. Ha. Funny, isn’t it? One co-author hating another over DB Cooper. Yep, it happens. Porteous will NEVER meet with Blevins, and they co-authored a book that came out five years ago. Imagine. Two guys hating each other like this. Georger is still laughing his ass off over this.
I see where your MN is taking a lot of hits on this article. I chatted over the weekend with one of the gals who used to work for Skipp Porteous at Sherlock Investigations in New York City. She remembered me from 2008 when Skipp and I corresponded regularily by phone. She told me that Sherlock Investigations was dissolved and Skipp retired. Thus, the old Sherlock Investigations website (which I contributed to as a guest writer) was taken down.
What I learned in NYC when I went looking for Skipp Porteous in 2013 concerning the demise of his PI firm, Sherlock Investigatiosns, is different than what you have stated, Galen.
I was told he sold to a PI company based in New Jersey. In fact, I spoke with the new owners, who confirmed that they had bought Skipp’s company to expand their operations across the Hudson River into Manahattan and New York.
You might want to check your facts again. Skipp e-mailed me today and said that Sherlock Investigations no longer exists. Do an internet search and see. Anyway, Skipp says hi to you, even though he doesn’t know you. And Skipp tells me again, “I have never met Robert Blevins, and never intend to meet that cowardly blowhard.” Bruce, Happy New Year to you. My prediction for 2015 is that the DropZone will be parred down to only two posters….Jo Weber and Robert Blevins, who will continue to inundate each other with massive doses of bs. Everyone else will be gone, even you, Bruce.
I concur with your news about Sherlock Investigations. It is my understanding that SI was rolled into the PI firm based in NJ.
Tell Skipp I say “Hi,” too, and perhaps he’ll contact me in the new year!
sorry, Bruce. Skipp is “done” with the DB Cooper story. And he never wants to meet his former co-author, Robert Blevins. The thought of that leaves him with indigestion, and that’s no way to enjoy 2015. That leaves just Jo, Blevins and you at the DZ……. and, in company that will send you to the funny farm unless you bail out soon.
lol!!! THAT’s EXACTLY what Skipp Porteous told me, Bruce. The entire book “Blast” is full of crap. Porteous went on to tell me that his co-author, Robert Blevins is also “full of crap.” Now you know why Porteous is never around to defend his book, and why he hates his co-author, Robert M. Blevins. Porteous/Blevins: the two co-authors that never met, and according to Skipp Porteous………Never will meet.
I believe that Galen is referring to a post I made on the DZ, where I said that Blevins’ recent post of a six-page overview of the “evidence” in the Kenny Christiansen case is totally “crapola.”
Bruce, tell Georger to get a grip. Everyone at the DZ knows of Robert Blevin’s reputation. There’s a real psychiatric component to Blevin’s twisted mind. Skipp Porteous told me years ago that Blevins had severe “issues,” and that was the chief reason for Skipp teminating the arrangement as his co-author. Blevins won’t admit to it, and Blevins has never produced any evidence that he and Skipp remain in contact. Just the opposite, according to Skipp. Skipp has nothing to do with Blevins and refuses to ever meet him. Skipp wanted out of that hell-hole arrangement with Blevins. Skipp finally had to leave his business, and New York, to escape the nightmare that Blevins was creating for him. Even the FBI told Skipp to “run as far as you can.” “The co-author from hell,” as Skipp used to refer to him.
I’m not sure why Skipp doesn’t simply say, “No thank you” to Mr. Blevins.
In a way, Skipp did say, “no thank you,” but it was more like “f**k you, Blevins.”
I chatted with Skipp again and he told me to tell you hi. He also said the reason he no longer gets involved is because his boastful co-author, Robert Blevins, bares his all to the world to show how ignorant he really is. Skipp can’t stand him. Skipp informs me that not only is Blevins stupid, but he has an incredible ego that shouts out his stupidity on a never-ending basis. It embarrasses Skipp immensely. He does not talk to Blevins and Blevins has not recent evidence to show that they communicate any longer. I suspected this all along, Bruce. Now, Skipp confirms it. Skipp also told me that outside of the DropZone discussion page, Blevins has no life at all. Pretty sad!!
This will be my last comment on this matter:
1) I knew Richard Tosaw well. He would have nothing whatsoever to do with Jo Weber, or any of her contrived back-stories. Everything she says and does is….. “pure fiction. Don’t believe a thing Jo Weber speaks of.”
2) I also knew Skipp Porteous from 2008 and 2009. It’s unheard of for two co-authors to never meet each other. But this is what happened between Porteous and Blevins. Blevins is a dreamer
and Porteous is a realistic businessman (now retired). Porteous got away from Blevins ASAP, and now Blevins looks like an abandoned child.
3) Both Blevins and Jo Weber are nothing more than liars.
no more on this.
muah ha ha
Tell me there isn’t strangeness in the Cooper case sometimes. Galen Cook is a lawyer from Spokane, WA who has been investigating the case for years. We’ve never even met. Cook’s statements regarding my co-author Skipp Porteous are completely false. Nice going for a guy who is supposed to be an Officer of the Court. Maybe he didn’t like the video I did on Christiansen up in the Olympics last summer.
Don’t know what his problem seems to be and care about it even less. 🙂
What exactly is false in Galen’s commentary?
Further, for someone who sub-titles his book, “The True Story of DB Cooper” and yet pens many false statements, such as claiming Captain Scott left the cockpit in flight, or putting a representative skydiving picture of Cooper on the cover landing in daylight with an acrobatic sport parachute, objecting to Galen’s opinions is ludicrous.
Okay. Here’s one: Cook has never corresponded with Skipp Porteous. Porteous is retired, has aphasia, and can barely operate a keyboard these days. When I pointed out Galen’s recent posts to Skipp, he said he had thought Galen Cook was a reasonable guy up to that point, and that he (Skipp) was disappointed with him. Cook has been going on with his crud since the day Into The Blast hit the shelves. Why? He didn’t like what we said about his suspect in the Foreword for the book. His posts at The DB Cooper Forum later got so nasty, I had to ask him to stop, or I would file a complaint with the Washington State Bar Association. At that point, he bailed from the forum there because I think he realized I wasn’t kidding.
Richard Lespy is the only suspect of age, height and weight profile with the “turkey neck” fold of skin that clearly fits the eye witness, student Bill Mitchell’s description of Dan Cooper that I find.
Could all 4 chutes have been tampered with to cause failure. One that was left was definitely sewn shut? Body, money, chute found and someone is a hero, land in the River, drown, money washes up and the legend/mystery continues to this day?
Odd, that Mr Cossy’s house was randomly selected, broken into and he was beaten to death per news articles and his alleged contradictions per some readings.
Experienced guys meeting mainly on RR bars connections while drinking could make more in the long run with less risk from the Vietnam vet drug pipeline Of drugs mainly from running the Asian route to pull this stunt, but McCoy thought differently and wanted it all at once.
A few thoughts, Jon.
1. Richard Lepsy is not the only suspect with the distinctive “turkey gobble.” Mel Wilson comes to mind. How about Duane Weber?
2. But more troubling is Bill Mitchell’s testimony. Why do you believe him? No one else from Flight 305 mentions the “turkey gobble” feature. Plus, Bill’s account are in SHARP contrast to other passengers, such as when they moved forward in the cabin. Further, Bill refuses to discuss his inconsistencies.
3. Yes, all four parachutes could have been tampered with. But why? The prevailing view at the time of the skyjacking was that Cooper was going to jump with a crew member and use them as a hostage on the ground.
4. We do not know definitively if the one reserve chute deemed a “dummy” chute was real. There is no confirming documentation on it – no pictures or written documentation, nor is any individual identified who signed off on the transfer – specifically, who in the FBI or NWO authorized a bad chute to be placed aboard Flight 305? If this chute had resulted in the death of a crew member, who would have been held liable? Do you know of ANYONE on November 24, 1971 willing to take that chance? I don’t.
Thought Mel/DNA and Duane/ears were ruled out by FBI or DNA
I will ask you if you believe Mitchell since you were the person who spoke to him and took the interview? You never disputed it?
I was born at night…,but not last night Sir!
It is just plain stupid to think Cooper would jump and take a stewardess as hostage. The idea is to escape. That defies all logic, evading police
and dragging a women through the woods with you. A woman would rather die in an explosion than jump out of a plane, you remember she wanted to be tethered off to prevent being suck out the door. People who changed their stoties who handled the chutes may not have thought like you in that short period of time?
You should be answering the to others Mitchell’s double chin claim. Lepey match physical weight, height, hair etc Duane and Mel not so close. Claim of person meeting Lepsy descrtion bought a ticket to Mexico on his day of his missing…negoitable currency?
He probably is here in Florida growing old!
Well, yes, the FBI did say they ruled out Duane Weber based on DNA, but then the question is what samples of DNA did they use and how reliable are they? The epithelial cells on the clasp, as Larry Carr told me? Hmmm… are you sure those skin cells are from DB Cooper and not Red Campbell? Based on what evidence, documentation or statements?
Or how about the DNA from the cigarette butts that Carr said were “processed” and then lost. Again, hmmmm.
Do I believe Bill Mitchell? No. Why? Read my book or call me. Simply, too many inconsistencies and his refusal to talk to me.
In retrospect, taking hostages is highly problematic. But that was the thinking in FBI circles during the skyjacking. I’m not defending the thinking; only describing it.
Okay, so you like Lepsy for the skyjacking, primarily because he looks like him, I gather. Fine, take it from there. Dick leaves the grocery store in northern Michigan for lunch in 1969 and never comes back. Maybe he flies to Mexico, maybe he has a girl on the side and they run off. Then what?
He gets the skinny on jumping a 727 in a bar somewhere, learning top-secret info in the process and gets better educated on the jump dynamics of 727s and knows more about the plane than the pilots or anyone at Flight Ops at NWO. Then he decides to comes back to the USA in ’71 to pull off the stunt, evades capture, and nothing is ever found, except for the two money finds at T-Bar in 1980 – Okay, so tie it all together for me.
By the way, do you believe Bill Mitchell? Why? Along those lines, do you believe the crew? Why? Further, why do you think the passengers – other than Mitchell – generally tell a different story than the crew?
Lastly, who do you think the Men in Black were who visited Dick’s daughter a few years back? Why did they interrogate her? Why did they disguise themselves?
Just askin’….for my money, if you’re gonna go down the Lepsy rabbit hole you gotta go ALL THE WAY.
I am just spurring the thought process and your book should arrive tomorrow.
But some of your questions and logic says..”why should I believe his comments in this book”.
Sometimes people make things more difficult that they truly are, by over processing the thought process time and again, it can result in doubting your own logic? Everything starts to muddle together and you are not sure what your real convictions are?
Contaminated DNA is not conclusive in today’s courts for conviction, unless you have the individual and/or the money. How do you put together a case without it? Like a mechanic tell you he thinks your car needs a water pump..and says let’s try that and see how she works okay?
Have you ever played poker Bruce? Do you think the FBI is keeping that low hole card for the right
time to play?? I highly doubt they lost the cigarette butts.. low hole card?
Can’t answer the truth about Mr. Mitchell’s truthfulness? My first impression was Mr. Mitchell was a little (way too) Cocky and the type I would immediately brush off for those reasons alone. Statements were not taken under a legal process like today.. under oath, documented, between 2 attorneys, on the record.
Most people of the time did not realize the supplier of most US drugs came from the Asian market
(Perfect for people flying to Asia, and no need to highjack a plane. I rule out KC for this reason.
I question others with flying, jumping,military backgrounds high jacking the plane as you so easily would have great expertise in the drug traffic market, but obviously Richard McCoy does not fit my
mold, but he had very quirky mind, with knee jerk reactions.Remember..military guys took orders,
were told their missions and did not calculate, plan and pull off mission without a leader normally.
Dick may of had debts and was under real pressure from heavy people to re-pay and was left
Facing doing time or worse. What would you do?
Two years in Mexico and two thousand dollars means you need quick negotiable currency in a hurry and a quick return to Mexico. Maybe you have lost USA bets, deserted your family. You basically are a dead man anyway with nothing to live for like some of the other suspects. You have to admit that in a short time, with nothing else to do, you could obtain the limited plane and chute knowledge for a lost soul to pull this off. You talk of his vast plane,drag, door, chute knowledge, etc
hmm,…but say at the same time, he wore loafers, suit, jumped in horrible weather and demonstrated he was a complete novice? Which do you choose Mr. Smith?
The crew may have been recluctant, scared and confused, witnesses with knowledge to crimes are found dead everyday you do know?
Men in Black description is enough right there to think this is a fabricated story? Mob…maybe, just maybe if really true. They have a long memory…and they never give death bed confession like some people supposedly do? Can’t see this being insurance people because this would long have been written off and closed.
FBI…if so, which I doubt, he would have been a suspect on the list.
Original FBI artist who drew the original sketch said all witness said alias Cooper had a protruding
The Tena Bar money (dredged up) makes me think he either threw part in the river as a diversion or sunk like a rock with a failed chute on impact in the river. Computer science of today is really impressive in landing statistics of this nature.
FBI closes case a few years after Dick comes on the scene and is processed…odd
Maybe you owed the mob and were left with choices. Odd Mr Cossy death, just thinking?
Negotiable currency Amigo….
Okay, Bruce the ball is in your court, your conclusion? What is the FBI hole card they are holding?
I am about as detached in Florida as you possiblycould be from Mr. Cooper’s heist.
Jon, you sound detached.
Ralph Himmelsbach once asked me who and what I thought of the DB Cooper case. What I told RH is the same today: I have the best job – I don’t have to solve anything or prove anything. I just have to tell a good story.
THAT said, though, as a journalist my primary mission is to report as accurately as I can what has happened in the case. The who, what, where and when. Everything else is extra.
So, I have no idea what hole card, if any, the FBI is holding. That’s the real point of my book – how does a modern-day bureaucracy solve crime? What are its limitations, deficiencies, and its strengths. So, in my view, conspiracies are only a part of the equation. More telling are internal political intrigues and personal agendas. WHY does Larry Carr continue to believe and publicly spout bullshit that has been disproved over and over??? Is he stupid? Corrupt? Dishonest? A conspirator? Or just a sloppy cop? I really don’t know. All I really can do is describe the inconsistencies.
On a personal note, To All Suspect Supporters:
I am sick and tired of your half-assed assertions that your guy is Cooper because of a few tidbits of coincidence: he looks like the pix, he was missing on T-Day weekend in 1971, he worked in an electronic lab and could have gotten metal particles on his tie there, etc…
So, if you want Dick Lepsy to be DB Cooper, then prove it. What were his debts? What kind of guy was he like? Who was his girl friend. Where in Mexico did he go? How exactly did he get there? You’ve got to get to work and DIG up the info on this guy.
If you want Sheridan Peterson to be DB Cooper, then show me the re-entry stamps on his passport, the visas to Nepal, etc.
Lastly, to ALL ARMCHAIR SLEUTHS
Please read my book and the other sources for facts in the DB Cooper case. It is tiresome to communicate with folks who don’t have a grasp of the details, in particular the money finds at T-Bar. There were TWO money finds there in 1980, so please STOP telling me that it was a plant. If you can’t explain how thousands of bits of money were buried in three feet of sand underneath the three bundles, and then spread over a field of 40-60 feet, please shut up and keep reading more books until you have a legitimate theory.
Bruce: without all of us detached Suspect Supporters and Armchair Sleuths, who is left to buy your book?
LOL… you are a cranky old fart..but it’s your little Red Wagon, you can push it, or pull it!
“Support Metal Health in the State of Washington”
Yup. I’m cranky.
Yup. I support mental health in the State of Washington.
Yup, who else would buy my book? FBI agents? Hmmmm. Hardly….
LOL, I’m related to one and I’m giving your book to him if ever arrives. He will read it!
Jon, you are an endless treat. Thank you.
As a mere interested observer to all the interest of die-hard students of the case, I have to say that the repeated hostility over and over and over again is a total bore to read. Seriously. We bystanders get it. You don’t like one another, blah, blah, blah. Let it go. Stick to the FACTS and / or DISPUTE FACTS and/or ADMIT TO A LACK OF FACTS. Some of this trash I just read sounds like high school girls.
Now heres a real question for you serious students: I read that the FBI / Army troops used a grid search during the aftermath of the hijacker jump. Is any of that material … the actual grid coordinates, etc, in existence? Not the suspected drop ZONE… but the actual search grid? I can’t see it anywhere online. And I just know that in the grid search, there had to be places not searched.
In today’s world, professional S&R teams reject those volunteers who try to cut corners and not scoot down those dangerous or difficult crevices, etc, because without searching places that are difficult to near impossible, the grid isn’t really a full search. Its a grid that might be 95% searched. Get my point? Where is the grid that I read about ? I would like to see it and determine if certain points appear as if they really were searched.
A good example of my meaning: there is an excellent essay online about a search for a missing family in the desert. The professional Sheriff’s Dept and National Park Service used the grid technique. Fine. Well, nobody found the family members. Until a guy like us… bystanders… interested and curious… decided he would look first at the grid used which he did… then ascertained what might have gone wrong… which he did …. and then found the remains of those victims … which he did… all to the miffed muzzled jealousy of the professionals who attempted to prevent him from succeeding in that by refusing (until they were served a court order) the man the grid materials, and search points. The man, on his own, at his own cost, found the remains of a family lost in the desert… despite the previous failed efforts of paid government searchers. And, I might add, the FBI was involved in that also as it was on national park property.
I suspect, Jason, that your worst fears will be founded by the actual kind of ground search conducted.
There were four different types of ground searches – LZ-A, LZ-B. The first set were conducted in the November 26-30, 1971 period. LZ-A was searched by about 25 members of the Clark County Sheriff’s Dept and their volunteers. They focused on about one-square mile of Buncombe Hollow Rd and Creek Rd in Amboy. This territory is quite rugged, steep, and densely covered with brush, trees and brambles. Over 20 square miles of LZ-A was never searched on foot during this time.
That was the only ground searching in the primary landing zone. Other Sheriffs Departments looked in other areas, such as the Cowltiz Dept looking north of the Lewis River in areas that I do not know the specific coordinates. This is known as the LZ-B search. There was LZ-C and D in southern and eastern counties.
The second set of ground searching was conducted back in LZ-A in March and April, 1972. 200 soldiers and about a dozen FBI agents scoured the larger Amboy area. How much of LZ-A was searched is unknown to me, but is certainly detailed in Charlie Farrell’s account of this operation. However. Farrell’s family will not allow me to see this source material. Nevertheless, Geoffrey Gray has, but his book does not offer details.
Yes, that doesn’t surprise me. I did view an interview with a retired FBI agent involved, now deceased, who laughed when asked about the ground search and he simply stated “have you ever seen the area involved?” (Meaning the ground cover is dense, thick, and near impossible to penetrate. I didn’t blame him in that).
Thats really too bad. Because if there really were a good grid at least sketched out on paper, then plenty of people like us probably would have really gone over it by now. At least where they could penetrate.
So, the hijacker literally could have landed and been alive / uninjured and nobody saw him.
Again, an example of similar nature: a lady went missing on the Appalachian Trail about four years ago. Searchers looked for her. Volunteers sought her out. They knew she went missing between two points because her husband was waiting for her to emerge. Fast forward 3 years or so. Her remains inside her tent were found a mere 1/2 mile off the trail where she had become lost while relieving herself. All those searchers missed her when she was literally within calling distance. The terrain, foliage, and ‘no trespassing’ signage were to blame… it was US Navy Property. She was only found due to a survey crew that just happened by on their job.
So DB Cooper could easily be there in the woods…. buried under 40 years of fallen trees / debris. I was hoping to hear that the search was very thorough to allow for fine tuning.
On the other hand, I personally find Richard McCoy to be very much a likely Cooper. He looked the same, he had the skills and the courage, and he refused to speak about Cooper to the FBI. I disagree with the FBI on how they excluded him. I think part of their exclusion was based upon is appearance.
I also cringe when I watch the last agent in charge of the case speak about it with such obvious and unsupported guesses that he appears to be a guy who really wasn’t interested and didn’t do any of his own study on the case with actual thought.
Have you seen the website ….. n467us.com ? Its been idle for about 7 years but has some good stuff on it including someone (probably dead now) who listed actual pilot trained mathematical calculations.
Quick question – Cooper asked for maps. What specific ones did he request?
I don’t know. Nor do I know anyone who does. Alice Hancock is the only one to report the map request.
I wonder if that could be one of the details not released in case of a confession needing to be backed up by facts only DBC would know. Thank you for your response, Bruce! All the best.
I’m looking at the FBI list of passengers at Sea-Tac and am counting only 29. Not including Cooper, wouldn’t that leave 6 passengers missing from the list? Were any of the passengers children? And did anyone ever identify the “cowboy” who was berated by (but ignored) Cooper?
I did find a reference to maps sent in a transcript of a conversation between (I believe) the pilot and the tower, but could the maps have been sent for the pilots and Alice merely misunderstood?
For the witness description of Cooper, I’m giving LESS credence to the paint shop guy, mainly because he misidentifies the FA who sat next to Cooper through most of the flight. Either that or he was somehow seeing Tina as a brunette. There seems to be a little confusion among the FA’s about which one forgot her purse. And where is Alice Hancock these days? Was she ever interviewed by anyone subsequent to the initial FBI interviews?
The fifth letter is intriguing and I think the FBI was right to take it seriously. Cooper was probably wearing a toupee and a little putty makeup, but very much of the latter would be hard to disguise up close. The sunglasses probably kept his night vision sharp for the jump as well as possibly covering color contacts. (I found an online patent for modern ones that noted past color contacts were tinted but the effect was to make the eyes look doll-like, glassy – could that, in cabin light, be what made Flo think of the word “piercing”?)
Very interesting theory about Cooper’s ground escape by the gentleman who thinks Cooper was avenging his daughter’s death at the hands of her hijacking ex. I think he has the suspect wrong – it doesn’t make sense to me to become a hijacker because your daughter was killed by one – but is probably right on the money about the escape route. I don’t think it would have been easy to coordinate with any accomplices – or even necessary – and I don’t think Cooper’s initial lack of certainly about the destination was a planning oversight. He obviously always intended to jump. He just needed to go south, and not all that far south, either. It sounds like he knew the Sea-Tac area pretty well.
Re: the bag(s) mentioned by two of the passengers. The dimensions given by the female witness exactly match those of a boot box in my living room. A quick search of vintage skydiving boots shows Corcoran boots came in a box of about those dimensions. I’m not sure where one would have bought them, but a 1971 episode of TV show Cannon I just watched had a strong, off-white bag without logo as the sales sack for a baseball mitt. Sporting goods store standard, maybe?
They don’t seem to be talking about the same bag mentioned by Tina Mucklow, which was small and green. If Cooper didn’t have boots with him, perhaps the bag contained strong rubber bands, but that’s pure conjecture; any number of useful items could have fit into either bag. Oh, and Tina’s description of Cooper’s footwear was pretty detailed and sounded more like ankle boots than regular loafers, more a type of shoe that would stay on the foot.
Wow, Lynn, you are a super Cooper sleuth.
1. I’m looking at the FBI list of passengers at Sea-Tac and am counting only 29. Not including Cooper, wouldn’t that leave 6 passengers missing from the list? Were any of the passengers children? And did anyone ever identify the “cowboy” who was berated by (but ignored) Cooper?
BAS: You are correct. The FBI list of passengers is incomplete. So, too, is the “official” NWO manifest that is floating around the Internet. Also, the list provided by the Seattle Times is incorrect.
I believe I have a complete and accurate list, and I will be publishing it in the 3rd Edition of DB Cooper and the FBI – due out in mid 2018.
There were 35 passengers, plus DB Cooper. No children. Bill Mitchell, at 20 years-old, was the youngest passenger. No one has identifies the “cowboy” as far as I know. Nor the soldier, nor the drunk guy – all of which I find interesting. How did that get screwed up? Oh well, government work, right?
2. I did find a reference to maps sent in a transcript of a conversation between (I believe) the pilot and the tower, but could the maps have been sent for the pilots and Alice merely misunderstood?
BAS: It is generally understood that the maps were for the pilots, and were standard aviation maps, not road maps or topographicals.
3. For the witness description of Cooper, I’m giving LESS credence to the paint shop guy, mainly because he misidentifies the FA who sat next to Cooper through most of the flight. Either that or he was somehow seeing Tina as a brunette.
BAS: I’m with you, Lynn. I put very little weight on the evidence given by Robert Gregory. He couldn’t even remember accurately where he was sitting.
4. There seems to be a little confusion among the FA’s about which one forgot her purse. And where is Alice Hancock these days? Was she ever interviewed by anyone subsequent to the initial FBI interviews?
BAS: Alice has been interviewed at length by Galen Cook, but he hasn’t written about it, yet. Other than that, I know of no other author or researcher who has talked to her. I tried calling her, she lives in Minnesota, but she refused to talk with me, saying, “Oh it would take too much time…” I sent her a copy of my book, but she ahs not responded back to me.
5. The fifth letter is intriguing and I think the FBI was right to take it seriously.
BAS: I don’t. I think all of the “DB Cooper” letters are bogus.
6. Cooper was probably wearing a toupee and a little putty makeup, but very much of the latter would be hard to disguise up close.
BAS: No one reported that DB Cooper was wearing any make-up of any kind. Nor perfume, cologne, etc. Why do you think he was when Tina sat next to him for five hours and never reported anything like a toupee or nose putty?
7. The sunglasses probably kept his night vision sharp for the jump as well as possibly covering color contacts. (I found an online patent for modern ones that noted past color contacts were tinted but the effect was to make the eyes look doll-like, glassy – could that, in cabin light, be what made Flo think of the word “piercing”?)
BAS. Highly speculative, and I don’t buy it.
8. Very interesting theory about Cooper’s ground escape by the gentleman who thinks Cooper was avenging his daughter’s death at the hands of her hijacking ex. I think he has the suspect wrong – it doesn’t make sense to me to become a hijacker because your daughter was killed by one – but is probably right on the money about the escape route. I don’t think it would have been easy to coordinate with any accomplices – or even necessary – and I don’t think Cooper’s initial lack of certainly about the destination was a planning oversight. He obviously always intended to jump. He just needed to go south, and not all that far south, either. It sounds like he knew the Sea-Tac area pretty well.
BAS: Bill Rollins’ getaway by boat is elegant, but I don’t think that was how DBC got away. Too iffy jumping right at Merwin Dam. The whole gambit has too many moving parts to make it workable.
9. Re: the bag(s) mentioned by two of the passengers. The dimensions given by the female witness exactly match those of a boot box in my living room. A quick search of vintage skydiving boots shows Corcoran boots came in a box of about those dimensions. I’m not sure where one would have bought them, but a 1971 episode of TV show Cannon I just watched had a strong, off-white bag without logo as the sales sack for a baseball mitt. Sporting goods store standard, maybe?
They don’t seem to be talking about the same bag mentioned by Tina Mucklow, which was small and green. If Cooper didn’t have boots with him, perhaps the bag contained strong rubber bands, but that’s pure conjecture; any number of useful items could have fit into either bag. Oh, and Tina’s description of Cooper’s footwear was pretty detailed and sounded more like ankle boots than regular loafers, more a type of shoe that would stay on the foot.
BAS: Your comments are a bit confusing to me. I only know of one bag – it was 4x4x10 inches – a little smaller than the briefcase. Paper or burlap. Pink, tan, or green – take your pick of colors. Boots? Could be. But why? Skydivers talk about diving out of planes wearing only flip-flops. The whole notion of being under-dressed for the jump is a spin job by the feds in my view. Further, how many copycats had jump boots? Corcs or not. None that I know of. The guy wearing cowboy boots – Richard LePlant did sprain his ankle though – but it was January in Colorado and had frozen ground and snow.