After retiring from military service in , he worked as an ROTC instructor, taught military law at Weber State University in Ogden , Utah , and hosted a radio talk show in Salt Lake City which featured discussions about the paranormal. Gossett was widely known to be obsessed with the Cooper hijacking. He amassed a voluminous collection of Cooper-related news articles, and told one of his wives that he knew enough about the case to "write the epitaph for D.
Late in his life he reportedly told three of his sons, a retired Utah judge, and a friend in the Salt Lake City public defender 's office that he had committed the hijacking. According to Galen Cook, a lawyer who has collected information related to Gossett for years, Gossett once showed his sons a key to a Vancouver , British Columbia , safe deposit box which, he claimed, contained the long-missing ransom money.
He speculated that Gossett gambled the money away in Las Vegas.
In , Gossett changed his name to "Wolfgang" and became a Roman Catholic priest, which Cook and others interpreted as an effort to disguise his identity. Cooper" and mailed to three newspapers within days after the hijacking, although there is no evidence that the actual hijacker created or mailed any of the letters.
The FBI has no direct evidence implicating Gossett, and cannot even reliably place him in the Pacific Northwest at the time of the hijacking. Cooper case," said Special Agent Carr, "other than the statements [Gossett] made to someone. Robert Richard Lepsy was a year-old grocery store manager and married father of four from Grayling , Michigan , who disappeared in October His vehicle was found three days later at a local airport, and a man matching Lepsy's description was reportedly seen boarding a flight to Mexico.
Authorities concluded that Lepsy had left voluntarily and closed their investigation. Two years after the Cooper hijacking, family members noted that Lepsy's physical features resembled those in the Cooper composite drawings, and asserted that Cooper's clothing was described as very similar to Lepsy's grocery store uniform. Lepsy was declared legally dead in Although his name continues to crop up in Cooper articles and documentaries, no substantial evidence implicates him, and the FBI no longer considers him a suspect. Theodore E.
Mayfield was a Special Forces veteran, pilot, competitive skydiver, and skydiving instructor who served time in for negligent homicide after two of his students died when their parachutes failed to open. His criminal record also included armed robbery and transportation of stolen aircraft. He was ruled out, based partly on the fact that he called Himmelsbach less than two hours after Flight landed in Reno to volunteer advice on standard skydiving practices and possible landing zones.
In , two amateur researchers named Daniel Dvorak and Matthew Myers proposed Mayfield as a suspect once again, asserting that they had assembled a convincing circumstantial case. Dvorak and Myers called any inference of collusion a "blatant lie". McCoy was an Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, first as a demolition expert, and later, with the Green Berets as a helicopter pilot.
On April 7, , McCoy staged the best-known of the so-called "copycat" hijackings see below. In their book, D. They cited obvious similarities in the two hijackings, claims by McCoy's family that the tie and mother-of-pearl tie clip left on the plane belonged to McCoy, and McCoy's own refusal to admit or deny that he was Cooper. Cooper at the same time. Although there is no reasonable doubt that McCoy committed the Denver hijacking, the FBI does not consider him a suspect in the Cooper case because of significant mismatches in age and description;  a level of skydiving skill well above that thought to be possessed by the hijacker;  and credible evidence that McCoy was in Las Vegas on the day of the Portland hijacking,  and at home in Utah the day after, having Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
Robert Wesley Rackstraw — July 9, was a retired pilot and ex-convict who served on an army helicopter crew and other units during the Vietnam War. He came to the attention of the Cooper task force in February , after he was arrested in Iran and deported to the U.
Several months later, while released on bail , Rackstraw attempted to fake his own death by radioing a false mayday call and telling controllers that he was bailing out of a rented plane over Monterey Bay.
In , Rackstraw re-emerged as a suspect in a History Channel program  and a book. The suit alleges that the FBI suspended active investigation of the Cooper case "in order to undermine the theory that Rackstraw is D. Cooper so as to prevent embarrassment for the bureau's failure to develop evidence sufficient to prosecute him for the crime. One of the Flight flight attendants reportedly "did not find any similarities" between photos of Rackstraw from the s and her recollection of Cooper's appearance.
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Cooper, "I told everybody I was the hijacker ," Rackstraw said, before explaining the admission was a stunt. A June article circulated claiming private investigators "decoded" a previously publicly unknown letter on file with the FBI, which purportedly includes a disguised confession. Rackstraw died on July 9, Walter R. Reca born Walter R. Peca was a Michigan native,  a military veteran and original member of the Michigan Parachute Team.
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Cooper to Laurin via a recorded phone call. He also allowed Laurin to tape their phone conversations about the crime over a six-week period in late He also confessed to his niece, Lisa Story. He assumed the man's car had broken down and was walking to get assistance. The man sat next to him and asked if he would be able to give his friend directions if he called him on the phone. Shortly after that, Osiadacz left for the Grange Hall to play in a band. The man offered to pay for his coffee, and the two amicably parted.
He described Osiadacz in detail, recalling that he was wearing western gear and had a guitar case. He dubbed him "Cowboy". Laurin consulted a map to find these landmarks and began making phone calls about the "Cowboy who had driven a dump truck. In , Laurin took the information to publisher Principia Media, who consulted with Joe Koenig, a forensic linguist. Koenig found no evidence of tampering or manipulation and deemed all documentation authentic and contemporaneous.
After comparing Laurin's research to the available FBI records, he found no discrepancies that eliminated Reca as a suspect. Reca was D. Smith — , of Bloomfield, New Jersey,  as a possible suspect. The article was based on research from a U. Army data analyst who sent his findings to the FBI in mid After high school he enlisted in the Navy and volunteered for combat air crew training, citing his desire to fly. The article theorized that the loss of his pension created a grudge against the corporate establishment and transportation industry.
It also created a sudden need for money due to that loss of pension. Army analyst stated that his research began after he made connections between William J. Smith and the book D. The Oregonian article states that particles such as aluminum spiral chips found on the clip-on tie could have come from a locomotive maintenance facility.
Furthermore, it states that Smith's information about the Seattle area may have come from his close friend from the railroad, Dan Clair, who was stationed at Fort Lewis during World War II. Duane L.
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Weber was a World War II Army veteran who served time in at least six prisons from to for burglary and forgery. He was proposed as a suspect by his widow, based primarily on a deathbed confession: Three days before he died in , Weber told his wife, "I am Dan Cooper. She went to her local library to research D.
Cooper, found Max Gunther 's book, and discovered notations in the margins in her husband's handwriting.
She then recalled, in retrospect, that Weber once had a nightmare during which he talked in his sleep about jumping from a plane, leaving his fingerprints on the "aft stairs". Like the hijacker, Weber drank bourbon and chain smoked. Other circumstantial evidence included a trip to Seattle and the Columbia River, during which Weber took a walk alone along the river bank in the Tina Bar area; four months later Brian Ingram made his ransom cash discovery in the same area.
The FBI eliminated Weber as an active suspect in July when his fingerprints did not match any of those processed in the hijacked plane,  and no other direct evidence could be found to implicate him. Cooper was not the first to attempt air piracy for personal gain.
In early November , for example, a Canadian man named Paul Joseph Cini hijacked an Air Canada DC-8 over Montana, but was overpowered by the crew when he put down his shotgun to strap on the parachute he had brought with him. In all, 15 hijackings similar to Cooper's — all unsuccessful — were attempted in A quick-thinking flight attendant had secretly drugged Tripp's alcoholic beverage with Valium.
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After a hour standoff, during which Tripp reduced his demands to three cheeseburgers and a head start on getting away, he was apprehended. When the plane landed in Portland, he was shot and killed by FBI agents. The Cooper hijacking marked the beginning of the end for unfettered and unscrutinized commercial airline travel. Despite the initiation of the federal Sky Marshal Program the previous year,  31 hijackings were committed in U.
Amid multiple lawsuits charging that such searches violated Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, federal courts ruled that they were acceptable when applied universally, and when limited to searches for weapons and explosives. This made it possible for the cockpit crew to observe people in the passenger cabin without having to open the cockpit door. In , the hijacked aircraft was sold by Northwest to Piedmont Airlines where it was re-registered NN and continued in domestic carrier service.