By William S. Rollins III, Guest Contributor
In his book, DB Cooper and the FBI, author Bruce Smith talks about a controversial method of discovering past events, a practice called “Remote Viewing.” Bruce discusses his experiences with Remote Viewing, and some of the people that he made contact with.
Although I did not employ the Remote Viewing methodology, I have found the man that we all know as D. B. Cooper as a result of two major factors; Spiritual Guidance and logic. I define Spiritual Guidance as knowledge that is conveyed via some unknown or unrecognized communication channel. I would describe it as being akin to mental telepathy. As I state in my book, “there are forces at work in this universe that are far beyond what we understand.”
Four and a half years ago, I started my research into the case of D. B. Cooper. As I examined the conditions for Cooper’s skydive, I thought, “What is going through this man’s head?” Here is a middle-aged man jumping from the rear of a jet aircraft on a cold, rainy November night, and he can’t even see the ground. I knew something wasn’t right.
Then I read an article posted in the Mountain News, a brief review of the discussion that Jo Weber had with Tina Mucklow in 2003. Tina reportedly told Jo “He was a very sad man.” I thought to myself, “I wonder if something tragic has happened to this man?”
Instantly, I was overcome with emotion, my head down on my desk, and I was crying uncontrollably. It was as if someone had just told me that my wife and son had perished, and I was left alone in this world. I felt such utter despair and emotional devastation. I no longer had a purpose in life, so I didn’t want to live anymore, I wanted to be with them. Thus, I contemplated suicide.
But as I planned my ultimate demise, I remembered a key fact. Whatever happened to this man’s family wasn’t an accident, it was preventable. Thus, he harbored a grudge. I thought, “Why waste my life by jumping off a cliff, when I can jump out of an airplane and get my revenge.” So now my life had a purpose – revenge.
After coming to this realization, my emotional episode began to simmer. Although still quite shaken by this event, I was able to stop crying and lift my head off my desk. But I knew this was an external influence that had caused me to understand this man and his emotions. A few days later, I would question whether this was truly an external influence and returned to this emotional outburst, again, crying uncontrollably. At this point I realized that I had been given very important information; this man had endured some tragedy and his grudge was his motivation, not the ransom money.
Although some will dismiss Spiritual Guidance as pseudoscience, I have not shied away from devoting a chapter in my book to this phenomenon, nor did I exclude it from my podcast on the Cooper Vortex. Spiritual Guidance is the essential ingredient that has allowed me to unravel this mystery.
So, as a pilot familiar with aviation and air traffic control, and as an engineer trained to be calculating and logical, I uncovered Cooper’s ingenious plan. It was obvious that this man got away. I was compelled to write in my book what I had discovered.
After finishing my book, I began searching for this man. I searched for a man who had endured some tragic event, but would have held a grudge. Many would be eliminated, but one man fit all of the attributes of D. B. Cooper. As I kept finding more information, I still could not eliminate this man.
Now, the evidence is overwhelming. Just as the Citizen Sleuths completed a probability analysis on Cooper’s tie, I completed a probability analysis on the man I had found, a quiet, polite man from Nashville, Tennessee named Joe Lakich. He is one-in-a-trillion. I realized D. B. Cooper can be no one else.
Initially, I had very few pictures of Joe Lakich, and some had poor resolution. However, in the summer of 2020, I received several pictures of Joe. When I lined up his face with the FBI sketch of D. B. Cooper, it was a miraculous match. It was the evidence that “sealed the deal.”
As I look back over these past four and a half years, I am humbled by what has happened. In July of 2016, I was just another person with a casual interest in knowing the outcome of the D. B. Cooper case. Within four days of research (starting with the announcement that the FBI had closed the case), I knew with 100% certainty that something tragic had happened to this man, and his grudge was his motivation.
Since then, I have written a book that details this man’s ingenious plan, and searched through history to find his identity. But none of this would have been possible without Spiritual Guidance. As I reflect on these events, I realize that I have been chosen to find this man and tell his story.
Feeling this obligation to relate the events of late 1971, I decided it would be appropriate to inform the FBI of my findings. I had sent information to Larry Carr in the past, via an email address that was supplied by the citizens of Cooperville. However, I never received any replies or even an acknowledgment that he had read my information.
Thus, in early September of 2020, I contacted an FBI media relations person in Boston, since I live in New Hampshire. Kristen was helpful, and I explained that I knew the identity of D. B. Cooper. Due to her young age, I don’t think she even knew who D. B. Cooper was. I explained that the overall result of this case would be a black eye for the FBI, but at least a 49-year old case would be solved. Her opinion was that the FBI would want closure.
I mentioned that Larry Carr would be the ideal agent to contact, as in this video, he states that if the case ever reopened, he would be the first with hand up saying “me, me, me.” She agreed to help me contact Larry.
Two weeks went by, and I had not received a reply from Kristen. As it turns out, she had passed my request on to her counterpart in the Seattle office. She sent a reminder, and shortly thereafter I was contacted via email by a media relations person at FBI Headquarters.
In essence, this crew of three media personnel were trying to decide how I should get my information to Larry. They would not confirm or deny his email address, and by early October, hadn’t come to any conclusions. Time was of the essence, so I sent the following email message to Larry on October 2nd, with a copy to each of the three media relations personnel.
I have been trying to reach you for nearly a month (through the FBI offices), but time is running out.
This coming Sunday, October 4th, is an important anniversary, as this is the date where the story of D. B. Cooper begins.
I would ask that you watch this YouTube video on what is now referred to as the 58 November incident:
The young woman killed in this incident was named Susan Lakich (maiden name) and she was D. B. Cooper’s daughter. Yes, retired Major Joseph S. Lakich was D. B. Cooper. The attached presentation spells it out. He is one-in-10-billion; it can be no one else. And if there never was this 58 November incident, there never would have been a D. B. Cooper.
Interestingly enough, Ralph Himmelsbach mentions this incident in his book Norjak. Also, the attached FBI documents prove that Cooper hijacked Flight 305 because he had a grudge to settle. Also note that more than 30 years after the Cooper hijacking, Tina would tell Jo Weber that “Cooper was a very sad man” Joe hijacked the plane just 51 days after his daughter was killed.
I have been told that Joe adored his daughter Susan. After her death, I believe he in some ways felt life wasn’t worth living. So, he became Dan Cooper, and took on a daring mission in the name of Justice, Justice for his daughter Susan. And as Ckret knows, no skydiver in his right mind is making this jump for the money!
I believe it is time for a documentary film on this man and the real D. B. Cooper. I am asking for your help. Here are the reasons why this documentary is necessary:
- Ralph has passed away and so has Capt. Scott and others. We need to preserve history. Bill Rataczak told me that he doesn’t do many documentaries because they usually have an agenda, and he only wants to tell the truth. We need for him, other members of the flight crew, and key witnesses to tell their story before they no longer can.
- There is more evidence to be gathered. DNA comparison, additional witnesses, and ultimately, finding the ransom money.
- The world needs to understand the truth of this event.
This could be done in a manner such that your time and expenses, as well as mine, could come from the film budget. It think it could be fun as well!
In closing, Larry, do you have children? This Sunday marks the 49th anniversary of when the D. B. Cooper saga begins. I would like you to look at this enduring mystery from another perspective, that of a man who has lost his lovely daughter and is in deep despair. Perhaps this understanding will help you see who D. B. Cooper was, an everyday person like most of us who just got pushed over the edge.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Note: The presentation that I provided to Larry is similar to my YouTube video “D. B. Cooper – The Man We All Know as D. B. Cooper.” See previously noted link “Evidence” in this article.
I never got a reply from Larry nor the media relations people at the FBI.
Then, in January 2021, I happened to notice that the FBI publishes a magazine called the “Law Enforcement Bulletin.” They actively seek articles from outside contributors. I decided to submit an article for publication. It is shown below.
When Law Enforcement is the Criminal
By William S. Rollins III
Law enforcement is the responsibility of the police, prosecutors, and agents of the government. But it is also the responsibility of the citizens. The general populace wants a safe and secure society where all are free to conduct their daily lives without criminal threats.
And this common ideal is demonstrated every day, as many times law enforcement is able to find and prosecute offenders because they receive help from the general public. This is a healthy relationship; police and the people working together for a common goal.
However, through the past decades, there has become an ever-increasing divide between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to serve. In instances where people have felt betrayed by law enforcement, there have been reprisals. Some citizens have even resorted to violence, with just one example being the Dallas Police shootings of 2016, where a man shot and killed five police officers in response to incidents where black men were killed by law enforcement.
I will discuss two distinct historical cases, each with differing stances taken by law enforcement, and each with a profoundly different effect on the reputation of law enforcement personnel.
The first case dates back to 2004 in Boston Massachusetts. The Red Sox baseball team had rallied from a 3-game deficit to win a 7-game series against the New York Yankees, and win the American League pennant. People crowded the streets in celebration. But as is usual for these types of jubilation, some go beyond celebration, and vandalism ensues. The Boston Police responded.
However, to quell the property damage, they used what was deemed to be a non-lethal device, a gun which shot a “rubber bullet”. One bullet missed its intended target and struck an innocent bystander directly in the eye, a young 21-year old student named Victoria Snelgrove. Victoria would succumb to her injuries 12 hours later in the hospital.
But rather than try to divert the blame for Victoria’s death, within hours of the incident, Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole announces, “The Boston Police Department accepts full responsibility for the death of Victoria Snelgrove.” The Boston Police Department made the ethically correct decision. There were no reprisals.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can find an incident where law enforcement clearly was at fault for the death of innocent people, but refused to accept blame for its negligence. The incident that I refer to happened on October 4th, 1971, and is so notorious that it has its own name, the 58 November hijacking.
Although warned that the hijacker was a dangerous neurotic, and that complying with his demands would assure everyone would be alright, the FBI took a hard stance. When the hijacked charter plane lands in Jacksonville, Florida, the FBI agents refused to refuel the aircraft. They took further steps to impede the hijacker by shooting out the tires and pumping bullets into the operating engine until it stops.
Realizing he was trapped, the hijacker shot and killed the pilot, shot and killed his kidnapped wife, and then shot and killed himself. This incident has earned the distinction as an example of how not to deal with hostage situations.
In the aftermath, there was public outcry that the FBI mishandled the case. The father of the young woman killed, retired Major Joseph Lakich, stated in the media that “The FBI made a gross error” in the way they handled the situation. He later stated in public “The FBI has blood on its hands.” But the FBI insisted that they handled the incident to perfection, and would do exactly the same if the situation were to present itself again.
The families of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI. The FBI was not forthcoming with evidence from the incident. They employed legal tactics, for instance, stating “you can’t sue us, we are the government.” When the legal tactics didn’t succeed, the families of the victims were harassed, as they are always followed as they leave their homes. In addition, they received intimidating phone calls in the middle of the night.
But I mention this 58 November incident not because my research started here, but this is where it has ended. As discussed previously, when people feel they have been betrayed by law enforcement, there may be reprisals, and this story is no exception. However, until now, no one has realized that the only unsolved hijacking in the U. S., a 49-year old mystery, the Legend of D. B. Cooper, was one man’s revenge against the FBI.
In July 2016, after the FBI closed the D. B. Cooper investigation, I took a heightened interest in this case. But being an engineer, the forensic evidence, the particles found in Cooper’s clip-on tie, implied he could be an engineer. I took an entirely different perspective on this man; he was not a “dumb criminal,” but rather an intelligent, but everyday person with an intense grudge.
Through research and logic, I uncovered his ingenious plan. I was so overcome by what I had found, that I was compelled to write a book about it.
Knowing Cooper had escaped, and realizing something tragic had happened to this man, I began to search through the tragedies of the day. I looked at the Kent State Massacre, major airline crashes, and even Vietnam War casualties. I examined a few hundred men, all of whom would be eliminated because they didn’t fit the physical description of D. B. Cooper, didn’t have the necessary aviation knowledge, wouldn’t have worn a clip-on tie in a manufacturing environment, etc.
But one incident and one man became my focus. This man was retired Major Joe Lakich, a decorated Army veteran. His daughter Susan was killed in the Five-Eight November incident.
After retirement from the Army in 1961, Joe worked in electronics manufacturing, and all the metals found in Cooper’s tie were utilized in this industry, including titanium, bismuth, gold, silver, and palladium. Joe was stationed in Europe in the late 1950’s, thus his connection to the Dan Cooper comics. He fit the FBI physical description perfectly. But most important was his grudge. As stated, after his daughter was killed, he was quoted as saying “the FBI has blood on its hands.”
I have completed a series of videos that provide the evidence for all of these unique attributes of Joe Lakich. He is one-in-a-trillion! D. B. Cooper can be no one else.
Note that Joe was 50 years old when he hijacked NWA Flight 305 on November 24, 1971.
But unlike other reprisals, this one was non-violent. D. B. Cooper didn’t kill or hurt anyone. He is even described as being “very polite at all times.” While the public can’t condone violent reprisals where innocent police officers are killed, this reprisal is different. This is part of the reason D. B. Cooper has become a folk hero.
The FBI’s negligent handling of the 58 November incident, combined with their failure to accept responsibility, along with the harassment of the families of the victims, certainly is the polar opposite of the Boston Police response to the 2004 death of Victoria Snelgrove.
The title of this article, “When Law Enforcement is the Criminal,” becomes evident as we reflect upon the events of late 1971. For we will realize, that without this 58 November incident, there never would have been a D. B. Cooper. So, when we ask ourselves “who was the real criminal in the D. B. Cooper case?” The answer will be, the FBI itself.
The Editor of the Law Enforcement Bulletin did reply. Her response is below.
Thank you for your e-mail and article submission. We have completed our review. Although the reviewers found the article interesting, they did not feel it was a good fit for the Bulletin.
We appreciate your interest in the LEB and the opportunity to review your article.
It appears that the FBI is still not prepared to make amends for its transgressions of the past.
So, although Bruce Smith’s adventures in Remote Viewing did not yield the results for which he had hoped, I maintain that he received Spiritual Guidance, as the title of his book, DB Cooper and the FBI, is quite prophetic.
In essence, the D. B. Cooper case is a reprisal for the wrongdoings of the FBI.
It is about a man who was so distraught over the death of his daughter that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But the negligence, arrogance, and harassment by the FBI was too much. He knew there would be no Justice.
Thus, he drew upon his military training as a logistics officer, utilized his experience in electronics by deploying an avionics device, and used his nautical skills – perhaps even his own ski boat – to give the FBI a case that they never could solve. He had become Dan Cooper, a sensitive but daring military man who had taken on a mission in the name of Justice.
Joe Lakich spanked the FBI.
Through the years, D. B. Cooper has been referred to as a modern-day Robin Hood. In actuality, he is a modern-day Count of Monte Cristo, as he exacts his revenge, but does so in such an eloquent fashion.
William S. Rollins III
Note: The author would like to extend his thanks to Bruce Smith and the Mountain News-WA for this opportunity to be a Guest Contributor.
Author Bill Rollins, above, attended the CooperCon 2019 and has been researching the DB Cooper case for several years. Picture provided courtesy of Mr. Rollins.
Yep, and if anyone would have followed up you might have caught him at the VA in Indianapolis
Tell us more, Fudge!
Bruce, I already told you the story of meeting John Smith….AKA D. B. Cooper back in the 80’s
It’s hard to argue with the motive and grudge, and it really has the makings of a Hollywood movie or a modern day Poe story, (tragedy/revenge). I am going to listen to your Cooper Vortex pod cast to learn more…good luck in your Cooper endeavors.
I agree, Frank. Hard to argue with a man who weeps over his insights.
Indeed Bruce, don’t tell anyone, but I fight back a good weep during chick flics that I am forced to watch…on rare occasions!
Bill, got through most of the podcast. Really, a nice presentation of your Joe Lakich candidacy, and I find it compelling, and appreciate the effort you have put into this.
A couple thoughts (I’m just an average dude with a wife, kids and a mortgage, so take it with a grain of salt):
– The skill to stand on the aft stairs and watch for a good spot to jump, even if you have reconnoitered the area as part of a master plan and are looking for specific landmarks, I am somewhat skeptical as to whether someone without this type of experience in their past could pull this off. Not to digress, one of the other candidates, William J Smith, I believe has that specific skill according to the Anonymous gentlemen. If Joe has some parachuting in his past, perhaps that could make it reasonable that he could have done it.
– From a narrative perspective, I love how you made Tena Bar part of the plan, not a random character in the story.
– Can you find out his where abouts on the night in question in 1971 ? That is the key in my opinion to take this candidate further, sounds like the family clammed up. But if you could get some specific details about where he was on that night, that would be critical.
– Too bad Tom Kaye didn’t give you much thought. I know I have heard him, (not personally), speak about the need of people to champion a candidate.
– Lastly, nice and “wicked” New England accent !
Yup, I love talking with Bill and hearing that New England accent.
Cooper could not see the ground on the night of his jump. Champion skydivers state that they wouldn’t make Cooper’s jump for any amount of money. Any man making this jump has to understand that death is a real possibility. For Joe Lakich, live or die, this was a win-win situation. If he lives, the FBI gets a 49-year old mystery, if he dies, the media will want to know who he is, and thus their attention will return to the 58 November debacle.
But Joe worked in electronics, and I believe he may have worked on a device like this from the March 1971 issue of “Flying” magazine (page 6).
Using a DME device like this (in his briefcase or paper bag brought on board), he could have known approximately where to jump. The fact that he came down near Merwin dam is no coincidence! Hear what Leonard Nimoy has to say;
Listen at about 10:10,…”He would have known exactly where he was.”
Joe was married with two (adult) children in 1971. His daughter was killed in the 58 November incident and his son died in 1992. His wife passed away in 2004 and he died on February 4, 2017. It has been difficult to find credible witnesses who can attest to his whereabouts in late November 1971.
Cooper was described as having “no particular accent”. I guess I couldn’t get away with this, someone would state “we just got hijacked by a guy from Maine” (where I grew up).
Thanks for your comments.
Thanks for your responses !
– The DME device is a very interesting possibility.
– Sad that both of his children died before him but also interesting that his son was alive at the time of the hijacking.
Well done Bill!
I know where Richard Floyd McCoy was on 24 November 1971. He was on Northwest Orient Flt #305
I trust he had a good flight. Perhaps you can tell us how he got to Las Vegas afterwards?
Here are a few questions for you to ponder regarding McCoy;
1) Did McCoy have a dark complexion?
2) Did he have dark eyes?
3) Was he middle-aged?
4) Why did he give his name as “Dan Cooper”.
5) How did $5800 of his ransom money end up at Tena Bar?
6) Where did the remainder of the money end up?
7) Why didn’t his fingerprints match those of Cooper? (See FBI document DB Cooper – 8046).
8) Why didn’t Tina and Flo identify him as the hijacker?
9) Where did he wear his clip-on tie and acquire particles with rare elements like pure titanium, bismuth, gold, silver, and palladium?
10) The stated reason for this hijacking was that Cooper had a grudge to settle. What was McCoy’s grudge?
Unlike Joe Lakich, Richard Floyd McCoy doesn’t have answers that align with the FBI information and the forensic evidence.
McCoy was not D. B. Cooper.
You present truly interesting research and compelling circumstantial evidence. I concur with the motivation for a grudge. However, the revenge plot doesn’t entirely add up for me. The wrongful death suit by the families occurred three years after the Cooper hijacking in 1974. The $200,000 ransom was just then the “Macguffin”? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the money come from the airline which certainly doesn’t punish the FBI. Furthermore, if we are to ascribe to the embarrass the FBI theory the fact that the case has been unsolved is not enough. This assumes that Lakich knew/expected he would get away with it and someday the case would be solved. Lakich made no death bed confession? The FBI certainly never has(nor would) express embarrassment. Simply because the case has not been solved still allows for the FBI’s prevailing “he perished in the river and there’s no body” theory to withstand. Lastly, assuming Lakich and Cooper are one and the same consider Cooper’s anger when he didn’t get exactly what he asked. Granted, grief-stricken people certainly may not think clearly yet, doesn’t his anger imply his expectation of surviving the jump rather than being indifferent to his life? I appreciate your research and look forward to what you may yet uncover.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed against the FBI within a few weeks of the 58 November incident. It would take several years and an appeal before the families got compensation.
When Cooper got the money on the 727 in Seattle, Tina jokingly says to him “there’s a lot of money in that bag, can I have some”? Cooper pulls out a bundle of cash, 100 – $20 bills, and hands it to her (equal to about $12,000 in 2021 money). She refuses since company policy forbids her from taking tips, but he certainly didn’t seem greedy.
Although the money, $200,000 was paid by Northwest, they got 90% of it back from their insurance company. But consider this; the FBI expended tens of thousands of man-hours on this case, considered over 1000 suspects, and spent, I estimate, millions of dollars. I’m sure that they would have been happy to get out for $200,000 knowing what the true costs for this case would be.
My understanding is that Joe Lakich lived in his home until the latter part of his life, but developed dementia and had to be moved to an assisted living home. He died at age 95. Maybe he couldn’t even discuss the event as he neared the end of his life.
If you think Cooper died from his jump, see my video “D. B. Cooper – The Money Find”. I challenge you to find a better explanation for the money found at Tena Bar that agrees with the latest scientific findings.
I certainly don’t say that Cooper/Joe was indifferent to living or dying. However, no sane man can believe that this jump had a 100% guarantee. He had to understand the risk. A greedy man after money probably wouldn’t take this risk (skydivers state no amount of money could entice them to make this jump). The goal of a thief is to get away with the money so he can spend it. Joe certainly wanted to live and succeed, however, if his plan doesn’t work out, there is the consolation that his death will have some greater purpose.
” There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy ”
This line from Hamlet is Shakespeare’s way of telling us; There are limits to what we can know scientifically …and the immaterial, is real.
Thank you, Bills
Thank you, Joel.
I’m certainly not advocating that Cooper died in the jump. I was referring to the FBI rhetoric. I certainly believe the jump was survivable. You’ve done some fine research, however, if this were a trial I don’t believe you have enough yet to convict Lakich. If you follow the Zodiac Killer case there are multiple suspects with significant circumstantial evidence. The suspect sketch in that case resembles many suspects who one would typically say look nothing alike. While a sketch is mostly useful in leading to a suspect, in this case, I will say I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a sketch and photo look as remarkably the same as Cooper and Lakich. I wonder if Lakich was ever on the FBIs radar?
It certainly takes a lot to convict someone. We must go beyond reasonable doubt.
I requested the DNA report on Cooper from the FBI through the FOIA, but was denied. The answer I received was very bureaucratical, but if I had to sum it up, it was basically “we don’t want to give it to you”.
If I had DNA evidence would that make a difference? You may know, the DNA from Cooper’s tie only provides a partial profile. While it cannot convict anyone, it can eliminate those who don’t match.
My analysis puts Joe at one-in-a-trillion. Is that as good as a DNA match? Note that for years I had to work on evidence like his military history, his workplace, physical description, etc. Within the last 7 or 8 months, I got the picture of Joe in his military attire. When I lined up his face with that of the FBI sketch, for me it was the evidence that “sealed the deal”.
Joe was not a criminal, just an everyday man described as a nice person by all I talk to. He was, however, an everyday man that got pushed over the edge. His family had no idea that he was D. B. Cooper (although some are agreeing with me now), so I don’t think he was ever on the FBI radar.