D.B. Cooper: An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman–Conclusion

db7In Parts One and Two, this writer laid the foundation on why Bernard Wayne Geestman of Port Angeles, WA became a strong suspect as a direct accomplice to alleged Cooper hijacker Kenneth Peter Christiansen. In the conclusion of this series, I present the theory from Adventure Books of Seattle staff on how the hijacking actually ‘went down’ in 1971, the events immediately afterward, and how we came to the final conclusions we did.

 

geoffgrayI became involved in the investigation about 18 months after author Geoff Gray published the first-ever article on Ken Christiansen, which appeared in October 2007 at New York Magazine. At the time, I was writing a sci-fi novel about every other year, helping run Adventure Books out of two spare bedrooms in a condo, and editing books for other writers. I knew nothing more than the average Northwest person about the Cooper case, although I did grow up in Sumner, WA – the same place Kenny lived at the time of the hijacking. (I was a sophomore in high school at the time.)

(BELOW: Picture found in one of Kenny Christiansen’s photo albums after his death in 1994. Stamp on front from developer says MAR 72, or about three months after the hijacking. The Christmas wreath on the door tells another story. Christiansen lived alone at #J-3, Rainier View Apartments in Sumner, WA. The apartment still exists there. Picture shows Christiansen carrying a briefcase and paper bag, just like Cooper, and dressed somewhat similarly. We believe this is a staged mememto, taken by Bernie Geestman a short time after the hijacking. We do NOT believe the items in his hands are the same exact ones used in the hijacking. The wreath indicates it was probably snapped after Thanksgiving of 1971 and before New Years Day, and then developed in March of 1972.)

 

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The first time I heard of Ken Christiansen was when New York private investigator Skipp Porteous announced he was working on a book about the case, and since his suspect came from the same town where I had grown up on a small farm, I was naturally interested in helping him. He sent me the manuscript. I told him he needed more proof, and that meant interviewing not people who knew Christiansen decades AFTER the hijacking, but people who were closest to Christiansen either AT the time of the crime, or before that time.

BELOW: Margie Geestman from her third interview at her ranch in Twisp, WA. After the books on Christiansen came out, and the Decoded TV show aired, she sold her ranch for $491,000 to the State of Washington’s Fish and Game…blew town…and told her lawyer and the bank guy who handled the sale not to say where she was going.

MargieThirdInterviewPorteous asked if I would assist him in this, since I was in Washington State and HE was in New York. He sent me a confidential package of files and reports on a number of people who knew Christiansen. These included people like Bernie Geestman, his ex-wife Margie, Bernie’s sister Dawn Androsko, and others. None of these people were known to Geoff Gray or are mentioned in his famous article. Porteous wanted me to go around and do interviews with these people if possible. I rearranged by work schedule to take off weekends over the next few months, climbed into my little Subaru 4WD wagon with a camera and a notebook, and started hunting down these folks for cold-call interviews.

Continue reading “D.B. Cooper: An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman–Conclusion”

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D.B. Cooper – An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman – Part Two of Three

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ABOVE: Author Robert Blevins with the old Subaru wagon he used to hunt down and interview the witnesses against Christiansen and the Geestman couple.

In Part One, this writer detailed the early background of the relationships between D.B. Cooper suspect Ken Christiansen and his lifelong friend, Bernie Geestman, who is also suspected of being an accomplice to the crime. Part Two details the events leading up to the hijacking and what happened immediately afterward.

KennyBest1970By the year 1968, Kenny and Bernie had known each other for about twenty years, after first meeting on Shemya Island in Alaska while working for Northwest Airlines. When Bernie married his long-term girlfriend Margaret Ann Miller in the same year, Kenny is shown with a smile on his face in the wedding photos. Both men had a lot in common.

 

But one thing they didn’t have in common was their financial situation.

Bernie was no longer with low-paying, strike-prone, Northwest Airlines. He had taken a job with Foss Tugs in Seattle as a diesel mechanic. He kept the yearly logbooks for the tug he worked on, and made fairly good money. Margie took a job as a bookkeeper, a career she would carry on even after her eventual divorce from Bernie Geestman.

Continue reading “D.B. Cooper – An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman – Part Two of Three”

D.B. Cooper – An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman – Part One of Three

Today, Bernie Geestman lives in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State, near the town of Sequim. (pronounced ‘Sk-wim’) Over the years, he has become a strong suspect as not only an accomplice to the Cooper hijacking, but helping hijacking suspect Kenny Christiansen to purchase a house a few months after the crime.
(If you’ve already seen Part One, you can skip to Part Two HERE.)

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Much of this suspicion Mr. Geestman brought upon himself with his dishonesty in dealing with both this author, and people working with the History Channel show, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. (Link leads to the full episode done on Christiansen, in which Mr Geestman appears as the last guest.)

Geestman, as Decoded cast member (and former state prosecutor) Scott Rolle once said to this writer, is ‘a tough nut to crack’. When the show first aired on January 11, 2011, the cast agreed that Christiansen was probably Cooper, but that Geestman didn’t assist him. But at the time, they were not provided with all the facts, due to timing issues with filming. (This means that this writer, who had just received important information about Geestman, was busy collating this information at the time of filming.) When the cast were later provided the preliminary public report on these men that was later sent in an expanded version to the Seattle FBI, both Rolle (now an elected judge) and WSU professor Buddy Levy changed their minds in email messages to this author. Cast member Christine McKinley had no comment. Later, all cast members received the complete report on Christiansen that was sent to the Seattle FBI, which strengthened their opinion even further. If anything can be said about the six-year investigation done by the staff of Adventure Books of Seattle, it is that their investigation has always been an ongoing process. Figuring out exact details and events that happened forty to sixty years ago was both complex and difficult – especially when people sometimes try to take the easy way out by lying. Continue reading “D.B. Cooper – An In-Depth Look at Alleged Accomplice Bernie Geestman – Part One of Three”

D.B. Cooper – The Parachute Found in Amboy, WA – and Why The FBI’s Explanation Makes No Sense

amboywithcaptionIn late March of 2008, a story broke in the press that some kids from the small town of Amboy, WA had discovered a partially buried parachute. The parachute was found along the same line as the alleged dropzone for Cooper. As a spokesperson for the Seattle FBI said initially to the press:

“It’s the right kind, the right color, and found in the right area…”

Earl Cossey, the man who packed the parachutes for Cooper, but did not actually OWN or DELIVER them to SeaTac Airport (as he claimed in the media for years) said this:

“It was my parachute,” said Earl Cossey of Woodinville, Wash. “So, yes, I’d be able to identify it to this day.”

It is possible he could ID the chute, but the FBI’s own records tell a slightly different story than the one Cossey told the media for years. (Cossey only packed the parachutes, and this was done some time prior to the hijacking.) The proof is in an official FBI document publicly available on their dot gov website. It was written shortly after the hijacking by Special Agent John S. Detlor. It tells how the chutes were actually obtained for DB Cooper on November 24, 1971, and how they were delivered. And Cossey was neither their owner, nor did he deliver them to SeaTac as he claimed for years:

‘SE 164- 81
JSD:klb
Parachutes

Mr. George Harrison, Northwest Airlines (NWA), Flight Operations, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, (SeaTac) advised that he talked with Mr. Barry Halstead of Pacific Aviation at Boeing Field, Seattle, in order to secure parachutes to furnish to the hijacker in this matter. He stated that two parachutes were obtained through Halstead, these two parachutes being back pack parachutes. He stated that two chest pack parachutes which were also furnished to the hijacker were obtained from Mr. Linn Emerick of Seattle Sky Sports in Issaquah, Washington. He stated that these two chest pack parachutes were transported to Sea-Tac by the Washington State Patrol.

Mr. Barry Halstead, Pacific Aviation, Boeing Field, Seattle, advised that the two back pack parachutes which were furnished to Northwest Airlines were obtained from a Mr. Norman Hayden of Hayden Manufacturing Company at Renton, WA.

Mr. Norman Hayden, Hayden Manufacturing Company, Renton, advised that two back pack parachutes which were his property, were furnished to Northwest Airlines. He stated that he called a taxicab in Kent, Washington, and had the taxi cab deliver the parachutes to Boeing Flight Service, Seattle. He described the two back pack parachutes as follows:

  1. Civilian luxury type, tan soft cotton material outside, 26-foot white canopy inside. The parachute inside is a military parachute. The parachute has a foam pad cushion and a fray mark down the rib on the back from rubbing on metal.
  2. A military back pack parachute, standard olive-drab green on outside, 28-foot white canopy on inside. He stated that this parachute also has a foam pad cushion.
  3. He stated that both parachutes bore lead seals which had not been broken, and it is possible that the seals may bear a confidential number, such as a rigger’s number. He stated that both of his parachutes were assembled for him by Mr. Earl Cossey, who works at Sky Sports at Issaquah, Washington, and has a telephone number of SU-3-0475. Hayden said he can positively identify both of his back pack parachutes…’

What do we have here so far? What does it all mean? Well, that is the Big Question, isn’t it?
The best road to the answer is to examine how the Seattle FBI handled all of this.
Continue reading “D.B. Cooper – The Parachute Found in Amboy, WA – and Why The FBI’s Explanation Makes No Sense”

Brad Meltzer’s Decoded: The Kenny Christiansen/D.B. Cooper Episode

January 11, 2011:   America was introduced to a new suspect in the unsolved DB Cooper case, Kenny Christiansen.

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Christiansen, an unhappy employee of Northwest Airlines at the time of the hijacking, and a former WW2 paratrooper, was a reletive newcomer to the suspect list. He first came to light in October 2007 as the subject of an article in New York Magazine by best-selling author (Skyjack) Geoff Gray.

Christiansen soon turned out to be one of the most viable suspects in the case, despite detractors. After the book Into The Blast emerged detailing the initial evidence, History Channel produced and aired an episode on Christiansen for their show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. Not only was a hiding spot discovered in his attic by former prosecutor and now-judge Scott Rolle, but alleged accomplice Bernard Wayne Geestman of Port Angeles, WA was later found to be lying to the cast of the show on key points. Geestman pointed to Christiansen as the hijacker, but witnesses verified he was WITH Christiansen for the entire week the hijacking occurred. Geestman also claimed to be at Ken Christiansen’s deathbed in 1994, when in reality he merely called on the phone. Since he hadn’t contacted Christiansen in many years, the most likely scenario is that he wanted to see if Christiansen planned on a last-minute confession. His ex-wife Margie pointed to him as an accomplice in a half-dozen or more interviews, and admitted in her final interview that it was Christiansen who was with her husband the week of the crime. After all of this emerged, she sold her ranch in Twisp, WA for a half-million bucks to Washington Fish and Game and told her lawyer and bank officer to not reveal where she was headed next.

Shortly after Bernie Geestman’s phone call to him, Christiansen told his brothers Lyle and Oliver while he lay dying:

“There is something you should know, but I cannot tell you…”

SCREENSHOT BELOW: (Link to actual article here)> An article at Newsvine.com about Bernie Geestman’s possible involvement in the hijacking:

BerniePicforVideo

Four and a half years after the Decoded episode aired, a 74-page illustrated report file containing names, witness testimony, pictures, and key documents was submitted to the Seattle F.B.I. by the staff of Adventure Books of Seattle. It was the end result of an investigation that took years and included multiple interviews in the Northwest USA.

The public version of those files can be seen HERE.

Link to the Decoded episode on Christiansen:

http://www.history.com/shows/brad-meltzers-decoded/videos/brad-meltzers-decoded-db-cooper#

In the picture below, Christiansen is shown walking into his apartment in Sumner, WA between the Thanksgiving and Christmas of the hijacking. The picture is dated by the developer, as pictures were back then, and was found after Kenny died. He lived alone at the Rainier View Apartments, number J-3, which still exists today. Picture shows him having less hair than the hijacker, but witnesses who knew him for years testified he owned a toupee and sometimes wore it socially, although not on the job. One of the passengers who had seen Cooper extensively during the flight told the Washington State History Museum recently in an interview that he thought the hijacker may have been wearing a toupee. Christiansen is also carrying a paper bag and a briefcase, the same type of items carried on board the hijacked aircraft by Cooper.

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90-Minute Interview With Chuck and John from Mysterious Topics: Author Robert Blevins Speaks About 'DB Cooper' Suspect Kenny Christiansen

RBLargeSizeOn a Saturday afternoon recently, I did an extensive interview with Chuck and John, the hosts of the podcast Mysterious Topics. The subject of the interview was the DB Cooper case and Kenny Christiansen. There is a video version coming to YouTube soon, but until then here is the MP-3:

There is ONE inaccuracy in my interview. It was when I said that some others famous for engaging in personal attacks on others in their Cooper case discussions had been ‘cut’ from any media production (if any) that is upcoming on Cooper. I found out later that only SOME folks had been cut, while other people will still participate. After I thought about it for a while, I decided this was the best course. Everyone’s voice in the case, mine, yours, whatever…should be included. Any questions directed to me regarding any such production will be deflected, since I am not allowed to speak about it, or to even acknowledge its existence.

“Should you or any of your IM Force be caught or captured…the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions…”

‘My Uncle Was D.B. Cooper’ – The Marla Cooper Story

MarlaCMarla Cooper first came to the attention of Cooperland in the fall of 2010, and her allegations caused a media stir. Over the space of about three months, she appeared on national television, attended the first symposium held on the Cooper case in Portland, Oregon, and submitted some physical evidence in the case to the F.B.I.  An F.B.I. spokesperson once named her as a ‘viable witness’ in the case to public media. She was interviewed on morning talk shows and her beautiful figure and striking blonde hair certainly turned heads.

Some armchair investigators of the Cooper case even voiced different fantasies about Marla, concentrating a bit more on her derriere, rather than the evidence she presented. On her Facebook page, Marla famously announced she ‘was ready to create a media frenzy,’ while at the same time apologizing to author Geoff Gray when his Cooper book fell off the NYT bestseller list as soon as she went public. She talked about her own upcoming book, and made hints that a publisher was interested.

A few weeks later, it all ended and she was largely forgotten except by fans of the case. But during the time she was enjoying the media frenzy, (and perhaps the fantasies of male Cooper investigators) I decided to put her claims under the microscope. At the end of that, my only question was how the F.B.I. even considered her story legitimate in the first place.

The Short Version of Marla’s Story: During an interview with ABC news, Marla claimed that her uncles (now deceased), Lynn Doyle Cooper, and his brother Dewey, were the real perpetrators behind the famous D.B. Cooper skyjacking. She said that Lynn Doyle Cooper was the actual hijacker, and that his brother Dewey was the accomplice on the ground. This occurred, she says, while several of her family members had gathered for Thanksgiving at Marla’s grandmother’s house in Sisters, Oregon. She was eight years old at the time.

According to her account, the two men were seen testing expensive walkie-talkies shortly before the hijacking, and then announced they were going turkey hunting. On early Thanksgiving morning, she says, the two men returned and Lynn Cooper had to be helped from the car to the house. He was injured, she said, wearing a bloody T-shirt, and incoherent. She said her other uncle, Dewey, told her that it was due to a traffic accident. Marla says she knows now that this was not true, and that her ‘Uncle L.D’. was actually hurt in the landing after parachuting from the hijacked Boeing 727. To support this, she says that the alleged accomplice, Dewey Cooper, told her father later:

“We did it. Our money problems are over. We hijacked a plane…’

Marla used a go-between person to approach the F.B.I. and they listened to her story. She must have been convincing, because at first they took her seriously.  A short time later they dismissed her claims and never commented publicly on those claims again. Talk of a possible book vanished, except for perhaps a self-published book, which never materialized. She no longer comments on any of the blogs or websites dedicated to the Cooper case.

As Steve McQueen said at the end of the film, The Sand Pebbles:

“What the hell happened?”

Nobody knows if the FBI ever checked out Marla Cooper’s Facebook page just prior to her going public, but they SHOULD have. If they had, it is unlikely they would have taken her seriously at all. Her postings there on the very week she went public contain references to ‘starting my own media frenzy,’ saying that the case agent for Cooper told her privately that he thought her story was legitimate even if the evidence showed otherwise, and that one of the stewardesses had ID’d pictures of Uncle Lynn Doyle as Cooper. None of those things, except the media frenzy part, were true. Or if they were, the FBI never said they were. They simply dismissed Lynn Doyle Cooper as the hijacker and left it at that. Marla also claimed that the Seattle case agent currently assigned to Cooper, Special Agent Thomas Eng, told her the FBI would be closing the case soon anyway. This never happened and the case remains open.

This author did an interview with her some years ago in a Ten Questions format. In other words, I submitted her ten questions and I posted the answers in an article for Newsvine.com. That interview is here.

I once said her story had more holes than a five-pound block of Swiss cheese. There are three basic problems with it. First, that this happened over Thanksgiving with her brother, mother, father, sister, and grandmother in attendance…and that none of them saw a thing. Her own brother posted to Marla’s Facebook page:  “I’m not going near this one…” when she started posting the details. Her sister was silent on the whole thing. Her mother was only slightly more supportive, telling the media she ‘suspected’ L.D. could be the hijacker, but offering no testimony on what went on that particular Thanksgiving. In other words, none of Marla’s family members who were there for the family gathering would back her story. Her famous Facebook postings about taking AAD meds, going for a media frenzy, saying the FBI was closing the case, and teasing author Geoff Gray about his drop in book sales are legend. They have been posted publicly at Dropzone.com under the History and Trivia, DB Cooper thread.

coopercomicSecond, that Marla’s claim that she saw copies of the famous ‘Dan Cooper’ comic on Uncle L.D.’s bedroom wall at the time of the crime has problems. She said L.D. had been staying at her grandmother’s house in Sisters for a while, but that he departed the Saturday after the hijacking. This claim was discounted by a lot of people because L.D. died in 1999 and the idea that the REAL Cooper got his name from the French comic book wasn’t even discussed until years later. The comics were printed in French and available only in Belgium, France, and parts of eastern Canada. When asked how her uncle could have obtained the comics, she said maybe he drove his car (a Triumph MG) to Canada to purchase them.

Third, she changed her story…a LOT. One factor Marla failed to consider was the ransom money found at Tina Bar on the Columbia River in 1980. Her initial version of the story says her uncle landed outside Sisters, Oregon and that both uncles later went back to pick up the money where L.D. had dropped it on the way down. When confronted about the bills found 150 miles farther north along the Columbia, she changed her story. She said L.D. landed up there instead, and he lost the money on the way down. But she ran into ANOTHER problem when it was pointed out to her that the flight path was miles east of the found money. And that the condition of the money did not show it had been exposed to the elements for almost nine years.

In the end, the F.B.I. wrote her off as a credible witness. However, there was some fallout as a result of the Marla Fable. Post-Marla, the F.B.I. became a lot more closed-mouthed about public inquiries into the Cooper case. They stopped giving detailed answers to questions, and instead relied almost exclusively on the statement, “We can’t discuss it. It’s an ongoing case.” Before Marla they were a lot more open.

Marla1You really can’t blame them. In this writer’s opinion, the F.B.I. got burned and decided to be a lot more careful with witnesses and inquiries regarding the Cooper case. Some time later, I created a series of cartoons that depict my thoughts on Marla. They are meant to tease her a bit, to satirize her claims somewhat. Reports I received say she has seen them.

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