By Tim Binnall
Robert Rackstraw, who many researchers suspect could have been behind the infamous D.B. Cooper skyjacking, has reportedly passed away at the age of 75. Thanks to his ties to Oregon, where the legendary 1971 caper took place, as well as a checkered past which included faking his own death to avoid criminal charges and spending time in prison for grand theft, he wound up popping up on the proverbial radar of investigators looking into the case shortly after the skyjacking occurred.
In 1978, the FBI briefly considered Rackstraw to be a person of interest in the case, but ultimately ruled him out in part because he was only 28 at the time that the crime took place and, therefore, seemingly did not match the age description provided by witnesses. Be that as it may, independent researchers were not so quick to dismiss the possibility that the retired pilot with military parachute training and a penchant for criminal activity could have been D.B Cooper.
In recent years, Rackstraw's name rose to prominence in Cooper research circles as well as the mainstream media due to the dogged work of journalist Thomas Colbert and his 40-person cold case team which includes a bevy of experts and former law enforcement officials. Since 2011, the group compiled a considerable amount of evidence which they say clearly indicates that Rackstraw was the mysterious skyjacker. Colbert and company detailed their findings in both a book, titled The Last Outlaw, as well as a documentary that aired on the History Channel in 2016.
For his part, Rackstraw appears to have initially relished the attention that came about when his name was first connected to the Cooper case in the late 1970s, seemingly delighting in hinting to various reporters that he could, in fact, have been the skyjacker. However, when Colbert and his team reignited the speculation these last few years, Rackstraw had a very different response to the allegations as his lawyer declared that the idea that his client was D.B. Cooper was "the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
Be that as it may, Colbert claims that, as recently as 2018, Rackstraw attempted to cash in on his newfound notoriety by secretly meeting with film producers in Los Angeles about bringing his story to the big screen and, presumably, revealing the truth about his role in the skyjacking. Alas, the movie never came to fruition and the much-discussed suspect passed away yesterday at his home in San Diego. In response to the news of Rackstraw's passing, Colbert issued a statement saying "while my cold case team believes he was Cooper, he was also a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Our condolences to the family."