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.
Bernie Geestman, a guy who lives in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains of Washington State, is the man alleged by Adventure Books of Seattle as being the main accomplice in the D.B. Cooper hijacking. We believe he not only supplied the vehicle used to take Cooper suspect Kenny Christiansen to the Portland Airport, but provided key information regarding the Boeing 727 that was hijacked by Cooper. His story has already been told at length. He and Kenny served together on Shemya Island in the Aleutians for Northwest Airlines for a few years. Basically, Bernie was the mechanic and Kenny his assistant. They oiled the planes, cleaned out the interiors, and did occasional repairs if needed. Kenny’s job was mostly the labor stuff, and Bernie was the boss.
I only interviewed Bernie Geestman once in person. I showed up on his doorstep one day and got thirty minutes from him. In order not to put him on the defensive, I told him at first I was there gathering information on his friend Kenny for a biography on Kenny’s life. Geestman bought into that fib for twenty-five out of thirty minutes. He went on about their friendship, working for all those years off and on for Northwest, and some of the things they had done together.
Depending on your attitude or opinion on whether Ken Christiansen and Bernie Geestman were the actual perps in the D.B. Cooper hijacking, you might be ecstatic and wish us well…or hope I accidentally fall off a cliff on one of those camping trips to the Olympic Mountains I do occasionally. (We have our detractors, as well as our supporters.)
Yes, it’s true that a Los Angeles-based film production company has picked up the option for our book, Into The Blast – The True Story of D.B. Cooper. It’s the story of Kenny Christiansen, a former US Army paratrooper and an employee of the airline that was hijacked by Cooper. This doesn’t mean they will actually bring the book to market in a picture, of course. That remains to be seen. However, here’s how it all came about and where it’s going now –
About two weeks ago, I received an email from three people at the same time. They wanted to make sure any reply I made went to all of them. They told me they had been following me (and the investigation into KC) for quite a while and wondered whether the film rights to the book were still available. I said yes, but I also warned them that I wasn’t interested in doing a comedy on the Cooper story, or Kenny’s life, and that I had rejected a previous offer over that same point. (The inquiry by CBS Films, via their rep at Paradigm in New York City.)
The three men were execs from the LA film company, and came back with a message right away.
No, they said. They were not looking to do a comedy, but the first serious feature film on the DB Cooper case.And they wanted to name Kenny Christiansen as the hijacker, and present it not as a theory, but as historical fact. This surprised me, because I have stated many times for the record that I can’t be 100% sure Kenny and Bernie were the perps. Yes, I believe they are guilty as sin. Could I prove it today beyond a reasonable doubt? Maybe…if I had Bernie Geestman and a few other folks on a witness stand somewhere. Maybe.