db Education Packet by Jessica Dart, CoHo Artistic Fellow and Dramaturg
Reserve your tickets to the world premiere of db by Tommy Smith at CoHo January 13 – February 4.db
In addition to several possible iterations of D.B. himself, the play includes characters based on real people who directly encountered or claim to know/to be the real Cooper. Some facts and speculation about each character are below.
- A stewardess who was 22 years old at the time of the skyjacking
- Tina spent more time with Cooper than any other flight crew member, and was assumed to be the witness who could most easily identify him.
- She sat next to Cooper on the plane, lit his cigarettes and served him drinks while he kept one hand on the bomb trigger. She was the only stewardess Cooper kept on board during his getaway flight.
- Tina met with federal agents and gave media interviews about Cooper immediately following the skyjacking. She said Cooper “seemed rather nice. He was never cruel or nasty. He was thoughtful and calm.”
- Tina stopped speaking to the press about Cooper in the late 1970s, but remained cooperative with the FBI in their investigation.
- Tina disappeared from public life in the late 1970s (see the play to find out where she went)
- As of 2011, Tina has been living in central Oregon (supposedly the Springfield area) under a different name. She refuses to talk to reporters about Cooper.
Florence “Flo” Schaffner
- A stewardess who was 23 years old at the time of the hijacking
- Cooper actually handed Florence the note, not Tina as indicated in the script. Flo assumed the note was just another pick-up attempt from an ordinary male passenger and she put it in her purse without reading it.
- Florence asked Cooper to show her the bomb. She later described having seen eight red cylinders with red-insulated wires attached and a cylindrical battery inside the briefcase. She relayed Cooper’s demands to the flight crew, and was the only witness to see the hijacker’s eyes.
- In months following the skyjacking, Florence claims to have been stalked by a man who followed her and boarded several Northwest planes she was flying on. Flo claims the mysterious man told her, “I know the hijacker from prison. He wants to talk to you…I want to tell you, this guy is not just a hijacker. He was in the Bay of Pigs. This guy works for the CIA.”
Duane Weber (D.B. Cooper?)
- Duane was once considered a credible suspect by the FBI, but was ruled out in 2007 based on DNA evidence. His wife Jo has a strong online presence and continues to insist the FBI is wrong and that Duane was Cooper.
- Duane died in 1995 following a reported deathbed confession to his wife Jo that he was Dan Cooper. Jo and Duane were married for 17 years.
- Duane worked as an antiques dealer in Florida before his death, and had the military experience necessary to successfully execute Cooper’s jump.He once told Jo that he “hurt his knee jumping out of a plane” but didn’t elaborate.
- He spent some significant time in prison, including a state penitentiary in Washington “near the Portland airport,” in Jefferson City, Missouri, the Ohio State Penitentiary, San Quentin, Folsom, and the Colorado Federal Prison in Canon City. Jo learned of Duane’s time in prison after his death.
- According to Jo, Duane confessed to being DB Cooper on his deathbed. He reportedly said, “I’m Dan Cooper,” and followed up with, “oh fuck it, let it die with me!” when Jo seemed confused by his admission.
- She is well known on Dropzone.com and other Cooper-centric forums for maintaining that Duane was the hijacker.
- Jo claims she found pictures, documents and IDs belonging to Duane that used the name “John C. Collins.” Her investigation into Duane’s life revealed that he’d been a career criminal and not the man she knew at all.
Lynn Doyle “LD” Cooper (D.B. Cooper?)
- LD Died in Eugene, OR on April 30, 1999. His niece Marla originated the theory that LD was D.B. Cooper.
- LD was a veteran of the Korean War and later worked as an engineering surveyor. Both kinds of experience could have helped LD pull off the hijacking. His brother, Dewey Max Cooper, has been implicated as a possible accomplice in the crime. Dewey worked for Boeing in the 1960s, which may have provided him valuable information about the kind of plane Cooper hijacked.
- The FBI has considered him a credible suspect, though they failed to link LD to the hijacking with DNA evidence.
- Though she was 8 years old at the time of the Cooper skyjacking, Marla claims to remember interacting with LD the day it happened. She began investigating her family’s possible connection to the Cooper case in 2009.
- Marla Claims that her father, Don Cooper, knew that LD hijacked the plane – she says she had a pivotal conversation with her father in 1995 where he said, “Don’t you remember that your uncle LD hijacked that airplane?”
- Marla’s mother, Grace Hailey, also believes LD was Cooper.
- A number of TV interviews with Marla are available on youtube.
- Robert Blevins interviews Marla here and here
Barbara “Barb” Dayton (D.B. Cooper?)
- Born in Florida as “Bobby Dayton” on May 10, 1926. Died in Nevada on February 20, 2002 at the age of 76.
- Ran away from home at age 16 and ended up in Oregon, then joined the Merchant Marines at age 17, during WWII.
- Received the first sex reassignment surgery in Washington state (1969) after being rejected for the procedure at Johns Hopkins.
- Had the temperament, skills and knowledge needed to successfully hijack a plane
- Barb always wore long sleeves to cover the tattoos she got while in the military (as Bobby). While in the Philippines, she began getting a tattoo for every port she visited.
- Her friends Pat and Ron Forman claim Barb hijacked the plane and demanded ransom not because she actually wanted the money, but because she wanted to get even with the commercial airline industry that refused to license or hire her.
- The Formans claim that Barb encouraged them for years to write a story about her life, and that she confessed to being Dan Cooper.
Pat and Ron Forman
- The Formans claim that Cooper was actually their long-time hanger-mate at Thun Field (a small airport outside of Puyallup, Washington), a fellow pilot named Barbara Dayton.
- They say Barb told them bits and pieces of her story over the course of a friendship that began in 1977 and ended in 2002 following Barb’s death.
- Pat and Ron are celebrities among Cooper theorists. They were interviewed (and then edited out of) the National Geographic Channel’s Cooper documentary. In July 2016 they were featured in the History Channel documentary D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?
- Their website includes extensive information about Barb and their friendship with her. Even more detailed information about Barb’s childhood and several photographs can be found in their book, The Legend of D.B. Cooper: Death by Natural Causes.