Suspects 101: Ten Good Reasons Why Walter Reca ISN’T D.B. Cooper (But You’ll Only Need ONE)

Walter R. Reca, a Michigan native who died in 2014 and was a member of a parachute team in that state, has been forwarded as a suspect in the Cooper hijacking. There are several glaring problems with this story, and the ten biggest ones are listed below.

Above: Walter Reca
Carl Laurin, the primary proponent of the Reca theory, has played a recording of a telephone call between himself and Reca for the press. On the recording are statements allegedly made by Reca telling Laurin things he said during the hijacking. One of them is a stewardess telling Reca, “I can’t believe you’re actually hijacking this airplane…” No such statement made by the hijacker has ever appeared in reports, and the conversations between Cooper and the stewardesses on board Flight 305 have been heavily documented. In other words, the real Cooper said no such thing.

  1. Reca’s niece, Lisa Story, came forward with a confession note allegedly written by Reca before his death, but the letter is unsigned. Story claims that when she read the letter, she told her uncle not to sign it and that’s the reason it has no signature.
  2. Reca’s supporters have presented several documents, including some passports, that they claim belong to Reca and are genuine. These documents were allegedly verified as genuine by a document forensics expert. However, other experts who have seen the passports say they are obvious fakes, as well as some of the other documents presented.
  3. Vern Jones, the head of Principia Media, (publishers of the recent book on Reca) claims that Reca worked for a group associated with the CIA that specialized in assassinations, and that this is the reason the FBI ignored Reca as a suspect, and in fact went out of their way (he says) to keep Reca out of jail. Because these things are being said by the person who stands to gain the most by selling the Reca book, his comments must be taken with a grain of salt. Jones also presents no proof that any of these things are true about Reca. A quote from Jones, which is totally unsupported by the slightest shred of evidence, appears in many media articles about Reca:

“We have pretty strong evidence that the FBI went out of their way to not let Walter go to jail,” Jones said.

4.    Reca’s eyes are blue. Cooper’s eyes, as reported by stewardess Florence Schaffner, were brown.

5.     Carl Laurin has claimed that he knew Reca was Cooper clear back in 2008, six years prior to Reca’s death. He also says he is Reca’s ‘friend’. If Laurin was a real friend of Walter Reca, then why did he approach a publisher for a book deal, instead of going to the FBI first for a confirmation? When Reca died in 2014, the FBI was still actively investigating the Cooper case. This looks more like a self-serving move on Laurin’s part, and little else. Today, not only is Laurin selling a book, but promoting a four-part documentary series, and the sale of t-shirts, mugs, and other items with his friend’s name on them. The reality is that Laurin merely took some very thin evidence, boosted it up with some unsupported allegations, in his attempt to make a buck on his dead ‘friend’.

6.    The ONE reason that puts the lie to the entire Reca tale is this:  Carl Laurin and his publisher claim that the hijacked jet actually traveled almost a hundred miles EAST after it left SeaTac International Airport, before turning southwest toward Portland, and eventually landing in Reno. This is how they explain how Reca parachuted from the hijacked flight over Cle Elum, Washington. This claim that the flight actually went east, crossing over the Cascade chain BEFORE turning southwest is inherently ridiculous. Flight 305 was being tracked the moment it departed Seattle by not only air traffic control, but by SAGE military radar, and two military jets scrambled to track it. The flight was tracked thoroughly from the moment it left Seattle until it finally landed in Reno, Nevada. Nothing in the record indicates the jet took a side trip across the Cascade Mountains first, just to accommodate Laurin’s story. Below: A rough map showing the flight path claimed by Carl Laurin in his book, and the reality of where the flight actually WENT after it left Seattle. 


7.      Carl Laurin has published some serious discrepancies on his own website regarding the evidence on Reca. For example, he claims to have surreptitiously obtained a DNA sample from Reca while he was still alive, and that he sent it ANONYMOUSLY to a lawyer for submission to FBI Agent Larry Carr at the Seattle FBI. On the same page where he claims this, he says Reca contacted him only a few days later and was furious that his DNA was sampled. But HOW did Reca know his DNA had been sent to the Seattle FBI if Laurin submitted it to them without giving a name of a suspect? 

BELOW: Carl Laurin

8.     Laurin also claims that Reca owned a document identifying him as a KGB agent, something Reca may have used in covert work for the CIA. Like the fake passports, it is almost certainly another forgery, either done by Laurin, or Reca himself. Many people now believe that Walter Reca was simply living out a fantasy from time to time, such as people occasionally do when they tell you they used to be a Navy SEAL or have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, when they have not. If Reca was actually trying to pose as a KGB operative, the identity cards of the KGB are well-known from different records, and are printed in Russian with a Russian name. The one belonging to Yuri Vladmirovich is shown below. Unless Carl Laurin’s so-called KGB identity card for Reca looks like this, it is certainly a phony, and would have fooled NO ONE in the REAL KGB organization.


The poorly-forged ‘KGB identity card’ presented by Carl Laurin for Reca is shown below.

9.    When someone like Carl Laurin leans more heavily toward marketing and sales, rather than the truth, this points to an agenda. Laurin’s website is short on hard evidence, and very long on ‘stuff for sale’. This includes a book, a documentary, t-shirts, mugs, and other material designed to cash in on his friendship with Reca.

10.    Conclusion –  The one inescapable fact is this:  Flight 305 did NOT go nearly a hundred miles out of its way to drop the hijacker on the other side of the Cascade mountains. This is a well-documented fact about the Cooper hijacking. Since this claim is so completely ridiculous….it puts the lie to anything else Laurin and his publisher try to say about Reca. Walter Reca may have been this or that, and certainly was not perfect in his life…but neither was he D.B. Cooper. And neither did the hijacked flight make a one hundred mile detour simply to accommodate Carl Laurin’s marketing efforts.


  1. 1)Flight paths aren’t strait lines on maps, so the picture in this article is misleading.
    2) 100 miles isn’t far for a 727. It’s about a 24 minute detour, being generous.
    3) commercial airline pilots have corroborated the Reca/Laurin route as perfectly reasonable.


    1. Pilots might find the route reasonable, but unfortunately the evidence does not. The hijacked flight was being tracked by both ATC radar and SAGE radar (DOD radar designed to track incoming threats to the United States.)

      Also, two chase jets out of McChord AFB in Tacoma were dispatched to follow Flight 305. They ALSO had radar and they shadowed the hijacked jet all the way to Portland. There are also the communications and reports from the jet crew themselves.

      NONE of those sources ever reported that Flight 305 went east for a hundred miles before turning south toward Portland. Because it never did that.

      The Reca folks’ story would be much more believable if they had at least stayed on the known flight path, instead of trying to move the jet to a place it never was in the first place.


    2. More importantly, my understanding is that the aircraft was heading to Reno, Nevada rather than back to Portland, as the plan Cooper had stated was to head ultimately to Mexico, with a refueling stop on route at Reno. Therefore the direct route would have been further east than Portland.

      If you look at flightradar24 data and watch flights from Seattle, you can make your own judgement about the safest possible routes at night with a terrorist on board, avoiding built up areas and terrain in a low speed aircraft with the rear door open. It would be interesting to see any radar data that might have been recorded at the time, but my understanding is that this information was not recorded.


  2. there is also Reca saying he ordered a scotch and soda on the flight. Everything else I’ve read says that Cooper ordered a bourbon.


    1. Yes. Cooper ordered a bourbon. The REALLY hard part with Reca is that they have the flight going almost a hundred miles EAST before turning SOUTH toward Portland. That is patently ridiculous.


    2. I recently saw a very old Cooper video that paraphrased one of the pilots replying to someone that asked him a question on the flight path. Per the footage, the pilot replied by saying ~”For all of the questions the FBI asked, they never bothered to find out our bearing.”. He then continued by stating there was an incredibly strong cross wind coming from the West which put the flight much further East than the anticipated path. ”

      This footage was from the early 80s so it’s not related to Reca directly but it seems another source is claiming the ‘accepted’ flight path is not accurate. I find other parts of the reca story less believable than the alleged flight path. As far as ATC tracking… In modern times ATC still struggles with tracking low flying aircraft traveling at night in a storm through the mountains. I don’t doubt they could have made a mistake in 1971.


      1. Well, it wasn’t just ATC radar tracking the flight. SAGE radar was doing the same thing, as well as the two jets shadowing the flight that came from McChord AFB. Or like co-pilot Bill Rataczak said once: “We know where Cooper jumped. We just don’t know where he landed.”


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