Is D.B. Cooper still alive and was the money recovered? Hijacker details as told in D.B Cooper: Where are You?

The hijacking is one of the biggest mysteries of the 20th century

Sketchings of D.B Cooper with a white border around it
(Image credit: Netflix)

D.B Cooper: Where are You? on Netflix has had many wondering, is D.B Cooper still alive and what actually happened during that infamous plane journey.

D.B Cooper parachuted out of a plane after hijacking it back in 1971. But not much is known as to what happened to him next and whether the man in question is still alive today?

The incredible true story is retold and explored in the newest of one of many true crime docu-series streaming this July. Audiences have been similarly curious for details on where Hunter Moore is now aka the Most Hated Man on the Internet - as retold in Netflix's hit docu-series. Plus the whereabouts of I Just Killed My Dad's Anthony Templet and Robert Freegard now - a fake spy who conned his victims out of thousands of pounds.

Is D.B Cooper still alive?

While no-one knows for sure, it's suspected that D.B Cooper is no longer alive. It's thought that he either didn't survive the jump from the plane, or considering he'd be 95 years old today, died in recent years.

D.B Cooper had parachuted into rugged wilderness in Southwest Washington in the middle of the night, dressed only in a suit and loafers. Police scoured the area he's thought to have landed for days after, searching for a body, but found nothing.

Who was D.B Cooper?

On 24 November 1971, the night before Thanksgiving, a man boarded a Northwest Orient Airlines flight travelling from Portland International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport under the name Dan Cooper. 

The flight was only due to take 37 minutes, but shortly into it, he passed a note to one of the air stewardesses claiming he had a bomb on the plane. He demanded $200,000 (the equivalent of more than $1.3 million in today’s money) and four parachutes.

The stewardess, Tina Mucklow, asked to see the bomb and was faced with eight red cylinders, which she assumed to be dynamite. Recalling the horrifying moment earlier this year, she said: "He opened the briefcase and showed me the bomb. He explained how it would work. I think I was probably in shock. Then he had his hand in the briefcase, kind of closed it, and looked out the window.”

a graphic from D B Cooper: Where are You showing a note saying "I want you to take this note"

(Image credit: Netflix)

She immediately told the captain, who contacted air traffic control. The plane company boss agreed to the demands and authorised the payment, on the condition that the passengers would be released.

The plane circled in the sky for more than two hours before landing, where the 32 passengers and two flight attendants were allowed to leave and D.B Cooper was given the cash and parachutes. 

He then demanded to be flown to Mexico City, at the minimum speed possible with the rear exit open. He also asked the stewardess, Tina Mucklow, to show him how to open the attached staircase.

20 minutes into this flight, D.B Cooper jumped out of the plane with a parachute, along with the cash and was never seen again.

No-one knows for sure who D.B Cooper - a name that was coined after a local journalised misheard the name Dan Cooper - was. But there have been many suspects and theories over the years.

Was D. B. Cooper’s parachute ever found?

D.B Cooper's parachute was never found. This has led many theorists to believe that he did in fact survive the jump and made a getaway with the parachute.

In March 2008, the FBI said they were analysing a torn, tangled parachute found buried in Southwest Washington. Children found the parachute while playing outside their home near Amboy.

However, a month later, it was confirmed that it can't have been the hijacker's parachute as it was the wrong material and design.

An FBI spokesperson said: "From the best we could learn from the people we spoke to, it just didn’t look like it was the right kind of parachute in any way."

Was any of D.B. Cooper's money recovered?

Yes, some of D.B's money was recovered. In 1980, a young boy found $5,800 in cash on the banks of the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. Investigators confirmed that the cash carried the same serial number as the money given to D.B Cooper.

However, nothing else was ever found. The only other thing recovered was his tie and pearl pin, which he left behind on the plane.

D.B Cooper: Possible suspects

Robert Rackstraw

A man named Robert Rackstraw is the main suspect and focus of D.B Cooper Where are You? on Netflix.

Writer and producer, Thomas Colbert, who also features in the documentary, has spent most of his life trying to prove that Rackstraw was the real culprit behind the 1971 plane hijacking.

Rackstraw served in the Vietnam war and was seen in close conversations with a CIA agent. This lead to people suggesting that he was an undercover agent for the organisation. He was later charged with fraud and then tried to fake his own death when he stole a plane. 

In the Netflix series, Thomas Colbert is shown in a tense face-off with Rackstraw. He offers him $20,000 if he admits to being D.B Cooper. However, Rackstraw denied that it was him. 

What's more, when the air stewardess who served on the stolen plane was asked to ID Rackstraw -  who died in 2019 - as D.B Cooper, she said it wasn’t the same man.

Lynn Doyle Cooper

In 2011, Marla Cooper publicly claimed that D.B. Cooper was her uncle, Lynn Doyle "LD" Cooper. Marla recalled that he disappeared after Christmas 1972 and that her father was vague whenever she asked what happened to him. 

During Christmas in 1995, Marla's father admitted that LD had been in hiding since he tried hijacking an airplane. This jogged a childhood memory for Marla and she remembered seeing her uncle LD arrive at her grandmother's home in Oregon on Thanksgiving Day 1971. She says he was barely conscious and in a blood soaked t-shirt, muttering about how he had hijacked a plane and how all the family's financial problems were solved.

She passed a polygraph test regarding her testimony, however there was never any other evidence linking LD Cooper to the case and LD Cooper isn't known to have had any of the specialised training or knowledge D.B. Cooper demonstrated during the hijacking.

Barba Dayton

Born Robert Elmer Dayton in 1926, Barbara "Barb" Dayton transitioned into a woman in 1969 and was reportedly the first trans woman to undergo surgery in Washington State. 

She was a keen pilot and skydiver - meaning she could likely execute a parachute jump - and those close to her noted that Barb would become defensive of D.B. Cooper whenever he was discussed among the local pilots. 

One evening, as a joke, a friend took a picture of Barb with her hair combed to one side while wearing a pair of sunglasses, leading to an apparent confession that she had been Dan Cooper.

Barb's family also noted the likeness between her and D.B Cooper. Her daughter, Rena, as well as Barb's niece and sister-in-law, believe that Barb was D.B. Cooper.

Duane L Webere

During a shocking deathbed confession in 1995, Duane said to his wife Jo: "I am D.B Cooper." This meant nothing to Jo, until she mentioned it to a friend, who told her of the case of D.B. Cooper.

Jo later learned that her husband had a lengthy criminal record and had a number of fake identification cards. The wallet in his car had a fake Florida driver's license in the name of John Carson Collins - the name he is said to have used when he served time in prison. 

Duane also had an old knee injury which he claimed was acquired while jumping out of a plane, and a reoccurring nightmare where Jo said he talked in his sleep about leaving his fingerprints behind on a plane.

Jo also recalled a trip they took to the Pacific Northwest in 1979. Duane took Jo to Lake Merwin - an area close to the wooded area D.B Cooper is believed to have landed - which she remembers him identifying as the spot "where Cooper walked out of the woods." 

She also told of an incident where Duane returned from a walk covered in dirt as if he had been digging, and later threw a bag full of trash into the river as they visited another nature site. Jo believes that Duane had dug up the money he had buried for safekeeping and that the rotten bills found by the child several months later was the "trash" Duane had thrown away.

Is D.B Cooper still alive

(Image credit: Netflix)

Walter R Reca

Walter Reca's best friend, Carl Laurin, claims that Walter was the suspect behind the 1971 plane hijacking.

He says he suspected his friend immediately after the skyjacking because he had previously broken the law, including an attempted robbery at a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant as well as several banks.

But according to Carl, Walter didn’t admit his guilt until shortly before his death in 2014, when he handed over audiotapes of his confession and made Carl promise not to reveal them until after he had passed away.

"The D.B. Cooper mystery isn't a mystery to me," he said. He has written a memoir detailing the confessions of his longtime friend, who was a former military paratrooper and intelligence operative. The book is called, "D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, a Spy, My Best Friend."

However, it's reported that Carl and his publisher, Principia Media, never vetted their theories with the FBI. 

Is the D.B Cooper case still open?

No, the D.B Cooper case is no longer open. It was closed in 2016, 45 years after the hijacking. The FBI said that after all this time on the case, its crime-fighting resources would be "better used elsewhere."

However, citizens are still fascinated by the mystery. And in the community of Ariel in Southwest Washington, an annual event is held in November to commemorate D.B Cooper.

The hijacking also inspired a local escape room and a brewery in Vancouver.

How many episodes of D. B. Cooper: Where are You?

The Netflix documentary series D.B Cooper: Where are You? consists of four episodes. All episodes were released on July 13, 2022 and are approximately 40-45 minutes in length.

The official sypnosis from Netflix reads: "The series looks at the 50-year quest to find the mysterious man who hijacked a Northwest Airlines passenger jet in November 1971 and escaped with $200,000, never to be seen again. 

"Five decades. Few clues. Too many suspects. The identity of skyjacker D.B. Cooper remains one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century."

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Robyn Morris
Entertainment writer - contributor

Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.