South by Northwest — Assessing D.B. Cooper

Assessing D.B. Cooper. Indeed. After one investigates the actual sequence of events leading up to and after the skyjacking on November 24, 1971, one must proceed to assess which fork in the road to take. Did D.B. Cooper survive or did he “splatter”?  Before one can investigate and begin the process of elimination to try and identify the most notorious skyjacker in history, one must sort this out.

Ralph Himmelsbach, the lead Fed, preferred to believe that Cooper “splattered.” The wise guys told him the chances of someone in a business suit without a helmet jumping from a jet airliner at 10,000 feet on a stormy night. They didn’t even think his shoes– only loafers– would stay on. How could someone like this survive hitting the ground, slogging through muddy prairies, and then through the dense undergrowth of the forest? How could he even get through the dense pine forests on the way to the ground without being shredded by the trees?

Basically all we officially know of “Dan Cooper.”

Even long after he retired, Himmelsbach searched the wilderness in the area he thought the most probable drop zone. The problem is Feds aren’t very good with street investigation. It’s not their turf. To read an FBI influenced report is to see how detailed, meticulous, analytical they can be at a higher level. They are quite logistic, which is good. But the street is not their turf. Even more so, the forest is no lawman’s turf.

Ralph Himmelsbach nor any lawman was at an advantage here.

Ralph Himmelsbach warns that the Bureau has a long memory– In Search of 1979.

What the FBI had done in the initial phase of the search in 1971-1972 was to alert the banks about the serial numbers. How often tellers checked, we do not know. The Bureau did sweeps of missing persons and felons who had skydiving skills.  They checked into missing persons. Who had not come home? What neighbors are missing? Abandoned cars? No one fit.

But the wilderness has no cross reference and no one is there to assist. This was the last known location of D.B. Cooper.

Because agent Himmelsbach preferred to believe Cooper died in the jump, he eventually limited himself to a personal pursuit of looking for a needle in a haystack. Somewhere that red parachute or pieces thereof should be found. A body. A chewed suit. Even a loafer. How about the briefcase that contained the “bomb”?  Neither he nor anybody ever found anything to indicate what happened to Dan Cooper.

As the years went by, it seemed something should turn up if he lived or died. One of those $20 dollar bills if he lived, some relic of his passing in the wilderness if he died. Nothing.

A relic was not improbable in the wilderness. The survival of some bit of clothing or parachute or even the money was confirmed in 1978 when hunter Carroll Hicks while stalking elk came across  the remnant of the warning placard that had been sucked out of the Boeing 727 when Cooper lowered the aft stairs in flight and the suction yanked it out.

Some 15 minutes after this Dan Cooper jumped with the $200,000 wrapped around his waist in the remnant of one of the parachute sacks he didn’t need. Yet not a trace of any of the clothes, parachute, briefcase has been found. Even if he survived a remnant of the briefcase should have been found. He could not have held on to that all the way down. Nada.

The search at Tina Bar.

Then in 1980 3 bundles of the ransom money were found on Tina Bar, north of Portland. One bundle was shy 200 bucks worth of 20s, making the total amount recovered 5,800 dollars instead of $6,000.00.

This changed everybody’s mind as to just where the 727 was when Dan Cooper jumped.

The calculations had undergone several adjustments even during the search in 1971. Now 9 years later it was time to reconsider. The first calculation proposed that the 727 was near Merwin Dam by Ariel, Washington, when Cooper jumped. Then it seemed the flight had to be further west, and Captain Scott, the pilot, later came to that view as well. It seemed somewhere by Woodland, Washington, was more likely.

By the time 1980 rolled around and the location of the money on Tina Bar, these were 9 year old calculations that had inspired searches that had found nothing. Now it seemed the Woodland one had to be wrong. Woodland is north of where the money was found. Nothing drifts upriver.  Could it be the original was truly the most accurate? Himmelsbach began to think so. The only answer is that Cooper drifted from near Ariel southeast to the Washougal Valley. There he splattered. Over time floods or whatever moved some of the money down to the Washougal River. There it floated in the Columbia, through Portland, past Caterpillar Island and a few bundles beached on Tina Bar.

The first arrow at top of map indicates Woodland where it was later thought probable that Cooper jumped. Star marks Caterpillar Island. Second arrow marks the Washougal. Lake Merwin and Merwin Dam are at the top of the map.

This alone seemed to explain the location of the money and the evidence it had been in the water for a while before it had washed up onto the sand bar within a 3 foot layer of sediment. Clearly flood had moved the money and enough sediment to deposit 3 feet of it, with the money scattered in it, upon Tina Bar.


However, nothing has been found in the Washougal Valley to suggest that D.B. Cooper’s remains are there. Moreover, Himmelsbach used as supporting evidence for his theory the report of a pilot, Bohan by name, who was flying his airliner behind the 727 but at a higher altitude. Bohan said the wind was 180 on the nose. Why did Himmselbach not notice that this would be a headwind from the location of Flight 305 to the Washougal? How could Cooper drift southeast into a southeast headwind? It is impossible. And Woodland is too far. If the wind at Cooper’s altitude here was favorable and drifting toward the southeast he was too far away to drift over 25 miles to the Washougal from Woodland. If Cooper jumped in either location he could not have drifted into a headwind.

How then did the money get where it was found?

Neither wind, adjusted location for the flight route, nor anything natural can explain how the money got to Tina Bar.

Because of this the location of the money did not settle the question on what happened to D.B. Cooper. It only raised questions. Did he survive? Did he find out the Feds had taken down the serial numbers and the extorted gains were no good? Did he pitch it afterward? On some dark night did he go out in a boat and dump the money in the river? If he did, when? The sediment band in which was located the money was on top of a band of sediment cast up when the Columbia was dredged in 1974, 3 years after the skyjacking.

Ralph Himmelsbach’s theory could explain it if it hadn’t been for the wind making the Washougal impossible and therewith any subsequent drift of the money in the Columbia River.

Did Dan Cooper survive and get rid of the incriminating money? With the Washougal seemingly out of the picture, and with this a defined landing location to scour removed from the equation it seemed easier to follow through on the probability that “Dan Cooper,” the “Jesse James of the Jet Age,” survived.

It is this fork that I elected to take, and this is the path that led me to my POI.

I preferred that D.B. Cooper splattered. It would be more enticing to think one can traipse across beautiful forests and suddenly find his remains or those of the rest of the money and get a whopping reward! But those chances are slim, and in 44 years no one has done so despite the example of Carroll Hicks finding a needle in a haystack in 1978.

In taking this fork, we must accept that Cooper buried his red parachute and made it out of the forest; that nobody has come across his briefcase out there with the “bomb” or didn’t know what it was; that he did not spend any significant amount of the money (though 200 bucks was missing from one bundle recovered); that he was a local Portlander or that he returned to dump the money.

The last step on the aft stairs of Flight 305 is the last sure step we know of “Dan Cooper.”

More than this we must accept the obvious clues and evidence that Cooper was qualified to make the jump.  That he took time to learn the 727 and the route. Equally, we must accept that he took the time to plan out a drop zone. He knew where to have those flaps set on the plane, what altitude to order it to fly– everything. He must have taken equal care about his escape.

Let us pursue this further in our next D.B. Cooper post.


*         *          *

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


D.B. Cooper, Me, and My POI

Steve Doran, in a rare moment when his mouth wasn’t full or his fingers busy holding his Turkish delights, sent me the following link.

New D.B. Cooper person of interest

The old buffs of D.B. Cooper will see some problems with the POI and some problematic claims.

But it comes time soon to reveal that I have had a POI for a while. I haven’t revealed it because, as always, there is much that needs to be done before any POI can be taken seriously. The article above reveals that basically Lepsy vanished in 1969 (which is not uncommon) and wore a similar black tie. There is no knowledge of wind drift, how the money could have gotten to Tina Bar, no understanding how Himmelsbach, the lead Fed, frankly made some serious mistakes in calculating drift that allowed the theory that Cooper could have drifted to the Washougal Valley. Without that it is hard to explain how the money wound up on Tina Bar unless it had been intentionally pitched in the Columbia or Willamette rivers after the 1974 dredging operations.

These little indicators above suggest Cooper survived and remained nearby.

With my POI it is difficult. He did not vanish in 1971. He was local. He was of French Canadian heritage, a family with strong links to a certain region of Quebec. His grandfather had come to America, to the Midwest first where his father was born and then they came to Portland, where he was born.  He was 39 during the skyjacking.

His age fits, the French Canadian connection fits with the use of Dan Cooper, a Belgian parachuting hero, the comics of which were available in Canada, where he had many aunts and uncles.  He served in the US Navy as an Airman in Korea.

D.B. Cooper chose the oldest of the pair of parachutes delivered to him, indicating to the Feds that he had some from of military background, but nothing current.  He used the alias of the skydiving Dan Cooper, a comic published in French. He had no accent, but was thought possibly to be Canadian.

“Dan Cooper” with and without his wrap around sunglasses.

There is more, of course– a job that might give him a clue faster than others that the Feds had photo’d the serial numbers of the money. A cabin in the woods. Perhaps even a tight community that might protect him, though the last is unlikely. Time in Canada before and after the skyjacking. All of it makes a good cover.

But those who follow my true crime and cold case investigations know how difficult it is to get enough details in order to go public and then go official. Unless you have enough to motivate the authorities the rest of the investigation may not follow the right track. You may never hear back on your POI.


An indication of how early I am in my continuing investigation. I can’t even figure what to title this mock up of my proposed book.

I have also been beset by my EAR/ONS investigation, which has derailed a number of my projects. D.B. is on hold. But it is time to reveal tidbits here and there over the coming year.

The skyjacking of Flight 305 on Thanksgiving Eve (November 24, 1971) is one of the most daredevil and improbably successful crimes of the any century.  Who was Dan Cooper? And why never a trace of him dead or alive? No missing uncles. No missing neighbors. No missing motel guests (in Portland), no missing car renters (in Portland). No unclaimed parked cars (in Portland). No one was missing after the crime. If Cooper was local or came from afar and didn’t survive the jump, something unclaimed had to be left behind somewhere.  If it was someone who fits Lepsy’s dossier, he had to have had neighbors in the 2 years since he had vanished in 1969. Nobody reported missing neighbors. What indeed happened to D.B. Cooper? He exists for only a few hours on November 24, 1971, and left no trace thereafter except some of the money in an improbable location.

*         *          *

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The season blessing has come again. Each year the wild turkeys visit our street and pick at the pepper kernels from my tree. They sit on my roof and they gobble, gobble. But though I can reach onto my roof and grab my dinner, I prefer going to Bel Air to get a turkey.

The roofs are white this morning. Amber leave dance down to the crisp grass. The heat is on. Time to put on some music.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Let us pause and consider all that we have to be thankful for to God for all his blessings.




Finding More than D.B. Cooper

It is the most frustrating thing and I think on today’s anniversary it is good to elaborate on it. Finding motive. After 40 to 50 years that is a hard thing to do in a villain’s crime.

It is especially difficult in the case of D.B. Cooper or just Dan Cooper. On the night of November 24, 1971, he pulled off the most daring crime in the 20th century. He skyjacked a Northwest Orient airliner in flight, let the other passengers go after it landed in Seattle, held it and the crew under threat of a bomb in his briefcase, then after the ransom money was paid by the executives, he let the plane take off from Seattle and soon thereafter he jumped out with a parachute and the ransom money.

What is going to make a man go to the lengths he went to get $200,000.00 smackerls? It’s more than just the need for money. The chances of surviving his escapade are slim, even for an experienced parachutist. His chances of not being identified would seem even slimmer.

Dan Cooper sat in a seat in the airliner, in a nice business suit, and was observed quite well by the stewardesses. He smoked his cigs, drank his whiskey, and appeared the most sophisticated criminal. Even if he got away with this, he knew his face had clearly been seen. What’s the point of pulling this off if you can be quickly identified? This certainly didn’t allow him to spend any significant amount of the money soon after the crime.

No mystery as to what “Dan Cooper” looked like. Thin, thin face, thin nose, close to 40 years old. He smoked Raleigh cigarettes.

Well, clearly the man using the alias Dan Cooper did it and pulled it off . . . halfway. He didn’t spend the money or most of it. While he was never found, some of the money was found years later in 1980 on Tina Bar on the Columbia River, an odd if not impossible place for it to have gotten unless it was intentionally dumped.

It’s not as hard to explain what must have happened after he jumped than to explain what his motive might have been for something so daredevil as the first skyjacking and parachuting from a jet airliner in history.

But let’s assume he fully intended to survive and spend his ill-gotten gains. From Portland he came, for this is where he boarded the Boeing 727 on the way north to Seattle, and before Portland he jumped on the return flight. That is the last ever seen of Dan Cooper. No body was found, no parachute, no chewed clothes, shoes, briefcase with the supposed “bomb” in it, no bag of money. Ironically, years later the placard from the back of the jetliner is found in the forest. It was ripped off the backdoor when the aft stairs were lowered and the suction pulled it out. But nothing of Dan Cooper despite a massive search in what was felt to be the most probable drop zone north of Portland.


The crew of the airliner discusses what happened.

Let’s think of logistics. Even if the theory is true that Dan Cooper had an accomplice on the ground waiting to pick him up, what are the logistics that he, on a stormy night, is going to hit his drop zone correctly from a jet airliner at 10,000 feet? Odds are slim. The alternative? Dan Cooper must have been prepared to spend some time in the forest working his way out, to a cabin or someplace where he had a change of clothes.

It would seem phenomenal that a local Portlander would take this risk. After all, his face had clearly been seen. To remain around Portland would be to invite disclosure and capture. Everybody knew this is where he boarded the plane north to Seattle. One might like to think he came from afar and simply boarded the plane here to skyjack it. However, since he jumped in the forests north of Portland, he must have felt he was fairly familiar with the location.  As unbelievable as it sounds, he seems to have been a local Portlander.

It must have taken him quite a while to get out of the forests and back to civilization. Perhaps as much as a couple of weeks. By the time he returns, he has a beard, a change of clothes, and a shock. He discovers through the press announcements of the FBI’s continuing investigation that the $20 bills that made up the ransom were photographed. The Feds know every serial number. The heist has been worthless. What to do? Dump it.

Sounds easy, but there is a problem. Remnants of the ransom were found where they really could not have been deposited if Dan Cooper had merely “splattered.” One of the easiest theories is that the wind drift would take him to east to the Washougal Valley. Here he died on impact. Over time the money was dislodged, drifted down the Washougal River to the Columbia, drifted through Portland and then some was deposited on Tina Bar during a flood. This explains why it was found in a sediment band that was deposited after the dredging that occurred in 1974. It must have been dislodged after this time during a flood, years after the skyjacking, years after the dredging in 1974. Yet it was later discovered that the winds were not favorable and the airliner had been further west than at first thought.  A parachutist could not have drifted that far.

The other explanation is that he himself dumped it in the Willamette River and it drifted to the confluence of the Columbia.

Manning search

Investigating and searching at the time; trying to figure the drop zone.

But you ask, why dump it so late? Why not in December when he finds out? Well, good question. He might have been afraid it could be found and he overestimated what the FBI would deduce. Yet he might, in fact, have dumped it quickly and a few of the bundles didn’t wash out to the Pacific. In a major flooding time after 1974 the 3 remaining bundles may have been washed out and then deposited on Tina Bar. They showed signs of having been in the water quite sometime before being embedded in the sand.


It remains a mystery, and that’s why we like it. There is so much that is unexplainable. It was daredevil and risky. Awfully elaborate. D.B. Cooper captured our anti-establishment attitudes of the time. He dressed in a  dark suit like Bond, smoked his Raleighs, drank his whiskey, and held up a corporation. He wouldn’t rob a citizen. He even offered to pay for his cocktail as he waited for the airline to get his ransom money. If D.B. Cooper survived, and so far I believe he did, his greed failed but his stunt succeeded.  The hunt for D.B. Cooper, the “Jesse James of the Jet Age,” continues.


*         *          *

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

A Lease on Crime– EAR/ONS

Volkswagens and auto wrecking/towing seem a must in EAR’s background. A number of varying jalopies were associated beforehand with the neighborhoods in which he would strike. It can hardly be coincidental. In a Sheriff Department memorandum, December 8, 1977, the writer goes so far as to say that “almost every vehicle in the Blue Book has been sighted near the scenes of the crimes. However, the only one that recurs with any degree of consistency is a Volkswagen.”  If not always seen, Volkswagens, because of their distinctive engines, were heard to start up. In one case, in Stockton, after an attack the victim said it was definitely  a Volkswagen that she heard start.  This is curious as it tends to support the theory that EAR would have to use his own car for long or overnight drives. During workdays, however, he could use the junker cars he was picking up or had the loan thereof for the day. EAR then seems to have graduated to a van, and a number of the major wreckers made parts delivery in vans.


EAR was once associated with a dark green Baja Bug with gray wide rear fenders.

When EAR suddenly appeared in Contra Costa County in 1978, his pattern had not altered. He used parks and canals and jogging trails as tactical allies. He also stuck right by the highway (680).  There is no indication that he moved to the area, though that is possible. In So. Cal he would certainly drive far to hit his targets. Concord from Sacramento is only about an hour and 10 minutes. He drove as far to hit Modesto from Sacramento earlier in the year.

Auto wrecking and towing, parts pick up and delivery, all  associated, can explain his long highway commuting. I’ve said it before, many times. I suspect a group of companies. I suspect a combination of delivery, pick up, etc. But how to  prove a date and time with EAR in auto wrecking after near 40 years? It isn’t enough that my POI was known to be associated through family and family business with Volkswagens, mechanics, and auto wrecking. How to get any indication he was on the job?

In Danville there was a clue.

Here EAR is thought to have left those few pieces of notepaper with writing on them after he fled a botched attack (No. 48). In schoolbook tone the writer is cathartic. He laments how his 6th grade year ruined his life. Then he talks of General Custer. No clues really. But then there is a map. It looks like a tactical map. It is on a blank piece of the same type of notepaper. The community drawn on it is the kind that EAR hit. On the back of the map there are interesting and seemingly random jottings. “Come from”; “Milling”; “Melannie” and what is possibly “PUNSHMENT” in twisted, vengeful scrawling. These pencilings are in a more mature hand. I speculate that EAR was using an old school notebook and on the blank leaves therein he scrawled his tactical maps of communities he intended to strike.  When he ripped his car door open to escape, the loose pages came out. There they were later found by police, led to the exact location by the bloodhound that followed his trail.

There is another jotting on the back of the piece of paper that holds the map.


“Teachers Leasing.” It’s the casual way to refer to Teachers Services Corp. They began in the late 1960s and shuttered in 1980. They had been a huge car leasing operation over the nation with various field offices, the first and main one in California in the LA area. In a 1969 article (still online) they boast that they will have over 100,000 cars in stock eventually, many GM brands.

What is the significance that the writer of the map quickly jotted down “Teachers Leasing”?  Was he in the teaching profession? That would seem to nix my main POI. (Though Richard Shelby thought that at Danville the EAR had “Coach” embroidered on his blue windbreaker).  Or is it an indication that EAR was given an assignment to pick up or take a car from/to Teachers’ lot? They closed in 1980, and we can speculate that they were perhaps liquidating their cars already, some to used car lots, some to wreckers for parts.  Or, they may have been in need of parts.


EAR as he was described by the couple at the botched attack in Danville in July 1979. He wore a dark blue windbreaker. It was button-up, not zipper. There was some kind of name or logo on his chest. Something like CORN or COORS or something similar. 

The paperwork found at Danville gives us a clue. It is certainly open to interpretation. But a major (though short lived) car leasing outfit is scrawled on back, as though EAR had a call at one point and reached for the back of a map he had present and wrote it down. This would indicate he had a Citizen Band Radio with him. He may have written it down before even drawing the map.

That there should be old school-era work in the notebook also indicates that EAR was not so old that he didn’t have a school notebook handy. This supports the reports by many of the victims that he was still relatively young, and the first victims especially place him as quite young– late teens to early 20s in 1976.

EAR composite. Many show a young man with a long face and full lower jaw.

It seems far more reasonable to assumed that EAR was young and that he was still in some kind of towing or auto wrecking work in Contra Costa County. He had his old notebook handy at one point. It wasn’t used for business since he would have had his own clipboard, but for some reason, whatever the circumstances, he had it with him and wrote down “Teachers Leasing” quickly. The word under it must have been written first, for it seems that the writer extended the hastily scribbled “y” and marked back and forth over the word. It looks like “Reno” or “Rental” or “Rent” or maybe “Rodeo,” the last an East Bay town near Concord.

While it would probably not reveal a shortcut to EAR’s identity, the next step is to find where Teachers Services Corp. had its lots in northern and southern California.  If there was major liquidation, wreckers over the state may have been picking up cars over a period of 1980-81 in So. Cal.


*         *          *

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.




EAR/ONS Speaks

The composite above, dated July 12, 1979, tells us what EAR looked like at a Danville condo, his last known attack in northern California. It was here, near Sycamore Valley Road, that some pages of notepaper and a map was found. EAR had fled the botched attack on a couple and must have hurried back to his car, ripped open the door and got in. Theoretically, this must be how the pages got sucked out of the car and left on the sidewalk. It’s a confused moment in EAR history. But we do know that the bloodhounds traced his scent to this location. There the police found the notepaper.

If the writing on these pages is from EAR, then we can still hear him speak today. Only the victims remember the voice– hissing, snarling, angry, through clenched teeth. He went far to disguise his voice. You all know my theory: that he had a distinctive voice and had to disguise it.  My POI, and also some composites, shows signs of a heavy under or crossbite.

But though we cannot hear his voice, let’s assume these are his words. Let’s have a look at his voice in writing.


One of the pages.  It shows a few distinctive characteristics.

One, as is obvious in the word “important” and “enbaressed,” he used “n” instead of the correct “m.” This suggests a dialectal but popular pronunciation for the words, one that I’ve noticed from friends that come from the foothills of California.  He might have spoken these words in that manner, but the writer also shows the habit of writing “m” as “n” sometimes  even though in the same word elsewhere he writes it out correctly. An example is “ashamed.”  He writes it once correctly and then once as “ashaned.” He also writes “blane” though he obviously is using “blame” as a substitute for damn — “dad-blame” is a rustic substitute of goddamn, quite a frontier one actually. His letter goes on to talk about General Custer, so it seems he had an interest in the old west.

“Sentence” is frequently written instead of the correct plural “sentences.” This would not be something reflected in his speech, but he didn’t seem to catch the plural often. “Mad” and “mader” are easily noticed. Periods are absent, as are capitals at times. “Disgusted” is spelled “discusted”– another indication of how he pronounced words. Yet he spells “horrid” correctly, not a word commonly used by American youth at the time.

Robert Neville adjusted an old police composite to give us a living image. EAR is often shown morose with a long face and lower jaw that both witness and artist had trouble envisioning.

Just what was this written for? Though it is diary-like it is also looks like an assignment. While EAR used every word in the book when assaulting his victims, the writing is noticeable for no cussing, aside from “blame.” This doesn’t fit EAR unless, of course, this was written when he was quite young. If so, when was this written?

As he  expresses on his first page, he felt his 6th grade year ruined his life. It was the worst year of his life, so this is clearly written afterward. But when? The first photo easily accessed shows my POI in sophomore year, morose, no smile, his jutting lower lip and jaw obviously hiding an underbite or crossbite that he seems sensitive to, and it makes for an unusual depression by his mouth on the side.


The writing on the notepaper is not that of a 19 year old (or anybody older than my POI). This suggests that the notepaper was perhaps “recycled”– some old school notebook, the blank pages from which EAR now used to draw his maps of prospective communities on his hit list. Some old school notepad in which his writings never saw the light of day but remained therein until the mistake in Danville.


As usual, EAR grouped his Contra Costa County strikes. It is after No. 48 that EAR, in fleeing, left behind (apparently) the notepaper and map where he got in his car and darted off.

The possibility is very real that this was, in fact, some old notebook, either from school or some impromptu diary. This idea is supported by the discoveries on the back of the map that was found showing a community typical of those EAR struck– under construction, second house marked,  creek or canal nearby.  Writing samples here show a more mature hand, making the lengthy writing on the note pages seem much older and those of a junior high or early high school student.

When and if handwriting examples from my POI are obtained these problems must be confronted. The problem is that there is very little of the more mature handwriting on the back. There are just words, not sentences, scattered over the back as if just jottings or notes. In the center of the paper there is that strange scrawl which seems to be “punshment”  without a clear “p” and no “i.”  But there is also “Come from”; “Milling”; “June”; “Melannie”; and, most interestingly of all, what appears to be a company name. It is a leasing company.


Doodles and notes.  The company name is of far more interest. Yet another clue.

In conclusion, it seems EAR probably spoke some words with a dialect, usually  those that had a soft “m” in certain locations. He was raised in a household where he couldn’t swear (common enough) and he used in substitute in one instance a western or frontier slang for “damn.”

But in 1979 EAR was much too old for this type of innocent expression. “Blame” became “fucking,” “motherfuckers,” “god damn,” “shit,” but most of all he used silence. He was into intimidation first, then terror. But it would have been nice had just one witness said he spoke a number of words containing “m” with “n” instead. Many noted that he stuttered, but it seemed put on. One thing was certain, his lines were scripted and he disguised his voice. Composites show him young, often parting his hair on the right side, long face, and he had natural athletic ability. Circumstantial evidence indicates he was in auto wrecking/towing.

In the next post, we’ll interpret the meaning of that leasing company. It may be the most fortuitous clue yet.

*         *          *

For 25 years Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.


Farewell Michael Gross 1945-2015

He saw how I was struggling with trying to design my own cover for Recasting Bigfoot’s second edition. The name Bigfoot conjures the ludicrous and inane, the crackpots and kooks, sadly. But he thought I was a cool philosopher in spite of my interest in Kolchakian mysteries. I was posting image after image on Facebook as I tried to get a good cover to work. He left a comment. Basically it said, give me some of your artwork and I’ll do a cover for you gratis.

You don’t say no when John Lennon’s art consultant says that to you.

A few envious “Wows”  were posted  by others afterward.


Michael Gross and I had mutual friends through a group of  artists in Portland I call The Portland Rat Pack. For years we had been “friends” on FB, each in the same core group that communicated with each other on there. His message to me about my book cover was not the first. One day, I forget over what, he messaged me and gave me his phone number. He said “Call me.” When I did he said it was time that we talked. We simply chatted. He said he loved FB and that he had put his life on there, and in some ways he had. He was outspoken, caring, brutally honest sometimes, sometimes quite ornery. But he had a life that merited it all. He was not just an artist, but a significant art director, putting on the map National Lampoon.  He then turned movie producer, then traveler, then artist again. His photography was superb. His subtle blending of colors defies any descriptive word.


Some of my favorites.  Michael loved Joshua Tree National Forest.

Michael Gross is what FB was truly about. He was real, genuine, without airs, someone you would wish to get to know, and he let you interact in his life. It was to interact with someone who had his slice of fame and fortune at one time, but managed his own page.  Each Monday night we got to see pictures of his in-home art class, where 2 students were taught to draw. We saw their weekly progress, the bottle of wine they had after, and the three posed together with the sketch pads. We saw his daily photography, and he most certainly had a director’s eye.


One of my favorite photos by him. He took it off his front porch in Oceanside. 

But I must disagree with him. He didn’t put his whole life on there. He seldom spoke about his many accomplishments.  If you were attentive you picked up on many of them. But it was never an outright statement. He posted pics of his family, travels, behind-the-scenes on movies. But his discussions were more of hardcore philosophy, art, film, current events, politics, and if there wasn’t humor there was always the desire to find some humor in events.

I really can’t say it well here. These articles, however, will give you an idea of Michael C. Gross’ accomplishments. You  will get an idea of and how many have missed a treat by not knowing him, even a little, both in the real world and even on Facebook.


New York Times


Hollywood Reporter

AV Club