The D.B. Cooper skyjacking mystery is one of the greatest unsolved crimes of the 20th century, and a new book claims to reveal the true identity of the famous skyjacking.
For those unfamiliar with the case, in November of 1971, a man disguised as an unsuspecting business traveler hijacked a Northwest Orient Boeing 727 from Portland to Seattle with a fake bomb, and parachuted out of the back of the plane with $200,000 in ransom money. His false name supplied on the flight manifest was “Dan Cooper.” He’s never been seen or heard from since. The most enduring image of Cooper is from the now infamous FBI sketches.
While traces of the ransom money have been discovered in past years, no substantive leads as to the identity of Cooper have developed beyond speculation and educated guessing. Some say the located ransom money suggests he died in his leap from the plane. Others believe Cooper survived the leap.
A new book titled D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, A Spy, My Best Friend, claims the Cooper hijacking was pulled off by a former 82nd airborne paratrooper turned intelligence officer named Walter R. Reca, of Oscoda, Michigan, who died in 2014 at age 80. According to the book, Reca survived the jump and simply walked to a nearby cafe and called a friend:
After discarding the parachute he walked two and a half miles to the Teanaway Junction Cafe, in Washington State, and called his friend Don Brennan to come and pick him up.
But Reca had no idea where he was. So he asked a man in the cafe, a cowboy-hat-wearing local named Jeff Osiadacz, to give Brennan the directions over the phone.
‘He was soaking wet and freezing…and I remember he was wearing these penny loafers,’ said Osiadacz, who had no inkling that Reca had committed any crimes until 2012.
Brennan collected Reca and drove him home, to Hartline, Washington, where he changed his wet clothes and hid the money.”
Among the evidence obtained by author Carl Laurin that he cites as proof is a purported death bed confession he obtained from Reca, in which he admits to the hijacking and provides specific details, including how he informed the flight crew the plane was being hijacked, how he requested the ransom, and how he parachuted from the plane.
Obviously, many people will question that Reca is actually Cooper, given that there have been so many suspects that have been identified, but haven’t panned out. You can decide for yourself if you think the mystery is solved, or if it’s just another dead end in one of America’s most fascinating crimes. The elephant in the room here is that this guy looks absolutely nothing like the FBI sketches.
Here’s the entire press conference from yesterday where Laurin goes into further detail about why he firmly believes he has finally cracked the case. Believe the book or not, it’s always fun going down the DB Cooper rabbit hole.
Photo: Picture of Reca around the time the hijacking