By Bruce A. Smith
One of the fascinating – and troubling – aspects of the Internet is the need many users have to gossip. The draw of social media is a unique facet of modern life, and the criticisms and back-stabbing in chat rooms and on social media, like Facebook or Twitter, are major forces shaping our world. The Mountain News is not immune to this phenomenon, especially regarding DB Cooper. Since November 2017, Cooper postings at the Mountain News have resulted in over a thousand comments. Many of them require monitoring, often leading to removal by yours truly in my capacity as editor. But a thousand posts is significant, and invites an examination of what is transpiring.
The Mountain News-WA is one of the leading sites on the Internet discussing this iconic hijacking – and it’s free, leading to a lot of traffic from armchair sleuths and lovers of true crime mysteries. The DB Cooper skyjacking is the only crime of its kind in the history of the United States, and it is unsolved. In addition, the identity of DB Cooper is unknown and the FBI has no physical evidence from the heist other than a small pile of soggy twenty-dollar bills found on a Columbia River beach eight years after Cooper stole his jetliner. Adding to the mystery, no one has a definitive explanation of how the money landed at the river, or when.
Since the Cooper commentaries are becoming newsworthy, it may be useful to explore, or at least identify, some of the dynamics presenting themselves. Let’s start with describing the major players.
The primary poster is a fellow named “Shutter45,” who is also the founder and moderator of the DB Cooper Forum, a major site for technical discussion of the DB Cooper skyjacking. As such, Shutter is drawn into the Mountain News conversations to defend his actions at the DBC Forum, especially accusations from other Cooper sleuths, most notably author Robert M. Blevins, co-author of the highly controversial and generally discredited tome on Cooper, titled, Into the Blast – The True Story of DB Cooper.
Blevins is banned by Shutter from the DBC Forum for past bad behaviors, such as lying, character assassinations, and issuing personal threats to posters. Hence, the tensions are real and persistent. Their back-and-forth can be tedious, yet the bickering continues for it seems to serve some very deep needs.
Many Cooper aficionados are attracted to this action, and also to the opportunity to share pet theories or ask questions of the many Cooper sleuths in attendance. Surprisingly, many are young sleuths, such as Dovid Froiman, or NickyB123, who are passionate about their investigations. Dovid has a keen interest in the Tektronix connection uncovered by the Citizen Sleuth Team lead by Tom Kaye, who has identified over 100,000 unique metals and particles on the tie abandoned by DB Cooper on his airliner. Nicky, in turn, is exploring some of the Boeing employees of the 1971-era who would have the unique skill set and knowledge base that Cooper possessed, such as how to jump successfully from a 727.
Other posters are believed to be impostors, impersonating major figures in the DB Cooper investigation, such as a “Marla,” who seems to be trying to channel the infamous Marla Cooper, the charming lassie who spilled the beans about her Uncle Lynn Doyle Cooper to the FBI, who in turn announced in 2011 that LD Cooper was the “most promising” suspect in their 40-year investigation.
Some impostors are invoking the memory of past investigators, such as Sluggo, SafecrackerPLF, or Orange1 – all favorites of the online sleuthing community.
Yet, some illuminaries are legit. “Just Jo” seems to actually be Jo Weber, the Godmother of the DB Cooper Internet World, as she has been writing about her late husband, Duane Weber, since 1995. She continues to tout his supposed confession to the DB Cooper skyjacking, declaring he is the skyjacker despite Duane’s rejection by the FBI.
Frequent posters with good manners and interesting questions are Gypsy 23, TED, and Johnnie Green. Perhaps the most singular poster is Terry Batcher, who is a keen examiner of the letters sent to the FBI and signed “DB Cooper.” Terry is also deeply involved in the Zodiac and Jon Benet Ramsey murder investigations, and his lengthy missives add a quirky balance to the Norjak discussions, as that is the moniker the FBI has given to the DB Cooper investigation.
Current commentaries are concentrated on the DB Cooper article titled: DB Cooper News: “Flap over letters sent to FBI makes headlines nationwide,” posted on November 21, 2017. Link below:
Ironically, success is proving too difficult for the servers to maintain, and computer loadings are slowing down. As a result, I have been asked to start a new page to allow the comments to continue.
DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking is available as an E-Book or paper back from Amazon.