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D.B. Cooper: Volunteer sleuths find potential evidence in unsolved 46-year-old hijacking

Published: Thursday, August 10, 2017 @ 3:14 PM

Who Is DB Cooper?

A group of volunteer investigators believe they have found a piece of potential physical evidence in the D.B. Cooper case, the only unsolved airliner hijacking in American history.

Fox News reported Thursday that Thomas Colbert, head of the team of amateur sleuths, said his group has found what “appears to be a decades-old parachute strap” during a dig in the case. Colbert declined to tell Fox the location of the dig, but said it took place where a “credible source” revealed that the parachute used by Cooper, and the remainder of the $200,000 ransom he got away with, could be buried. 

The only sign of Cooper ever found was $5,800 of the ransom money, which was uncovered by a young boy playing on the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Washington, in 1980. 

D.B. Cooper is the pseudonym given to an unidentified man who, using the name Dan Cooper, boarded a Northwest Orient flight on Nov. 24, 1971. During the flight, which departed Portland, Oregon, for a short, 30-minute trip to Seattle, Cooper passed a note to a flight attendant and told her he was carrying a bomb. 

Pictured is some of the ransom money given to D.B. Cooper, who hijacked an airliner flying from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971. The cash, part of $200,000 in ransom that Cooper was given before he parachuted from the plane, was found on the bank of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Washington, in 1980 by 8-year-old Brian Ingram. Ingram in 2008 decided to auction off some of the money that the FBI allowed him to keep.((AP Photo/Nick Ut))

Cooper, who showed the woman what looked like dynamite in his briefcase, demanded the $200,000 ransom, four parachutes and that the plane refuel upon its stop in Seattle, according to the FBI. Upon receiving his demands, he released the 36 passengers, but kept a few crew members on board and demanded that the pilot fly him to Mexico City.

Just after 8 p.m. that night, Cooper did the unthinkable -- he strapped a parachute onto his back and, with the ransom money in hand, jumped from the plane’s rear stairs into the night. 

Despite an extensive investigation, code-named NORJAK, Cooper was never identified or arrested. Over the next four decades, there were theories that Cooper died in his plunge to the ground, which took place in cold, stormy weather over the rugged terrain of the Washington-Oregon border. 

There were also theories that, if Cooper survived, it meant he had the specialized training and experience to withstand the difficult jump.  

Many amateur sleuths tried to solve the case, in some instances, sharing their information with the FBI. The FBI also allowed testing of some of its own evidence, including the cheap, black JC Penney clip-on necktie Cooper wore on the flight.  

No closer to a solution, the FBI officially closed its investigation in July 2016

Pictured is the clip-on tie that the hijacker calling himself "Dan Cooper" left behind after he parachuted from Northwest Orient Flight 305 on a cold night in November 1971. The tie is one of few pieces of evidence that Cooper left behind.((Federal Bureau of Investigation))

Two months later, Colbert and his company, TJC Consulting, sued the FBI for access to the entire NORJAK case file.

Colbert told Fox News that details in those archived case documents helped him corroborate information his group received in a tip. That tip and corroboration led to the dig that uncovered the parachute strap, he said. 

He told the news station that he planned to forward the potential evidence to the FBI on Friday, and to offer the federal agency the dig site on Monday. 

Colbert, a former media specialist, is behind the documentary “D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?” that aired on the History Channel last July, the same month that the FBI ended its 45-year search for Cooper. In the film, Colbert and his team of investigators, which includes journalists and retired FBI agents and police detectives, claim they have identified the man who hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 that frigid November night. 

The two-part documentary focuses on former U.S. Army paratrooper Robert Rackstraw Sr., who is now 73 and living in California. According to a news release Colbert issued on his website,, in January, Rackstraw is also a retired university teacher, a former Vietnam pilot, an explosives expert and a four-time felon. 

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Rackstraw was also a suspect early on in the hijacking investigation. The FBI cleared him in 1979, in part because he was only 28 in 1971, much younger than the description flight attendants gave of a man between 35 and 45 years old.

Colbert said in the news release, which accused the FBI of withholding some case documents from the public, that he believes Rackstraw was wrongly exonerated. He also detailed his circumstantial case against Rackstraw in a book, “The Last Master Outlaw.” 

Rackstraw’s lawyer, Dennis Roberts, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last year after the documentary aired that Rackstraw was considering suing Colbert and his team. 

“It’s all conjecture,” Roberts told the newspaper. “They tortured him for five years. He is not D.B. Cooper. He was never D.B. Cooper.”

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California teacher fired after saying military members are ‘lowest of our low’

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 10:59 AM

Gregory Salcido has bee fired from his position as a history teacher at El Rancho High School  in Pico Rivera, California, after video surfaced of him making disparaging remarks about members of the military.
Image capture: Google
Gregory Salcido has bee fired from his position as a history teacher at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, California, after video surfaced of him making disparaging remarks about members of the military.(Image capture: Google)

A California history teacher who was seen on video making disparaging remarks about members of the military has been fired.

The Los Angles Times reported that the El Rancho Unified School District unanimously voted on Tuesday to remove Gregory Salcido from his post at El Rancho High School  in Pico Rivera, California.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that, pending any appeals, Salcido will stay on unpaid leave.

In January, Salcido was investigated by the board after video was released of him telling a class of students that people in the military are “not intellectual people” and “the freaking lowest of our low.” The video, in which Salcido appeared to be reacting to a student wearing a Marines shirt, surfaced on Jan. 26.

>> Read more trending news 

“We’ve got a bunch of dumb (expletive) over there,” Salcido says in the video. “Think about the people who you know who are over there – your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever – they’re dumb (expletive). They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they're not intellectual people; they’re the freaking lowest of our low.”

The history teacher also appeared to make insensitive remarks about people in Asia.

“We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese – they’re a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice at us.”

KCBS reported that Salcido defended his comments at a Feb. 13 city council meeting.

“My goal, as it relates to my students, related to the military, is to get them to do everything to get to college,” Salcido said. “It’s not just the military, I don’t want them working at a fast food restaurant either. And any comment related to, is out of context. I’m talking about their academic standing. I don’t think it’s at all a revelation to anybody that those who aren’t stellar students usually find the military a better option.”

The video prompted White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, to say, “I think the guy ought to go to hell.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Salcido, 49, was with his wife visiting family in New York and headed home “under the circumstances,” according to an email from Salcido.

“Because of the many vulgar and violent threats against my family, I do not have any comment on the situation at this time,” Salcido told the LA Times.

Salcido has 30 days to appeal the board’s decision.

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Who is Mark Anthony Conditt, the suspected Austin bomber?

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 9:57 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 12:07 PM

Austin Package Explosions: Suspect Dead

The suspected Austin serial bomber who apparently killed himself early Wednesday as authorities closed in on him was Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, local and federal law enforcement sources told the American-Statesman and KVUE.


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94 Winn-Dixie stores set to close as southern grocer files for bankruptcy

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 7:29 PM

Winn-Dixie Set To Close 94 Stores, Files For Bankruptcy

Florida-based Southeastern Grocers- the parent company of Winn-Dixie, Harveys, and other businesses- said Thursday it’s closing 94 stores as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

>> Read more trending news 

Southeastern Grocers said Thursday they reached an agreement with “key economic stakeholders” which lets them restructure financially. They’ve classified the stores that will be closing as “under performing”. 

582 stores will continue to operate under the Southeastern Grocers umbrella. 

“The agreement we announced today is an important step in Southeastern Grocers’ transformation to put our company in the best position to succeed in the extremely competitive retail market in which we do business,” company president and CEO Anthony Hucker said in a statement. 

The restructuring is expected to reduce the company’s debt by more than $500 million.

Three locations in Jacksonville and one in Orange Park, Florida will be part of the first group of closings, the company said. 

According to Winn-Dixie's website, the retailer has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.

>> Related: Toys 'R' Us getting ready to close more than 700 stores affecting 33,000 workers, reports say

Traditional grocery stores have faced increased competition from online retailers like Amazon in recent years.

Click here to find the list of all affected stores.

National Content Desk Editor Joy Johnston contributed to this report

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21 states targeted by Russia in 2016 election still a mystery

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 8:01 AM

Reviewing the reaction of the Obama Administration to signs that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2016 election campaign, Senators on Wednesday expressed frustration at the refusal of the Obama and Trump Administrations to publicly reveal the names of at least 21 states targeted by Russian cyber attackers in 2016, arguing there is no reason to keep that information from the American people.

“America has to know what’s wrong,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “And if there are states that have been attacked, America should know that.”

In a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said states which were victimized prefer to remain anonymous, giving no hint that the identities of those states would be revealed any time soon.

“The 21 states themselves have been notified,” said Nielsen.

“But people have to know,” Feinstein countered.

Feinstein also pressed former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who defended efforts by the Obama Administration to both warn states – and warn the public about the Russian election threat.

“Senator, the American people were told,” Johnson said.

“Not sufficiently in any way, shape, or form,” Feinstein replied.

Johnson acknowledged that an early October 2016 warning about Russian actions – issued both by DHS and the broader U.S. Intelligence Community – did not get the press traction that he thought it deserved, mainly due to other breaking news about the campaign for President on that day.

“It was below the fold news, the next day, because of the release of the Access Hollywood video the same day,” Johnson said, referring to the tape of President Donald Trump in which he bragged about how he treated women, a revelation that roiled the 2016 campaign for the next several days.

At the hearing, Johnson did not mention what else was released on the same day – as just minutes after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, Wikileaks made the first release of hacked emails from John Podesta, a top aide to Hillary Clinton – all of that combining to overwhelm the U.S. government warning about Russian actions.

In hindsight, members of both parties said it was very obvious that – at the time – Russia was actively trying to cause trouble in the 2016 elections.

“Russian government actors scanned an estimated 21 states, and attempted to gain access to a handful of those,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“In at least one case, they were successful in penetrating a voter registration database,” Burr added.

Burr said his panel’s investigation showed that DHS and the FBI in 2016 did alert states of the Russian threat, but in a “limited way,” which resulted in most states not treating the information as an imminent threat.

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