Each time this writer does an interview with the media regarding Kenneth Peter Christiansen (and his alleged accomplice, Bernard Wayne Geestman) regarding their involvement in the hijacking, one question always comes up: “In your book on Kenny and company, Into The Blast, you say that Kenny bought a house for cash shortly after the hijacking. You have also stated this on internet forums, such as Dropzone/DB Cooper. Is this true or not? Did he pay cash?”
The answer is: NO, he did NOT.
The next question might be: “So why is that statement still in your book?”
The answer is: “Because it isn’t even a key part of the case against Christiansen, and we aren’t going to modify that book until the movie on Kenny is released.”
Question: “If you were wrong on that, why don’t you just change it NOW?”
Answer: “There are a couple of reasons. First, we have to modify the book beyond just that one bit, and include new parts about the movie. If we did it now, we would just have to modify the book again later when the movie is released. So for now, we just let it stand.”
The investigation into Christiansen and Geestman (by Adventure Books staff) began back in early 2009. At that time, we only knew the basics, and most of that early information came from the famous 2007 article by author Geoff Gray, and some from the initial investigatory files from private investigator Skipp Porteous. It was a deep cave we were exploring, with many twists and turns, and the flashlight was very dim. We didn’t have all the facts, and we had not yet interviewed the people who knew Kenny best. In other words, we were entering a world where all the information and evidence was not yet available, and none of the witnesses had spoken to us. And like most criminal investigations, we made a few missteps along the way. The idea that Kenny actually bought that house for cash was one of them.
These days, when I do interviews I often direct the media AWAY from the book, and TOWARD the actual 54-page report we sent to the Seattle FBI in June, 2015. The reason being, it is much more accurate than the 2011 book. However, the truth on how Kenny actually managed to buy that house in Bonney Lake just seven months after the hijacking is more convincing, and better evidence against him, that just plopping down cash for it. That type of purchase could be explained in any number of ways, none of which points to him as the hijacker without additional proof. When we discovered the full truth on the house, it was better evidence than just the idea of a cash purchase on an approximately $15,000 home.
MYTH: We’ve had all sorts of offers for the movie rights to Into The Blast, the book that looks at Kenny Christiansen as the famous skyjacker.
TRUTH: There have only been TWO offers. The first came from an anonymous client of Paradigm, the rep agency in New York City. They merely asked if the rights were available. We said yes. Later, they revealed themselves as representing CBS Films, and made a modest five-figure offer for the movie rights to Christiansen’s story. When they warned us that they planned to take ‘serious liberties’ with Kenny’s life story, and that some portions of the film might be ‘comedic,’ we turned down the offer. Soon afterward, CBS Films purchased the rights to author Geoffrey Gray’s book Skyjack, but later sold the rights to director Will Gluck’s (Friends With Benefits, Annie) production company. Continue reading “The Four Biggest Myths About AB of Seattle’s Investigation of the D.B. Cooper Case”
In Part One of this article, this writer told how a witness named Troy Bentz, a civilian engineer for the U.S. Navy, claimed that a senior F.B.I. agent told he and two other men the REAL reason the F.B.I. closed the famous D.B. Cooper hijacking case. The reason given, said Bentz, was that the F.B.I. knew the identity of the hijacker, that he was dead, and that he was none other than suspect Kenny Christiansen. Bentz named the other witnesses, even providing details on where they worked, their phone numbers, and the fact that all three of them held security clearances with the U.S. government. (The names of the other witnesses and their contact information are available to the F.B.I., or to legitimate media, should they choose to ask. But I cannot release their information publicly, of course.)
This matter of ‘the real reason the F.B.I. closed the case’ was a stunning revelation, and I had some difficulty wrapping my mind around it. Where should I start verification on such a story? I began by talking to Bentz on the phone for a couple of hours, and then Adventure Books staff started running down the names of the witnesses and the names of the character references that he had provided.
The witnesses checked out. It was true. They were all at the baseball game with the F.B.I. agent, they all possessed security clearances as Bentz claimed, and they all heard what Agent Jarvis said.
My next step was to craft a carefully-worded email to the Seattle F.B.I. and get their response to Bentz’s allegations. I told them everything except Troy’s last name, but I did name the F.B.I. agent in question. They responded by saying ‘perhaps the agent was just giving his personal opinion on the case’. However, they did not deny that the incident happened as Bentz said. This answer from the F.B.I. did not satisfy me, so I went public and told Bentz’s story. (I referred to him as ‘Troy B’) I named Agent Jarvis, as well as posting his picture online. A year and a half later, and there was still not a peep from the Feds telling me to cease and desist. Questioning the reputation of the F.B.I.? Calling them nationally-reported liars about one of the most famous cases they ever handled? Posting the name and picture of the agent who told the truth? I thought surely they would say SOMETHING, but they never did. I wondered if the reason was that the Seattle F.B.I. had actually checked out the 54-page illustrated report we sent them on Kenny Christiansen, less than a year prior to their announcement about closing the case. Could be, I thought.
Two weeks after Troy Bentz came forward, he called me on the phone again. He was getting nervous, he said. He had a family, a wife, and a government job. Not only that, but he had told his wife what he had done, and she was very angry with him. She called him a ‘whistleblower,’ he said, and reminded Troy that their kids went to swim team with kids of F.B.I. agents, and military personnel. She was worried how his actions might affect their family’s life, even his job.
Bentz asked if I could keep his last name out of the whole thing, and I did just that for well over a year. However, I decided that after a certain amount of time had gone by, if nothing additional came out publicly about the real reason for the closure of the Cooper case, I would finally tell the whole story. As usual, I expect to receive a certain amount of flak from armchair investigators of the D.B. Cooper case, many of whom are still not convinced that Kenny Christiansen was Cooper. They sometimes go to great lengths to discredit even the possibility that he might be the hijacker. Dirty tricks and threats directed at Adventure Books are common, which we mostly shrug off anyway.
One email I received from Bentz contained this:
‘The Bible says that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search out a matter…’
On July 8, 2016 the Seattle F.B.I. announced they were ‘allocating resources dedicated to the D.B. Cooper case to other matters’. Which means they were no longer going to investigate the case. According to a Seattle Times report, the F.B.I. did qualify this statement a bit by adding that if new or compelling evidence came forward, that the Bureau would reopen the case.
But if the Seattle F.B.I. was hoping that the Cooper case would simply ‘go away,’ and the constant tips stop coming in, they were wrong. Seattle F.B.I. agent Ayn Dietrich-Williams admitted the tips just kept on coming, no matter what the F.B.I. did to try and make the public lose interest. The F.B.I. also claimed they had investigated every possible suspect over the years, and checked out all credible tips.
Strangely enough, the F.B.I. has kept other famous cases open, such as the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa in 1975, as well as the Zodiac serial killer case that predates the Cooper case. Could there be a different, unsaid reason why the F.B.I. chose to close the Cooper case? If so, what could possibly be the reason they did?
Perhaps they had discovered the identity of the hijacker, found out he was dead anyway, and decided to leave it at that.This was the story presented to the staff of Adventure Books of Seattle about a month after the F.B.I. closed the case.
Recently, I was asked by the film producers I am working with in Los Angeles to create an outline (limited to two pages for print in 8.5×11) laying out the case against Kenny Christiansen and Bernie Geestman.
When the F.B.I. or any law enforcement agency investigates a major crime, one of the things they do is to hold back a known fact or two from the public. They do this to weed out false confessors to the crime, or to eliminate (or confirm) suspects. The D.B. Cooper hijacking case was no different. It has recently come to light that the F.B.I. decided to hold back a key bit of evidence about the bomb the hijacker used to force Northwest Airlines to hand over $200,000 in cash and four parachutes.
Over the last forty-six years, only four things have ever been revealed about the bomb itself. First, that it was housed in a briefcase. Second, that there was a battery inside similar to the one in the picture. Third, that there were wires attached to both the battery and the bomb. Fourth, that the bomb was composed of red sticks. This last bit originated from stewardess Florence Schaffner, who was allowed a quick glance inside the briefcase. Schaffner was passed a note from the hijacker shortly after takeoff from Portland, OR that read:
Miss. I have a bomb here and I would like you to sit by me.
As soon as Schaffner did as she was told, the hijacker opened the briefcase for a quick moment. She later told the flight crew what she saw. Red sticks, lots of wires, and a battery bigger than one you would put into a flashlight. That’s been the story for several decades now, although FBI agent Ralph Himmelsbach has said occasionally that he was sure the bomb was phony because dynamite sticks are generally tan in color, and not red.
Red sticks. Could they have been road flares? The problem with road flares isn’t that they are red. It’s that they have an ignitor on one end, and a lot of instructions printed on the outside. Even a stewardess who only got a quick look would be able to tell the ‘dynamite’ was phony. So if they weren’t dynamite, and they weren’t road flares, then how could they pass for a real explosive? If the F.B.I. had even a clue that the bomb was a phony, they probably would have stormed Flight 305 right on the tarmac after it reached Seattle. But something created doubt in their minds about the whole thing, and somehow they assumed the bomb could be real, even if the alleged dynamite was the wrong color.
The answer was both simple – and a brilliant move by the hijacker. He not only fooled the F.B.I. and the flight crew, but the bomb itself had a purpose beyond just being a bomb.