YOUR FRIEND, D.B. COOPER
When it comes to unsolved mysteries, there are a mountain of people that want to be the ones to say that they have solved a mystery or that the case is closed. Some have the ability and the money to release books about these subjects in order to get attention and make money.
I have sat on a secret that I have never written a book about or sold the rights to. I really didn’t know the secret until I found out after my first bout with cancer. It came as a surprise only because I questioned it my whole life and then when the secret was revealed to me as a possibility, I smiled and something said to me in that still voice that what I was hearing about a friend and colleague from my young adult years was true.
I was taught everything I know about paranormal investigating and all of my exposure to things that I talk about on Ground Zero by a man who is now being investigated posthumously as the infamous hijacker, D.B. Cooper.
An investigator named Galen Cook, a lawyer from Washington revealed in 2008 that he knew the identity of D.B. Cooper and that he was going to the F.B.I with his findings.
I know this will be a remarkable claim to make, and one questions why I haven’t written a book or have called attention to it, but since Cook’s revelation I have been keeping up with the case and am still trying to come to grips that Galen Cook says that a friend of mine, an associate that taught me how to do what I do now, was one of the most legendary criminals in the United States.
I guess I could say that I will leave it up to the investigators and the F.B.I. to determine whether that friend of mine, William Pratt (Wolfgang) Gossett, was indeed D.B. Cooper.
“The particulars of D.B. Cooper’s clever airborne crime and daredevil getaway have been pondered, picked over and recapitulated for three decades now.
In 1971, D.B. Cooper hijacked and threatened to blow up an airliner, extorted $200,000 from its owner, Northwest Orient, then leaped from the airborne 727 with 21 pounds of $20 bills strapped to his torso…
…the case remains unsolved more than 30 years later, and D. B. Cooper has become the Bigfoot of crime, evading one of the most extensive and expensive American manhunts of the 20th century. The whereabouts of the man (or his remains) is one of the great crime mysteries of our time.”
When I knew Wolfgang I was just a young kid learning the ropes of radio production and network master control at a little AM gospel station in Bountiful, Utah called KBBX. Wolfgang had a show on the FM talk side which at the time was called “Seagull 106” FM or KCGL FM.
Many know KCGL not as a talk station, but as KJQ, an alternative rock station that I eventually worked at as a morning show host with the very talented Kerry Jackson – who I felt was on loan from Bill Allred who he teamed up with before my arrival. Both were separated by a poor radio management group and then were reunited at a cross town rival station. Both are now an institution at X-96 along with Gina Barberi.
Wolfgang would not only host a paranormal radio show, but he would also hold paranormal classes at East High School in Salt Lake City, grooming true believers into becoming objective sleuths at hunting down ghosts and all kinds of other paranormal anomalies.
I left Salt Lake City in 1999, but I wanted to have a show where I gave my respect to Wolfgang for teaching me all of the things that I now utilize on the Ground Zero show today.
One Saturday morning in 2008, I was having coffee at the Ross Island grocery with my friend Dr. Jonathan Burgess. I was still recovering from my bout with cancer and sipping coffee , when Burgess was talking about D.B. Cooper. I was thinking, there was a name in History I hadn’t heard about since I was a young radio producer at a gospel station in Bountiful, Utah.
D.B. Cooper was a mystery that was big in Utah because one of the alleged suspects, Richard McCoy – nicknamed “the real McCoy”, was said to be the real D.B. Cooper. McCoy was a hijacker who was a Brigham Young University student that taught Sunday school and, for the longest time, seemed to be the one who everyone said was the infamous hijacker. McCoy was shot and killed in a gunfight. McCoy was later dismissed as a suspect in the DB Cooper case because of an alibi saying he was with his family that day of the hijacking.
Drinking coffee and hearing about a new suspect in the case, I was skeptical. Burgess insisted that the new D.B. Cooper suspect was air tight and that I should contact investigator Galen Cook and ask for an interview for my online Ground Zero presentations.
I turned on my computer and did a search for “Galen Cook” and found that he had appeared on Coast to Coast AM. The site had a link to pictures of the suspect and that Cook was going to reveal the name of the suspect on the show at a later date.
As I looked at the pictures I realized that he didn’t have to reveal anything to me. I knew the man in the pictures and as my mouth had dropped I immediately yelled in the coffee shop – “Wolfgang Gossett.” I said it again “Wolfgang Gossett – this guy is Wolfgang Gossett — Oh My god—HE IS D.B. COOPER? I KNEW IT!
Jonathan looked at me and said “Who is Wolfgang Gossett?”
I told him that Wolfgang is an old friend of mine, an old mentor — he is the reason why I do a paranormal show — “this guy is or was a priest who investigated the paranormal and did a radio show at KCGL 106 FM in Bountiful UTAH!”
Since the revelation in 2008, I have been thrust into the yearly ritual of doing investigations into the case with what little time I have had. In fact, in 2008 I was still recovering from my second cancer surgery when I was part of an investigation team that was headed up by former F.B.I investigator Richard Tosaw. The team, along with a few Ground Zero listeners, arrived in Vancouver, Washington with Galen Cook to look over maps and carry out a Columbia River expedition on the shores of a beach called Tena Bar.
In February of 1980, 8 year-old Brian Ingram was digging a fire pit on the beach and found $5,800 dollars of badly deteriorated cash buried in the sand. The serial numbers matched the numbers on the bills that Cooper had with him when he parachuted over Battleground, Washington.
The evidence of the money being found just downstream from Vancouver counters the F.B.I.’s claims that Cooper landed near Ariel, Washington, some 30 miles northeast of the area where the money was found.
Since I have been to these areas with Cook and other law enforcement teams, I made my own conclusions as to where D.B. Cooper may have landed – if he survived. While at Tena Bar, I was told that the topography of the area was different at the time of Cooper’s jump into history and that the Columbia River narrowed near Tena Bar.
On the west side of the Columbia is an area near the Port of Portland called St. Johns, Oregon. The area is not as a rugged as the Ariel area and it is possible that Cooper (Gossett), a trained paratrooper in the military, bailed out of the Northwest Orient Airlines jet, deployed his parachute in a winter storm and, with the strong gorge winds blowing out of the east, was blown west towards Oregon and landed near Tena Bar in the narrowed Columbia River.
He then ditched some of the money and the parachute on the shore. He was then able to go to St. Johns, obtain a ride out of the area and disappear into history.
Galen Cook revealed last year on Ground Zero that a 2-3 foot diameter “pilot” chute was discovered near Tena Bar in 1988, just one mile upstream from the money find. The chute was found by Richard Towsaw’s team and it was also revealed that fishermen in the area had found shredded $20 dollar bills upstream from the Ingram find at Tena Bar.
In his article “The Hunt for DB Cooper – Disclosure of parachute find at Tina’s Bar fuels interest in baffling case,” author Bruce Smith writes that:
“Cook says the pilot chute that Tosaw’s crew found was discovered in about 20 feet of water and mostly buried in river bottom mud… the chute snagged on a “wing dam” about a mile upstream from Tina’s Bar…
the pilot chute was evaluated by Earl Cossey, the widely-known but controversial parachute rigger intimately associated with the DB Cooper case, and who allegedly provided Northwest Orient Airlines with the parachutes the skyjacker used in his getaway.
Cossey reportedly claimed that the pilot chute found by Tosaw was not one that would have been part of the chutes that he gave to NWO because the stitching and materials indicated it was from an earlier era.”
Cossey was found dead in his home on April 26th, 2013, a victim of a homicide. The Associated Press reported that: “The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said…that Cossey died April 23 of blunt force trauma to the head.”
Mysteriously, after his death, police said a “good Samaritan” mailed an envelope to his relatives containing Cossey’s license, credit cards and a casino gaming card. Detectives believe the items were found by someone and mailed directly to Cossey’s address which was listed on his driver’s license.
Police were reticent in tying Cossey’s murder to the D.B. Cooper case.
Galen Cook appeared on Ground Zero in 2012 to discuss the four alleged D.B. Cooper letters that he obtained and how they may be tied to his suspect Wolfgang Gossett.
The letters were made from piecing together letters from magazines and all four were signed by D.B. Cooper.
The Reno Evening Gazette in Nevada received the first letter on November 29th, 1971. It read: “Attention. Thanks for hospitality. Was in a rut. Signed, DB Cooper.” It was postmarked from Oakdale, California. Wolfgang Gossett lived there ten years and even worked as a police officer for the Oakdale Police Department.
Reno, Nevada was the place where D.B. Copper’s plane eventually landed.
There was a second letter that was mailed to a newspaper in Vancouver, B.C. called the Vancouver Province. This letter was written by hand and showed up five days after the hijacking. It basically stated that the composite drawing that was issued by the police did not represent the truth. He later wrote that enjoyed the great cup game. He ended the letter with “Thanks for the hospitality, D.B. Cooper.”
Cook reported that Gossett frequented Vancouver and that Gossett’s children, who firmly believe he is D.B. Cooper, claim that some of the remaining money from the hijacking may be in a safety deposit box there.
Portland’s The Oregonian newspaper received the third letter and it said:
“Am alive and doing well in hometown P.O. The system that beat the system. Signed, DB Cooper.”
Galen Cook told me that Gossett also lived in Portland, Oregon for thirteen years before the hijacking and, believe it or not, after I left Salt Lake City for Portland, Oregon, I found out that he actually moved to Depoe Bay, Oregon and later died there in 2003.
The fourth letter was sent to the Reno Evening Gazette and published on Friday, December 3, 1971. That letter said, “Plan ahead for retirement income. Signed, DB Cooper.” Interestingly enough, this fourth letter was mailed on November 22, 1971, from Oakdale, California again.
Cook is convinced that Gossett is Cooper and as a person that knew him in my teenage years I believe that he was of the temperament and mind to pull off something like this. I remember that he told me he was a priest in the old Catholic church but I also heard that he had a wife. He also worked for Davis County school district and the missing persons unit in Bountiful, Utah.
He also investigated the infamous Hi-Fi murders in Utah, a case that frightened me when I was a kid. Gossett’s investigation of that crime revealed that Pierre Dale Selby shot and killed three people during the April 22, 1974, robbery of Ogden’s Hi-Fi Shop.
There are many things that point to the possibility that Gossett was the hijacker and, as I see the investigation unfold, I seem to be a champion of the case against Gossett. Not because I want to see his name tarnished, but to at least say that I was on the periphery of history, like some pseudo-Forrest Gump, where I was just in the weirdest place on the timeline of my life.