The Lindbergh Phenomenon– Genesis

Charles Lindbergh was subject to unusual veneration. His heroic act of flying the Atlantic solo in 1927 had brought together two continents and had become the symbol of progress. His fame was complimented by a boy-next-door appearance and manner. He also didn’t care for publicity and never grandstanded. He was sincere. Though living largely reclusively by 1932, his book Wings still delighted people with his firsthand account of the historic flight.

Icon status was blinding to an era that worshipped heroes. Lindbergh was no investigator and he was too emotionally involved in the kidnapping of his baby, Chas Jr., to have ever been considered even an advisor on the attempts to recover the baby from the kidnappers. Yet, extraordinarily, he was basically in charge of it and had far too much to say about the investigation.

Rigid and unenthused during his triumphant ticker-tape parade in New York.

This and this alone must explain the extraordinary decision to allow that grandstanding stumblebum, retired Bronx teacher Dr. John Condon, to act as a go-between. His emergence into prominence was shadowy. He had put a plea in the Bronx newspaper Home News and offered $1,000 dollars to the kidnappers if they delivered Baby Lindy to a Catholic priest. A grandstanding act. Amazingly, the kidnappers read the Bronx Home News. Even more amazing, the kidnappers approached Condon by letter and asked him to act as a go-between in the $50,000 ransom payoff they had asked for. They even upped it to $70,000, which looked a little suspicious with Condon now involved.

Naturally, this means something quite remarkable. The kidnappers had gone to a lot of trouble to get the most famous baby in America, but as yet they had not worked out how to actually get their payoff. And as I have shown in the previous Lindbergh Kidnapping posts they (or “him”) had gone to some work to get the baby– they had watched the house or coerced inside information, they had rigged a makeshift ladder, they had even anticipated the publicity and devised a careful and intricate signature that would identify their ransom notes from any fakes that erratic pranksters might send.


There was no easy angle to watch the house and determine the nursery.

With Condon now involved there were those who thought that perhaps the extortion was a complete fraud and not even being perpetrated by the actual kidnappers. Quite a coincidence that the kidnappers read the Bronx Home News, was it not? Quite a coincidence for a kidnapping that occurred in the remote woods of New Jersey, is it not?

Suspicion about Condon grew a month after the payoff when the baby’s remains were found in the woods near Hopewell, New Jersey, about a mile or so (some say under 5) from the Lindbergh house. He had died that very night, March 1, 1932, when he had been kidnapped. Condon had not required any real proof that Baby Lindy was alive. He hadn’t arranged for the payoff and for the baby to be exchanged in a believable way at that time. He had merely acted as a middleman getting lots of publicity. The night of the payoff basically comes down to Charles Lindbergh sitting in the car on the road while Condon stumbled through St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx. Lindbergh only heard “Hey, doc!” from the kidnapper as he called to attract Condon.

Surrounded by newsmen and officials and on newsreel cameras, John Condon became a center of publicity as the negotiations dragged on through letters and ads in the newspaper.

The result was that the kidnappers got the money and Lindbergh did not get his baby. Condon got lots of publicity, which he loved, and even appeared in a New York vaudeville show recreating the chilling scenario he had lived through.

Condon was a poor choice, but then giving Lindbergh such judgment and power was also a poor choice to begin with.

There is more than one way to interpret why the kidnappers would suddenly think John Condon a necessary go-between. The death of the baby that night may have called it off for one or more of the others in the conspiracy, leaving the one or more remaining to try the stunt of recovering the ransom on his/their own. Thus he needed some new plan now, some insulation between he and Lindbergh’s people. Condon generating news for himself by his stunt in the local newspaper suddenly seemed a viable choice.

Quite a few, however, if not everybody, have been disturbed by the outcome of the payoff cavalcade. Nothing seemed to have been arranged properly, and then those  coincidences raised their head again. Once again, that the “kidnappers” just happened to read a Bronx newspaper. Eventually, the suspicions would get worse.

When Bruno Hauptmann was finally tagged for the kidnapping (due to passing one of the ransom bills) he too was a Bronx resident. He didn’t live far from either meeting area (first at Woodlawn Cemetery, then St. Raymond’s), both in the Bronx.  This is extraordinary considering what the kidnappers went through to find a very secluded house in New Jersey’s woods. Now they remained anchored to the Bronx, right where they lived? All within reach of Hauptmann’s house on East 222nd Street? The extortion racket, clearly instigated after Condon’s boastful ad in the local paper, looks entirely separate to the kidnapping, or all of the above was just too coincidental.

But it is a fact that if Bruno Hauptmann was only one of those involved, attempting a desperate bid to get a ransom, he split it with somebody else, three ways or two ways. They only found a fraction of the money on him.

The Lindbergh Phenomenon is squarely rooted in the fact that so much power was granted Charles Lindbergh, and the branches grow out of all the unusual decisions and oversights that followed. There was excessive zeal to burn Bruno Hauptmann alone despite the fact he only had a fraction of the ransom money. Although the police rightfully pursued the idea of an inside co-conspirator or, at least, of someone who ignorantly tipped off one of the kidnappers where the nursery was at the house,  it was dropped after the curious suicide of Violet Sharp, one of the maids to the Morrows, Lindbergh’s in-laws and grandparents of the baby.

The payoff area of the cemetery

There is no attempt to explain the death of the baby as accidental or intentional. There is a big difference. Accidental death means the kidnapper had to have preplanned a way of caring for the baby. Bruno Hauptmann couldn’t do that alone without involving his wife, and she seemed genuinely ignorant of all this. Intentional death, of course, would mean the kidnapper didn’t need to have such plans. The fact that the baby was found at the edge of the woods by the road argues for accidental death. If the kidnapper intended it, you would think he could take the kid as far as he could and quietly dispose of him so he could not be found. Leaving the body close by risks quick discovery. The whole extortion plot would instantly fail.

To this day it is difficult to say why more clarity was not brought to bear on identifying how and exactly by whom the kidnapper/s could have known the nursery window. It is said that Isador Fisch, the man Hauptmann blamed, had contacts in those rural areas, but since he had died a pauper in Germany, to where he went back, it more or less is glossed over that the man sent up for the crime, Bruno Hauptmann, really didn’t have the rural contacts in New Jersey. He lived far away in the Bronx, the only coincidence being with Condon’s grandstanding.

All in all $50,000 was given to a single man, a man shrouded by night and mist in a Bronx cemetery nicknamed “Cemetery John.” About $35,000 dollars of that ransom, equivalent to over half a million today, was never recovered, nor apparently sought after Hauptmann was captured. It was a staggering amount of money for back then.

The actions of the District Attorney seems to be based on believing the money would not turn up. If it did, it would be hard to put total blame on Hauptmann. Not something that would look good for the DA while Hauptmann lingered on death row for a year. Yet Hauptmann was tried as though he alone was responsible. Yet they never found the bulk of the loot at Hauptmann’s home or on his property, only that fraction that indicated a share and no more. They had to suspect there was another.  The discovery of this other person or the discovery that more bills were being passed while Hauptmann was on death row would call into question the judgment against Hauptmann, and possibly even mitigate it.

You would think that Lindbergh would want every man associated with the crime. Yet from the point of view of the sensational trial it would be disastrous to bring up evidence that mitigated Hauptmann’s guilt. The bulk of the ransom outstanding would only make Hauptmann look like an accessory and therefore perhaps not even responsible ultimately for the death of the baby. He had been a carpenter, and someone had built that nifty makeshift ladder that was left under the nursery window. But this didn’t tell police who had been to the house that night or how many. If another suspect was even intimated at the trial, it would be hard to burn Hauptmann with all these loose strings dangling out there.

Thus there is fertile grounds for the “Lindbergh Phenomenon” — the belief their was conspiracy against Hauptmann and that someone else was actually to blame. How did the DA know the rest of the loot and another co-conspirator would not be found? Why would Lindbergh insist he could identify Hauptmann’s voice when he only heard “Hey, doc” from a distance? John Condon initially couldn’t identify Hauptmann as “Cemetery John.” Had it been Isador Fisch? Cemetery John supposedly had a cough. Fisch would die of tuberculosis. Where then was his share of the money? Hauptmann essentially claimed he was innocent and that he had found Fisch’s share.


Had Hauptmann only started naming others, others than the dead Isador Fisch, it might have gone better for him. But he insisted on total innocence to his dying breath. This only helped the slipshod investigation blame him alone.

With Charles Lindbergh in charge, the unusual evolution of every facet of the aftermath of the kidnapping seems tied to him. Conspiracies thrive in a medium of contradictions and paradoxes. Some will tell you that the child who died wasn’t Charles Lindbergh Jr. Some will propose fanciful theories involving Lindbergh and the Morrows, but one thing remains fact: the investigation, the payoff, nothing can be made heads or tails of. It is not necessarily because there was a diabolical conspiracy inside the Lindbergh house. It was because Lindbergh was not capable of making the right and intellectual choices, and he was fawned over far too much by the authorities and catered to far too much by a grandstander like John Condon.

The upshot is the Lindbergh Phenomenon. Too much doubt that Hauptmann acted alone. too much doubt whether the extortion and kidnapping were even perpetrated by the same people. Too many things left unexplained.

Today a huge fortune remains outstanding and undiscovered. It argues for more than one person. It argues that perhaps Bruno Hauptmann was not even responsible for the baby’s death. However, all this should have been just as clear back then. Conspiracies are easier to introduce today than back then, and they thrive because too many things do not make sense.

Thus we have the “Lindbergh Phenomenon.” It is the basis for Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and for many real life attempts to make sense out of all that must have happened both before, during, and after the kidnapping.

In the next post we’ll begin to explore the theory that the extortion was separate from the kidnapping.



Foiled Attack– EAR/ONS and Rancho 3

The case of the Night Predator is growing still. It is entering the mainstream more and more, and hopefully folklore will not overwhelm it like other cases.  I firmly believe in the arts and the ability within art to communicate on many levels, without words, to stimulate the release of feelings and inspire us to evolve concepts. I communicate with you now intellectually, overtly. But art probes into deeper layers than just into the mind. It opens the door at the very centers of the living. I suppose what I am saying is there is the letter and the spirit.

It has taken a lot to get at the letter of the EAR/ONS crimes. Those who follow my work know how far and wide I had to travel just to find the locations and then assess more than just the location of the house in the neighborhood. With the Night Predator one has to figure why he parked where he did and then why he changed parking later, then why on the night of the attack he is often completely invisible. One has to figure how he carefully closed-in and finally selected a victim or how he took advantage of an opportunity. Enough said. You all understand how complex and incessant his prowling was.

Any sketch purported to be EAR/ONS comes from the description of a young man seen in the neighborhood before an attack. Some vary widely in features, but he seems to have had a long face and dead eyes. 


No documentary or film will ever achieve the perfect letter, but I have hopes one will be made that captures the spirit of the Night Predator’s attacks.  I have likened him to the real life Michael Myers because he was unnatural, because he simply just appeared out of nowhere, and because he was unstoppable. He was also only known by his masks, a couple of times just a ghostly sheet over of his head, like Myers standing in the doorway assessing how to dispatch his unwary victim in Halloween. No commercial enterprise can liken him to that figure, since that is a copyrighted franchise, but I think it helps us to visualize just what he was really like.

EAR was not just a rapist. His victims are adamant that this be known. He was a sexual terrorist, but even that was just a fraction of what he did. He was a monster, a monster of dichotomies. He sent whole communities into a panic and yet disappeared to history. True Crime buffs really didn’t think there was anybody left in the pantheon of evil who could in substance outdo Jack the Ripper and ZODIAC for cunning and evil. But more and more are discovering The Night Predator. Compared to EAR, those other villains don’t come close. But EAR’s crime load is mindboggling. There weren’t 5  victims. Times that by 10.

Still so many struggle with the irony that he had been forgotten, a villain who left dozens shattered in his wake and several jurisdictions scratching their heads.

We’ve debated it many times– it is because he has a terrible moniker (merely an acronym), or because he was classified as a rapist only, and that topic doesn’t seem to carry with it any real enticing mystery for people to crack. We love mystery. Our minds dwell on it until it is solved. Curiosity is healthy. It is why we learn. Mystery murders captures our attention more, and EAR’s murders attract much more attention. But they came much later in his thrill game of terror.

No one disagrees that EAR left the most clues early on. He appeared only a young punk stalking neighborhoods and invading houses. But he was clearly sophisticated enough already to get away with it.


EAR’s hang-up phone calls reveal many clues, but they haven’t led to him. He was obsessive and careful, this we know. But still, how did he get so many phone numbers?– not just of the potential victims but of neighbors as well. He must have had a thick black book wherein he kept them.

We come back to an early attack today, the 40th anniversary of Attack No 3, one of the most bizarre attacks in EAR’s litany of terror. It occurred 2 doors from Attack No 1. No one could know a this time that EAR limited his appearances in a neighborhood to an initial period and targeted (potentially) several victims. Then he’d return at intervals and strike. Thus when the investigators canvassed the neighborhood asking about suspicious persons seen, it may have been weeks since he had actually been in the neighborhood until the attack, and then most of it was prowling at night.

We have a glimpse with Attack No. 1. She had felt that a midsized American car had stalked the neighborhood. This is possible. EAR had not yet begun. He wasn’t as careful yet and he may have been seen. For No. 3 we have nothing. He appeared at the second daughter’s window in early morning hours and quietly wedged the screen until her head pooped up from her bed and she looked into his cold eyes. He stared at her and then slowly sank down out of view. Rushing to mom to tell her brought her mother back to her room, there to see the figure in the window, still wedging the screen. He popped down and as they rushed forward to look the mom saw him run to the back of the yard. This still didn’t stop him. He came back, plowed through the window somehow, and there appeared in the kitchen, gun in hand and leather padded baton in the other, ordering the mother to put the phone receiver down. You know the rest.


Dusk hangs over Malaga Way, Rancho Cordova. EAR walked along here 40 years ago, naked from the waist down and disappeared into the shadows after the attack. Which direction did he go?

The fact he ran toward the back of the yard rather tells us he came from Del Rey Court, the cul de sac behind Malaga and Paseo. When he walked away down Malaga he must have soon dropped into a yard, popped over the fence and was back into the yard or vacant house behind the area. How he got his pants on and got away before the sheriffs cruised the neighborhood nobody knows.

But when EAR grouped his attacks as he did at Paseo and Malaga, his very first, it became an indication he didn’t know the neighborhood. He selected a few potential victims and then came back over spans of time. He had stalked enough to know where he could lurk before and after attacks, how to escape undetected and most of all how to master getting in the victims’ homes first.


At first, the investigators thought he was a local, but as his crime scene evolved it seems that even here in the very beginning he already had developed a pattern he would maintain. It is one that reveals he wasn’t too familiar with the area at all. Paseo and Malaga are main thoroughfares in the residential area, and Paseo is a quick way to Highway 50. This would be EAR’s modus operandi in all but a few places in Carmichael across the American River.

EAR may have goofed at No. 1 on Paseo by trying to cut the phone line from outside, but he was certainly a skilled prowler already, one with an overriding stratagem on how to assess communities first and foremost before he got specific with neighborhoods.

The attack on No. 3 reveals an inexpert but strangely unrelenting attacker on a home, but a prowler who could transpose right back into the night again undetected. This is his crime spree in a nutshell. He escalated to murderer and then, amazingly, being the No 1 serial offender in history, he accomplished disappearing to history, leaving behind over 60 victims and now millions to wonder who he was and where is he now.

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Since 1990 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.

Lindbergh Baby Ransom– A Lost Treasure . . . and a Clue

Righteousness is not going to solve the “Lindbergh Phenomenon,” but greed and curiosity just might do so.

The largest portion of the ransom money has never been recovered and it was nowhere to be found on the property of the one and only man tagged with the crime, Bruno Hauptmann. He only had a cut of it, under $15,000 dollars in the gold certificate $10 dollar bills. There was still around $35,000 outstanding. Hauptmann had spent some of his share. Those bills are what led the police to him. A few bills got passed in other locations than New York where Hauptmann lived, but they didn’t amount to $35,000 dollars worth. Hauptmann was still living cheap. He hadn’t spent $35,000 in large sums for anything.  According to one online calculator, $35,000 today is equal to S517,011.99 in 1932– an absolute fortune! Someone spending this type of money in the depression is going to be noticed, especially since he is passing the rare gold certificate bills.

Bruno Hauptmann was tried and executed on the basis he was acting alone. Therefore single-o guilty of all that happened. Yet the bulk of the ransom money was not in his possession and has never been retrieved. Where is it?

Bruno Hauptmann at his sensational trial.

We’ve all heard tales of Civil War gold found in the basement of an old antebellum. Perhaps behind loosened bricks in an old, spooky Victorian house? It’s a plot device in many books, movies and TV shows. Often it’s the stash from an old bank robbery or some ill gotten gains. Sometimes it’s even pirate doubloons!

But in the case of the Lindbergh baby ransom it is for real. The rare gold certificate type of bills used in the payoff were ordered withdrawn from circulation in 1933, making those type of bills worth quite a bit more than their face value. Those type used in the Lindbergh ransom are thought today to be worth around $50 bucks a pop (for $10 dollar bills);  the $20 dollar bill up to $100. But the actual bills used in the Lindbergh ransom? Who knows!

The Kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby also has all the plot devices of thriller fiction, but they really happened, and so does its legend. The legend simply hasn’t been acted out. An American lost treasure is somewhere. Its discovery may not only play out like another dramatic “National Treasure” hunt, but it also may solve the Lindbergh kidnapping.


The crime of the century. Police swarm around the Lindbergh house that morning.

The very fact that the bulk of the loot was never found should have loudly shouted that Hauptmann had not acted alone, and indeed many today consider it unlikely that Bruno Hauptmann was the only kidnapper involved in the sinister plot. The kidnapper/s had too much knowledge of the Lindbergh house routine and even knew the actual location of the nursery window. A ladder was custom made, no doubt by Hauptmann, a carpenter. But he had to know the height of the window in general. This is something that could be guesstimated by watching the house, but how to know which is the nursery room window?

Charles Lindbergh’s in-laws, the Morrows, had a maid upon whom the suspicion fell. Her name was Violet Sharp. Rather than undergo her 4th questioning at the hands of suspicious police, she swallowed silver polish and took what is euphemistically called the easy way out. But she didn’t have a cut of the money, and none of it turned up for a while in circulation.

Police around the ladder the next morning.

After he had been captured,  Hauptmann also swore he was innocent. He had blamed a man named Isador Fisch for having left the money behind with other belongings. Fisch had sailed off back to Germany and there died of tuberculosis. Convenient. All too convenient in the yes of the district attorney. Fish couldn’t talk, but his family did. He died a pauper and only left America with about $600 dollars. Hardly a ransom.

None of this, however, justifies blaming Hauptmann alone.  The lack of finding the other $35,000 is truly astounding. Someone else had that money.

Altogether there are those who think that Hauptmann was telling the truth. Otherwise he would have turned someone else in to save his life. They think him completely innocent. He merely discovered that Fisch had left $10,000 clams, so he started spending it. If so, why did Fisch leave it behind? Well, it could be when he saw the gold certificates and saw their serial numbers printed in the newspapers after the payoff had occurred that he thought it too hot. He kept the bills in a tin box, gave them to Hauptmann in the guise of a box of important papers, and left for Germany.

Isador Fisch

Hauptmann blaming the conveniently dead Fisch didn’t sit well with the jury obviously. He needed someone else. Yet Hauptmann wouldn’t try and blame anybody else. He wouldn’t even plea bargain and confess to being only accessory to the crime. It would, of course, require he name the others. Fear of death from reprisal couldn’t be the motive for his silence. He knew they were going to burn him for this crime. Why didn’t he confess to being an accessory, to being the carpenter who had only built the ladder and helped? This plea would seem so much more believable considering he only had a fraction of the ransom. Yet he didn’t name a mastermind or anybody. He went to the chair maintaining total innocence.

For those who believe him innocent, they insist it is because he didn’t have knowledge of the kidnapping, period. In that case, could Hauptmann have been so stupid as to have started spending money that he must have been suspicious about?

Centering the argument on Hauptmann’s total guilt or total innocence, however, doesn’t really answer the question at hand. If Fisch was actually a guilty party, he had only been worthy of a fraction of the loot. The rest of the filthy lucre had to be divided between others or it all went to the mastermind.

However one divides this, whether Hauptmann got the $15,000 in ransom as his cut, or whether Fisch did and was too smart to spend it, there must be others involved who got the bulk of the bills and didn’t pass too many of them, not enough to be traced anyway. Were they all too smart when they saw these were gold certificates and that the serial numbers had been recorded?


The kidnapping was so sensational that planes circled overhead and took film the next day.

The woods were not so close in those days that someone could hide and watch the house hours-on-end in hopes of discovering the nursery. Yet the kidnapper walked right up to the right window. The kidnapper had anticipated the sensation. He had devised a complex signature so that his authentic ransom notes would get recognized and not confused with a potential host of fakes from pranksters.

Yet if Hauptmann masterminded this he was so stupid he was spending the rare bills in September 1934 still, over a year after they were all to have been turned in (May 1933) and removed from circulation. This is what got him traced. He spent a $20 at a gas station in New York and the attendant took down his license plate number.


The trial of the century in Flemington, New Jersey.

Somewhere the bulk of this bloody money still exists. It awaits discovery just like some treasure in an old Disney film we watched as kids. And like in those films, it may also solve the “Lindbergh Phenomenon.”

Who all was involved? Was Hauptmann totally innocent or just one minor cog in the wheel who assisted the mastermind? Was it Fisch or was he the minor cog? It seems unlikely any of the kidnappers, assuming there was more than Hauptmann, expected or intended the baby to die. A 20 month old baby could never identify them. But baby Lindbergh may have fallen out of the kidnapper’s arms as he crawled down the shaky ladder. He had died of a severe head contusion. They buried him in the woods near the Lindbergh house. This was now murder, but the kidnappers went through with the ransom blackmail. When they finally got their payoff in the dark night of St. Raymond’s cemetery they discovered rare notes. This was now traceable blood money. Fisch may have wanted nothing to do with it. The others didn’t know what to do. We only know that Hauptmann started spending the money over 2 years later.

“Cemetery John” was the kidnappers’ bag man in the mists of St. Raymond’s. John Condon, the go-between, said he had a German accent. Bruno Hauptmann was a German immigrant, but then so was Fisch. Equally both might have known yet another member of the German-American community. Both Fisch and Hauptmann had criminal records back in Germany. It would not be surprising they knew other Germans of their ilk. Even if one of them was the bag man, it doesn’t mean there weren’t others.

The garrulous John Condon emerged as a suspicious figure. Lindbergh was allowed too much authority, and agreed to use Condon as a go-between. The grandstander didn’t even require the kidnappers produce the baby at the payoff.

There is a lot that doesn’t seem too clever in the Lindbergh kidnapping.  The ladder was left behind. The baby must have died right away. The ransom note was written by someone who took some clever precautions but at the same time clearly revealed German was his first language. He even spelled “anything” phonetically with a German accent– “anyding”– though he must have seen it written down in English by this time and knew how it was spelled. “The child is in gut care” is a little obvious.

Whatever mistakes the kidnappers made, one or more were too smart to be traced or even to spend much of the money. Unless, of course, one believes Hauptmann acted alone. Either way a bulk of the blood money awaits discovery, probably in very dramatic staging.  In some old home, under the floorboards, in the attic, between beams in the laundry chute, in the rafters of an old garage, in the brick basement wall. Somewhere there is a fortune that was worth well over half a million in 1932 and no one can find it. They only burned one man on a fraction of the evidence and payoff.  That seemed enough for the heated emotions of the time for killing the most famous baby in America.  But today we need more answers, and maybe greed, the motive that started all this, will finally solve it.

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Since 1990 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.

Coincidence in Crime

In a way this posts helps me to explain why I am so cautious in naming persons of interest and in naming suspects. Through the years I have discovered that coincidence is really quite common in crime. A suspect can fit everything required to be the culprit, but just short of being confirmed by the relevant evidence. Each coincidence I am going to mention below will seem remarkable, but they happened.

The Kennedy Assassination:

Possibly the crime that has the most coincidences. Lee Harvey Oswald was a mediocre rifleman. There was only one place along the entire presidential motorcade route from Love Field in which such a gunman could have gotten a direct line of sight on a target. This, of course, was at the Texas School Book Depository. Only here did the road retreat away from a building at an angle. Everywhere else along the route a gunman would have to lean out of a window and lead his shot.

The featured photo above captures a scientific recreation of that day, and you can seen from the angle that it was essentially an easy shot. For a short period of time the limousine was in a straight line of fire, the gunman safely concealed.


Oswald got his job at the Depository before the President’s route was even announced.

Oswald had not long returned to the house where he rented a room when a police car stopped out front and the driver honked its horn several times. Then it drove off. Oswald left shortly thereafter. The Warren Commission admitted this sounded suspicious.Tippitcar

The landlady had seen the car and thought it was car 106 or 107. Both were accounted for at the time. The only other car in the area was car 10. The driver of this car, officer Tippit, would later stop Oswald as he was walking along in the neighborhood. Oswald would kill him.

Convince of Oswald’s guilt, Jack Ruby, a man who just happened to be well known amongst Dallas police, waits for Oswald to be escorted out of the Dallas police building. He there shoots him down on live TV.  . . .Some truly do not consider this a coincidence. Hence the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy is much still with us.

And indeed a conspiracy there could be. Jimmy Hoffa or the mob in general are blamed. Cuba and Castro are suspected. Soviets are frequently held in suspicion. General Walker and the right wing are also suspected at times. But that is for another post.

The ‘Zodiac’ Killer:

Bill Grant was essentially a middle aged, fat sausage chewing wino, who, amongst other young women, also stalked Dee Ferrin. Because of strange hang-up phone calls received at Dee Ferrin’s parents’ home and her own within a few hours of her death, Vallejo PD believed her killer had known her.  For some professional and amateur sleuths this made Grant a worthy candidate to be her killer and to be ZODIAC. Grant looked similar to SF’s composite, and investigation proved he had been a cryptographer in World War II. But he wasn’t ZODIAC. He was too old, way too old.

Leigh Allen himself wore a Sea Wolf Zodiac watch, and later became a suspect, though exonerated by the known evidence of handwriting and fingerprints. An entire folklore has been created around Allen, all of it growing more lurid. But it really seems based on nothing but that he wore that distinctive Swiss watch. It was a watch made for divers, and this is probably why Allen, an amateur diver, had it. georgewaters

George Waters was another admirer of Dee Ferrin’s. He was dismissed as a suspect early in the investigation, but as the crimes of the ZODIAC continued he strangely fit everything required to be him. He had once lived up and down the East Bay area, once in Benicia. He now lived in Yountville north of Napa. He had commuted to Vallejo. He looked like the Napa composite of ZODIAC. He, in fact, knew all the locations. His Yountville home, a hovel under big trees, was at the center of the ZODIAC’s wandering crime spree. But he was too light to be ZODIAC.

In my own experience, the cases of


RP is still the prime suspect. He looks like the composites. The generalities of his life and family connections fit what is required. His discovery finally brought sense to EAR’s stalking pattern throughout the East Area of Sacramento. He grew up in the area where EAR had concentrated, and a commute from Placerville (for the first year) fits with the MO. He had a very unsuccessful life prior to 31 years of age and really didn’t go far with a security guard occupation thereafter. He favored the nightshift. Yet he led a largely pampered life.  All this could prove nothing but coincidence until his handwriting is found and matches the Danville notepaper.


I was seeking a suspect by the surname of Beard, but had not disclosed that. I was later contacted by someone who had been chatting with an ex-marine in Chicago. He had served in Vietnam with a marine who had the last name of Beard. He believed him to be ZODIAC. I later cleared my suspect named Beard, but kept the surname of Beard as the alias for the man who became my prime suspect and remains so, on far more “coincidences” than can be imagined. But I am one piece short of saying for certain that this “Beard” is him.

Coincidences are often very intriguing. They make prophets out of charlatans and fools out of the gullible. Charles Fort filled books devoted to cataloging coincidences. How common is coincidence? This I do not know, but it is not surprising that coincidence is common in crime. Often a police sketch is what starts people turning in others. It is not a coincidence therefore that a number of those who got turned in resemble each other or have an unsavory background.

But, still, there are a few coincidences that are alarming. . .

For my prime suspect in ZODIAC, it is a fact that an old friend– let’s call him “Dave”– turned him in because he looked like the composite. The old friend hadn’t known about the report of Wing Walkers used by ZODIAC at Lake Berryessa, and I am not even sure when the first broadcast of this clue was made. “Dave’s” old friend looked like one of the composites, and clearly “Dave” must have thought him capable of murder. As it turns out, his old friend, “Beard” as I called him, had not long been out of the Air Force, separated at the hospital after 4 months of being treated. His career had been cut short by his accident/illness.

The above is a coincidence, but the following may or may not be. “Beard” returned to the Bay Area. His stepfather had been an aircraft engineer. Young “Beard” was one of the few guys who would have heard radians discussed, that rare measurement of arc that is necessary to know in avionics. There are other, many other coincidences,  but that is what they truly are until there is that one bit of relevant evidence that conclusively and undeniably connects him to ZODIAC.

Authors have written bestsellers dogmatically claiming they have solved a famous crime on less “coincidences” than I have compiled against both my major suspects in EAR and ZODIAC. But how many have truly solved those cases they have claimed to finally expose? Zero. The result is a reading audience that no longer is tempted by the claims on a book’s cover, and an entire genre has fallen into disrepute. It is time to solve them. Thus I am quite careful. You must also believe in coincidence. Believe me, it is quite common and ultimately can mean nothing but. . . coincidence.

*         *          *

Since 1990 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.

The Kidnapping of Baby Lindy– The Lindbergh Baby– Mysteries Remain

It is the most famous kidnapping in modern history, and perhaps one of the most convoluted. Questions remain to this day. Was the man accused, tried and eventually executed, truly guilty? Had he acted alone?

For many it is a solved crime. Bruno Hauptmann did it and that is that. For others they see fantastic conspiracy theories. But the truth lies in between the extremes. It is unlikely that Hauptmann could have acted alone in this, and yet he was tried as if solely guilty. In the heat of emotions, a nation did not demand enough answers to obvious questions. Lindbergh-

Charles Lindbergh was the most famous man in America since he had flown the Atlantic solo in 1927.  He was the first man to do so, and it was an era that loved real life heroes. He received a ticker tape parade and became a national hero. He ranked with Will Rogers and Admiral Byrd and soon Amelia Earhart joined their coveted ranks. A book deal by Putnam had followed. Newsreel footage flickered over every screen in every theatre in the US. Yet he detested publicity. He retired to a quiet life, married Anne Morrow and settled down to their nice country house near Hopewell, New Jersey.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr was born soon thereafter. He was a beautiful, blond baby, and newsreel footage showed he was Baby Lindy, America’s baby.


About 20 months old, he was kidnapped from his crib in his upstairs nursery room. It was the night of March 1, 1932. The time about 9:30 p.m. The nurse went in to check on him and he was gone. She checked with his mother. He was not there. She rushed downstairs. Lindbergh was alone in the study. They rushed outside. There leaning against the house under the nursery window was a makeshift wooden ladder. A ransom note was attached. Lindbergh let the police open it. It demanded $50,000– a huge sum in 1932. It was written in a strange way: It began with “Dear Sir,” which sounds so sinister when compared to the horrible nature of the letter. More letters were promised by the writer. As proof they were authentic, there was a complex graphic– it was two blue circles interlocking around a red solid circle and there were 3 holes aligned. The kidnapper apparently anticipated there would be a lot of publicity and that many forgeries might be sent. This guy covered his bases.

The ransom note. From the misspellings it seems a German wrote it. Good is “gut” and anything is spelled phonetically as “anyding.”


They waited.

A flamboyant, garrulous school teacher in New York, John Condon, had put a plea in the paper, and this appears to have attracted the kidnapper. He sent a letter to Condon to be the go-between. Lindbergh agreed. Finally another ransom note was received with instructions. They were to meet at St. Raymond’s cemetery and make the payoff.Lindbergh-condon2

It was now a month after the kidnapping. The $50,000 was delivered to a man standing in the shadows. He had identified himself only as John. He had a German accent. He became known as “Cemetery John.”

The baby, however, was not delivered. It seems this was a very foolish payoff. Nothing was heard for a month. Then a by-chance discovery was made in the woods about a mile from the Lindbergh house. The decomposed corpse of a small boy was found. It was eventually identified as the Lindbergh baby. He had never left the property. He apparently had died that very night.

Bruno Hauptmann

The Treasury and Feds had been smart. They had used the rarer gold certificate money, soon to be withdrawn from circulation, to make the payoff. It would be easier to track these bills. The serial numbers of those bills used as ransom had also been recorded. Soon money started popping up here and there. Finally in September 1934 a bill was passed at a gas station in Manhattan. Bruno Hauptmann, a young German immigrant carpenter had passed it.

Police and crowds around Hauptmann’s house.


The police quickly searched his house. They found nearly $15,000 of the ransom money in a tin box. In his attic they found that a beam from the ceiling had been removed. They were able to match the grain with the makeshift ladder. It made sense now. Of course a carpenter could do this!

Flemington, New Jersey, the trial began January 2, 1935. It lasted 31 days. In about 11 hours the jury decided Hauptmann’s fate. Guilty. Death.  This was carried out on April 3, 1936. Hauptmann went to his death proclaiming his innocence.

The question remains. Was he? Should the question even be one of innocence or guilt? Perhaps the question should be “How much guilt?” Analyzing the Lindbergh kidnapping and the scenario by which Hauptmann was found guilty reveals enormous holes in it, at least if assuming only one man was involved, especially someone like Hauptmann. It presupposes that this New York resident would know the exact room that was used for the nursery in the country house. Without inside information it would take watching the house with binoculars for some time in hope, just in hopes, that through the windows he might see the baby put in his crib, thus identifying the room. How did he know the Lindberghs were to be around at this time as well?

Hard to imagine anybody watched the house for days on end in order to identify the right window by the chimney.

The police rightly feared there was an inside mole. They even talked to the morrow household, Baby Lindy’s maternal grandparents. They focused on one of the Morrow’s maids, Violet Sharp. Just before she was to be questioned her 4th time, she committed suicide. If one reads and believes that frightful factoid Subhumanpedia, they will get he impression the police were all wrong because her alibi was soon proven. What alibi is needed? She need not be present during the kidnapping. All it took was to tipoff the kidnapper as to what room was the nursery and what was the general schedule of the household. She could have done that weeks before.

Lindbergh-nursary window

Moreover, no one seems to ask what happened to the other $35,000 dollars.  That was a sum that would make a man rich. Hauptmann wasn’t living fancy. He hadn’t spent it. It was never found. Clearly someone else had a big portion of the ransom. It seems hard to believe there was not another accomplice.

Hauptmann tried to blame Isador Fisch, a one time business partner of his who had a criminal record and had gone back to Germany and there died by the time of the trial. Fisch, of course, could not speak, but the lack of finding the other $35,000 dollars should have said there was an accomplice. One would think someone would have to hold the tall, makeshift ladder while the other climbed down with the baby.

The Lindbergh baby obviously died before leaving the property. This is pretty clumsy for kidnappers, and some have felt that this was not intentional. The baby may have fallen out of the kidnapper’s arm as he came down. Autopsy showed he had died by a massive head contusion. If so, the whole plot was foiled. But the ransom note was left anyway. They would bluff to get their money. The baby was hastily buried close to the road before they left the rural area. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Isador Fisch

But Hauptmann was the only one tagged. Yet the evidence, and certainly the clues, suggest more than one person acted on this caper. As such, how can one say that Hauptmann had killed the baby? It sounds more or less that he was the man required to make the ladder and assist the kidnapper. His cut was probably $15,000 dollars. (The ransom note had asked for $25,000 in 20s, $15,0000 in 10s, and the other in 5s.) Hauptmann mostly got the 10s.

It was impossible to pursue Fisch, and the Morrow maid had offed herself. Perhaps if the DA’s office believed there was more to this, they felt Hauptmann was the last one of the trio left. They hung full guilt on him. Poetic justice. . . . Or was it?

Isador Fisch’s family spoke up. Isador was too sickly and died poor in Germany. He didn’t have any chunk of the money, and why would he leave behind his cut of the ransom? He needed medical help for TB badly. Therein, of course, was a motive for the kidnapping plot. But why then had Fisch not spent his share? According to Hauptmann, Fisch left it behind and said important papers were in the box. When Hauptmann finally opened it, long after Fisch had died, he discovered the stash of money. Not too convincing a story.

Yet all the circumstances argue for someone else having been involved. There was still $35,000 dollars of that ransom money floating about. Someone had to have it. Hauptmann sure didn’t. Who else had been involved? Suspicion also fell on Condon. His participation seemed a little too well timed. But Hauptmann went to his death without trying to save himself by naming another.

Hauptmann was in a pretty pickle unless he could produce another mastermind, someone else to hang the killing on so he could only be an accessory. Fisch was made to look like an unlikely accomplice. But Hauptmann’s actions aren’t those of a man who can produce a living partner. Fisch was dead, and if he was the head kidnapper then Hauptmann’s protests of innocence of having dropped or intentionally killed the baby were pointless. There was no living person to hang this on. He could only maintain his complete innocence and hope he would win. He failed. He consorted with a bad lot and came up the only survivor.

The scene of the crime

It is the lack of finding that $35,000 dollars. It is the inability to explain how Hauptmann knew where the nursery was. It is the lack of explaining why the window was unlocked on a cold March 1, that brings in the conspiracies. Some of them are pretty farfetched, proposing that the dead, decomposed body of the baby was not Chas Jr. Some involve the Morrows. Some involve Lindbergh. The whole genre has become known as the “Lindbergh Phenomenon.” But one thing no one has been able to answer. What happened to that other $35,000? Why did Hauptmann start passing bills that were rare? It was no secret these were being looked for. It had been reported in the newspapers. The real kidnappers would be skittish to pass these, after discovering they had rare gold certificates pushed on them. From the looks of missing $35,000 someone else was involved, and apparently they never spent their cut.

If Hauptmann acted alone then he buried this money. It is now rare, incredibly rare,  and must be considered another lost treasure. It must be worth a fortune. Somewhere it sits in an old basement, in a secret cubby hole, behind a dislodged brick in the wall, somewhere it lies buried. But it is not the stuff of fiction like old Mr. Applegate’s treasure of pirate doubloons. It has a real, sad story behind it, more intriguing than those invented in thriller fiction.

I agree that Hauptmann could be innocent . . .but innocent of killing Baby Lindy. I believe he made the ladder, accompanied someone, and assisted whomever. But he was still accessory. Left alone he had no choice but to maintain total innocence.

It’s impossible to figure it otherwise. No one can just walk up to a house with a makeshift ladder. They had to know what window to go to, know its height from the ground first (to make the ladder). They had to know the household’s routines. I doubt watching the house would be enough to tell them all this. And from aerial photos of the time, the woods weren’t so close to the house to make surveillance easy.

The DA’s office probably knew that technically they did not have evidence to find Hauptmann guilty of murder or even of kidnapping, except as an accessory. But he was most certainly that. The child died because he helped. So many questions remain unanswered, so many leads not followed through (like what happened to the other $35,000?) because too much would then come forward that would merely finger Hauptmann as an accessory and not the single-o guilty party. To them he was the only remaining guilty party alive.  So did they justly act outside of the law to bring justice about?

An interesting question . . .but it presupposes the law knew the other $35,000 would never be found. If it turned up, it would be a trail to somebody else, somebody who had the lion share, somebody who would be a better fit to burn than Hauptmann. They wouldn’t exactly look good for giving Hauptmann the chair.

If Hauptmann was not the only kidnapper left living . . .well, we must pursue these ramifications in another post.

*         *          *

Since 1990 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.

In Quest of Cattle Mutilations. . .

In a sense they came out of nowhere. Something about the concept of someone going about mutilating cattle, that is, engaging in some unknown ritual, that Americans and Canadians latched onto in the 1970s. It seemed there had to be something to it. After all, The Great Plains had been the center of ranching for a hundred years. Why should cattlemen no longer recognize the marks of normal death and predators and assign something sinister as the cause of their dead cattle now? In the 1970s they did, and cattle mutilations became its own genre of mystery phenomenon. For some it even became a subcategory of UFOlogy.

Let us begin to probe into this topic here.

It is the general circumstances of cattle mutilations that excited our interest 40 or more years ago. It fit in with the darker aspects of the 1970s and the post counterculture society’s fondness for and fear of the occult– Satanism and hippie murders– that would eventually reach crescendo with the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

There was the story of that horse in Colorado that captured the news. We’ve all heard of that one. It seemed to have been a genuine mutilation. It took a while for the idea to click, but throughout the 1970s reports continued to come up, from the Midwest to Arizona, of cattle being found strangely mutilated. More than one cop got involved and insisted there was intelligence behind the mutilations.

The circumstances invariable were: the reproductive organs were removed, so were the teats and udder, the rectum was cored, the left ear was cut away, the tongue and parts of the left jaw skin neatly excised. All was done with precision cuts. The cuts were so neat that some speculated only a laser could have done it. This introduced advanced technology and, of course, since footprints were never found, aliens hovering over in a flying saucer.

Some cattlemen even claimed to have seen those nasty blighters. Alien technology must advance slowly, for even to this day cattle mutilations follow the same pattern. Aliens like cored rectums.

Zoologists said no and TMI. Predators, scavengers, will go after the soft parts first. They will eat out the rectum, the teats, udder, the tongue and then just continue on and eat off the flesh on the jaw. Logical. But even some zoologist and vets were skeptical. Sometimes the circumstances around a dead cow were too suspicious.

Sometimes unusual indentations had been found around the dead cattle. This was blamed on the flying saucer landing gear, by those who adhere to that theory, but it is a fact that these indentations were found. Being so garish, the alien theory naturally dominated the soap box, but some of these cattle truly were found in mysterious circumstances. An intelligent hand had been at work in a few of them.

Over time some solid evidence has been gathered. Oblique cuts were found on one cow. Animals’ teeth don’t eat in a clean, oblique manner. A few cattle have been found with their pelvis or ribs broken, in one case not on the side on which the cow collapsed in death. In a few cases, the cow was found to be laying in a circular indentation, as if a small tornado had cleaned the ground around it. To see if predation was responsible, one cattleman didn’t move one of his cows that had died of natural causes. He continued to check on it over days and even put a trail camera watching it. It was there for weeks and predators did not come and nibble off the teats, the tongue, the ear, core the rectum or do anything significant to it. Yet the excuse in all the other cattle mutilations is that predators came and did just that, thus accounting for why those parts are always missing. In one case, the rancher was still within his heard and found a calf mutilated that he had checked within the last 3 hours. It had died and something had ferociously got at it in that time, yet without disturbing the herd.

Even those who do not believe in the alien theory have accepted that humans have been involved in some of these cases. In Wyoming, a county sheriff even said that one night headlights swept several men in long black robes and hoods. Surprised, they soon scampered to cover. A day later a mutilated cow was found.

It is time to start dividing between bone and marrow here. We have to accept multifactorial causes. The further north we go, we also encounter a strange case were a horse was mutilated in Canada. Part of its neck eaten to the bone, the vertebrae was even dislodged significantly. Not even a pack of wolves could do it. Its leg was ripped off. What could do that? This wasn’t people. No aliens have hovered over.

In our next post we have to get into these in more detail.

*         *          *

Since 1990 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.

The Context of D.B. Cooper

On the evening of Thanksgiving 1971 the first, the most daring, and the only successful, skyjacking took place. A man known only by the alias of Dan Cooper boarded a “milk run”– a 727 bound from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. As soon as they were airborne he passed a note to the stewardess. It was a demand for ransom from the carrier, Northwest Orient. He demanded 200,000 dollars. He had a bomb in his briefcase. If they didn’t comply he would blow the plane up.

It shouldn’t be long for the flight to arrive at Seattle, but instead the plane was about 2 hours late. The pilots had been circling Seattle, waiting for instructions. The other passengers were kept in the dark. The company acquiesced and accepted to pay. In the meantime the FBI was photographing the bills.

Dan or D.B. Cooper had everything but this figured out. He knew the route from Portland to Seattle. He even recognized McCord AFB below as they circled. He had even figured out how to escape. Along with the money, he had demanded two sets of parachutes. He also knew the 727’s rear door could be lowered in flight, something not even the stewardess knew. He had worked out what to do with the passengers. As the Boeing airliner idled on the tarmac, at a dark and distant corner of the airfield, the few passengers who had been on this short run had to wait in the area nearby, standing in the rain as the airliner basked in the glare of klieg lights. After the money was delivered and the 727 was airborne, he had proved he had more things figured out. He instructed the pilot to fly under 10,000 feet and to keep the flaps down 15 degrees. The plane would be flying only under 200 miles per hour. Impressive knowledge of the huge aircraft. Instructions such as these made it possible for him to make and survive a jump.


After the money was delivered, the passengers were allowed to walk off the tarmac.

The crew, including the stewardesses, huddled in the cockpit on his orders. He prepared himself all alone in the back of the plane. He selected the parachute he wanted, then cut the cords off one of the extras. He stuffed the money in it and tied it around his waist. Snug now in his black suit, he removed his tie, for it could flap wildly in his face, then he opened the aft stairs. A light came on in the cockpit. The crew knew he had opened the door. Then, several minutes thereafter, the aircraft genuflected. He had jumped from the stairs and was gone. 635838907148921501-dbcooper-tie

One of the greatest manhunts in history was initiated after the aircraft landed in Reno, Nevada, its schedule refueling stop. The crew tried to guestimate where he had jumped. The forests north of Portland, Oregon, not so surprisingly, were estimated to be the location. With all the preparations he had done, it seems undeniable that he would have had an escape route preplanned.

The sheriffs and the FBI scouted the woods, cruised the rivers, but never found a trace of D.B. Cooper dead or alive. They never found his distinctive red parachute, nor the briefcase he had jumped out with. The lead Fed, Ralph Himmelsbach, could not believe that Cooper could have survived. The loafers he was wearing would not have even stayed on as he tumbled to earth. If he had survived the jump, he could not have made it out of the woods. To Himmelsbach, Cooper was a desperate, middle aged failure. He saw nothing smart in him, nothing cool.

However, as time had gone by the legend of D.B. Cooper was growing. He was looked upon as a cool and sophisticated daredevil who pulled off the stunt and heist of the century. In appearance D.B. Cooper also had looked like a laconic Bond. He had dressed in a dark suit, neat, narrow tie, dark fedora, and dark wrap around glasses hid his eyes. He ordered a Bourbon from the stewardess as they flew south. She gave it to him. He tried to pay for it. She refused. He sipped it slowly. Despite the briefcase with the supposed bomb in it (the stewardess saw the sticks of what looked like dynamite)  he is the image of a suave, in a rumpled Bond way, heist man. This legend of D.B. Cooper has remained with us.

But because of the foolhardiness of jumping out over a dark, rain swept forest at night, Himmelsbach formed the opinion Cooper was just a desperate fool. On the contrary, every other detail proves to what extent the man known as Dan Cooper had preplanned. He learned the Boeing 727.  He knew the route. He must have timed it more than once. He prepared meticulously how to get the money. He must have prepared his escape just as well. No one goes to all the planning he did just to jump out and take a chance in uncharted territory. But because no sign was ever found of Cooper, the law eventually opted to believe he died in the fall. Moreover, none of the bills were ever passed. He never spent any of his ill gotten gains.

FBI handbill

With time, the attitude would change. Other Feds would come to believe he had survived. In 1979 Carroll Hicks found the torn placard from the back door of the Boeing 727. He was out hunting elk and came across it. It was the warning sticker on the door. It must have been sucked out when Cooper lowered the stairs and the suction of breaking the seal on the aircraft was great enough to rip it off the open door. Yet 40 years have gone by. Those woods are not as isolated as they once were. Yet no discoveries have come of the parachute, parachute pack, clothes, briefcase or the money.


In 1980, $5,800 dollars of the ransom was found on Tina Bar on the Columbia River north of Portland. It was down river of the estimated drop zone, however. Some Feds came to share the popular view that Cooper had survived and the money had been dumped upstream and floated through Portland. The man known as Cooper probably had found the money was worthless. After all his preparations he had not prepared for the Feds to photo every bill and retain the serial numbers before the payoff had been delivered on the tarmac.

D.B. Cooper must have found out. This is a clue. When? I am not sure. But the location of the money indicates he had remained around Portland, the city from which he had boarded the plane 9 years before this paltry amount of money had been found, the city south of the forests he felt confident he could jump into at night and survive.

The circumstances of finding the money confirmed that it had not been dumped there the night of November 24, 1971. The money was found in a sediment layer on top of a dredge layer that was laid down in 1974 when the Columbia was dredged. It had been dumped in the river years after the skyjacking.


This too is a clue. There are many clues in the case of Dan Cooper, but no real evidence. Nobody’s uncle or brother, or father or husband, ever was put on the Doe list or listed as missing.  If D.B. Cooper had died in the fall you would think the man’s true identity would end up on a missing person’s list. If he came from the Portland area, this should happen rather quickly.  But it never did. No one failed to check out of their motel. An abandoned car was never found. The FBI’s handbill with the sketch of Cooper and his distinctive features didn’t register with car rental clerks, motel managers. In short, it seemed Cooper had not stayed around Portland. He must have driven himself or somehow got to the airport, didn’t leave a car behind, took the flight, and vanished into the woods. Yet somehow part of the ransom got back into the river years later. He seemed to still be around.

The case has riveted the nation and even the world thereafter. The heroism, albeit villainous heroism, the looting of corporate funds, the complete mystery of his fate, but the irony that he must have learned it was all for nothing and dumped the ransom, comes together to create a real life movie plot.

Dan Cooper was thought to be close to 40 years old at the time. He is no doubt dead today. But he lived and quietly died, probably around Portland, after having pulled off the most daredevil heist of the 20th century. He has entered legend as the “Jesse James of the Jet Age” and like the fate of the great Old West outlaws, people still want to know what happened to him.

We still question the fate of Billy Bonner, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In like manner, D.B. Cooper’s exact fate intrigues us. Like the outlaws of the Old West he wouldn’t rob a citizen, only a corporation. He has left admiration behind, mystery, and intrigue. But most of all he left many clues. And it is time to start following them.

I have done so for years. They lead to and from Canada, and reveal a complex plan that places the man behind the moniker in another location while he returned to Portland to pull off the heist of the century. He stashed the money in the woods he knew and left again to appear he had always been away. With his French Canadian background, this part was easy. Having been an AKAN in the US Air Force in Korea is probably what led him to select this daredevil  way to extort money for his retirement. But what type of mind truly conceives of something so daring, so complex as a skyjacking?  Dan Cooper’s did, and all the clues say he got away with it.

*         *          *

Since 1990 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.