DB Cooper and Me II


ancouver, Washington’s local newspaper, The Columbian, has something about the November 24, 1971 DB Cooper hijacking of at this time nearly every year. The November 21, 2019 issue has an article about a new radio play depicting the event.

It seems there’s an annual routine for reporters to look for more details to do stories on the anniversary of the 1971, hijacking of a Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727. In early August of 2011, KATU (Portland, OR) TV reporter Joe English was looking for local color at Ariel, WA. Each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Ariel Store & Tavern hosted DB Cooper Days – a celebration of the man, the myth and the legend that is DB Cooper.

English’s queries lead to a conversation with a parent of my grandchildren’s friend. Because of that conversation, he called me saying he had interviewed a woman who said something about my being the man who had driven Cooper to the airport (PDX) in Portland, OR, before the hijacking. My grandkids knew the story, but apparently something got lost in the translation when it was shared with their friends.

I’d never written anything about the incident, but after a call from a Vancouver newspaper reporter the day after Joe English’s call, my wife encouraged me to write it up and submit it to the newspaper to clarify what had been misinterpreted.

The Columbian “Everyone has a Story” forum seemed to be a good choice. It published on August 21, 2011 as: “Carjacking still has media asking about Cooper.”

In 1971, I was a 35-year-old married student at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, with three children. On the evening of November 23, I left our Student Village housing for a Boy Scout leaders meeting. I was approached by a man who appeared to be in his early 20s.

His asking for a ride to the bus station didn’t seem unusual to me. It was the eve of Thanksgiving break at the university, and hitching an in-town ride was a common student-to-student request any time of the year. Neither was it unusual that he wore brown cotton gloves and combat boots. November is cold in central Washington and web upper, military surplus combat boots were common footwear even for Vietnam war protesters on and off campus.

I was already tired from working a graveyard shift as a shelf stocker and checker at Zittings, an Ellensburg grocery store, and attending classes most of the day. The Greyhound station was only a little out of the way for me, but taking him there would make me only a few minutes late for my meeting. As we neared the traffic light controlled intersection near the bus station in my Chevy Nova, he told me to turn left. I told him that the station was straight ahead.

He displayed a Ruger .22 automatic pistol I recognized from having owned one several years before. I followed his directions to State Highway 821 South, locally known as ‘canyon road’ because it follows the Yakima River between basalt cliffs in the Umtanum Ridge Water Gap from Ellensburg to Yakima.

I glanced at him to get a complete description of him in my mind as I drove. Each time I looked, he told me, in authoritative tone, to keep my eyes on the road. When we approached Yakima, I plotted an escape, and told him that I was nearly out of gas. That was true, but I thought I could get to a well-lighted place with witnesses or help. He told me to keep going south on US-97 to Union Gap and stop at the cash station. I didn’t know the location. He gave me specific directions.

I hadn’t seen a cash station before, but as I remember it was a new concept being tested. The pumps were set up to take fives or ones and dispense gas after the deposit. I immediately planned to make a break if I saw an attendant, but there was none, and his pistol was displayed the entire time I was outside the car. I thought he was going to take the car after I put gas in the tank, but he didn’t.

He directed me back onto US-97 and I continued driving south on a road I’d not driven before. We approached the toll bridge crossing the Columbia River to Biggs Junction, OR, and I made a quick plan to jump out and get help from the attendant. As we neared the booth and I slowed my car, my unwelcome passenger hid the pistol under the military field jacket he wore.

The man at the booth was what I considered elderly, and there were no other cars stopped to pay a toll. I thought, for whatever reason, it wouldn’t make sense to endanger him too. In retrospect, if the man with the gun intended was to get rid of me, it would have been done on the isolated road we’d already traveled. He directed me onto Interstate-84 towards Portland. I developed another plan; I increased my speed hoping to get stopped by the Oregon State Patrol. But, as I gradually increased my speed, he told me to stay in the right-hand lane at the speed limit.

I’d never been in downtown Portland, but his directions were explicit. It wasn’t difficult by that time for me to realize that he knew exactly where he wanted to go and how to get there. I’ll not forget where he got out of my car and disappeared into the night – Fourth and Jackson.

I found a pay phone on the next block and called the Portland Police. A marked patrol car responded within minutes. The officer took my description of the abductor and said it fit many young men they commonly see in the area around Portland State University. Within a few minutes of his broadcasting a description on the radio, another patrol car brought someone for me to identify. Not him! Only the young man’s outer clothing matched. We left my Nova on the street and went to the station. I called my wife in Ellensburg, and she told me about the people out looking for me.

While I was making a written statement, another young man was brought into the station. Again, only the clothing matched. The interviewing officer told me I needed to make another report in Ellensburg since the incident started there, and he had already contacted the FBI.

An officer drove me back to my car. It wouldn’t start – dead battery – I’d left the lights on. They gave me a jump-start and directions to I-84. I’d been up for nearly 24 hours and was dead tired, but I didn’t have money for a motel. Rather than try to sleep in the car, I coffeed up and opted to make the 4-hour drive back to Ellensburg in the early morning of Thanksgiving Eve.

I slept a few hours and made a report at the Ellensburg Police Department. They put together a composite picture for their records. The sketch was used in an article published in the Ellensburg Daily Record.

An FBI agent contacted me that evening. He asked, actually insisted, that we talk in his car because he wanted to keep apprised of a situation being broadcast on his scanner. I wasn’t surprised by his starting our conversation with a caution about giving miss-information or false reporting to a federal agent.

My telling him about the previous hours was frequently interrupted by radio updates about a passenger aircraft commandeered by a man calling himself Dan Cooper after leaving Portland.

Cooper and Him

click image to enlarge

There were a few similarities to the description of the airplane hijacker and the person who had taken me to Portland. However, the dissimilarities were enough to discount the person to whom I had given a ride as a possible suspect. My being carjacked the day before the mystery man hijacked the Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727 that Thanksgiving eve is only another contribution to the multiple myths and speculations about the real story. I’m sure the myths and speculations will continue, and I’ll still be thankful that my coincidence was only as it was.


everal news teasers over the years said new evidence was discovered that may lead to the infamous DB Cooper’s identification. However, on July 12, 2016, the FBI announced it was officially closing the Cooper investigation. The unsolved case of the hijacking and the disappearance of the suspect became considered one for the history books – or was it?

Ward of the State


reviously in Iniquities of the Fathers: Twelve-year-old Levi Robert Reising runs away from his depressing Oatville, North Dakota, home and convinces Minneapolis authorities he is Lee Juan Sanchez. He is taken from his ‘permanent’ foster home for sassing a teacher after a playground fight. Mrs. Brown is a CPS representative and the Murphys provide temporary foster care.

While driving Lee from the Rasmussen’s home to the Murphy’s home, Mrs. Brown said, “You need to understand that you are still a ward of the State.”

Lee asked, “Ward?”

“Yes, ward.” She sounded as if reciting a document. “A ward of the state is one under eighteen whose parents have died, who has no identifiable parents, one who has no responsible adult relatives, or who has been taken from his parents by action of the court.”

Her tone softened. “You are one who came to us on your own with just that note for identification. You are considered abandoned. Sometimes we get a runaway with a fairly convincing oral story, but it doesn’t take long for us to find out.”

Brown, concentrating on traffic, did not see Lee cringe while she continued. “With local runaways there is usually someone looking for them but there have been no inquiries about a boy of your description. Sometimes we get what we call LDRs, kids who manage to get all the way across the country. We figure them out fairly fast. In your case, we have had no response to our letter to the Bakersfield police asking about Mrs. Smith who signed the letter sending you on the bus to your uncle. They’re probably as busy as we are, and a runaway is just a low priority for them.”

She knows!

Lee asked, “You think I ran away?”

“I didn’t say that Lee. I’m just trying to explain a little.”

Sounds a little like Ma when she was bending the truth.

“What will happen to me now?”

“You will stay with the Murphy’s again. Hopefully you’ll be taken by another family if one is willing. I’ll be frank with you Lee; most families do not want a problem child. So this might well be your last chance.”

“Those boys at school shoved me first!”

“That could very well be, but we have to go on what was reported. But, since I actually do believe that part of your story, I’m convicted to give you another chance.”

Convicted – nine letters – found guilty. She must mean convinced.

“Now I’m going to tell you something not to scare you but to make you aware. There are several places for troubled children or those who do not fit well in foster care or at one of the orphanages.”

If I have to go to an orphan place, I’ll just confess and go back to Oatville.

Her tone changed to harsh, “And, you certainly do not want to end up at the Red Wing Training School.”

She really does say some of her words like Aunt Winnie Mae did in Texas.

“Red Wing?”

“It’s a place in Red Wing, Minnesota, where delinquent boys are sent. Some even have to stay there until they are twenty-one if they are considered incorrigible. And, believe you me young man, it is not a pleasant place to be.”

Incorrigible – twelve letters – incapable of being reformed. Crap! Like jail – like Dad. If I confess, they’ll think I’m incorrigible. I said I’d not be like Dad, but he lied all the time and now I tell so many I’m being just like him.


ext: Lee gets comfortable at the Murphy’s and hopes to be adopted but there will be more foster families and an institution before he makes his next decision to go on the run.

Does he reconnect with his family?

Iniquities of the Fathers does not yet have a publisher.

Pedagogical Dissertation

This is a pedagogical dissertation pedantically developed specifically for publication in a journal of which the content can be comprehended only by those capable of expressing and conveying accelerated levels of understanding of fiscal concepts yet unfathomable by the tattered masses among us.
An intellectually stimulating article deemed to be acceptable to a scholastic peer review board for submission to an elite academic journal.


n the end, every person must account for their own actions. All motivation for actual actions related to accountability is irrelevant to the concept that any of the species humankind is the objective of non-prejudicial termination (Pick1To the best of this writer’s knowledge, none of Pick’s writings have ever been published, but he did make this statement in a number of hand written notes while working on his unpublished dissertation at the Jackson Scholar Campus of Southwestern Mississippi State Teachers College., Apt2Apt cited Pick in at least three articles written for the now out-of-circulation Common Man’s Responsibility to Academia Newsletter., and Fitting3Fitting sited Apt’s citing of Pick3Probably the incomplete and unpublished work of Pick. from two of Apt’s articles referred to above, 1980). Verifiable positive determination of the fiscal debt one should reimburse, deserves to recompense, or is able to remunerate will not be made until the fully integrated priority program necessitates that urgent consideration be applied to the issue of intended and unintended behavior as demonstrated by a supervised and un-perjured application of the thesis in question as cited by the previously referenced authors.4Arrears and Due, et.al., You and I in Debt, Deficit Press, Orange County, CA, 1993, pg 21

As a resulting implication of the perceived debt owed to one’s own kind, the successors of one’s own kind, and the offspring of those not of one’s own kind and based on clinical observations of non-participants involved in observing pedagogic activities at any publicly supported student service facility, the incorporation of additional functioning constraints probably maximizes the probability of negative gains in emotional debt and minimizes the expectations of the affective cost and time required for the evolution of positive performance criteria over a given time period. In this regard, a primary interrelation between focused administrative objectives and instruction or learning technologies, as well as any assumed supporting elements such as ad-hoc committees of offspring producers, their peers and identified opponents, presents extremely frustrating challenges and adds overriding performance enhancing constraints to the covert and overt behaviors of the human subsystem at the public agency where such activities are integrated or are under thoughtful investigation for integration applications.
Thus, a constant flow of effective information about real encumbrances and perceived encumbrances is further compounded when reviewing the pedagogical mood which is based on the functionaries’ perceptions of the real and disproportionate funding tasks to be performed by the supporting public, cooperate sources, as well as those responsible for enforcing federal, state and local law, and IRS regulations related to the fiscal issues as perceived by principals involved in or responsible for such activities.
However, the long range goals of those who are pedantry might be better served by recognizing the social, physical, economic, and spiritual needs of the identified subsystem do have some validity within the framework of the “it is possible to save them all at the cost of the established society”5Gettenall and Takenit, Society Expanded in Parallel to Taxation and Local Pedantic Issues, Self-Published, Allrbright, MN, 1986, pg 63 oriented philosophy of post puberty pre-adult education philosophy as proposed by the authors referenced in the above citation.
Squeezing a single lump of coal might one day produce a diamond; however, squeezing the coal miner might cause the unavailability of lumps for squeezing.


am fully aware that most will consider what I just said to be male bovine droppings.6I’m sure most are aware of the two letters or two words I’ve chosen to not use here.



n reference to a recent public, nonspecific inquiry someone posted about how busy I may appear to be with my writing activities, I must explain briefly that my somewhat explainable compulsive assiduousness might possibly be based on my self-generated mental obsession with a perceived necessity to significantly rationalize a constant flow of culturally suspect written communication which may present extremely interesting challenges to and must be integrated with the evolution of communications trends over an undefined recent time period; therefore, I must give in-depth and thoughtful consideration to any discrete configuration of currently mandated language sensitizing criteria before I can formulate a believable answer to fill this space in such a way as to appear credible and non-offensive to the entire range of readers who could develop into responders or follow up inquirers.1Originally written in the 1990s to demonstrate single sentence nonsense.
In other words – I’ve got nothing to say.


hen is April 1st?




omething that has an unpredictable outcome – crapshoot is in my vocabulary again. Early in 2012, I signed a contract to have my novel An Odyssey of Illusions published by Black Rose Writers . I had great expectations but never for its being on anyone’s best seller list. I believed that the cover alone would attract readers at any bookstore.

I need to say that I do not intend this post to be a negative statement about Black Rose Writers . Publishers are in business to make a profit and I find nothing wrong with that. My having been naive about publishing practices is the real focus.
I thought Black Rose Writers was a real publisher until two experiences led me to believe that the book fell into the self-published category. When Several bookstores I contacted told me that they did not purchase and shelve self-published books unless there was a real potential for resale my beliefs were confirmed. They may have sold the gift copies I sent to them, but I have no confirmation of that.

I also contacted some reviewers but found that they would only review self-published work for a fee; thus, I had a second confirmation.
Real statistics on self-published novels are difficult to analyze and even more difficult to find. One alleged statistic caught my attention a number of years ago. It would be easier to remember the exact data if I could remember by whom it was said or in what it was written.
What I read or heard went something like this: Statistically, self-published authors sell an average of eight more copies than they self-purchase to give to friends and family.

I beat that statistic for Odyssey of Illusions – fourteen paperbacks and eight e-versions of the book were sold and I had one direct sale from my personal shelf. Oh, I bought 60 copies directly from the publisher (AKA printing facilitator now imbed in my mind). Six copies were donated and sold at charity auction and I gave copies to friends and family. The balance of my collection is my ‘free from the publisher’ copy and two others.

I earned a whopping $46.70 in royalties and my total cost, including shipping, was $1,270.49. Thus, I was published at the cost of $1,223.79. Black Rose Writers got that amount plus $252.57 for the sales ($1,476.36 total). Well, the publisher did pay something to have the book printed and converted to e-book, so its profit wasn’t very much either.
Would I do a for fee publication again? No!

The price for the gifts and donations is not out of line in the great scheme of things. And, there have been times when I learned a lot less at a much greater cost.

If you’ve read any of my recent blogs, you’d know I’ve done no fee self-publishing through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Now I’m faced with a dilemma and believe my next effort will be a crapshoot. I’ve made significant changes to what was An Odyssey of Illusions and have retitled it Iniquities of the Fathers.

The search for a ‘real’ publisher started last year and I was encouraged by a publisher via e-mail for six months. After that I quired some agents but got no replies. I found some publishers that had published similar work but did not take over-the-transom (unsolicited) submissions. One publisher suggested an alternate route for submission – if you guessed a fee was involved, you’d be right.

Well, I’ve taken a crapshoot and sent the manuscript to two publishers that weren’t specific about taking only agented work. Based on their web sites, I’ll be waiting as long as 30 days before acknowledgement of receipt.


elf publishing is still an option, but I’d really like it to appear on shelves as a hardback for those who still like to browse a bookstore or Library.