South By Northwest– Foreword to D.B. Cooper

Since I now have Bermuda Triangle II off my back, and I await only one bit to finish HorrorScope, I am beginning my next round of books. I have written the foreword to South by Northwest, my investigation and pursuit of D.B. Cooper. A foreword is the first chapter I write in a book and the last I re-write. So this can most certainly change. But here it is as it stands now. I hope it whets your appetite to finally uncover the true identity of the Jesse James of the Jet Age.

South by Northwest, Foreword by Gian J. Quasar

 

Not since the romanticized Old West has a villain been so glorified as D.B. Cooper. There are those who would object immediately to him even being called a criminal or villain. Villain perhaps not, but he certainly committed a high stakes crime, high not only in the dollar amount he extorted but in the risk and daring factor. Criminal this makes him. He may have been a gutsy, even brave criminal but he was a criminal nonetheless.

There is no question that his image is a cool one. He was dressed like a middle age James Bond—dark suit, thin black tie, carried a briefcase, and hid his eyes behind fashionable wrap-around shades. This is the man who claimed he had a bomb in said briefcase and made the air carrier Northwest Orient pay out $200,000.00 under threat he’d blow up the plane and the passengers thereon. As the game unfolded and all waited tensely, he drank a Bourbon. He offered to pay for it. He’d rob a corporation but not the stewardess. She declined. This was the sleek villain threatening to blow up the airplane.

For the antiestablishment movement this in itself carried cache. Add the daredevil image to his calm and cool look and there is little wonder that Cooper soon became glorified as the “Jesse James of the Jet Age.” A strange hero was born: a modern Robin Hood who robbed from a rich corporation to keep it himself.

Cooper’s daring exploit, in fact, has never been equaled, not successfully anyway. There are those copycats who tried to get away with skyjacking an airliner for cash. They displayed the same daring and risk, but each one failed. Copycats obviously have no originality.

But D.B. Cooper did. He succeeded. He was the first. He chose a stormy night. He chose to bailout over the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Surely these are clues to his character and foreplanning. Put together with every other aspect of his caper and the profile of a careful, premeditative man emerges. It paid off. He remains elusive, not just in terms of never having been brought to justice; his very identity is unknown. This is quite an accomplishment all things considering.

Dan Cooper is just the alias he used to check in at Portland International Airport. He was seen extensively and up close by the stewardesses, of course. His features were unique. A composite was done in detail. Yet no dragnet ever uncovered Dan Cooper’s true identity.

Because skyjacking is a Federal crime, the FBI was in charge. Despite the Bureau’s formidable power of collating and analyzing data, both nationally and internationally, it is a remarkable fact that they never uncovered a missing person who fit his description. There was no missing uncle. No missing brother or brother-in-law. No missing father. No person was reported missing who matched Dan Cooper.

Given their theory this fact is amazing. At the time the FBI wanted to believe that he had “splattered,” that is, after he jumped from the Boeing 727 his chute didn’t open or on that rainy and windswept Thanksgiving Eve night 1971 he was plunged into the jagged, spear-like forests north of Portland and there ended the daredevil skyjacker, clutching his ill-gotten gains. It is a fact that none of the money was ever spent, and the FBI had shrewdly taken down each bill’s serial number. So to them the quest was one to find Dan Cooper’s true identity.

Yet too many clues say he survived. But why hadn’t he spent the filthy lucre?

It is possible to still trace Dan Cooper and uncover his identity. He is not just an alias and a distinctive looking man on a Federal handbill. The clues he left behind make him trackable. He knew the 727. He gave instructions to the captain how to fly it on the getaway trip from Seattle. All these instructions made it possible for him to jump from such a huge airliner in midair. He knew parachutes. He selected one that indicated he had some military experience, though not recent experience. He knew those woods. He could not have been a stranger to Portland. From Portland he had come. No car was found abandoned and traced to a man resembling him. No suitcase had been left in a locker. No motel room guest had failed to show up again. Dan Cooper had left zero trail. Only a man who had returned to his place in society could leave no trail and yet taunt us with all these clues.

Was Cooper an adventurer or was he the desperado the FBI painted him to be? The reader will have to decide after reading this book. One thing is certain: he went to unprecedented lengths to secure his money, and it worked. Something went wrong. The money was not spent. But he got away.

All of these are clues that lead us closer to Dan Cooper.

Various psychological profiles were done on this mysterious man, based on the couple of hours he existed in the limelight and the acts he had committed. The lead FBI agent Ralph Himmelsbach preferred to think that Cooper was a down-and-out loser. He hated the glorified image. Cooper was a desperate, uneducated man. Even years after the case was dormant, Himmelsbach would take his own plane and scour the woods north of Portland. It was his own desperate attempt to finally spot the red parachute and find the remains of Dan Cooper. This would remove the hero image. He was a loser unprepared to commit such a crime, and his fate was death in the woods on that dark night.

But agent Himmelsbach never found a trace of Cooper. No one has, alive or dead.

Now it is time that we pick up that trail again and relive that day, a festive Thanksgiving Eve 1971 and then follow every clue to write the aftermath and finally solve the mysterious fate of D.B. Cooper.

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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 or Q Man. “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.

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Distinctive Obscurity– The Visalia Ransacker After-the-Fact

It is a paradox. How does a villain in such a small town as Visalia crawl back into the shadows, especially after having left a single very distinct image of himself for that one moment he was caught in the light?

He was, supposedly, young, about 25, 5 foot 10 inches tall, stocky at 200 pounds, pale complexion, baby face, high pitched voice, stubby fingers on small hands, and he had small feet. His hair was blonde to sandy, and butched really short on the sides so that it didn’t even touch his ears.

From my recent series of posts, and even from one quite a while ago, I have left the door open that perhaps we do not have the true image of the Ransacker. Villains do stop, but the Ransacker stopping so suddenly is grounds to wonder.  Did he go elsewhere? Or did he really look quite different and simply and easily faded into the background?

Where would this elsewhere be? Visalia PD checked the barbers and ice cream shops over the whole area. No one had recognized Bill McGowen’s composite. Even if this composite wasn’t of the Ransacker, you would think they’d still recognize him.

I would love him to be some villain I am currently after — like NORCAL. But who is to ever know? There is no DNA from the Ransacker. It is even difficult to link him to Claude Snelling’s murder in 1975. Both villains were said to be the same height and proportion and left handed. But Snelling’s killer struck in the wee hours of the morning and had worn a mask. The Ransacker was in bed by midnight usually.

Without a lot of detailed information, it is impossible to even track the Ransacker. People have offered more information, but then they flake. Some that do offer information will not clarify a source, and thus it is not reliable. Some people equate their personal deductions with facts. This goes nowhere.

But we must start from somewhere. Let us accept McGowen’s composite. There’s reason to. As I mentioned above, if this was just another prowler, why didn’t a dragnet identify his unique features? Time and MO has shown us that the Ransacker was actually a lot more cautious than you might imagine. He put some effort into covering his identity. No one wants to go to jail. Thus the very fact a distinctive prowler who shot at a cop could hide from the dragnet is a clue that this distinctive looking prowler was one and the same with the notorious Ransacker, who had committed about 90 robberies and remained obscure.

Yes, the police canvassed the neighborhoods far too long after-the-fact and got responses from neighbors that they had seen such a man in their neighborhoods. But think about that. Had he been that obvious, neighbors would have long been chatting that such a man had been seen and the police would have known about it for at least over a year. We’re talking about 90 robberies. Neighbors hear when a neighbor is robbed. Anybody suspicious in the neighborhood is going to go mentioned in the grapevine. Yet apparently none ever did. Not enough anyway to warrant a composite.

When Visalia PD tried to link the Ransacker with being EAR, this fact must have puzzled and irked Sacramento Sheriffs and PD. You canvased only after-the-fact? A 2 year crime spree and you have no other composite from the residents?

One simply can’t blame Visalia PD for this alone. The residents clearly weren’t speaking out much– else one would imagine that Visalia PD would attempt a composite of the person of interest seen in these neighborhoods. But there is nada. Either gross incompetence is at work in both the community and the police or the Ransacker was a little more careful in his stalking than we realize.

And this we do know after-the-fact. The Ransacker was a prowler. He left footprints all over the neighborhood yards testifying as to how his checked each home and discovered who was not home. How else could he have possibly known? This may have gotten him reclassified as a peeper, but he was actually looking for a house with nobody, not with people to watch.

So for the sake of argument here, let us accept we have a very distinctive Ransacker. He was not only distinctive in a appearance but seemed a little off the beam as well. He has  maintained this double distinction in obscurity. This is a clue. Where does it lead?

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

Strange Evolution: The Visalia Ransacker

When the news first hit that the “Ransacker” existed it came largely after-the-fact of his crime spree, as I have noted in previous posts. He had been a nuisance to Visalia PD’s anti-burglary boys until the Claude Snelling murder of September 11, 1975. Then he became a suspect because Snelling’s house was on a street within a larger neighborhood of town where the Ransacker had exclusively concentrated over the two years before.  Just 3 months later there would be an encounter between a Visalia PD stakeout man, Bill McGowen, and a man he believed was the Ransacker.  The Ransacker never struck again.

With hindsight the Ransacker underwent a metamorphosis. His profile evolved from childish burglar and house ransacker to a sexual deviant and murderer. It seemed natural that he would evolve into rapist. Thus Visalia  PD had elements that doggedly believed that the Ransacker had become the East Area Rapist of Sacramento. Today, the EAR ranks as the No 1 serial predator in history. The Visalia Ransacker has become his youth and Visalia has been touted as his proving ground.

visalia-ransacker
The creepy Ransacker– if this composite is accurate. He stole some jewelry and a few other items, but mostly stole blue chip stamps. He ate the victims’ ice cream out of their frig and made a mess of their house looking for small items to steal. 

 

This is a bizarre enough evolution, and it shouldn’t strike us as surprising considering the Ransacker seems to have been perpetually evolving in Visalia even without any attempt to link him to the most notorious prowler in history.

It has struck almost all who have considered the Ransacker question that he was never tagged. He struck in a small enough area; if we are to believe McGowen’s composite and description then the Ransacker was very distinctive.

When the Ransacker hit the news he was credited with 85 to 90 burglaries and ransackings. Taking into consideration the neighborhoods where he struck, this is enormous. In 1996, a retro piece was done in the Times Delta, kinda like Luther Heggs’ piece in the Rachel Courier Express in the comedy The Ghost and Mr. Chicken— “the horribleness and awfulness will actually never be forgotten.” In this piece the Ransacker was credited with 120 burglaries and ransackings. This is an outrageous number considering the turf over which he struck.

Ransacker turf

 120 homes robbed and ransacked in this area of town seems so disproportionate you’d think he would have been news before the murder.

After the Snelling murder and then the McGowen shooting in December of 1975, the Ransacker was changed from a mere burglar and turned into a peeper. This allowed them to figure him into being a frustrated sex fiend, potential rapist– his motive for “kidnapping” Claude Snelling’s daughter, Beth– and thence to heartless murderer if interfered with, as Claude Snelling tried to do. To bolster this image, the 1996 article even gave us a new tidbit of information– at times while in his victims’ homes, he took the wife’s lingerie and placed it in a line in the hallway– decidedly  kinky.

Is it? The anti-burglary unit never saw anything so kinky during his crime spree that they considered him a peeper. Neighborhoods weren’t even canvased until after the Snelling and McGowen encounters in late 1975. It is only then that they uncovered prowling reports. Yet an adept burglar must prowl in order to find a home that is empty. If he had struck 85 homes while empty, he must have done a lot of prowling beforehand. It is said that the Ransacker placed cups on doorknobs or plates on the floor to alert him if someone entered the house. This would give him time to flee. Would not clothing placed on the  floor in the hallway cause alarm to the homeowners? It would be the same effect. He would hear their reaction and flee out the bedroom window.

. . .If that is even true that he did that with undees. Again, nothing struck the burglary unit as indicating a kinky prowler. And if he had 85 or 90 home hits well within a 2 year period in a limited area, they sure would have noticed something by then and canvased neighborhoods.

How much is real of what we’ve heard about the Ransacker? How many strikes does he really have?  What is his true profile? Too much contradicts to believe in the Ransacker’s strange evolution.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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 Visalia Ransacker’s Turf

So concrete was it to Sacramento Sheriffs in May of 1977 that there was no link between the Visalia Ransacker and The East Area Rapist that they wrote off the whole idea quickly and completely forgot about it. When over a year later in July 1978 the Sacramento Union ran an article about how Visalia believed a link was possible the Sac Sheriffs hit Visalia PD with the kitchen sink. It was over a year now since their last contact. The Sheriffs’ Department couldn’t imagine that those two Visalia detectives were still fomenting some kind of link. They weren’t even homicide detectives, and they were also insisting there was a link with the murder of Claude Snelling in Visalia in September of 1975 and the Ransacker.

Even putting aside the radical difference in both perps’ appearances (based on composites), there were many other things that didn’t match. The Ransacker loved to take blue chip stamps. EAR, though a petty thief as well, was harder core. One time he even took drugs. EAR drank beer, which apparently sometimes he brought with him. The Ransacker preferred ice cream. It was such a repeating trait that the Visalia PD had checked the ice cream parlors. EAR was thought to have shoulder length hair in the beginning (Summer of 76), but the Ransacker had such distinctly short hair, with his hair line above his ears, that the Visalia PD had checked all the barber shops in Tulare and Kings County. By contrast there was something very childlike about the Ransacker whereas EAR was a vicious sexual terrorist.

The East Area Rapist had also struck over a fairly wide area by the Summer of 77. By contrast, the Visalia Ransacker remained in a confined area for about 2 years–1974-1975. College of the Sequoias was the center of his turf. Highway 198 was the northern perimeter, Walnut Avenue was the southern perimeter, and Demaree was the western perimeter, with Mt. Whitney School being the eastern limit.

Ransacker turf

It would seem amazing that the supposedly unique looking Ransacker could operate for 2 years in such an area and not go captured or identified. Sac Sheriffs didn’t have Google Earth back then, but they may have gotten a map of Visalia. This limited turf was not suggestive of EAR. Maybe also they uncovered that Visalia PD put together the profile of the Ransacker after-the-fact; that he had merely been a burglar to them during his crime spree and they hadn’t even canvassed neighborhoods for prowlers. There might have been nothing sexual about his motives. Women hide their jewels in their undees drawers sometimes, and this could explain why lingerie was spread over the master bedroom and the drawers emptied. Sac might have thought that the Ransacker might not have needed to be very good to slip through Visalia PD’s hands.

Sacramento County Sheriffs have a much larger gene pool, so to speak, from which to promote investigators than Visalia Police. At the time Visalia was a town of about 20,000 people. The resulting attitude is unavoidable: Visalia PD were full of rubes. The Sheriff spokesman, Bill Miller, condemned them as publicity seekers and irresponsible.

The controversy aside, there are several clues for us in the Ransacker’s limited area of operation. It was centered on the college and it was accessed by a couple of main thoroughfares that led to and from Highway 198. Given his unique look, and the fact that (to our knowledge) he was never in the dragnet, we can deduce he came to the area along the highway. He was not a local boy necessarily.

visalia-ransacker
Unique short blonde hair, pale skin, baby face, perhaps higher pitched voice, stocky, knock-knee, chunky, short hands, stubby fingers, and small feet.

But there is the fact that no barber recognized the composite. According to the Visalia PD they checked over two large counties.

Where did the Ransacker come from? Did his mama or dad cut his hair? Did he live on one of the farms? Where did he go?

Either the composite is grossly in error or he was on the dragnet list and they didn’t know how to check him off properly. If not that, he moved away quickly and no one seemed to have ever paid attention to him while he lived, well, wherever it had been that he had lived.

Or did a family realize their son was the Ransacker and commit him or send him away?

Before this case can be brought forward it must be fleshed out and much data released. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but if it does it must start with those citizens who went through this and are still with us. They must clarify much information about the Ransacker crimes in their homes.

We have a very general appearance today for his turf. It is centered on the college, and yet he does not seem to have been a student. He limited himself to this part of town. We must develop this in our next 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 or Q Man. “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.

Flying Pearls of Great Price– the Truth about Flying Saucers

It is a subject that in its original, pure form should truly be exciting, even respectable. But the pursuit of the truth behind “UFOs” is anything but that to me. There are sincere, fine people in it, but there is so much agenda driven lunacy that it becomes a frightful endeavor.

Not that the loons weren’t always there. But they were a sideshow. Today, they are the main event.

The comic strip real life cartoon is pervasive. But what backs this up?

My own pursuit of the truth has been, of course, to start from the beginning. Analyze everything. See what doesn’t fit. See what does. The end result has long been in the making– The Report on the Flying Saucers. It’s a retro sounding, retro-looking book 1 of a trilogy to finally organize the phenomenon from a collation based on an analytical point of view. Not the dull analytical stuff. The solid throw out the junk and find the pattern detective story kind.

The work is long in the making because I detest the culture that has developed around the topic and I really don’t want to be a part of the petty nitpicking on the discourse. I investigate the phenomenon. I have investigated many phenomena and mysteries. I do not investigate the narrative. I write my own narrative. And for UFOs this narrative is one that dates from the beginning and has been lost in the metaphysics. I search for the possibility of solid, disc-like objects in the Earth’s atmosphere. I walk more in the vein of Donald Keyhoe and Al Chop and the other early investigators.

Let’s take just a cursory look at a small sample that could be real amidst the bottomless pit of “fake news” saucers.

The following picture is dated Darmstadt, Germany, August 1953.

IMG_0148

The next picture is dated Drakensberg, South Africa, July 1956.

Drakensberg-July-1956

The next photos are dated Corsica, 1971.

Corsica-1971

The next illustration is dated to 1965, Vaucluse Beach, Australia, witnessed sitting on the beach by an artist who then drew this illustration.

650719vaucluse_draw

It is obvious that the above pictures and illustration are of the same vehicle. They represent the rare example of a flying saucer seen with a dome rather than the more common flying lentil without any “cabin” noted. These are the clearest photographed “UFOs” in existence. What are they?

Early-on, Don Keyhoe related his firm belief that there was a saucer that had a domed cabin and around this the disk rotated in a clockwise motion. His influence, contained in his first two books, inspired the flying saucer in the classic Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, a film for which he was also the consultant.

It seems hard to deny that such a “flying saucer” was seen, though this is not what Ken Arnold described, nor apparently E.J. Smith as well shortly thereafter over Emmett, Idaho.

But they are solid objects about 20 to 30 feet in diameter.

There have been many pictures of “domed” saucers, but none of them show the distinct line that distinguishes the disk from the dome, indicating the disk is capable of separate rotation.

This is just a small taste of what must be analyzed to finally come up with a serious understanding  of the phenomenon. Analysis cannot be based on claims of fleeting lights in the sky or abductions. The subjective must be removed and the repeating facts analyzed.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

TV AHOY

Some of you may have gathered that I dislike being photographed. It doesn’t happen often, and I have seldom even seen a still from all the documentaries I have appeared on. Needless to say few have ever looked good. I had gained a terrible amount of weight from hypothyroidism some years ago, and though I have lost a lot and am almost back to my skinny self, I still dislike being photographed.

For 6 years I have not done TV. But with several books coming  out, including my much anticipated sequel to the Triangle, I have agreed to do some. Four productions have contacted me. I will also have to undergo still photography. In the past, after two hours of such ordeals, a photographer admitted his desire to commit suicide. After 4 hours I tried to help him.

I was shown a still from a show I did in 2009, in which I looked pretty heavy. So I think it is time to finally come out of 5  year old pictures and peak at the world again. Hopefully it is not more shocking for you than for me.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.

Funky Sides Meet– Developing the Visalia Ransacker

So much for the best laid plans of mice and men. I still proceed with my intents on developing the Doodler crimes in order to expose him, but there have been some surprising events this year– We all got treated to a windfall when Wes Dellinger mapped the crime scenes of the “Shadow Slayer” or “Phantom of Colonial Parkway.” Now we have all seen the recent article on the Visalia Ransacker. The difficulties there are enormous, since basically it is the Snelling murder alone with which he can be most vividly nailed. I have had feelers out for some time, even feet on the ground, but let’s see what comes of it.

The Visalia Ransacker case is a monumental task. Mapping the crime scenes accurately requires just as much time and detail as what I put into EAR/ONS. The difference, however, is the scope– and this is an enormous clue. The VR’s crimes were incredibly contained. They are south of the highway in the communities on both sides of the College of the Sequoias. Yet he remained ghostly, even when a couple of composites were drawn and published.

However, VR is supposed to be so distinctive in manner– buffalo-butted, if you’ll pardon the expression– knock-kneed, quite nuts in that he spoke to himself, chunky, military haircut, and by some thought to be genuinely tetched. This doesn’t jive with his marksmanship when McGowen encountered him late one night and the perp, believed to be the VR, shot McGowen’s flashlight right out of his hand.

There are many things that don’t add up– limited turf, excellent, cool shot, stands out like a sore thumb and yet careful prowler. He was so careful that apparently Prof. Claude Snelling’s daughter didn’t realize she was being stalked to the extent she was. One night a perp breaks into their home and takes her. Ruthless, the perp kills her father when he intervenes. He is believed to be the Ransacker.

Then he vanishes. There are theories– theories that he moved; suspicions that someone got even with him and he is dead.

It nevertheless remains amazing that so distinctive a figure as the composites show, in such a small town, never went identified. Visalia is another little Haddonfield.

The Ransacker was a prowling specter. The case needs to be developed extensively to finally reveal the Ransacker and his fate. He must have been an import to Visalia, but from where? He must have gone somewhere. But where? It’s time to look at both the big picture and the little ones. Then it is time to take up logistics.

*         *          *

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 or Q Man. “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.