Over the last few years, this writer has seen it all in the unsolved D.B. Cooper hijacking case. This includes some of the most heinous exchanges on the internet, as different interested parties and armchair investigators jockey for position. But what exactly makes the Cooper case different from OTHER unsolved cases such as Jack the Ripper, the Black Dahlia, or even the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa? What makes anonymous crazies come out of the internet woodwork and post the most nutzoid crap you’ve ever read? What motivates people to go to such extremes that they begin impersonating the very people they are attacking?
Frankly, it’s complicated. And weird. But it’s been going on for years. There are three main groups in this scenario, and one of them is a person who operates alone. The other two are genuine ‘groups’.
The first, and largest of these groups are certain fans of the Cooper case and the most well-known armchair investigators. We will call them ‘Cooper Heaven’. They are headed up by two main people, i.e. Bruce Smith of the WordPress site Mountain News, and Dave Brown, (‘Shutter’) the founder of The DB Cooper Forum Dot Com, which claims to be the biggest website on the case. The second is a loner, (and in this writer’s opinion a complete basket case) named Bob Knoss. (Knoss is Cooperland’s ‘Conspiracy King,’ and even die-hard fans figure he’s playing with a short deck.) The third is yours truly, which includes the staff of Adventure Books of Seattle, and their fans.
If you check out internet forums on those other unsolved cases, you will see little of what goes on in Cooperland. In other words, people don’t generally fight among each other about the Scorpio case, Jack the Ripper, or even Jimmy Hoffa, (who most likely ended up as dog food in some Mafia-controlled pet food factory anyway.)
So what makes the Cooper case a magnet for all this hostility?
The key word is ‘unsolved’. Many of the people who inhabit Cooper Heaven enjoy the discussions on the case, but in the back of their minds always lurks an alluring possibility: That one of them, or a combination of them, might actually stumble onto the solution and figure out who D.B. really was and how he pulled off his little caper. And since Cooper has been the subject of much television and a couple of movies, it also makes sense that one or more of them could suddenly find themselves on late-night TV or be offered media contracts. There is an undercurrent in Cooperland, lurking and waiting for someone to pop up and say:
“Discussion is over! I solved it! Now start calling me with your offers, please…”
The flip side is that other Cooper folk have a fear of that happening, and whenever someone starts getting really serious on a suspect, that’s when the remainder of Cooperland starts jumping all over them. And the more serious the proposal on a suspect, the worse it is for the person presenting the evidence.
But there are other factors at work as well. You could solve the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa for example – but Hoffa was a guy with enemies, and it might actually be dangerous if you started pointing fingers at his killers. Scorpio? No one likes a heinous killer and he’s probably dead anyway. Jack the Ripper is LONG dead and actually solving that case would only be a footnote to the extensive material already out there on him.
Cooper is different. Cooper had guts, charisma, and was the guy who stuck it to the man for what amounts to a million bucks today. A romantic character in history, no matter what the F.B.I. thought. Charming the stewardesses, always polite, and with the absolute gall and nerve to leap from a commercial jet airliner at night with a single working chute. He got what he wanted, didn’t hurt anyone doing it, and exited at the next stop – which was over the forests of Western Washington state – never to be seen again.
Woo-hoo, baby. Fonzie with a parachute.
As readers can see, if someone actually solved the Cooper case, two things would happen. First, the entire internet discussion on him would collapse soon after all the facts emerged. People who had been working on their own pet theories would realize all their work, their thousands of postings, all their posturing, all their ATTACKS on others…would have gone for nothing. Second, the person who solved the case would reach hero-worship status not only in the Great Northwest, but in certain parts of the world. Not forever. Nothing lasts. But a while, anyway. The Cooper case has a lot of fans.
Again, there is a flip side to becoming Bigger Than Bigfoot. You have to get past the hatred, and that ain’t an easy job. This writer can tell you from personal experience that other Cooper fans will lie, cheat, misrepresent your presented evidence, and even go after you personally – should you be arrogant enough to seriously present a suspect. They will even go on the internet and impersonate not only YOU, but everyone you know, or anyone you name as part of your evidence. It’s completely crazy.
A relatively recent example of this is when this writer discovered more than eighty phony postings to a 2017 article at Unsolved Mysteries. They impersonated not only ME, but my wife Gayla, my co-author Skipp Porteous, and even an FBI agent named John Jarvis who was a witness for us. There were only two real postings in the whole nutso affair. One where I made it possible for people to identify it was really me, and another by a lady named Vicki who left a verifiable link. (She believes her father might have been Cooper)
All the rest were phonies…just like many of the folks in Cooper Heaven.