The Taunting Letters Allegedly Sent by D.B. Cooper, the 1971 Hijacker

A drawing of D.B. Cooper made according to witness accountsThere hardly is a person whose curiosity isn’t instantly sparked when they hear the name D.B. Cooper, the mysterious man who hijacked a plane on November 24, 1971, and parachuted from the Boeing 727 carrying $200,000 in ransom money. That would be $1.2 million today. The FBI conducted an exhaustive 45-year-long investigation that came up empty, so they were forced to formally end it in 2016. Just because they’re no longer searching for the hijacker, however, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t still wondering about his identity. Letters, allegedly sent by him, continue to raise questions.

D.B. Cooper and the Mysterious Letters

After he parachuted from the plane, D.B. Cooper, whose real name is still unknown, vanished from the face of the earth. Days after the event, letters signed by Cooper were sent to several U.S. newspapers. These taunting letters have been the root of speculation about the hijacker’s identity and whether they were written by him at all.

The letters were typed, handwritten, and made with cutout letters (ransom style). There are at least six of them all claiming to come from D.B. Cooper. The first one was received by the Reno Evening Gazette on November 29, 1971, just five days after the incident. The letter simply thanked for the hospitality and ended with “Was in a rut.” As more letters started coming in, they become longer and more taunting, as if they were making fun of the FBI and the wrong direction of their investigation.

the front page of the Reno Evening Gazette showing the first letter sent by D.B. Cooper (Nov. 29, 1971)
The Last Two letters

The FBI held on to the last two letters signed by D.B. Cooper because investigators believed they found codes including the numbers “717171684*,” which they translated to “I’m LT Robert W. Rackstraw.” Rackstraw was a former U.S. paratrooper and a Vietnam War vet who died in 2019. He was cleared from the investigation, yet both letters contained the same code.

His final letter asks that he wanted out of the system and that he was frustrated with ‘Uncle’ for giving too much to world idiots and nothing to him. So, he got Uncle to pay him some cash and disappeared. Decades later, we’re all still wondering who that man was and whether those letters were really written by him.